Speakers and Workshops
Speaker Room will be the center of a lot of exciting, interactive
events mixed in with some of the most engaging leaders in the vegan
11:00 Pamela Ziemann
Workshop: Giving Voice to Your Cause
Animated Storyteller, International Communication Trainer and Author, Pamela Ziemann is ready to share a
unique learning experience to help you put an effective voice to your passion.
Veganism is about truth, making connections and radical inclusion.
Improv is like a marital art training for your spirit that aligns your
deepest, authentic self with your everyday personal interactions. Learn
to be a powerful and compassionate vegan ambassador. Join us for an
experience of playful exercises, group games and vocal expression that
will increase your confidence and ease in a meat-eating world.
Pamela has been leading communication and improvisation workshops
throughout Canada, Australia, and the United States since 1996. Having
overcome her own fear of public speaking, she has compassion for those
she works with and a passion for effective vegan advocacy.
Much more than a communication expert, Pamela guides her clients to
connect their inner passion with their outer cause. She helps them
articulate their message in a way that’s intuitive, thoughtful and
Pamela is the author of “Giving Voice to Your Cause,” which blends 60
unique speaking tips with real world examples of what it takes for
social enterprises to accomplish their mission.
12:00 Kenny Torrella
Inspiring Compassion: Putting Our Ethics on the Table
Did you know that chickens pass information
along from one generation to the next, or that pigs are smarter than
dogs? Few of us give much thought to “food” animals, yet these
fascinating creatures’ lives are rich with complex emotion and
intelligence. Learn how industrial farming has changed the way cows,
pigs and chickens are treated and how our food choices can become a
powerful tool in preventing cruelty to animals.
vegetarian for years, it was seeing undercover footage illustrating the
sheer pain, fear, and innocence in the eyes and faces of animals locked
in cages on factory farms and standing on the kill floors of
slaughterhouses that drew Kenny into veganism and full-time animal
Kenny has volunteered with various national farmed animal and vegan
advocacy organizations. In college, he formed a student animal rights
organization, where he led other students in various proactive outreach
events. In 2010, Kenny moved to Ohio and worked on a historic campaign
to help prevent cruelty to over 27 million farmed animals in the state
– including egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal.
Kenny has spoken on factory farming and grassroots activism at colleges, high schools, and festivals throughout the Midwest.
Powered by Plants: the Unlimited Potential of Vegan Fitness
the notion that eating meat is essential to maximize your strength and
power. Join this energetic panel of elite vegan bodybuilders and
athletes, and learn how a plant-based diet can help you build muscle,
gain endurance, and improve your flexibility and recovery time. This
inspirational workshop will leave you pumped!
With Robert Cheeke, Jon Hinds, Amanda Riester, Nicole Sopko, and Brian Duda.
Robert Cheeke - Vegan Bodybuilder, Motivational Speaker, Author
grew up on a farm in Corvallis, OR where he adopted a vegan lifestyle
in 1995 at age 15. Today he is an Amazon.com best-selling author of the
book Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness - The Complete Guide to Building
Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet.
As a two-time natural bodybuilding champion Robert has been considered
one of VegNews Magazine's Most Influential Vegan Athletes. He tours all
over North America regularly giving talks about his story transforming
from a skinny farm kid to champion vegan bodybuilder.
Currently Robert works full-time for Sequel Naturals as a national
representative for Vega, a line of vegan whole-food products, as a
representative of the new pro-vegan film Forks Over Knives and also
works full-time running Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness on
www.veganbodybuilding.com , which includes writing books and filming
documentaries. Robert lives in Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA
throughout the year and continues to spread the vegan way of life
leading by example as an accomplished vegan athlete.
For more information about Robert please visit veganbodybuilding.com
Amanda Riester - Bodybuilder
Growing up in a family of professional boxers, Amanda began her journey
into athletic competition at 12 when her father began teaching her to
box. She later went on to become a 4-time golden gloves champion and
trained for the 2000 Olympics. She is a certified USA Boxing coach,
judge and officiant. In 2005, Amanda was diagnosed with cancer, and
during treatment rapidly gained 45 lbs, going from a size 0 to a 13.
Soon after remission she hit the gym again with a vengeance. She got
certified as an AFAA personal trainer and group fitness
instructor. After over 10 years in the world of combat sports,
she hung up her gloves and began bodybuilding. So far in 2011,
Amanda has placed 1st runner up at the Windy City Classic Natural
Bodybuilding Championships and won FIRST place at the Natural North
America Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships. She has several more
competitions lined up for this year, and hopes to earn her pro
Although she spends several hours a day in the gym, her heart really
belongs in animal rescue and liberation. She has spent 11 years
volunteering in pit bull rescue. She is the proud mommy of 3 rescued
pit bulls and wife to an amazing husband. She works full time as a
professional animal communicator and pet loss grief counselor and feels
so blessed to be able to call that her "job."
