Our Team


Erika Galera serves as F.E.P.’s Programs and Marketing Manager and obtained her Professional Social Media Certificate from Sonoma State University in 2016. In her free time she enjoys her veganic garden, hiking with her pups, hanging out with her rescued chickens, cats and fish, and working on social justice issues affecting humans, animals and our planet while also working on her private pilot’s license.
Valeria González serves as F.E.P’s Operations and Development Manager. Valeria obtained her Bachelor’s in Sociology and Certificate in Cultures and Communities at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014.  She is a co-founder and organizer of Milwaukee Vegans of Color since April 2017. Valeria is from Nuevo León, México and is fluent in Spanish. Over the past 12 years she has been involved and continues to be passionate about various issues including animal liberation, immigrant rights, LGBTQ liberation and workers’ rights.  In her free time, she enjoys gardening, going to local parks, hiking, attending musical concerts, reading fiction, and spending time with her two companion animals.

lauren Ornelas

Photo credit: inherimagephoto.com

lauren Ornelas is F.E.P.’s founder and serves as the group’s executive director.  lauren has been active in the animal rights movement for more than 30 years. She is the former executive director of Viva!USA, a national nonprofit vegan advocacy organization that Viva!UK asked her to start in 1999. While lauren was the director of Viva!USA, she investigated factory farms and ran consumer campaigns. In cooperation with activists across the country, she persuaded Trader Joe’s to stop selling all duck meat and achieved corporate changes within Whole Foods Market, Pier 1 Imports, and others, and she helped halt the construction of an industrial dairy operation in California. lauren was also the spark that got the founder of Whole Foods Market to become a vegan. In addition, she served as campaign director with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition for six years. Watch lauren’s TEDx talk, The Power of Our Food Choices.


Our Board Members

Jaya BhumitraJaya Bhumitra is the International Director of Corporate Outreach for Animal Equality, an international animal protection organization. She oversees a team of nine people in five countries working to effect meaningful policy changes for animals raised and killed for food. She also serves on the board of the Los Angeles chapter of New Leaders Council, a national nonprofit that develops progressive leaders. In addition, Jaya is the editor of Persimmon Takes on Humanity, the acclaimed first novel in The Enlightenment Adventures trilogy authored by Christopher Locke, her partner in life and advocacy. Jaya lives in Los Angeles and enjoys dancing, cooking, and traveling.


sharon_headshot_smSharon Daraphonhdeth is from San Diego County, where she discovered her passion for environmental and social justice. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from San Francisco State University and is the Interim Director for the Student Environmental Resource Center at UC Berkeley. Prior to UC Berkeley, she worked as the Sustainability Strategist for SF State’s Associated Students Inc. where she focused on implementing sustainability and social justice programs and initiatives. In 2012, Sharon served as F.E.P.’s very first intern and has been a member of F.E.P.’s board since 2015. She enjoys live music, cooking, and spending time with loved ones (especially her cat, Lucille).


lauren Ornelas
Executive Director, Food Empowerment Project
Please see the Food Empowerment Project staff information to read more about lauren Ornelas.



AnikaAnika Lehde serves as F.E.P.’s Chapter & Special Projects Coordinator, she helps organize volunteers for outreach, fundraising, education, and other Food Empowerment Project work in Washington State. When not volunteering with F.E.P., Anika is the President of a marketing consulting firm and lead writer for Seattle Vegan Score, a local blog profiling vegan people, events, companies, and animal advocacy. She is active in the Seattle feminist community and is currently on the advisory board of the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN).


Fernando Cuenca serves as one of F.E.P.’s Washington Chapter Co-Coordinators. He was born and raised 8500 feet closer to the stars in Bogotá, Colombia and has been active in social justice and animal rights since 1999 in both his home country and the United States. Fernando holds a MS degree in Mechanical Engineering and daylights as an structural engineer at an aerospace company. When not crunching numbers he can be found taking pictures in the outdoors, talking about the awesomeness of Transformers, particle physics or any writings related to the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza. He currently lives north of Seattle with his wife, son and cat.


Maria French serves as one of F.E.P.’s Washington Chapter Co-Coordinators. Maria has been an activist for nearly two decades, advocating for a variety of issues including animal rights, food justice, and support for LGBTQ service members and veterans. Maria holds a business degree from University of Washington Foster School of Business and during her time in the Navy, she served as a Victim’s Advocate in the Sexual Assault Victim Intervention Program. She is active in Seattle’s local animal activism community and facilitates a Seattle-based foster and adoption program for dogs in partnership with Mexico-based rescues.


Eva Marie-Dones Piccininni serves as one of F.E.P.’s Washington Chapter Co-Coordinators. She is passionate about animal rights, feminism, racial justice, the environment, and LGBTQ liberation. Eva works as a SQL database developer for the University of Washington and is committed to exploring the use of technology in the public, nonprofit, and education sectors. She holds an MSE in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MLIS from the University of Washington. In her free time, she enjoys reading, long distance running, live music and dance, thinking about cats, and volunteering for a local rock and roll summer camp for girls and gender non-conforming youth.


