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.
Karen Sommers has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s degree in Counseling. She serves as Coordinator of the Dr. Dean Ornish Program to Reverse Heart Disease for Goshen Health. Previously, she was the Coordinator for the Ornish Program at Beacon Health System. Before this position, Karen worked at United Way of St. Joseph County where she was the Vice President of Community Investment.
Karen has spent over twenty years in healthcare. Her healthcare history includes: Vice President of Marketing and Development; Executive Director of Oncology Services; Director of the Healing Arts Center; and Director of Memorial’s Center for Integrative Healing. Her passion and belief is a holistic approach to one’s health and well-being.
Santana Bozman is the newest member of the Michiana Veg Fest Board of Directors. After volunteering for the Veg Fest event in 2019 and giving “Kind Chef” talks alongside Veg EDU at the beginning of 2020, she is excited to help further develop plant-based roots in the community.
Beyond her role as a plant-based advocate, Santana is also a softball coach and a personal risk advisor at Gibson Insurance.
More information about Santana Bozman:
Santana’s favorite foods;Santana’s dramatic weight change after she adopted a plant-based lifestyle.
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.”
A vegetarian since July 1976 and a vegan since March 2017, Dana is very excited to join Michiana 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.
– Grew up in Villa Park, suburb of Chicago
– Graduated from Ripon College – Fine Arts
– Graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia – Master of Library Science
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.
– Dogs and cats and goats. (her household = one Ooona, one Pete)
What keeps Dana on track:
– Listening to Scandinavian noir crime stories while ever vegan-dish-making experimenting or sewing…or otherwise working on her projects.
Other ‘keep me on track’ activities:
– Swimming and yoga
– Walking with Ooona
Originally from Maryland, Jeanne has lived in our community for many years. Her involvement with a variety of nonprofits in our community as both a volunteer and a professional has been a continuing source of inspiration and satisfaction for her.
Her background includes working with volunteers with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra League, the volunteers at Beacon Memorial Hospital, and as a founding organizer for Bike the Bend – a family-friendly community biking event.
Jeanne recently retired as development director of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Joseph County.
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!
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, and mountain walking, watching Formula One and rugby.
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.
Before moving to the U.S. over 30 years ago, Catherine lived as an expat in Switzerland and Morocco. She taught French and Francophone literature and film at Notre Dame until she retired in 2016.
An ethical vegan who is also health-conscious and concerned about our natural environment, Catherine helped found the first veg student group at Notre Dame, VegND.
For the local group VegMichiana she enjoys organizing restaurant outings and film evenings at home where participants share vegan snacks and stimulating conversation.
Monica Brazier is a professional photographer and marketing consultant who resides in South Bend with her husband and two children.
Her journey with plant-based eating started in 2016 after watching the popular documentary film What The Health. After learning about the pollutants that are in animal products, and to take better control of their health, Monica and her husband Cory adopted a Vegan eating lifestyle.
Monica is passionate about educating people within her own community about the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. She is out to prove how eating this way doesn’t have to be expensive and tastes delicious.
Monica currently manages the Facebook group Vegan 4 Dinner where she shares plant-based recipes that are affordable, quick, and easy, and which are convenient for busy moms like herself. Monica’s favorite health quote is “You should eat to live, not live to eat.”
Michele Dahms has a degree in Business Admin and Marketing from IUSB and has worked in the conventional and natural food industry for over 30 years. Michele managed a Natural Food Store for 5 years, then worked for a major natural food distributor, creating educational material for sales, along with working with brokers and manufacturers in Chicago, to educate conventional stores on natural food products.Michele is a graduate of the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, where she received her certification as a Raw Food Culinary Chef. She is a Holistic Health/Live Food and Lifestyle coach through the Gabriel Cousens School of Holistic Health.
Michele understands the necessity of plant-based nutrition for good health. She has been a sales coordinator for Juice Plus Company+ for the past 17 years and recently added Beauty Counter to her toolkit. She is passionate about the wellness revolution and getting safer products into the hands of everyone.
Jacqueline moved to Mishawaka from the Chicago suburbs over 30 years ago. After working in the retail sector for a number of years she moved on to healthcare for the last 20 years. At Beacon Health System, she held positions in Procurement and Management as well as running HealthWorks Kids Museum. Her time there was extremely rewarding with the primary goals of children’s health, nutrition and well-being improvement in the community as the mission.
Her family is her focus and having retired as Physicians Practice manager, she now has the time to spend and enjoy with them.
Served as Treasurer on the Board of FUMC Soup Kitchen
Reducing Obesity Coalition of St. Joseph County
United Way of St. Joseph County – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Health Allocation Panel
Hope Rescue Mission – Responsible for coordinating food support
Lead Corporate/Community environmentally responsible project
Memorial Planet Health Project
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.”
As an Associate Director for Public Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, Jessica Brookshire focuses on building partnerships with local nonprofits and community groups. She also works with faculty, staff and students at the university to promote engagement within the local community.
Jessica has done extensive work with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the United Way of St. Joseph County (UWSJC) and was honored in 2012 with the Dedication Award from ACS and the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2016 from UWSJC.
Mary recently embraced the vegan lifestyle. Social media brought the atrocities of lack of animal welfare to her attention. “There are just some things you can’t un-see, ” she says. While individually it’s difficult to make an impact, collectively “we can all make an impact together – on health, the environment, and animals.”
Mary lives in Granger, IN with her husband and Aussie-doodle, Benson. She is happy to connect with like-minded people to help spread the word about becoming vegan.
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.