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 helped 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nationally, she has volunteered for the Humane Party as Editing Coordinator and The Pollination Project as Grant Advisor.
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.
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.
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.
Steffany Miller has been following a whole-food plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle since 2017. Her son, Gabriel Miller, “Plant-Based Gabriel”, first started eating a vegan diet after a back injury ended his football career. Steffany was also influenced by her daughter, Gracie, the “Midwest Vegan Queen”, who also follows a vegan lifestyle and is passionate about health and fitness. Now Steffany’s whole family follows a plant-based diet and is helping others who want to better their health, have a positive impact on the planet, and promote the well-being of animals. In addition to continuing her own journey to improving her health and being a whole-food plant-based advocate, Steffany also works as a Senior Property Manager with Bradley Company and an AirBnB host.
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.
Mary embraced the vegan lifestyle several years ago. 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.