Team

People's arms, dressed in am array of colourful clothing, fill the frame as they put their hands in together in a pile for a team moment.

We are lucky to have the support of people who are dedicated to making the world a more compassionate place.

Our team of passionate staff, board members and volunteers work tirelessly to bring you vegan content, events and outreach. Please take a minute to meet the people who make it happen.

staff

A curly haired woman smiles brightly at the camera

Kimberly D'Oliveira

She/Her

Kimberly has overall operational responsibility for VegTO’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission, a cause she truly supports. Kimberly has been a committed vegan since January 2015. She transitioned from an omnivorous diet soon after learning about veganism and its positive impacts on human health, the environment, and animal welfare. She continues to deepen her understanding and learnings around intersectionality to better support and amplify others and strengthen the movement. Kimberly comes from the Centre for Social Innovation as their Business Development and Strategic Partnerships Manager. She has a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Bradford, UK, specializing in the Circular Economy. Nothing lights her up more than preparing and sharing a delicious vegan meal with friends and family. You might find her gazing upon a sunset, immersing herself in the natural world, or appreciating other cultures as a traveller. These days, she will be the one most thrilled when someone’s pet crashes the Zoom meeting with aplomb.

A woman with glasses and a blue fringe shares the frame with a cow

Sarah Fay

She/Her
Engagement & Events Manager
sarah@veg.ca

Sarah has been with VegTO since 2019. She leads our community events, including restaurant get-togethers and sanctuary tours, to excite members and build community spirit. In addition, Sarah is responsible for producing the annual Veg Guide and the mouth-watering photography and graphic design updates you see on VegTO's website and social channels. Sarah has been a vegan for many years, and she puts her love of eating at Toronto's veg-friendly establishments to good use in her role! Sarah earned her Master's of Arts in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management at Ryerson University and the Eastman Museum and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. She volunteers with Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, and thus names many cows as close friends. When she's not at a vegan restaurant, Sarah can be found baking, sewing, knitting, or playing video games, all while covered in copious amounts of cat hair.

A person in a red hat and sunglasses pets a horse on a warm day.

Rhi Henkelman

They/Them
Impact & Giving Coordinator
donations@veg.ca

Rhi is responsible for fundraising and capacity building to help VegTO continue evolving and expanding its community reach and impact. As a lifelong vegetarian turned vegan in 2020, they spend their free time learning about animal rights, environmentalism, and veg eating while volunteering at every opportunity. Originally from Ottawa, Rhi has certificates in Event Management and Fundraising from Algonquin College and extensive volunteer experience with Mercy for Animals and Animal Justice. Most recently, they were delighted to have been the Project Coordinator for the Animal Justice Academy. Rhi loves vegan cooking, watching horror movies, educating themself on queer and social justice issues, and petting all the animals they can get their hands on.

board

Nital Jethalal

President
He/Him

Nital has been involved with VegTO for 25 years, previously serving on the Program Review Committee, then on the Board of Directors, and now as President. Twenty-five years ago, Nital’s father, a plant-based physician, introduced him to research and clinical practice that demonstrated the power of whole-food, plant-based lifestyles and opened Nital’s eyes to veganism beyond ethics. He has since advocated and raised awareness about how plant-based living can be a solution to many of today’s challenges. Having worked in strategic policy at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Nital questioned what would happen in Canada if everyone transitioned to a plant-based diet. As a result, he founded Plant-Based Economics, an NGO focused on evaluating plant-based nutrition economics and policy. In addition, Nital joined the Plant-Based Data team, a plant-based research platform, as a nutrition economic researcher. Nital is passionate about plant-based food strategy in Toronto as the city increasingly focuses on climate change commitments (following last year’s C40 Copenhagen Summit). This focus is enhanced by his time with the Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank, where he sits on the Board of Directors. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master’s of Science (international economics) from Queen’s University. He enjoys yoga, reading, basketball, chess, and spending time with his family.

