About Us

Mission

Voters For Animal Rights’ mission is to help elect candidates who support animal protection, lobby for strong laws to stop animal cruelty, and hold elected officials accountable to humane voters.

In the pursuit of that mission, VFAR supports diversity, equity, and inclusion of BIPOC persons (Black, indigenous, and persons of color), the LGBTQIA+ community, and gender equality.

We work to gain legally enforceable fundamental rights for animals by codifying animal rights into law. VFAR focuses exclusively on political advocacy for animals in New York. We mobilize voters and organize lobbying efforts to give a voice to animals. Through the political process, we are building a coalition of advocates seeking to strike at the root cause of animal abuse and cruelty, which is a lack of fundamental rights and laws to protect them. Check out our 2021 legislative agenda here.

We founded this organization because there is a dire need for a multi-issue political advocacy group specifically for animal protection in New York. Filling this need is especially crucial in the current political climate. If we want to stop the endless cycle of cruelty to animals, we need to change our laws to protect them in the first place — or we’ll just keep chasing our tail. (Pun intended) And to do that, we need to elect compassionate people, train animal advocates to run for office, and organize humane voters.

Our Team

Board of Directors

  • Allie
    Feldman Taylor
    Founder, President

    Allie founded Voters For Animal Rights in 2016. In 2020, she ran VFAR’s candidate endorsement process for more than 50 animal rights candidates for New York State Senate and Assembly. In 2019, she co-led the campaign to ban foie gras in NYC. She also helped passed NYC’s laws making it a crime to steal wild birds, and for the creation of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare. During the group’s inaugural year, she helped co-lead the successful campaign to ban wild animals in the circus in NYC, which became law in July 2017. Previously, she lead the Nyclass campaign to ban horse carriages from city streets for over five years. She ran the successful “Anybody But Quinn” campaign to defeat an anti-animal candidate for NYC mayor, getting animal rights into mainstream city politics for the first time. She has worked at the NY State Senate, Obama campaign and the NJ Dept of the Public Advocate. She was named to New York Observer’s “Political Power 80” in 2014 and named to City & State Magazine’s “40 Under 40” political people to watch in 2016.

    She’s an alumni of Florida State University and mom of rescued cats. She lives in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn where she is a volunteer TNR (trap-neuter-release) rescuer.

  • Michelle
    Aptman
    Treasurer

    Michelle is a professional art director and graphic designer in NYC and she combines those skills with her passion for animal advocacy by leading the visual communications for Voters For Animal Rights. She learned early on in her activism how important it is to put strong laws in place to truly protect animals and to help them get the rights that they deserve. She is thrilled to help launch Voters For Animal Rights and looks forward to giving our animal friends a much-needed voice while engaging other caring voters to do the same. She is a long-time volunteer and advisor at Animal Haven shelter and has been a foster Mom to many needy dogs and cats. Helping heal puppy mill survivors holds a special place in her heart. Additionally, she has spent time volunteering with Farm Sanctuary, ASPCA, Rational Animal and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

  • Julie
    Cappiello

    Julie is a vegan and animal activist focusing on urging fellow activists to get involved in their local communities. As a descendent of former circus-owners, animal “trainers”, and circus aerialists, Julie spends her days working for animal-free circuses and helping animals (ab)used for entertainment.

    As an experienced global communications manager, Julie has worked on political campaigns for animal rights, animals in entertainment campaigns, and farmed animal campaigns for nearly a decade. Julie is the co-founder and former vice president of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION), former campaign organizer at Nyclass, district leader for The Humane Society of the United States, and former social media manager, current board member, and social media advisor for CompassionWorks International. She is currently the global content manager for Mercy For Animals, overseeing MFA’s United States Facebook page and international social media staff.

    Julie is excited to be a part of Voters For Animal Rights because motivating the animal rights voting bloc means more laws for protecting animals. It’s time politicians knew how powerful the animal rights movement can be.

    You can find her at local vegan restaurants, protests or cuddling with rescue cats Stripes, Sam, Sawyer, and rescue dog, Bella.

  • Joyce
    Friedman

    Joyce has extensive experience as a multifaceted advocate for animals. A former clinical social worker, Joyce entered the animal rights field as Northeast Campaigns Coordinator and then Northeast Director for In Defense of Animals. She gained expertise in and began to see the value of legislative work and electioneering by serving on the Board of Directors of League of Humane Voters-NYC. She then became Program Manager of the surrender prevention program Pet Help Partners at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), helping to keep thousands of animals in their homes and out of shelters. When she transitioned to NYC Coordinator at The HSUS, she worked on passing local animal rights legislation, most notably as a leader in the successful campaign to ban wild animals in circuses in NYC in 2017. Joyce currently manages a community pets program at a local companion animal organization where she leads a team in providing free resources and support to pet owners in underserved communities.

