Farm Forward Staff
Aaron Gross, Ph.D. - Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Aaron S. Gross has played a leadership role in a wide variety of national and international farmed animal welfare campaigns in the Americas, South Asia, and the Middle East since the mid-1990s. Seeing the need for an organization devoted entirely to ending factory farming and creating humane and sustainable alternatives to it, Gross founded Farm Forward in 2006. Gross also serves as a professor of theology and religious studies at the University of San Diego and holds graduate degrees from Harvard Divinity School and the University of California, Santa Barbara's Department of Religious Studies. Gross chairs the Steering Committee of the American Academy of Religion's Animals and Religion Consultation and collaborated heavily with Jonathan Safran Foer on Foer’s book Eating Animals. Gross’s new book, Animals and the Human Imagination: A Companion to Animal Studies (Columbia University Press, 2012), explores the new interdisciplinary field known as "animal studies" to challenge the way we think about animals. Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee calls the edited volume "a richly intelligent mapping of the field" and "accessible—even engrossing—to the ordinary educated reader." Harvard Professor Kimberley Patton calls it "impressive and startling. . . . an oracle" and the University of Chicago's Wendy Doniger predicts that it will not only "inspire more scholarly work on animals, but it will also supply fuel for activists who hope to treat animals more humanely . . . in the world outside the academy." Best-selling author Jonathan Safran Foer exclaims, "Animals and the Human Imagination soars. Intellectually exciting, smart, and accessible, this volume will intrigue and revolt, surprise and inspire. The opening overview by Gross is a tour de force and each essay fascinates." Gross's articles have appeared in the Central Conference of American Rabbis Journal, The Huffington Post, Shofar, Tikkun Magazine, and in several scholarly edited volumes and encyclopedias.
Steven Jay Gross, Ph.D. - Chairman Of The Board
A former Fortune 1000 business consultant, Steve Gross helped to pioneer the wave of savvy, new outreach strategies to corporate America that has transformed both animal advocacy and corporate support for animal welfare improvements in the last 10 years. Gross has led negotiations between animal advocacy groups and some of the nation’s largest companies, including Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Safeway, and Whole Foods. Prior to this work, Gross founded and ran the Illinois Humane PAC, passing an unheard-of 10 animal protection laws in a decade with an average annual budget of less than 50 thousand dollars. As a board member of Global Animal Partnership, he has helped to create a groundbreaking five-tier welfare certification program for all animal products.
Ben Goldsmith - Executive Director
Ben Goldsmith began his fulltime animal advocacy work in 2004, helping to lead anti-factory farming campaigns that have generated discussion in the nation’s most important periodicals, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The Los Angeles Times. Goldsmith’s work—and the large-scale media attention to factory farming issues that it has generated—has helped to bring about industry-wide improvements for farmed animals. From work with both nonprofits and midsize businesses, Goldsmith brings substantial experience in corporate marketing and public relations campaigns to Farm Forward.
Michael McFadden, ESQ. - Policy & Program Director and General Counsel
With a background in marketing and finance, Michael became interested in factory farming issues while attending the University of Virginia School of Law. Upon graduation, Michael served for six months as Farm Forward's Legal Fellow. Thereafter, he was hired as the organization's first Policy & Program Coordinator, and continues to devote his passion and legal acumen to bettering the lives of farmed animals.
Lara Prescott - Marketing & Communications Manager
Lara Prescott’s extensive work with international political campaigns and nonprofits includes online strategy for Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign, mobilizing voters to elect the first female Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and generating hundreds of thousands of new supporters for animal protection efforts; she brings vast experience building and activating online communities to Farm Forward.
Diane & Marlene Halverson - Senior Animal Welfare Consultants
Diane and Marlene Halverson have been on the front lines of efforts to improve conditions for farmed animals around the planet for more than two decades. Diane’s remarkable list of accomplishments includes helping create standards that made Niman Ranch pork the most humane pork available nationally, founding the Animal Welfare Institute’s farm animal welfare program, obtaining the first USDA label that featured animal welfare claims, advising some of the world’s largest food retailers, working closely with Robert F. Kennedy and the Waterkeeper Alliance to stop factory farm pollution, and receiving (alongside Temple Grandin) the Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge Foundation's Humane Ethics in Action Award. Marlene’s significant contributions to animal welfare include publishing more than a dozen articles on animal agriculture, authoring key reports for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, bringing Swedish deep-bedded swine housing systems to the U.S., assisting in the creation of alternative pork production programs at Iowa State University, and working with teams of scientists and farmers to draft comprehensive cattle husbandry standards.
Board of Directors
John Mackey - Chairman of the Board and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market is the nation’s leading retailer of humane and organic foods. Its 303 stores worldwide had gross receipts of more than 6.6 billion last year. Mackey co-founded the chain in 1980.
Ian Duncan, Ph.D. - Professor of Applied Ethology in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Guelph and holds the oldest University Chair in Animal Welfare in North America
Duncan was one of the first people to bring a scientific approach to solving animal welfare problems. In his research, he is developing methods of "asking" farm animals what they feel about the conditions in which they are kept and the procedures to which they are subjected. He has published approximately 150 scientific papers addressing animal welfare issues.
Bernard Rollin, Ph.D. - University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Animal Sciences, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, and University Bioethicist at the University of Colorado
Rollin is one of the world's leading scholars in animal ethics and actively lectures all over the globe. He introduced the first university course on veterinary ethics, helped pass the federal Animal Welfare Act, has published seven books on animal protection and consciousness, and served on the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.
Frank Reese - Owner and Operator of Good Shepherd Ranch, Founder and President of the Standard-Bred Poultry Institute
A fourth generation Kansas farmer, Reese is the nation’s preeminent expert on poultry. He has received acclaim from, among many others, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and chef Mario Batali for his work raising heritage poultry, and he has been featured in a number of national publications including the front pages of both The New York Times and USA Today. His farm has provided the model for the nation’s leading humane certifications.
Jonathan Safran Foer - Novelist
Foer’s bestselling first book, Everything Is Illuminated, was named Book of the Year by The Los Angeles Times and won numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize and the National Jewish Book Award. His second book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, also a bestseller, was hailed by Salman Rushdie as "ambitious, pyrotechnic, riddling, and above all … extremely moving." His third book, Eating Animals, offers a critique of factory farming and was written in close collaboration with Farm Forward. Foer has taught writing at Yale and is on the faculty of NYU's Creative Writing Program.
Rabbi Jonathan Crane, Ph.D. - Rabbi and Ethicist
Crane is a Scholar of Bioethics and Jewish Thought at Emory University in Atlanta. He holds rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College and a Ph.D. in religion from the University of Toronto. Crane has served Jewish communities in North America, India, and China. He sits on the national board of the Society for Jewish Ethics.