Our Advisory Board

Bina Ahmad
Bina is a social justice attorney, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and an Ahmadi Muslim. She lived and worked in Palestine with Al-Haq, served on the legal team for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, was a legal consultant to Badil as well as the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Palestine Division. She served as the National Lawyers Guild’s National Vice President and currently serves on the Steering Committee of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. She conducts Know Your Rights trainings for radical left movements and state-targeted communities. She currently is a public defender in Manhattan, New York.

Cyan is a professional software critic who has worked with Grey2K in MA, the Boston Vegan Association and has co-led several feminist, vegan or intersectional discussion groups. Cyan is a half-life vegan and the author of a vegan website.

Emiko Badillo
Emiko is originally from San Antonio, Texas, and has lived in Portland, Oregon since 2002. Being vegan since 1997, most of her activism has been around animal rights issues until seeing a racial gap in the vegan movement in Portland pushed her to become a member of Social Justice Fund NW and learn about systemic oppression. She is co-owner of Food Fight! Vegan Grocery, co-founded Portland Vegans of Color, and is dedicated to working for racial justice and bridging the gap between human and animal rights work.

Valerie Belt
Valerie has a B.A. in Economics from U.C.L.A, a Multiple Subject teaching credential with supplemental authorization in Mathematics from C.S.U.N, and was certified as a Humane Educator through the Institute for Humane Education. She has taught in middle schools in Los Angeles, Kuwait, Singapore and Bolivia and has been actively involved in food justice issues for more than 10 years. Valerie is currently a technology instructor at a public charter elementary school.

Karen S. Emmerman
Karen earned her PhD in philosophy in 2012 from the University of Washington, with a focus on ecofeminist animal ethics. She is part-time faculty in the UW and Seattle University philosophy departments as well as the Philosopher-in-Residence at John Muir Elementary School. Karen co-founded the University of Washington Critical Animal Studies Working Group and teaches and publishes in animal ethics with a focus on recognizing the inter-locking nature of human and animal oppression. Having begun her animal activism at 9 years old, Karen is passionate about veganism and all aspects of social justice.

pattrice jones
pattrice is a cofounder of VINE Sanctuary, an LGBTQ-led farmed animal refuge that works within an ecofeminist understanding of intersectionality. An activist since the 1970s, pattrice has been a tenant organizer, an anti-racist educator, and a campaign strategist. The author The Oxen at the Intersection (Lantern Books, 2014) and Aftershock (Lantern Books, 2007) as well as dozens of anthology chapters, pattrice also has taught college and university courses in the theory and practice of social change activism.

Aph Ko
Aph Ko is an author and decolonial theorist. She’s the founder of Black Vegans Rock, and co-author of Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters (Lantern Books, 2017). Back in 2015, Aph wrote the first article that listed 100 black vegans. She is currently working on a second book that centers on animality and race. She served as an Associate Producer for the documentary film Always in Season (which will air on PBS), and she is currently a consultant for the film the Invisible Vegan. Her work has been featured in the New York TimesHuffington PostVegNews magazine, and Black Youth Project.

Jennifer Knapp
Jennifer serves as F.E.P.’s pro bono counsel. She is a senior associate at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C., the premier legal advisor to technology and growth enterprises worldwide, where she practices corporate and securities law. In addition to providing pro bono legal counsel to a number of organizations, she volunteers her time on various animal-related issues. She graduated with High Honors from U.C. Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Sociology, and she received her law degree from U.C. Hastings graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Gina Myers
Gina graduated from Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business and has served as our CPA since 2010. She is a long-time vegan who loves to cook, garden, and figure skate. She also volunteers her time with SNYP, a local spay and neuter organization.

Brenda Sanders
Brenda serves as Executive Director of Better Health, Better Life, a public health organization in Baltimore, MD. Through Better Health, Better Life, Brenda runs the Eating for Life program, a series of free workshops aimed at teaching people in low-income communities how to live a healthier, more holistic lifestyle. Brenda is also Co-Director of Open the Cages Alliance, an animal advocacy organization that organizes the annual Vegan Living Program – a 6 week community-based vegan education program. She’s also a founding member of PEP Foods, Inc; a collective of vegan activists and business owners in Baltimore City who are working towards food justice.

Dave Williams
Dave is a Licensed General Contractor, a Certified Green Builder and in 2006 he earned his Permaculture Design Certification. This pioneering science integrates technology and biological systems to lessen the impact of human waste and resource consumption on the planet. David also participates in a local community garden where he grows an assortment of vegetables, and where all surplus foods are shared with both the members and the local Alameda Food Bank. Here he is allowed to practice the Permaculture Principles of Ethics: Care for the Earth, care for people, and set limits to consumption, reproduction, and share the surplus.

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