    Joyce is thrilled to serve on the Board of Directors of Voters For Animal Rights. Using her expertise, experience, and passion to pass laws which protect animals and to help ensure animal-friendly legislators are in office are her biggest priorities as an animal rights activist. Joyce has rescued dozens of dogs and cats over the years and she currently lives with 5 rescued cats who (usually) answer to Pablo, Patrick, Lucy, Pickles, and Henshaw.

  • Stewart
    Mitchell

    Stewart Mitchell is a native of Brooklyn, NY. He is a father to two children and two rescue cats. Stewart is a self-published author of four books including Kayla The Vegan and Liberation Summer. He has also been published in Gotham Gazette. He is the founder of V.O.I.C.E.4Change, a human rights/animal rights advocacy group that centers activism around performing arts.

Advisory Committee

  • Gayle
    Boesky, Esq.
    General Counsel

  • Jabari
    Brisport

    NYS Senator-Elect Jabari Brisport represents Brooklyn’s 25th senate district.

    Jabari is a 3rd-generation Caribbean-American from Prospect Heights. He has spent his life working with and for his neighbors as both an activist and educator. Whether it is working with his students as a public school teacher, advocating for teachers and students with his union, or organizing his neighbors to fight for progressive legislation, he has always fought for his community. Jabari’s experiences as a queer, black, public school teacher, union member, and child of immigrants, have shaped his drive to make his community and all New York communities more just and equitable. He wants to fight to provide a home for every New Yorker, to guarantee quality healthcare to all, and to empower workers.

    At NYU, he was a founding member of The Glass Theater Company, an anti-gentrification theater group that railed against the NYU takeover of real estate in the Village. At the Yale School of Drama, he devised the piece Derivatives, which tackled growing income inequality. Through that piece, he was able to sign up over 100 people to the micro-loan website Kiva. After Yale, he joined the anti-racist artist collective Artists for Change, which held marches, protests, and online petitions to address the crisis of police violence. And for the past seven years, he’s performed with the political comedy theater group Political Subversities. He’s spent the past ten years making political theater and marching in the streets. Jabari has been vegan for over six years.

  • Matthew
    Dominguez
    Political Advisor

    With a decade of experience fighting for animals, Matthew Dominguez has pioneered legislative and public policy campaigns to protect farmed animals from abuse and to gain fundamental rights for animals. He was responsible for passing legislation that outlawed some of the worst factory farming cruelties and leading efforts to defeat over thirty anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bills during his five-year tenure as Director of Public Policy at a national animal protection organization. While Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations at the Nonhuman Rights Project, he worked to build an internal infrastructure and operational procedures that would allow NhRP to expand their work into the public policy arenas. Currently, Matt is the Political Advisor for Voters for Animal Rights where he spearheaded legislation to ban the sale of foie gras in New York City. Matt also serves as Chairperson of the Board for Barn Sanctuary, an organization that works to rescue, rehab, and give sanctuary to abused farmed animals. And Matt is the Campaigns Director for Switch4Good, a nonprofit working to break accepted norms around dairy and health, abolishing the current system of dietary racial oppression, and promoting solutions for climate change. Additionally, Matt holds a full-time job in the private sector in order to donate a portion of his salary and time back to nonprofit organizations that seek to make the world a better place. His work has been covered by the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and nearly every other major outlet across the country. Matt is a graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School.

  • Christina
    Gdisis

    Christina is a native New Yorker and the foster coordinator at Best Friends Animal Society. She has spent the past few years working towards reducing the population of homeless animals in New York City shelters. Her efforts towards animal protection extend to her previous role as a District Leader volunteer for the Humane Society of the United States, where she advocated for animal protection on a national and local level. As a lifelong animal activist, she plans to use her experiences in grassroots community organizing and policy to help VFAR accomplish its mission. She feels that in order to make great change for animals in this big city, it’s important to build a community of humane voters and elected officials. She is excited to be a part of an organization that is accomplishing this. Christina resides in Astoria New York with her two rescue bunnies, Pita and Scarlett. They rule the house.