Nicole Sopko - Yoga instructor
Sopko is a Chicago-based yoga teacher who has been living a vegan
lifestyle for the past 15 years and views that transition as her first
yoga practice. She is also a dedicated student of Sri Dharma Mittra,
who encourages students to recognize the light in all beings. A
believer in the power of yoga as a lifestyle, Nicole feels that a
playful yoga practice enables a person to approach the more mundane
aspects of life with a lighter heart and a more accepting attitude. Her
yogic journey has played a big role in her life and she feels lucky to
have the opportunity to share that journey with others. www.nicolesopko.com
Brian Duda - Bodybuilder
son of a power lifter, Brian grew up around a gym where everyone looked
so strong and healthy, and he thought this was how people should be. He
became interested in bodybuilding after seeing the movie Pumping Iron which introduced the world to strength icons Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu and many others.
After working out most of his life, Brian became vegan about 10 years
ago. He quickly realized that his body did not need all those
stereotypical protein sources to big muscle, and believes he gotten in
better shape since becoming vegan. The diet and lifestyle help him feel
healthier, both mentally and physically and gives him great sense of
happiness knowing that he is reducing the amount of animal suffering in
Brian uses what he has learned over the years to help promote a healthy
vegan lifestyle, not just for bodybuilders, but for everyone. He
created a website www.strongvegan.net as a starting point for people looking at going vegan.
Aside from bodybuilding, Brian is a huge animal lover and
supporter of veganism and animal rights. He is also co-owner of Canary
Confectionary and a skilled maker of raw truffles and desserts. Stop by
their booth in our Food Court.
Jon Hinds of MonkeyBar Gym will not be participating in the panel. We regret any disappointment.
2:00 Jon Camp
Getting the Goods: Impacting Animals Through Effective Vegetarian Outreach
Adopting a vegetarian diet allows us to spare dozens of animals a year
from suffering. Getting involved in vegetarian advocacy allows us to
spare thousands. Using humor and drawing from his years of outreach on
college campuses, Jon will discuss simple ways that each one of us can
effectively spread vegetarianism and reduce a great amount of animal
suffering. Whether you're new to activism or a seasoned veteran, this
is one talk you won't want to miss!
Jon Camp is Director of Outreach for Vegan Outreach. He has spent the
last seven years traveling the country on behalf of VO's college
outreach program, reaching out to students about the plight of farmed
animals. Jon has been to over 400 schools throughout North America,
distributing Vegan Outreach materials and giving talks.
3:00 Cynthia Bathurst
Lifetime Bonds: At-Risk Youth and At-Risk Dogs Helping One Another
Cynthia Bathurst, Ph.D., joined Best Friends Animal Society as National
Director, Project Safe Humane, in 2008 after more than twenty-five
years in contract mathematical analysis. During that time, she
co-founded D.A.W.G. (Dog Advisory Work Group) as a nonprofit and
started a court advocacy program for court cases involving animal
abuse. In 2007 she co-founded and piloted Safe Humane Chicago, a
reincarnation of D.A.W.G. that focused on the principle that a safe
community is a humane community and that Chicago must work together
toward a safer, more humane city. Cynthia also serves as
Commissioner on Chicago’s Commission on Animal Care and Control, a
member of the Chicago Animal Shelter Alliance, co-chair of the Task
Force on Companion Animal Welfare and Public Safety for the Chicago
City Council, a member of the Chicago City Clerk’s Dog Owner Task
Force, and Vice Chair of the Cook County Partners Against Animal
Cruelty Advisory Board to the Cook County Board. The American
Veterinary Medical Association awarded her their 2009 Humane Award, an
award given to a non-veterinarian who has advanced animal well-being,
shown exemplary dedication to the care of animals, and contributed to
the community and society. She currently serves as President of the
Chicago Animal Shelter Alliance.
SafeHumane Chicago is acommunity-wide alliance to replace violence by
promoting compassion and caring for people and animals and providing
positive, beneficial activities and needed resources. It educates the
publicabout responsible pet ownership and safety; promotes programs
that stop the violence associated with dog fighting and animal abuse;
and connects pet owners to available resources and expertise. By taking
steps to instill kindness and to reduce violence in our communities,
the campaign works to create safer, more humane neighborhoods across
Chicago. In recognition of this powerful initiative, Best Friends
Animal Society, as anational partner, is taking this Chicago model to
other major cities as Project Safe Humane.
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