Karel Vredenburg

Vice President
He/Him

Inspired by the ethical vegetarianism of his wife, Karel became vegetarian 37 years ago. They raised their four children vegetarian, and the whole family (including partners and dogs) went vegan six years ago after a vacation discussion about the reality of the dairy and egg industries. They created the website icouldnevergovegan.com three years ago to advocate for the benefits of a plant-based vegan lifestyle. Karel and his family have been part of VegTO for years, regularly attending events such as Veg Food Fest, holiday markets and the Veg Out podcast. After undergraduate, Master's, and Ph.D. studies at the University of Toronto, Karel is currently the Director of Design and Academic Programs globally. He leads IBM Studios Canada and IBM Canada’s Innovation Corps. He has been instrumental in introducing a new strategic and innovative organizational design transformation program to IBM worldwide and many leading Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, start-ups, and scaleups. He is a keynote speaker at industry conferences and organizer of global design challenges. As Industry Professor, Karel codeveloped Innovation by Design programs for the DeGroote School of Business, the DeGroote Health Leadership Academy, and McMaster University. He regularly teaches in the Digital Executive MBA, the Emerging Health Leaders Program, and the Innovation by Design pan-university program. Karel serves on the IBM Employee Charitable Fund Board of Directors and has taught Canadian board directors problem-solving methods in The Directors College curriculum module. Currently, his teaching focuses on providing board directors with the tools for dealing with the challenges governing organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic. Karel blogs at karelvredenburg.com; his Life Habit Mentoring podcast is available there and on all podcast apps and services.

Nicole Fich

Treasurer
She/Her

Nicole became vegan in 2014 after watching Blackfish, a documentary about orca whales in captivity. She was haunted by the suffering animals endure simply for entertainment or our taste buds. She has since learned about the environmental and health implications of dietary choices. She has transitioned to eating mainly a whole-food plant-based diet to maximize her health and remaining steadfast in the original ethical origins of her decision to go vegan. She is passionate about saving animals and has volunteered with many non-profit organizations, including Challenge 22, Mercy For Animals, and the Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank. Professionally, Nicole is a Partner in an investment firm specializing in investment analysis in finance, strategy, accounting, tax, and law. Nicole is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario with an Honours Business Administration degree from the Ivey School of Business. Nicole loves hiking and cooking and is an avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan. She is inspired by the zero-waste movement and is on an ongoing journey to reduce her environmental footprint. She lives in downtown Toronto with my common-law partner, Steve, and their dog, Kali.

Emily Smith

Secretary
She/Her

Emily attended Veg Food Fest for the first time as a veg-curious omnivore in 2017, struggling to decide whether or not veganism was something she could commit to. While the food and speakers at the festival were fantastic, the vibrant Toronto veg community ultimately inspired her to leap. She has attended every Veg Food Fest and other VegTO events, believing that veganism is genuinely the most compassionate lifestyle for the planet and its beautiful animals. She is excited to serve as a board member and support VegTO in creating a more inclusive world through education and outreach. As the only vegan among her friends and family, she is inspired by the organization’s commitment to connecting vegans and veg-curious people across the city and looks forward to helping the VegTO continue to create and foster these critical relationships. Having served as an executive member of her university’s veg club for three years, she has extensive experience in project management, event organization, and community outreach. In addition, she is well-versed in vegan news, philosophy, nutrition, and activism as an avid reader. She has a B.Sc. degree (Honours Neuroscience) from McMaster University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science at the University of Toronto. She hopes that her scientific literacy and critical thinking skills will enable her to bring a unique perspective to the board and support the VegTO’s growth.

Elliot Alexander

Director
He/Him

Elliot became vegetarian in 1990, inspired by a research project. He and his husband Tim became vegan in 2000 after Tim took a course offered by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an organization that advocates for plant-based diets and promotes the use of non-animal models during medical school training. After many newsletters to the house, they declared, ‘That's it, we’re becoming vegan!’. Elliot is the former owner of Cosmic Treats Vegan Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Kensington Market. He has supported VegTO over the years by being a business member and hosting and participating in many markets and events. He has been a long-time member of VegTO, even submitting an entry in their very first Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off. Elliot is a registered physiotherapist who focuses on working with people who are homeless and other marginalized populations. He also has a particular interest in studying obesity, the focus of his research during his graduate degree. Elliot has volunteered for many years in organizations that address drug policy reform. He loves to bake, eat cake, and seek out the latest vegan treats in different cities and countries. Elliot also enjoys reading science fiction and loves to stay active by hiking and rollerblading along the Martin Goodman Trail.

