Our mission to create a compassionate food system requires exceptional leadership. We need leaders with ambition, passion, and wisdom on a scale that matches our massive goal. Today, we are thrilled to announce that we’ve welcomed four outstanding new members to our U.S. board of directors: TL Gray, research associate at the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and an adjunct assistant professor at NYU Stern School of Business; Sid Hariharan, managing director at Rothschild & Co; Liza Heavener, chief operating officer of NEXUS; and Ashley Bugeja Vuu, an HR executive with deep experience in change management and diversity.
They will join our existing board members: Milo Runkle, founder; Derek Coons, founding board member; Lisa Feria, CEO of Stray Dog Capital; Alexis Fox, CEO of Lighter; Michael Pellman Rowland, impact investor and food writer; and Jaime Surenkamp, a restaurant industry veteran.
In expanding our board, we sought candidates who possessed not only a drive to advance our mission but a commitment to antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion and the capacity to help Mercy For Animals put these concepts into practice. We placed this requirement front and center as we recruited for the positions. With help from our diversity, equity, and inclusion partner, Critical Diversity Solutions, we designed a rigorous recruitment process and communicated frequently with our candidates.
As a result, we have four stellar new board members who reflect not just who Mercy For Animals is today but the more effective, equitable, and inclusive organization we aspire to be.
Our board is dedicated to guiding strategy and ensuring good governance, including reviewing our programs, providing advice and coaching to our senior team members, and managing our finances so that your donations help as many animals as possible.
We are confident that our new board members’ professionalism and expertise will benefit our organization—and the animals—for years to come! Read on, or check out our website to learn more about Mercy For Animals’ amazing new board members.
Tyson-Lord (“TL”) Gray is a research associate at the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and an adjunct assistant professor at NYU Stern School of Business. His research lies at the intersections of environmental ethics, critical race theory, and public policy. He is specifically interested in the influence of society and culture on environmental history and policy. Dr. Gray has taught courses on animals and public policy at NYU, as well as presented numerous papers on animal rights at academic conferences. He is a member of the New York State Bar, a minister with the National Baptist Convention, and a board member at Green the Church.
Siddharth (“Sid”) Hariharan is a managing director at Rothschild & Co, a leading global advisory firm. Sid advises clients across industries on mergers and acquisitions, as well as fundraising. He is especially focused on plant-based businesses and helping them access funding and monetization opportunities. Sid is a passionate vegan and hopes to engender a kind and compassionate planet.
Liza Heavener serves as the chief operating officer of NEXUS. After being a NEXUS member for many years, Liza was tapped to chair the NEXUS Working Group on Animal Welfare and Biodiversity Conservation. She had spent the previous decade on Capitol Hill, running campaign strategy and grassroots outreach.
As a founding member of DeforestACTION, Liza coordinated the launch of a new orangutan rehabilitation center in the Bornean rainforests. Her work is featured in Rise of the Eco-Warrior, an internationally acclaimed documentary and TV series. Liza serves as an advisor to the Millennial Action Project, Well Beings charity, Eastern Mennonite University, and White Coat Waste. She has spoken at conferences and events around the world.
Ashley Bugeja Vuu
Ashley Bugeja Vuu is an HR executive with deep experience in change management and diversity. Originally from Detroit, Ashley was the first person in her family to earn master’s and bachelor’s degrees. For more than 10 years she has advocated for the environment and underprivileged people of color, citing a lifestyle of “kindness to the vulnerable,” which includes being vegan.
Ashley has held HR leadership positions at some of the largest tech firms, including Infosys, Unisys, and Computer Science Corporation. She also holds a Global Professional in Human Resources certification and is fluent in Spanish and English. When she is not working or volunteering, Ashley enjoys spending time with her family and pursuing her passion for long-distance running fueled entirely by plants.
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