  • David
    Karopkin, Esq.
    Wildlife Advisor

    David is a lifelong Brooklynite and a dedicated advocate for animals and co-existence with wildlife. Among other pursuits, David founded GooseWatch NYC in 2011 and during the past 7 years he has been involved with numerous efforts to protect threatened wildlife living in NYC through activism, legislation and policy. Under his leadership, GooseWatch NYC organized successful campaigns, notably including, the documentation of USDA Wildlife Service round-ups and killing of Canada geese in New York City parks, pivotal in encouraging the City to move towards non-lethal goose management policies, as well as passage of legislation to stop the N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to eradicate mute swans in New York State, and the prevention of USDA’s killing of Staten Island’s wild turkeys by helping to coordinate their relocation to farm animal sanctuaries in upstate New York. GooseWatch also worked to protect deer on Staten Island and coyotes in Queens, and participated in the campaign to ban wild animal performances in circuses. As a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, David has assisted with many rescues of injured geese, raccoons, squirrels, and pigeons. David graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 2015, and has served as a Councilmanic Aide for New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm, Legislative Director for New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, and Assistant Law Clerk to the Hon. Justice Katherine A. Levine in the New York State Supreme Court.

    David graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 2015, and has served as a Councilmanic Aide for New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm, Legislative Director for New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, and Assistant Law Clerk to the Hon. Justice Katherine A. Levine in the New York State Supreme Court. He now runs his own small private legal practice.

  • Cynthia
    King

    Cynthia King is the Founder and Artistic Director of Cynthia King Dance Studio (CKDS) located in Brooklyn, New York. CKDS has been a vital part of Brooklyn’s rich dance culture for nearly 2 decades. In 2014 Ms. King opened her new studio and performance space in Flatbush.

    CKDS and Ms. King herself are staples in the community, having received numerous citations for her outstanding leadership in the arts, business, and community activism. In 2015, she received the prestigious Boston Conservatory Distinguished Alumni Award and in 2019 a Compassionate Business Award from Peta.

    Ms. King has lobbied, organized, and served as advisor and board member for many political, dance, and animal advocacy organizations, including the Coalition for Healthy School Food and she has been a featured speaker at conferences and events. CKDS has been a sponsor of the groundbreaking BlackVegFest since its inception in 2018. Her dedication is also evident in her deeply personal choreography, and recent work explores issues of freedom versus captivity in the animal and human worlds.

    In the fall of 2015, Ms. King established the Cynthia King Humane Artist Scholarship, awarded to an incoming Boston Conservatory student who embodies compassionate and cruelty-free living.

    Ms. King lives in Brooklyn with her family – both two and four legged.

  • Joe
    Loria

  • Libby
    Post

    Libby Post is the Executive Director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation. She has grown the organization seven fold since starting with the Fed in November of 2013. Among her accomplishments the establishment of the Companion Animal Capital Fund, a state program providing $5 million annually to shelters for capital projects.

    A political consultant and a lobbyist, Post is president/CEO of Communication Services and the Managing Partner of Progressive Elections. She has worked on scores of political campaigns with a specialty in judicial races. She has served as President of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society located just outside of Albany, NY.

  • Sherry
    Ramsey, Esq.
    Legislative Consultant

    Sherry Ramsey is a licensed attorney in New York, New Jersey and Virginia. For the last 15 years, she has worked almost exclusively on animal related legal issues. Ms. Ramsey has worked with several animal welfare organizations including the Humane Society of the United States as their Director of Animal Cruelty Prosecutions. Ms. Ramsey previously served as an Assistant Prosecutor in New Jersey and also worked in private practice where she focused on animal law. She has spoken around the country at numerous prosecutorial and judicial conferences, as well as presenting seminars to the FBI, the Army JAG School and the United States Department of Justice on animal cruelty crimes. She has served on the faculty of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys as a member of their Animal Cruelty Advisory Committee as well as the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals in cooperation with the National Sheriffs’ Association. She has served as Chair of the Animal Law Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association and as a member of the New York State Bar Committee on Animals, as well as the New York City Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee. Ms. Ramsey has written numerous articles on prosecuting animal cruelty for legal and judicial publications, as well as articles for the United States Department of Justice website and also for the U.S Army magazine, Army Lawyer.

    Ms. Ramsey was appointed by Governor McGreevey to be part of the Governor’s Animal Welfare Task Force, by Governor Corzine as a member of his Environmental Policy Transition Task Force and by Governor Christie to serve as a member of the Domestic Companion Animal Council.

    Ms. Ramsey has served as an adjunct professor teaching Animal Law at New York Law School, CUNY Law School and most recently at Seton Hall Law.

  • Chelsie
    Schadt
    Organizing Advisor

    Chelsie is a native of New York state and has spent her entire professional life working to improve the lives of animals. As the former Nyclass lead organizer, project manager, and lobbyist she helped develop the organization’s volunteer base which put animal protection at the forefront of political discussion in NYC and educated legislators about the importance of strong animal protection laws.

    Chelsie currently serves as a corporate relations specialist at Mercy For Animals and works with restaurants and food companies to help them adopt meaningful animal welfare reforms.

    Chelsie lives with her partner Bill and furbaby Dex.

Media

For press inquiries, please contact allie@vfar.org.