2022 Board Elections - VSDC - Veg Society of DC

2022 Board Election Candidate Statements

Voting starts Sunday, May 1, with elections closing on Sunday, May 22.

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David Banks: 

  • Vegetarian since 1986, vegan since 1995.
  • Born and raised in NYC now living in Columbia Heights section of DC with Nia (15 year old cat originally from the DC Animal Shelter).
  • Served on several national and local boards including National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, Fairfax County Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Board, Unitarian Universalist Association of America Wellspring National Board, and various Boards of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
  • Former Certified Association Executive with 20+ years non-profit senior management experience

As a continuing member of the VSDC Board, I would hope to:

  1. Help guide the board in effective member recruitment and retention - most notably by identifying and offering member benefits that are seen as valuable.
  2. Assist the board in ensuring VSDC is a good steward of financial, volunteer, and other resources.
  3. Aid the board in developing programs to address specific BIPOC and other member priorities.

Linkedln profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidbanksperfil

Saurabh Dalal: 

For many years, VSDC has been a uniquely active and positive force for promoting veganism and bringing people together.  I feel honored to have served in many volunteer capacities for over 30 years, having helped shape our direction, presence, and clear vegan focus. The multi-faceted approach that helps animals, people’s health, and the planet is crucial for VSDC to leverage and distinguishes us from other groups, to attract even more people to a vegan way of life.  As a lifelong vegetarian and vegan since 1991, I bring an unwavering commitment to our mission while having chosen to pursue this passion beyond the local arena and to numerous other similarly minded organizations.  I feel I possess positive energy, vital management and organizational skills, broad connections, ideological clarity, and a healthy team spirit for us to accomplish much more still.

VSDC continually needs strengthening and new ideas - for infrastructure improvements and to influence more people.  Greater emphases for VSDC in showing people 'how' to make the change to being vegan is vital, and ensuring our activities are purposeful and impacting as best possible.  My hope and efforts for VSDC to be even more effective include pro-active volunteer recruitment and engagement, more creative events, visibility in / utilization of the media, and leveraging our rich history.  I ask our membership and supporters to help build VSDC further - as part of a coordinated, larger movement for change.  There has never been a better time to work towards a vegan world.

Elissa Free:

I am a long-time member of VSDC and have served on the board since 2016. My first exposure to VSDC was when my mother brought me to VSDC potlucks in a church basement in the 1970s! The organization has come a long way since then, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to assist in keeping VSDC strong and growing as a member of the board for the past four years.

As a member of the small working VSDC board I have had the opportunity to be on the communications, social media, website and Thanksgiving committees and serve as corresponding secretary and co-president and vice president. Like everyone on the board, I have been involved in guiding the organization in a variety of ways, ranging from researching insurance policies, to posting on VSDC social media, to choosing menu items for the Thanksgiving event - the responsibilities are quite diverse!

I am a passionate and dedicated vegan who is motivated by compassion for animals, love of the environment and the powerful health benefits of a vegan lifestyle. My background is in journalism (two years at CBS News, followed by 21 years at CNN) and communications (12 years as executive director of communications at Georgetown Law). I hope to continue my service to VSDC for another two-year term on the board.

Jeanette Irwin: 

I started my vegan journey in 2008, after 27 years of having been an on and off vegetarian.  I always felt that taking the extra step of eliminating all animal products from my life was a bridge too far. That all changed when my husband and I rescued a retired racing greyhound, and we realized that in order to truly help animals we needed to adopt a vegan lifestyle. At that time, I was lucky enough to have met a wonderful woman who has been vegan since she was 16. Through her example, as well as her kindness, generosity and patience, she taught me that being vegan was not only possible, but was the very best way to help animals. I learned that deep friendships and strong support systems are key in helping to achieve lasting behavioral changes.  In my case, it enabled me to reach my goal of living a more ethical lifestyle.

While transitioning to veganism, I began attending VSDC restaurant meet ups. I felt incredibly lucky to have found my community. It wasn’t until the January 2019 VSDC annual meeting, however, that I began volunteering with the group, thereby applying the valuable lessons I had learned from my friend by helping to support others in their vegan journey. In May of that year, two other members and I launched the VSDC hiking series. In 2020 I joined the VSDC Board of Directors and have been leading hikes, bike rides, virtual game nights and potluck cooking club events. These activities have had a profoundly positive impact on my life.

I have felt incredibly supported and valued by the VSDC leadership and community, thus inspiring my desire to continue serving as a board member. If elected, I will bring my experience leading our various group activities, as well as the skills I built during my 15 years as the director of digital communications for a nonprofit advocacy organization (since retired) to the role of VSDC board member.  My background in project management, budget development / resource allocation, and strategic planning will continue to add value to the organization.  I will continue to prioritize membership-building initiatives through innovative and appropriate communications technologies to engage our current members and reach new ones. In addition, I will support policies and practices that foster inclusivity and promote diversity to represent the class, gender and ethnic makeup of our area. These are exciting and unprecedented times to be a member of the veg community, and I look forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Gary Kaplan: 

I have been vegan and involved in animal rights for over 21 years. I attended my first VSDC event in my early days of veganism. I have been on the board for a year and I am up for reelection. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving VSDC and its members for the past year. I love being part of an organization which is doing so much to help build vegan community in the DMV area. In my first year on the board I have served as co- treasurer. I also served on the committee which implemented our brand new website. I have also planned many Meetups. Furthermore, I have helped manage the board's technology such as Google Workspace and mail clients.

I am currently helping to upgrade our membership management system and I have many exciting ideas for further Meetups. I would be honored to serve another term on the VSDC board to continue with these projects and get a chance to further build a great local vegan community.

I am a registered nurse and I work as a nurse educator for the University of Maryland School of Nursing. I also have a background in environmental science and graphic design.

Molly Kogan: 

On April 2, 2022 I celebrated my 6th Vegan Anniversary. While I became a vegetarian in 2006, the choice to go vegan was not clear until I was handed a pamphlet about the animal cruelty in the dairy and egg industry. As a resident of Austin, TX, I then attended Texas Veg Fest and learned how easy it is to exclude dairy and eggs from my diet. Just a week into becoming vegan my body felt better, and I knew I would never go back to consuming animal products.

While living in Austin, TX I volunteered for organizations such as ATX Vegans, Students Against Cruelty to Animals, and Food not Bombs. After graduating from The University of Texas in 2021, I moved to Rockville, MD. Shortly after my move I established a group called Rockville Vegans on Nextdoor to continue vegan outreach and host events in my new city.

As the creator of Rockville Vegans I lead events, moderate conversations on a public platform, and manage an Instagram account. If elected to the Board of VSDC I would share my Rockville Vegans events with VSDC in addition to creating VSDC Meetups, manage the VSDC Instagram account, and initiate collaborations with other local groups such as The Black Veg Society. My goal on the board would be to draw in new members through a strong social media presence, and also create events where all ages and ethnicities feel welcome and represented.

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