Meet MFA Canada

Directors

Twyla Francois
Director of Investigations
TwylaF@MercyForAnimals.ca

Twyla Francois is director of investigations for Mercy For Animals Canada. Twyla holds a bachelor’s degree with a double major in anthropology and psychology and spent two years studying forensic anthropology at the master’s level learning to speak for victims of violent crime who could no longer speak for themselves. After receiving a photo of a tied up, suffering pig at a local collecting station, Twyla went on to conduct an investigation through which she learned of the shocking, systemic, and routine cruelty inflicted on farmed animals. Her work as a farmed animal cruelty investigator has been the focus of numerous documentaries, including No Country for Animals (Global National), Bêtes à bord (CBC Radio-Canada), and No Country for Horses (CBC National).

Investigations conducted or overseen by Twyla have led to the closure of facilities, animal cruelty charges and convictions, corporate animal welfare policy reforms, government-commissioned research, rescues of abused and neglected farmed animals, and millions of Canadians’ hearts and minds opened to the power of food choices to create a kinder world.

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Through her role with Mercy For Animals Canada, Twyla works closely with undercover investigators to obtain video footage and other evidence of animal abuse at factory farms, hatcheries, and slaughterhouses. She also works with attorneys, veterinarians, and animal welfare experts to review covert footage and draft criminal complaints, and with local, provincial, and federal law enforcement agencies to secure animal cruelty convictions against individuals and facilities that abuse animals.

Twyla has rescued and been fortunate to share her life with numerous farmed animals, including Wilbur, the pig she rescued off the highway after a trailer accident, Marlene and Natalie, unsold chicks about to be stomped at a livestock auction, and Sophie and Katie, two injured and traumatized turkeys who escaped the catchers hired to load them for slaughter.


Krista Osborne
Director of Operations
KristaO@MercyForAnimals.ca

Krista is director of operations for Mercy For Animals Canada, responsible for financial management, government and industry relations, human resources, volunteer coordination, outreach campaigns, and media relations. Krista has spent over two decades working for large international organizations as a senior human resource strategist, and has more than ten years under her belt as both a business partner in a Toronto law firm and a founding partner of the firm’s specialized employment and human resources practice.

Krista holds several degrees, including a master’s in leadership for which she wrote a thesis on the egregious working conditions of slaughterhouses in the southern United States, and the deep interconnection between human rights and animal rights.

Upon reading “Diet for a New America” by John Robbins in 1986, Krista’s life changed, and it was then that a very passionate animal rights activist was born. Krista regularly writes, works and speaks on behalf of animals who cannot speak for themselves, including chairing various conferences on animal rights.

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Along with her husband, Krista rescues all manner of “fur-kids,” and currently shares her home with Pitou, Smurfette, Blue, Honey, Spice, Chip, and Dale. Everyone who knows Krista and her husband knows that they will always find a home for any animal that comes to them.

Krista is also a very passionate vegan chef, and loves to show family and friends the true joy and abundance of vegan cuisine.


Anna Pippus
Director of Legal Advocacy
AnnaP@MercyForAnimals.ca

Anna Pippus was a founding board member of Mercy For Animals Canada and helped to establish the governance and strategic planning of the organization. She currently serves as the director of legal advocacy, working with law enforcement to hold animal abusers accountable for their illegal treatment of farmed animals under provincial and federal law. Anna also ensures the organization’s compliance with all applicable laws.

Anna obtained her juris doctor from the University of Toronto where she won the Nancy Park Book Prize in International Women's Rights and the Helton Fellowship from the American Society for International Law. She articled at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto as a judicial law clerk. Anna also holds an undergraduate degree in psychology with first class honours from the University of British Columbia where she won numerous scholarships and awards.

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Anna's expertise is in the area of farmed animal law. She has spoken about farmed animal law before a variety of audiences, including at the Ontario Bar Association’s Institute 2014—the largest legal education conference in Canada—and Toronto’s Vegetarian Food Festival, the largest festival of its kind in North America. Anna has also appeared in a variety of media discussing farmed animal issues, especially as they relate to law.

Anna shares her home and heart with her four rescue cats and her wonderful vegan husband and son.


