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Master VEG Program Speakers


Daniel Redwood, DC

Chiropractor, Director of the Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine program at the University of Western States, Author, Singer-Songwriter

Daniel Redwood, DC., is the Director of the Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine program at the University of Western States. A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, he also holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic. Dr. Redwood practiced chiropractic full-time for 26 years in Washington, D.C., and Virginia Beach, Virginia, with a strong emphasis on nutrition and acupuncture. During the eight years before he joined the University of Western States in 2014, he was a professor at Cleveland Chiropractic College in Kansas City, where he taught clinical nutrition and chiropractic principles and practice, while also supervising student interns and serving as editor-in-chief of Health Insights Today. In addition, Dr. Redwood is a successful medical author and singer-songwriter whose most recent recording is the animal rights album, Songs for Animals, People and the Earth.


Kathy Hessler

Director and Clinical Professor, Animal Law Clinic, Lewis & Clark Law School

Kathy Hessler is a clinical professor of law and director of the only animal law clinic in the country. She is the first faculty member hired to teach animal law full time in a law school. She received her LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center and graduated with a J.D. from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary. Prior to teaching at Lewis & Clark, Professor Hessler taught in clinical programs at Case Western Reserve University Law School, Cornell Law School, the University of Dayton Law School, the Capital University School of Law, and Georgetown University Law Center. She has been an animal activist and vegan since the late 1980's. She has been an advisor to the journal Animal Law since 1998, she coaches the animal moot court teams, and has been teaching Animal Law directly for 8 years and as a part of nonviolence courses beginning in 1989. She was a board member with ALDF and helped found the Animal Law Committee of the Cuyahoga County Bar. She is the chair and a founder of the Animal Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools. She co-authored the amicus brief submitted in the U.S. v. Stevens case, on behalf of 45 law professors who teach animal law. She has written law review articles and is writing two books on animal law. Professor Hessler lectures widely on animal law and animal law education issues and has spoken at Harvard and Yale as well as over a dozen other law schools in the US and in Canada and Japan.


Ramona Ilea, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Pacific University

Dr. Ramona Ilea is an assistant professor of philosophy at Pacific University, Oregon. She teaches a semester-long "Animal Ethics" class, as well as classes on biomedical ethics, environmental ethics, and theoretical ethics. She has over twenty-five conference presentations as well as a number of publications, including "Intensive Livestock Farming: Global Trends, Increased Environmental Concerns, and Ethical Solutions" in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics and "Nussbaum's Capabilities Approach and Non-Human Animals: Theory and Public Policy" in the Journal of Social Philosophy. Her teaching and her research are highly connected; when she teaches, she aims to show students that studying philosophy is not just intellectually stimulating but also a powerful tool that can enable us to understand, analyze, and change the world.


Peter Spendelow, Ph.D.

Northwest VEG Board and former President

Peter Spendelow has a Doctorate in Zoology from the University of Washington, and has worked as a recycling/solid waste specialist for the Department of Environmental Quality for nearly 30 years and has presented more than 75 talks in the Portland area on the environmental impacts of the foods that we choose to eat.


Marsha Rakestraw

Certified Humane Educator

Marsha Rakestraw has worked for the Institute for Humane Education since January 2007. Marsha's background includes extensive experience teaching at the Pre-K graduate school levels, and more than 14 years working as a youth specialist in school and public libraries. She is a founding member of Northwest VEG in Portland, Oregon, and gives humane education presentations on a variety of topics. Marsha helped organize the first two state animal rights conferences in Ohio, and has served on the boards of vegetarian, animal protection and spay/neuter groups in Ohio and Oregon. Marsha has a B.F.A. in dance and a B.A. in English from Wichita State University, an M.L.S. in Library & Information Management from Emporia State University, and received her certification in Humane Education from IHE in December 2005.


Ole Ersson, M.D.

Family Practitioner and Owner of Kailash Eco Village

Dr. Ersson is a board certified family physician who works for the Multnomah County Health Department. He studied medicine at OHSU, where he completed a family medicine residency before working at Kaiser Permanente and Multnomah County.


Don Merrick

Former NW VEG Vice President

Don retired in 1995 after a career as a chemical engineer. Following years as an off and on again vegetarian, he read John Robbins' book, Diet For A New America, in 1992 and quickly transitioned to a vegan diet. For 10 years, 1998-2008, Don was an officer in the EarthSave Portland Vancouver Chapter and later in Northwest VEG. His responsibilities included choosing speakers for local vegetarian potlucks. Related to this responsibility was a need for self studies on health and nutrition, environmental impacts from animal food production, and conditions for farmed animals. He was on the original team that helped design the Master Vegetarian Program in 2006 and became a speaker for the Program focusing on food corporations, genetically modified foods, the US farm bill, and fair trade. He continues to study these ever changing four issues, upgrading his talk for each MVP series.