LCVF16 Confirmed Speakers and Bios

• Howard Lyman is an American farmer and animal rights activist who is known for his actions promoting vegan nutrition and organic farming. Among other awards, in 1997 he was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award for his leadership in the animal rights movement. 

Howard was raised as a fourth generation rancher on a farm that produced dairy and meat commodities. He attended Montana State University and graduated with a B.S. degree in general agriculture in 1961. Upon graduation, he spent two years in the United States Army before returning to work on the farm. From 1963 to 1983 he was actively engaged in animal and grain production. The areas in which he was involved were dairy, pork, registered Hereford, chicken, range cattle, feedlot beef production, veal, grain, silage, and hay production.

In 1979 Lyman was diagnosed with a tumor in his spine. Faced with the prospect of paralysis, he vowed to return to non-chemical means of farming if he beat the cancer. He survived an operation to remove the tumor and set out to transform his land into an organic farm. 

Circa 1990, again facing health concerns, he became a vegetarian and found his health improving. In 1989 Lyman had begun to investigate Mad Cow disease, which was just becoming an issue in the UK. It was not until April 1996 that Lyman became well known. In an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Lyman made remarks which in turn led to Oprah renouncing hamburgers. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association sued Lyman and Winfrey. Both were found not guilty of any wrongdoing early in 1998. Lyman eventually became a vegan.

He has co-authored the book Mad Cowboy (1998) and co-authored No More Bull (2005) and became president of EarthSave. Leaving that post, he became president of Voice for a Viable Future. Lyman's story was featured in Tribe of Heart's 2009 documentary Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. He was also featured on the 2011 documentary Vegucated and the 2014 documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

Lorena Mucke is the President and Founder of the Ethical Choices Program, an international non-profit humane education program focused on raising awareness about the inherent cruelty of raising animals for food and its negative effects on our health and animals. Lorena has a degree in Zoology from Texas A&M University and a graduate degree in Ecology and Sustainable Development (Argentina). 

Lorena's non-profit has grown exponentially in the last 8 months. The program has 60 humane educators throughout the U.S., Canada and Australia. Tens of thousands of high school and college students every year get to hear the plant-based message of compassion, healthfulness and sustainability through the inspiring and empowering presentations the Ethical Program humane educators give. The curricula Lorena has developed and continues to improve with her team has proven to be effective at encouraging the youth to look at food as a social justice, health, environmental, and cultural issue that affects deeply our lives and the lives of every other inhabitant on Earth, human and non-human alike.

Lorena Mucke

Joshua Carpenter Costner grew up near Savannah, GA, surrounded by many animals - dogs, cats, chickens, goats, horses, ponies, ducks, cows, and bunnies - and obtained a great respect and love for all of them. He has rescued cats, dogs, bunnies, and birds for years, and finally adopted an amazing pot belly pig, Oliver, 4 years ago. Shortly thereafter, he rescued a second piggy, Winston. Winston had been neglected and abused so has been a labor of love, but Joshua has seen progress! In March of 2015 he added Samson to his family.  And finally in September of 2015, Hampton came to live with Joshua. Hampton is blind from birth and is the happiest pig you'll ever meet! The pigs have changed Joshua's life forever! 

Joshua found out about Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary when Jan, the director of the sanctuary, offered to take in an abandoned pig languishing away in a dog kennel at a nearby animal control shelter. As the parent, at the time, of 2 pot belly pigs, a friend had alerted Joshua of a poor abandoned piggy. Joshua reached out to rescues and animal lovers through social media. Jan saw the cry for help and immediately offered to take this lonely soul in. Louise, the pig in animal control, changed Joshua's life and introduced him to Jan and all the wonderful animals at Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary in Leesville, SC.

Joshua has served on the board of directors for two years, first as Director of Acceptance and Rehoming, then as Director Events, and now as Director of Development. For Joshua it has been an amazing experience to help with facilitating adoptions, rescues, transports, and re-homing, and planning events and exposing others to a vegan life.  Now he is excited to help Cotton Branch grow and succeed more than ever in their mission of saving farm animals in need, educating others on their care, transitioning to a vegan life, and partnering with others to make a difference in the lives of farm animals everywhere.

