Michiana VegFest is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, led by passionate and energetic volunteers who care about health, wellness, animals, and the environment. Meet the Board and the team who are helping make this event happen. If you would like to join our team, fill out our volunteer application form and tell us about you and what you are interested in.
Jeff became a vegetarian about 25 years ago related to concern for the environment. He has been vegan for over 12 years after learning more about the health benefits of a fully plant-based diet. He is originally from Canada. He graduated from Calvin College with a degree in social work and psychology and has worked in healthcare for 20+ years.
Tyler is super passionate about making a positive impact on others, endlessly learning, and helping the world think more about stewardship and sustainability for Mother Earth. Before 2022, Tyler did not know a lot about the negative environmental impacts, animal harm, and human health issues around animal agriculture. Tyler was a sponsor of the 2022 Vegfest, and that all changed quickly when he met the legendary Glen Merzer who convinced him to go vegan to lower his dangerously high cholesterol! One month after going full vegan, Tyler lowered it by 100 points in the positive direction. He is now a proud vegan for the planet, and a new board member of Michiana VegFest as of 2023! Check out his LinkedIN page to learn more, or reach out to him.
Mike is a recent convert to a plant-based diet driven by concerns over food safety, environmental issues, and animal welfare. Originally from the UK, he moved to the USA in 1988. Mike received a Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech. Honors), Production Engineering and Management, from Loughborough University, England, and is a Chartered Engineer (C.Eng.) and member of the Institute of Engineering Technology. He became a US citizen in 2002.
Mike has held several chief executive roles in a variety of industries. He has 45 years of experience in the medical equipment, aerospace, power generation and electrical contracting industries. He has a passion for solar and renewable energy.
Now retired, Mike was Chief Executive Officer for Inovateus Solar and previously for Koontz-Wagner Holdings, a diversified Electrical Engineering group, after holding various positions at Koontz-Wagner including as Executive Vice President overseeing the operations of three of the company’s divisions. Prior to joining Koontz Wagner Mike spent 11 years in the medical equipment industry. He was Plant Manager for Anesthesia Systems in Yorkshire, England before transferring to Atlanta, US, as General Manager, Medical Engineering Systems.
Mike has 3 very international children, two living and working in the UK and one in Germany. He is a passionate supporter of Rotary International having been a member for nearly 30 years and is a Past President of South Bend and Norcross (Atlanta) clubs. He has run 13 marathons. Hobbies include travel, beach, forest, mountain walking, and watching Formula One and rugby.
Dave began his plant-based diet journey in 2018 to improve his running performance. After a life-threatening heart issue, he decided to become whole food plant-based vegan. As he learned more about veganism, the positive impact on the environment and sustainability reinforced his decision. Dave joined Michiana VegFest to raise awareness about veganism’s impact on personal health and creation of a sustainable world.
Dave works as a technology executive at a global technology consulting firm. He spends most of his free time with his wife, three daughters and two dogs in Granger. When he’s not with his family, Dave spends time running, bike trekking throughout the Midwest and perpetually fixing his Jeep Wrangler JK.
John Conway is a partner in the South Bend law firm of SouthBank Legal. John represents clients in commercial litigation matters in state and federal court. He’s admitted to practice in Indiana, Michigan, Texas, and the District of Columbia. John also serves as an adjunct professor of law at the Notre Dame Law School where he teaches in the trial skills program. He is AV rated (the highest legal rating available) for excellence by the leading law firm rating service, Martindale-Hubbell.
John is also a graduate of the Dean Ornish Lifestyle Program.
Marcy’s plant-based journey began in 2017 after her watching the documentary What the Health. Choosing not to take her doctor’s advice to begin a statin drug to lower cholesterol, she opted instead to adopt a healthy, whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. A mere six weeks later, she’d achieved a 50 point reduction in her total cholesterol number! In addition, her recurring migraine headaches are gone. Today she’s quick to share her new-found knowledge with others who may be struggling with health issues.
As a 21 year member of the La Porte County Master Gardener program, Marcy is also a steward for the earth and its environment; the plant-based lifestyle falls into perfect alignment with these values.
“I truly believe in the plant-based lifestyle, not only for human health (and animal life), but also for the health of the planet. Working through Michiana Veg Fest affords the opportunity to share this critical information with others.”
