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.
Cory Brazier is the co-director of Gentlemen and Scholars Inc., a non-profit co-ed mentorship organization based out of South Bend, Indiana. Cory is also the co-owner of Brazierfit Boxing, a fitness company that was formed by modeling the techniques and fitness regimen of his father, former #1 ranked boxer Harold Brazier. Cory was born and raised in South Bend and has a mindset that is well aware of the current pulse of the community. Married with two kids, Cory’s passions are along the lines of a strong family bond, holistic health and wellness, the finding of one’s effortless purpose and financial freedom.
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 was the manager for a Natural Food Store for 5 years. Then, she went on to work for a major natural food distributor, creating educational material for the sales department, along with working with brokers and manufacturers in the Chicago area 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. In addition, she is a Holistic Health/Live Food and Lifestyle coach through the Gabriel Cousens School of Holistic Health.
Kay has dedicated her professional career to the pursuit of health and education throughout the Michiana not-for-profit organizations. With an MSW degree in policy, planning, and administration, she has served in fund development as president or executive director for Elkhart General Hospital Foundation, United Way of Saint Joseph County, Saint Mary’s College development department, Family & Children’s Center Foundation, and Oaklawn Foundation for Mental Health.
Recently retired from her development and marketing career, Kay is an IARP Master Reiki Teacher, establishing Reiki practices in both Porter Beach and South Bend, Indiana.
Based in Spokane, Washington, Josh is a plant-powered philanthropist and health advocate, who provides IT/Web support to compassionate organizations around the world.
Josh founded the organization INVEG (Inland Northwest Vegans) in 2014, to help people transition into a plant-based life by creating support in the region. And in 2015, Josh organized the first annual Spokane VegFest, Washington State’s largest all plant-based living festival. Josh also runs the non-profit organization Loving Co-Op and the business support organization Kindly Thrive.
Born and raised on Chicago’s south side, Jerry Roberts currently resides in the south suburbs of Chicago and owns a remanufacturing company that serves the transportation industry. Stress and a poor diet were just the norm in his life 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. After participating in the program, he went from full carnivore to a plant-based diet. By making this change he has lost over 80 lbs., lowered his cholesterol over 70 points without meds and he’s now more active than ever.
Watch an inspiring video that Jerry made especially for VegFest!
Megan’s interest in plant-based eating began with a focus on health but also includes concerns for animals and the environment. In 2012 she received a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Foundation and eCornell. She is passionate about sharing the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Kelly served Michiana VegFest with great energy and enthusiasm from early 2018 until summer 2020, when she needed to dedicate more time to her business. We miss her presence in our team and wish her full success in her new ventures.
Dawn Anderson began a vegan lifestyle overnight in Nov 2017 after watching the documentary What the Health. She was concerned about her health, having just started high blood pressure medicine and possibly statins. Since going plant-based, she has been able to reduce her total cholesterol from 237 to below 150 with no drugs, only diet changes. She also suffered from severe heartburn, for which she took medicine almost every day. She no longer has any heartburn since she adopted a plant-based lifestyle.
She received her certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition, a program created by T. Colin Campbell and through eCornell University in March 2018. In 2019 she received a certificate of the completion of the program Plant Pure Health and Weight Loss Online Seminar. She is currently taking a Professional Vegan Culinary course through Rouxbe online Culinary School and wants to provide a local vegan meal delivery service.
As Associate Director for Public Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, Jessica focuses on building partnerships with local nonprofits and community groups while working with faculty, staff and students to promote engagement within our community.
Marcy’s plant-based journey began in summer of 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 now a thing of the past. 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.
Because of her love for animals, Andrea first planned to be a veterinarian. Instead, she chose a career in music and just recently retired after 36 years performing with the South Bend Symphony and teaching. For the past 17 years, she has been working in the health/wellness/nutrition realm and is loving that she has fully completed her transition from the performing arts to the healing arts. 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.” Andrea reminisces how, “I always felt like a hypocrite eating meat, but like Mikey in the advertisements, I was known for ‘give it to Andi, she’ll eat anything!'” Watching the documentary Eating (check out www.ravediet.com) flipped the switch for her and she went from a complete omnivore to vegan overnight. The film covers issues like land use, unnecessary starvation in the world, health issues and Andrea’s real “hot button”-animal husbandry. She could no longer support an industry of such cruelty.
This is an easy time to be vegan as it is becoming more and more mainstream. Andrea likes to think that even 30 years ago, she would have had the discipline she has now to continue with this lifestyle. Sometimes being vegan is like swimming upstream, but vegans are a hearty clan and she’s honored to swim amongst them!
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.” 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.