Johnathan Skinner
Director of Information Technology
JohnathanS@MercyForAnimals.ca

Johnathan Skinner is director of information technology for Mercy For Animals Canada, building and maintaining the websites that serve as windows into veganism and the plight of farmed animals for thousands of people every day.

Raised in Calgary, Alberta, right in the middle of cattle country, Johnathan's upbringing was far from veg-friendly. It wasn't until his twenties that he met his first vegetarian. This chance encounter became a life-changing event and he quickly transformed from a cowboy-hat-wielding Calgary Stampede attendee into an animal rights advocate protesting outside the gates.

At the turn of the millennium, Johnathan moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, to start afresh with his new vegan lifestyle. He has spent most of the years since as a volunteer advocate for animal rights, organizing outreach and vegan social events, and interning with various organizations around the world, including Mercy For Animals in Chicago. He is currently the sole coordinator of Veg Fest Vancouver—an all-vegan summer street festival hosted right in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

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Johnathan started his professional career as a video game programmer. Only a year out of high school, he landed a job creating a game for Nintendo. Since then he’s also worked on titles published by Microsoft, Sierra, Capcom, EA, and his own independent company, Veggie Games. Johnathan’s entrepreneurial drive gave rise to Steer Madness, a popular animal rights computer game of his own design, construction, and publication. More recently, he expanded into website and app development, finding himself designing and programming software systems for the world’s largest dating website, PlentyofFish.

Possessing the right combination of programming, design, database, and IT skills, along with his passion to make the world a better place for animals, Johnathan has settled very happily into his role at MFA Canada.


Associates

Dr. Olivier Berreville
Scientific Advisor
OlivierB@MercyForAnimals.ca

Olivier Berreville holds a doctorate in biology from Dalhousie University. Originally from France, Olivier spent much of his childhood around farmed animals, witnessing not only the complexity of the animals’ lives but the reality of their exploitation at the hands of humans. He has acquired additional knowledge through independent research as well as field experience documenting the confinement, transportation, and slaughter of animals across Canada.

Olivier served on the Animal Cruelty Investigation Committee of the Nova Scotia SPCA, and has written articles on various aspects of farmed animal welfare and presented at universities, institutes, and conferences.

In his role as investigations and research associate, Olivier reviews and provides expert analysis of evidence documented by MFA Canada's undercover investigators. He assists the organization's legal team to determine potential violations of law, and conducts extensive research into agribusiness practices and animal welfare standards. Olivier also drafts comprehensive white papers on animal welfare issues, which assist in negotiating for better treatment for Canada's farmed animals.

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Olivier has conducted many investigations across Canada with a focus on on-farm conditions, and participated in the care of animals rescued from factory farms. His field experience, together with his scientific background, allow him to advocate for animals from a unique perspective.


Jason Halvorson
West Coast Volunteer Coordinator
JasonH@MercyForAnimals.ca

Jason Halvorson joins Mercy For Animals Canada as the West Coast volunteer coordinator. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Jason works with volunteers to plan and coordinate outreach activities at community events, concerts and campuses.

Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Jason can still remember the uproar when local celebrity KD Lang appeared in an advertisement advocating a vegetarian lifestyle. It planted a seed. After witnessing a fish being clubbed to death at a local grocery store, Jason went vegetarian, and then vegan shortly after.

Jason became an activist for animals shortly after moving to the West Coast. From there he traveled across the country working with various local and international animal rights organizations in Vancouver, Ottawa and Edmonton. Through these groups he has been instrumental in various campaigns, ranging from vegan outreach, anti-fur, shark finning and foie gras, as well as anti-rodeo demonstrations. Dressed as the dancing "Harper" seal, he played a starring role in an anti-seal hunt event in Ottawa, leading a parade of hundreds past Parliament Hill.

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Jason began his career in radio broadcasting before moving into the tourism industry, and most recently, into his role at MFA Canada. When not working for animals Jason enjoys record collecting, bike riding and searching out Vancouver's best vegan desserts.


Lucas Solowey
National Outreach Coordinator
LucasS@MercyForAnimals.ca

Lucas Solowey joins the Mercy For Animals Canada team as the national outreach coordinator. Raised in Montreal, Lucas knew at a young age that the plight of animals was his cause and that he would do everything in his power to make the world a kinder place for all sentient beings. Lucas has been turning his beliefs into hard work and action for animals since 1999.