Eugene Antony

Director
He/Him

Eugene believes that adopting a plant-based lifestyle is the only way to counterbalance the impacts of unhealthy eating habits, animal cruelty, abuse of natural resources, and environmental destruction. He has been plant-based for 30 years and vegan for 15. While enlightening his circle of family and friends, Eugene joined VegTO in 2009 to reach a wider population. He has helped the organization as an outreach volunteer, office help team member, and transportation crew. He has degrees in sociology and business management, and his area of expertise is in sales, business development, customer management, leadership, and training. He has worked for consumer companies both in Canada and globally. He enjoys running, hiking, and gym time. Travelling is his biggest passion, and hunting for yummy vegan food in faraway lands during his travels is his favourite hobby!

Fraser Gibson

Director
He/Him

Fraser has been on the Board of Directors for more than ten years and served as President for a five-year term. During his time with VegTO, he has been active on various committees such as Nominating & Governance, Programs Review, and Strategic Planning Committees and a coordinator for Veggies of Halton & Peel. Fraser has previous board experience with non-profit arts organizations. He is a Vice-President at a company involved in the distribution and servicing of industrial fire, safety, industrial hygiene, and occupational health equipment in the workplace. He manages quality systems, the facilitation of project teams, and a variety of strategic initiatives, including implementing new technology systems. His specialty is supply chain management. Inspired by the environmental/political perspective, health, and ethics, Fraser has been a vegetarian for more than 35 years and a vegan for 20. VegTO programs have had a significant positive impact on his life; he is honoured to be able to give back and help support the organization. He looks forward to implementing the strategy of VegTO.

Peter McQueen

Director
He/Him

Peter has been with VegTO for many years as a director, outreach volunteer, 2-time President, a committee chair, and currently a member of the Marketing and Development Committee. He brings his strong local and international contacts and ties to the very active Toronto animal rights scene and the environmental movement. His profession is teaching; Peter has been a special education teacher for several years and previously worked in business and government. He brings an understanding of financial statements, strategic planning, HR, and marketing. In the 40 years since becoming vegetarian and the 25 since he became vegan, he has witnessed the impressive growth in vegan resources in the city and the world. With a strong alignment with VegTO’s values, he believes that the diversity in membership and programs is VegTO’s biggest strength and looks forward to contributing to the strong team of staff, directors, committee members, other volunteers, and members in moving VegTO forward.

Krista Schwab

Director
She/Her

Krista Schwab has been a board member since 2019 and a volunteer since 2016. She has been vegan for three years, thanks to the events and community of VegTO. Krista is currently Co-Chair of the Marketing and Development Committee that provides planning and support for VegTO’s communications and events. In addition, she sits on the Name Change Committee and the Strategic Plan Committee, where she provides writing expertise. Krista has been a board member through times of transition and growth, including bringing on new employees, a move to a new office, and developing a new strategic plan. She also supported VegTO through a shift in activities and events to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, Krista volunteered with VegTO in communications roles, including leading the social media strategy and digital outreach efforts and growing the channel’s reach by 32%. By day, Krista is a Senior Strategic Communications Advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. She leads the planning, development, and implementation of many communications projects and initiatives. She was previously a Digital Services Advisor with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks, where she worked on digital communications for climate change initiatives.

Mark Simmons

Director
He/Him

Mark and his wife became vegan in 2013 after watching Vegeducated. Sold on the benefits of veganism for animals, the environment, and health, they immediately cleaned all animal products out of their home and have been vegan ever since. Mark joined VegTO as a member in 2016 and joined the Program Review Committee in 2018. He served on the selection committee for VegTO’s 2019 Lisa Grill Compassion For Animals Award and supported the delivery of the 2020 Award. Most of his career has been in the public and not-for-profit sectors, focusing on health and wellness. For ten years, Mark has worked in the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries in the Ontario Public Service. He has guided the planning, development, delivery, and evaluation of several high-profile provincial strategies, policies, and programs. Before joining the Ontario Public Service, he worked as a business analyst and project manager for a boutique consulting firm. He led the planning and delivery of several major health care initiatives for government clients. Mark has also worked as a business analyst and project manager for a not-for-profit injury prevention organization and provided technical support and training as a volunteer for an HIV/AIDS education, advocacy, and support NGO in Ghana, West Africa.