Fueled by her passion for food people and food, In 2018 Jas began looking for ways to eat and live healthier. Inspired by health documentaries, she uncovered that a change in food could aid in preventing health disparities that she’d seen plague so many people that she cared about.
Jasmine took matters into her own hands and began to shift the way she looked at food, seeing food as the source of healing. She began to consume plant-based options and took some of her favorite dishes and made them into vegan dishes without sacrificing taste; surprising everyone she shared her dishes with! Thus the creation of Vegan Bites by Jas!
At Vegan bites by Jas, We work hard to empower and educate our customers to live the long, healthy, and fulfilled life that they desire. We exist to make comfort food healthy & delicious! Every day we are striving to impact people’s lives, by changing what they eat!
As her business slogan says, “Let’s do this health Journey together!”
In addition to being the owner of Vegan Bites by Jas, Jasmine owns Cultivation by Jas where she is supporting youth and family-focused organizations that desire to engage, impact, and empower in their community.
After seeing a video of a cow ‘jumping for joy’ when released from a dairy farm, Bethany was inspired and called to a Vegan way of life. Paired with the realization that there is no ‘Plan B’ for our planet, Bethany became a Vegan over two years ago and reports, “I haven’t looked back since!”
Bethany has a Master’s Degree in Contemporary and Alternative Medicine and practices a spiritual life that includes Yoga.
She resides in Niles, Michigan,
with her husband and ‘furbaby’ Emma. The couple enjoys traveling and trying the newest Vegan cuisine.
As an addition to the board, Bethany is looking forward to strengthening the ties within the Vegan community and further educating those on Vegan lifestyles and practices.
Born and raised on Chicago’s south side, Jerry Roberts resides in the south Chicago suburbs and owns a remanufacturing company in the transportation industry. Stress and a poor diet were the norm, until a heart attack in June 2016 launched his journey toward health. He was introduced to a plant-based diet through the Dr. Dean Ornish Reversal Program. He went from full carnivore to a plant-based diet. By making this change he lost over 80 lbs., lowered his cholesterol over 70 points without meds and is now more active than ever.
Jerry is married to an amazing, supportive wife who encouraged him to give this lifestyle a try. He also has 4 kids who support and encourage him. An avid mountain biker and runner, Jerry practices yoga and transcendental meditation as well. He regularly shares his story and offers support and encouragement to other heart attack survivors, participants of Dr. Ornish’ Reversal Program and people who struggle with heart disease.
Watch an inspiring video that Jerry made especially for VegFest!
She has been a proud resident of the South Bend area since 1989.
In March 2022, Dana retired from St. Joseph County Public Library after 25 years of incredible opportunities and experiences, working with inspiring colleagues and community members.
She finished up her last 10 years as Manager of the Francis Branch.
In 2022, she also became involved with the Art League of the South Bend Museum of Art.
In addition to her work at St. Joseph County Public Library, Dana has had the good fortune to work in public libraries in Green Bay, St. Louis, Niles, and Underhill/Jericho, Vermont.
She has also worked in many retail jobs including food coops along with museums in Green Bay and Madison, Wisconsin. These have all deeply influenced Dana in how she works with people…as hospitality is her thing.
Dana loves dogs and cats and goats. (her household = one Ooona, one Pete)
Because of her love for animals, Andrea first planned to be a veterinarian. Instead, she chose a career in music and recently retired after 36 years performing with the South Bend Symphony. For the past 17 years, she has worked in health/wellness/nutrition. She now serves as National Marketing Director for the Juice Plus+ Company.
Becoming vegan in 2010 was a result of “finally living in alignment with [her] core values.” Watching the documentary Eating (check out www.ravediet.com) flipped the switch for her and she went from a complete omnivore to vegan overnight.
Andrea lives in South Bend with her husband and is mom to 4 cats and a dog. She crafted a personal mission statement about 15 years ago and is now living it to the best of her ability: “To serve. To generate and inspire kindness and healing to Mother Earth and all living things.”
After researching veganism, Brandi knew right away that an animal-free diet aligned more with her true self. Growing up on a small livestock farm, she had always struggled deciphering between friend and food. Since becoming vegan, she has experienced a multitude of benefits! She has become passionate about helping others understand the positive advantages that a plant-based lifestyle will have on their health, the exploited animals and the planet.