Lucas has organized and participated in events in over twenty cities worldwide and has been named by local, national, and international media outlets. He has worked professionally with celebrities, film directors, members of the media, politicians, businesses, and international nonprofit organizations, garnering the attention and respect of the global community. In 2011, Lucas toured North America on a college outreach campaign that encouraged students to sign petitions in support of Meatless Mondays and increased vegan options on campuses. Not only did over 70,000 students lend their signatures, numerous schools adopted more veg-friendly policies.

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While completing his bachelor of arts degree in sociology at Montreal’s Concordia University, Lucas was president of the Concordia Animal Rights Association (CARA) and achieved many victories for animals. For his contribution to sustainability and community involvement, Lucas was honoured with the 2007 Concordia University Eco-Sense award and for his work with CARA, the 2008 “Most Dedicated Executive” award from the Concordia Student Union. As a councillor with the Concordia Student Union, he penned the Ethical Choice Policy, which requires that one third of all food options at university events be vegetarian and that at least one option be vegan. This policy passed unanimously.

Lucas’s other awards and accolades include PETA’s 2008 Matthew Eyton Animal Advocate Award and a 2009 nomination for PETA’s sexiest vegetarian competition. For several years he was also voted “Loudest Activist” in the Montreal Mirror newspaper’s Best of Montreal poll.

Lucas currently lives in Toronto and is a passionate advocate for animal protection, delicious plant-based cuisine, and sustainable living. Lucas’s love for vegan cooking can often be seen in The National Post’s “Gastropost” section, where he is a frequent contributor.


Tayler Staneff
Operations Manager
TaylerS@MercyForAnimals.ca

Tayler Staneff serves as Mercy For Animals Canada’s operations manager, ensuring the smooth administration of the organization’s many initiatives. Growing up surrounded by companion animals, Tayler’s love of animals led her to become a vegetarian at the age of twelve and a vegan at the age of eighteen. Since then, she has immersed herself in the animal rights movement, actively promoting animal rights both in her personal and academic life.

Tayler holds an honours degree in political science with a minor in sociology and a concentration in public law from Brock University. In 2014, she will complete her master’s degree in critical sociology at Brock University, where her research has focused on farmed animal advocacy, the failure of animal protection laws, and the repression of activists by industry and governments.

In her academic life, Tayler has developed expertise in a range of animal issues. She has attended and participated in numerous animal advocacy conferences, such as the Institute for Critical Animal Studies’ 11th Annual North American Conference, where she delivered a talk entitled “Factory Farming, the Environment, and Capitalism”. This presentation was selected to be aired on the Animal Voices radio show, a Toronto-based broadcast that focuses on and promotes animal rights.

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Tayler has also won a number of awards for her academic work in critical animal studies, including the Undergraduate Paper of the Year by the Institute of Critical Animal Studies in both 2011 and 2013 for her papers “Animal Experimentation and the Law: Are the Laws Enough?” and “Animal Liberation: A Social Justice Movement”.

In her activist life, Tayler works with Niagara Action for Animals, a nonprofit animal rights and rescue organization. A NAfA activist since 2008, she has worked on outreach campaigns, planning and organizing demonstrations, the development of literature, fundraising campaigns, recruiting donors and sponsors, and hands-on work with the spay/neuter and adoption programs.

Tayler has also served as a media spokesperson for NAfA, mentioned in numerous local papers, including the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Weekly, Niagara this Week, the Welland Tribune, and the Toronto Star. In early 2012, she was chosen as the spokesperson for a local radio show interview concerning the numerous charges of abuse and neglect laid against Maple Lodge Farms (Canada’s largest chicken “producer”).

She is very active in the animal rights movement and continues to be a strong voice for animals, promoting compassion and animal rights in Canada and working toward elevating the legal status of animals.

Tayler has been part of a number of rescues over the years and shares her home with three rescued potcake dogs from the Turks and Caicos Islands and numerous rescued cats.


Board Members

Kimberly Carroll
Board Member
KimberlyC@MercyForAnimals.ca

Kimberly Carroll is a founding board member for Mercy For Animals Canada. Growing up in farm country—specifically the "Wheat City" of Brandon, Manitoba—Kimberly’s love for animals led her to become vegetarian in 1996 and eventually a vegan and avid animal protection advocate in the field of farmed animals.