Adam Sugalski is the Founding Board Member/Executive Director of OneProtest and an animal protection warrior who has most recently led a national coalition of activists to fight, and successfully stop, the 2016 bear hunt in Florida. He believes strongly in utilizing professional activism to raise public awareness and end the most cruel forms of animal abuse. Adam is also dedicated to supporting activists across the nation by sharing his wealth of experience in mobilizing the strong voice of the people to stand up and affect real change. Adam brings many years of experience in building and supporting a plethora of national and local non-profits dedicated to animal protection, hands-on undercover work, and a strong artist background to his fight for those least able to fight for themselves. Adam is also regularly called upon to speak on national radio, television, and at academic institutions. He also is a published author in Psychology Today and The Huffington Post.

Felicia Spence, RD, MBA was born and raised in Batavia, New York. She graduated from Syracuse University with a BS in Nutrition. After graduation, Felicia moved to Chicago where she performed her 1200 hour dietetic internship and earned a MBA in General Management. In the fall of 2015 Felicia and her husband Mike moved to Hilton Head so that she could pursue career advancement in health and wellness education, promotion, and coaching. Felicia is the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Program's Manager at Hilton Head Health. There she is able to spread the message of the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. She works with guests in groups and individually to move them from the Standard American Diet to a more holistic plant-based lifestyle. Follow Felicia on Twitter at @HelloFeliciaRD for vegan inspired media.

Ron L. Gandiza, speaker, author, and solution architect, currently serves as the Chief Business Officer and Launch Director for PlantPure, Inc., a grassroots, community-based non-profit organization focused on bringing the message of plant-based nutrition to family, friends, and neighbors. 

Ron has spent more than 25 years developing global training and educational programs in the areas of business, marketing, and technology. These programs have been implemented in over 10,000 academic institutions and enterprise organizations including Microsoft, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the United States Air Force, NASA, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Ron has also helped to build and launch local and online communities for non-profits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supporting millions of people around the world.

Ron’s transition to a whole food, plant-based diet occurred after becoming extremely ill where he was barely able to walk. He experienced a speedy recovery, prompting him to earn a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell. Feeling frustrated with the lack of awareness surrounding the power of diet to prevent and even reverse chronic disease and illness, Ron redirected his focus and passion towards accelerating the growth of the plant-based movement.  

Joanna Gandiza moved to Hawaii after college in the 1970’s without much more than a bikini and a backpack. She worked at several of the finest resorts and tropical restaurants in Honolulu where she learned to cook, meditate, and foster a love for tropical music and dance. Back on the mainland, Jo lost her first husband to a heart attack at an early age, inspiring her to begin her journey of helping people improve their health; however, it wasn’t until she had a health crisis of her own 12 years ago that Jo went entirely plant-based. She is now a big believer in the power of nutrition to save our health and our planet, and she loves to share ways to make plant-based eating as fun and easy as possible. Jo calls it “wellness with a twist of lime” and offers guidance and resources through her website Easy Breezy Living.

Joanna’s educational background includes earning numerous fitness certifications, a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (eCornell), and degrees in health promotion, earth science, and engineering. She has worked as the wellness director for a large corporation, wrote and illustrated numerous health publications, and has also engaged in business consulting. Jo taught fitness and wellness in her community as well as online. In fact, she was AOL’s first online health and fitness instructor, teaches Zumba, and is the creator of her own tropical fitness programs. 

In her spare time Jo enjoys traveling and playing steel drums in the tropical band that she and her Hawaiian-born husband Ron Gandiza (Chief Business Officer of PlantPure Nation) created 10 years ago – the award-winning Tsunami Wave Riders who will be playing at Lowcountry VegFest 2016!

Confirmed Cooking Demonstrators

• Lisa Mase'-Syragakis is a vegan mom of three children and creator of TheVeganMom.com, which offers information & inspiration to those interested in vegan parenting. Since 2010 Lisa has offered support to thousands of families and has contributed to the New Haven Register, One Green Planet, Vegan Mainstream, Care.com and Total Mommy Fitness. Lisa Is an advocate for feeding children a whole foods, plant based diet as well a supporter of animal welfare and ending animal exploitation.

TheVeganMom.com has been named one of Pop Sugar's 'Top 25 Vegetarian Mom blogs' two years in a row and has a strong following on Facebook & Twitter. Lisa can often be found in the kitchen, whipping up delicious plant based meals for her family, but she also enjoys biking with her children, hitting the local farmer's market and simply enjoying life near the ocean.