Board of Directors


Marsha Rakestraw - Co-President

I was a co-founder of NW VEG and part of the board for many years, and after a hiatus am proud to have rejoined this group of hard-working and passionate people. Vegetarian since 1989 and vegan since 1998, I’ve spent much of my adult life working for a just, compassionate, healthy world for all. I’m excited to bring the skills and experience I’ve gained through my activist work, my background as an educator, and my 10-years of work for the nonprofit Institute for Humane Education, to empowering and supporting others in making ethical food choices and working to create a healthy and compassionate food system.


Peter Spendelow - Co-President

I've been a Northwest VEG board member since November 2004 and was President from July 2006-June 2015 and again starting July 2016. I've been employed by the State of Oregon since 1985 as an environmental specialist working on recycling and solid waste issues, and have combined that experience with my Northwest VEG experience to work on issues regarding how our food choices affect our environment. Northwest VEG's work is very important to me. I know of no other work more important for our environment, our health, and the other animals we share this Earth with, than to help people move to a plant-based diet.


Linda Sant'Angelo - Treasurer

Northwest VEG plays a prominent role in providing education and support about a plant based lifestyle to our community in so many exciting ways. The members of this organization continually inspire people to think outside the box. I love being a part of keeping things moving along and I would be happy to continue to serve as treasurer.


Heather Williams - Secretary

I recently moved to Portland in late 2016, along with my husband and two dogs, from Erie, PA. We became Northwest VEG members shortly after arriving in Portland, eager to find a network of like-minded individuals. My vegan journey began in 2013 after learning about the health benefits of a plant based diet. As I became educated on the animal welfare and environmental components, I developed a passion for educating others. Before coming to Portland, I worked extensively to help promote the vegan message as a volunteer of The Erie Vegan and Vegetarian Society. I am looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to the important work of Northwest VEG.


Cathy Berlot

Becoming vegan is one of the most important things I have ever done. I am excited to be able to help plan activities sponsored by Northwest VEG that help me to share my ever-growing awareness of how what we consume affects other animals, our own health, and the health of the planet. I am excited to be involved with the 22 Day Veg Challenge, and the accompanying Vegan Mentor Program, which continues to be an ongoing resource of Northwest VEG. I am also on the Board of Directors of One Step for Animals which has produced a wonderful leaflet that explains that the single step everyone can take to make a profound difference for animals is to stop eating chickens. I would be happy to provide these leaflets and tips on leafleting to anyone who is interested. You can reach me at


Cindy Koczy

I have been a Northwest VEG board member since 2006, and am also on the board of Vegan Iron Chef. I enjoy being involved with our Master VEG Program, monthly potlucks and tabling events. My dedication and compassion for the movement makes me a valuable addition and I look forward to continuing to promoting all the the benefits of plant based diet. Power to the vegheads!


Jason Williams

Since going vegan in 2013 my interest in veganism has only intensified. I am originally from Pennsylvania where I was very involved with the Erie Vegan and Vegetarian Society and Erie VegFest until relocating to Portland. I feel there is no good argument against veganism and if everyone knew the unbiased truth we would live in a vegan world. Therefore I enjoy actively promoting a plant based diet and veganism at every opportunity. When not volunteering for Northwest VEG, my wife and I enjoy volunteering at local farm sanctuaries. You can reach me at

Executive Director


Jaclyn Leeds

I am delighted to be serving as Executive Director of Northwest VEG. A native of New Hampshire, I moved to Portland in 2010 to study animal protection law and fell in love with Oregon. The work that Northwest VEG undertakes in providing educational resources and sharing the many benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, as well as in building community in the Pacific Northwest, feels like a natural fit for my own passion. In addition to advocating on behalf of human and non-human animals and the planet, I enjoy hiking with my rescue dog Ebony and teaching yoga. I look forward to meeting you at one of our many events, and I welcome your ideas as we continue to grow and thrive. You can reach me at

Board Meetings & Documents

Each month, usually at 10am on the second Saturday, the Northwest VEG board of directors and employees meets to discuss various issues including membership, volunteering, finances, communications, publicity, event planning, and social activities. Members are welcome to attend these meetings and participate in the discussions. However, if there are items that need to be decided by voting, only board members may vote. If you are interested in attending, please contact