As a television host, producer, and personal development coach, Kimberly's animal protection/veg advocacy specialties range from media affairs to hosting and moderating events to teaching activist empowerment/self-care. She was the campaign co-creator, co-coordinator, and spokesperson for the "Why Love One but Eat the Other?" ad series on the Toronto subway system in 2009 and 2011–12 that created an international pro-veg wave. She has also been the spokesperson and MC for the Toronto Veggie Pride Parade since its inauguration in 2009, a spokesperson for IFAW’s campaign to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, and a board member for the Toronto Animal Rights Society. Kimberly’s various animal advocacy initiatives have landed her appearances on CTV News, CP24, CBC News, Global News, Talktv's The Chatroom, Metro Morning, Newstalk 1010 and Animal Voices, as well as features in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, National Post, the Sun, and various international publications. As an activist, Kimberly is also passionate about human rights, politics, and environmental issues and often lends her hosting talents to these causes as well.

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Professionally, Kimberly has appeared on screens and stages across the world—from Africa to the U.S. to France. She holds a degree in broadcasting from Ryerson University, and as a broadcaster she has hosted and produced shows for W Network, WE TV, CBC Television and Radio, and CTV, to name just a few. As a coach, she has helped hundreds of people live more conscious and ignited lives.

She's thrilled to be a part of Mercy For Animals Canada and looks forward to helping to cultivate more compassion and action for farmed animals in this country.


Camille Labchuk
Board Member
CamilleL@MercyForAnimals.ca

Camille Labchuk is a volunteer board member for Mercy For Animals Canada. Based in Toronto, she is a longtime animal advocate, seasoned political strategist, and student-at-law.

A native of Prince Edward Island, Camille holds an honours degree in psychology from Mount Allison University and a law degree from the University of Toronto. Sensitive to animal suffering for as long as she can remember, Camille was raised in a politically active household where she was encouraged to question the status quo. She was inspired to become vegetarian as a twelve-year-old after watching a documentary about needless animal suffering at the hands of animal use industries, and she adopted a vegan lifestyle in her early twenties after learning more about the cruelty inherent in the meat, dairy, and egg industries.

After completing her first degree, Camille ran for Parliament in the 2006 federal election, and she went on to serve as press secretary to Green Party leader Elizabeth May in Ottawa. Following her time in politics, Camille worked as a public relations specialist for an international animal protection organization.

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In 2009, Camille decided to dedicate her career to animal protection issues by studying law. Having recently earned her law degree, she currently works as an articling student at a criminal defence firm where she is fortunate enough to be able to work pro bono on behalf of animals. Camille has a particular interest in using the legal and political systems to achieve animal protection goals. She intends to practice animal rights law, harnessing the power of the legal system to protect animals’ interests—particularly the voiceless victims of industrialized factory farms.

Camille’s animal advocacy work includes documenting the commercial seal kill on the ice floes of Canada’s East Coast for three years, and working on issues as diverse as factory farming, horse slaughter, puppy mills, trophy hunting, captive marine mammals, circuses, and shark finning.

In addition to Camille’s work on behalf of animals, she is committed to environmental protection and a fair, just society. Her passion for a sustainable, more equal world has led her to work on countless election campaigns at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels. She is also a former board member of the National Capital Vegetarian Association, past president of the University of Toronto Student Animal Legal Defense Fund club, and a former member of the federal Green Party’s governing council. Camille writes a weekly political column for the Hill Times newspaper, and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post Canada.

When not working to help animals, Camille enjoys sailing, reading, cycling, digging in her organic vegetable garden, and cooking delicious vegan meals.


Stephane Perrais
Board Member
StephaneP@MercyForAnimals.ca

Stephane sits on the board of directors of Mercy For Animals Canada after being director of operations for the first one and half years of the organization.

After completing a master’s degree in management with a focus on entrepreneurship from Europe’s leading business school, HEC Paris, he started his career in investment banking in Paris and then moved on to the United Kingdom where he spent almost a decade working for various international financial institutions. Ultimately, Stephane became responsible for large corporate accounts and high-net-worth clients across Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Benelux countries.

In 1998, he and his family decided to immigrate to Canada. He settled down in Montreal where he became a partner in a leading-edge digital special effects company, working on various television and documentary projects, and in a major film studio that boasted the most soundstages under one roof in North America. A few years later, following the sale of the company to local partners, he became intrigued by the potential of the Canadian wine industry and subsequently moved to the Niagara region where he purchased some farm land and started a vineyard. From the beginning, the vision was to promote sustainable and organic growing practices, with an unrelenting focus on quality and respect for the environment. As the years passed and the vines slowly matured, a local winery purchased the vineyard and Stephane moved to Toronto where he joined the private aviation sector, working primarily on operational and organizational matters.

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As a young child growing up in France, Stephane always had a keen interest in animal welfare, attending numerous conferences, particularly on vivisection and the welfare of animals used in labs. But it was not until later in life that he realized the profoundly disturbing social, moral, and ethical implications of factory farming and decided to become more engaged. He has followed many courses in Public Policy at the Humane Society University for which he has written various papers on animal behaviour and consciousness, as well as policy papers on animal welfare legislation. He firmly believes that farmed animal protection will be one of the defining social movements of the twenty-first century.

Stephane is not only passionate about farmed animal protection, but loves to fly and is a fully licensed commercial pilot. He also enjoys competing in triathlons and endeavours to use these races to showcase the performance benefits of a vegan diet. He resides in the Toronto area with his wife, children, and rescue rabbits.


Nathan Runkle
Board Member
NathanR@MercyForAnimals.org

Nathan Runkle is a founding board member of Mercy For Animals Canada and the founder and executive director of Mercy For Animals. Raised on a farm in rural Ohio, Nathan has long had a deep connection with farmed animals and agriculture. After a local farmed animal abuse case involving a piglet slammed headfirst into a concrete floor during an agricultural project at a nearby high school, Nathan founded Mercy For Animals to give "food" animals a much-needed advocate in his local community.

Since founding Mercy For Animals a decade ago, Nathan has overseen the organization's growth into a leading national force for the respectful and compassionate treatment of farmed animals. A grassroots organizer and coordinator for many years, Nathan has spearheaded hundreds of demonstrations and outreach events across the United States, ranging from protests outside pork and egg producers’ conventions to parades, educational exhibits, and more.

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An internationally recognized speaker on animal advocacy, grassroots activism, and factory farming, Nathan has spoken at a wide range of colleges, conferences, and other forums.

Through his work with MFA, Nathan has been an outspoken advocate for animal rights, featured in hundreds of television, radio, and newspaper interviews, including on CNN and National Public Radio, and in USA Today, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.

Nathan works closely with MFA's diverse group of members, supporters, and employees to oversee, develop, and implement the organization's campaigns, publications, advertisements, and undercover investigations.

During the formative years of MFA, Nathan conducted numerous investigations and rescue operations at factory farms, livestock auctions, and rodeos. Nathan led teams of MFA investigators into Ohio's four largest egg factory farms, exposing egregious animal cruelty and neglect, as well as directly rescuing dozens of animals in dire need of veterinary care. Nathan also led the organization's efforts to rescue, rehabilitate, and find homes for over 500 hens rescued from a battery-cage facility dilapidated by a tornado.

Nathan has worked alongside elected officials, corporate executives, heads of international organizations, professors, farmers, celebrities, and film producers to pass landmark farmed animal protection legislation, raise public awareness about vegetarianism, and implement animal welfare policy changes.

Overseeing MFA's hard-hitting pro-vegetarian MTV commercials, highway billboards, and bus campaigns in Chicago, New York, and Boston, Nathan has helped the organization open the hearts and minds of American consumers to the hidden cost of factory-farmed meat, dairy, and eggs. Through Mercy For Animals Canada he now looks forward to doing the same for Canadians.

VegNews magazine has recognized both Mercy For Animals and Nathan for making substantial contributions to the vegetarian movement, naming MFA "Non-Profit of the Year" and Nathan one of the "25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians" and one of the country's "Top 20 Activists Under 30 Years Old." In 2009, at the age of 25, Nathan became the youngest person ever inducted into the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame.

 
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