Conference Speakers and Panelists

The Meat We Eat: Forum on Industrial Animal Farming

Robert Martin (Keynote)

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Food System Policy Program, Director

Robert MartinBob Martin is Director of the Food System Policy Program at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and guest lecturer at the school. Formerly, he was a senior officer at the Pew Environment Group and was the Executive Director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, a two-year study funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts by a grant to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The charge to the Commission was to recommend solutions to the problems caused by concentrated animal feeding operations in the areas of public health, the environment, rural communities, and animal welfare. The Commission’s final report, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, was released on April 28, 2008.

Mr. Martin, a native of Kansas, grew up in South Dakota and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of South Dakota. After graduation, he worked as a general assignment newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania and then for the Kansas Farmers Union. He has more than 30 years experience in public policy and politics at both the federal and state levels. Previously, he worked for former South Dakota Senators George McGovern, Jim Abourezk, Tom Daschle, and current Senator Tim Johnson. In addition, he worked for then Kansas Congressman Dan Glickman, as well as for members of the Kansas Senate Democratic Caucus. In May of 2011, Mr. Martin was on the planning committee for the Future of Food Conference with Eric Schlosser and Patrick Holden. The conference was keynoted by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.


Claire Benjamin

Food Policy Action, Managing Director

Claire BenjaminClaire Benjamin oversees the management of Food Policy Action, including publication of the National Food Policy Scorecard and the organization’s education and advocacy. She is an expert in food policy and sustainable agriculture, having spent nine years working on agriculture issues on Capitol Hill. From 2008 to 2013, she served as Rep. Chellie Pingree’s legislative director, leading the congresswoman’s efforts to reform agriculture policy on the Agriculture and Agriculture Appropriations Committees. Ms. Benjamin grew up in Vermont and attended the University of Vermont; she resides in Washington, DC.

Gregory Dain

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1, Senior Assistant Regional Counsel

GregDainGregory Dain has over twenty years’ experience working for the U.S. EPA, where he currently serves as a Senior Assistant Regional Counsel for Region 1. His primary focus is Clean Air Act matters, both enforcement and legal counseling. In addition, he has handled matters involving nearly all environmental statutes implemented by the EPA. More recently, he has gained experience working with EPA’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) regulations promulgated under the Clean Water Act. That work has centered around permit requirements and issuance of permits (as compared to enforcement cases involving violations of permits or regulations). Mr. Dain received his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1990.

Elizabeth Hallinan

Animal Legal Defense Fund, Litigation Fellow

HallinanLiz Hallinan is currently a Litigation Fellow at the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), where she focuses primarily on litigation regarding farm animal welfare and food safety. Ms. Hallinan is a graduate of New York University School of Law and has worked for several animal and environmental legal firms and non-profits, including Compassion Over Killing, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal. Ms. Hallinan earned her undergraduate degree in biology at Harvard, and studied the behavior of primates for her senior thesis. She has a Masters degree in developmental and evolutionary psychology from Queen’s University.


Matthew Hayek

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Ph.D. Candidate

MattHayekMatthew Hayek is a current PhD candidate in Environmental Science and Engineering at Harvard. He works with Professor Steven Wofsy on measuring greenhouse and reactive trace gases in the Brazilian Amazon. His graduate training in quantifying greenhouses gas fluxes has also lead him to learn more about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. He regularly reviews recent peer-reviewed research on livestock, greenhouse gases, and air and water pollution, and finds new ways to synthesize and communicate these impacts to the public.


Erica Meier

Compassion Over Killing, Executive Director

Erica-chicken-webErica Meier is the executive director of Compassion Over Killing (COK), a national non-profit animal protection organization based in Washington, DC. Working to expose cruelty to farmed animals and promote vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world, COK’s strategic efforts include undercover investigations, legal advocacy, corporate outreach, and public education.

Before working at COK, Erica was an animal control officer in DC, rescuing sick, injured, and homeless animals as well as enforcing animal protection laws.


Erik Olson

Natural Resources Defense Council, Senior Strategic Director, Health and Food

ErikOlsonErik D. Olson is Senior Strategic Director for Health & Food at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which he rejoined in December 2013. He helps manage NRDC’s work on pesticides, chemicals in food, agriculture, antibiotics, toxics, and the relationship of climate change to agriculture and health. Previously, he ran Food Programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts, overseeing campaigns on food safety, food additives, school foods, and antibiotics and animal agriculture. He helped lead the coalition effort to enact in 2011 the first major overhaul of FDA’s food safety law in over 70 years.

Previously, Mr. Olson was Deputy Staff Director and General Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, helping to draft and oversee the consideration of a wide array of environmental legislation, and to arrange scores of committee hearings. Before his Senate tenure, Mr. Olson worked for 15 years at NRDC in a variety of senior positions including director of the health program. Earlier, he was counsel for the National Wildlife Federation’s environmental quality program, and an attorney in EPA’s Office of General Counsel.  Mr. Olson has helped to lead successful legislative campaigns to overhaul the nation’s laws to protect drinking water and to safeguard the food supply from pesticides. He also litigated cases ranging from the Exxon Valdez litigation to cases involving natural resource damages, drinking water, and food safety, winning precedent-setting decisions. He graduated from Columbia College of Columbia University, and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Margiana Petersen-Rockney

Young Farmer Network, Founder/Organizer

Margiana_PR.jpgMargiana Petersen-Rockney works to help beginning farmers thrive. As a farmer herself, she understands first-hand the challenges facing new farmers. Ms. Petersen-Rockney grew up on a dairy goat and mixed livestock farm, and then had her own 60-family vegetable CSA and livestock farm and internship program in southeastern MA for four years. As a 2012 Wild Gift Social Entrepreneur Fellow she created the grassroots Young Farmer Network to support farmers developing socially, ecologically and economically sustainable farm businesses. At the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project she helps connect farmers, primarily women and immigrant/refugee farmers, to resources and educational opportunities. Ms. Petersen-Rockney was named one of the Boston 2013 Zagat’s 30 Under 30. Today she still grows about an acre of garlic and helps her family butcher the occasional hog.

Nathan Rosenberg

Natural Resources Defense Council, Fink Fellow

NateRosenbergNathan Rosenberg is the incoming Fink Fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s New York office. As the Fink Fellow, he will focus on promoting regional and sustainable food in the greater New York City area and in other parts of the country. His food law work includes increasing access to healthy food, particularly among low-income and historically disadvantaged communities. Prior to joining NRDC, he served as the Delta Fellow, a joint Harvard Law School and Mississippi State University position based in the Mississippi Delta. In that position, he collaborated with local and statewide organizations to encourage the development of local food systems in the Deep South. He co-founded the Harvard Food Law Society while a student in law school and served as its first president. Mr. Rosenberg also worked on issues relating to food systems as a student attorney through the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Food Law Society’s Projects Committee. He received his B.A. from Pitzer College in 2005 and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2012.

Paul Shapiro

The Humane Society of the United States, Vice President

Paul Shapiro Bio PicPaul Shapiro has played an integral role in numerous successful legislative and corporate campaigns to improve the plight of farm animals. He founded Compassion Over Killing in 1995 and served as its campaigns director until January 2005. Since then, he’s served as the head of Farm Animal Protection for the Humane Society of the US, the nation’s largest animal protection organization. Mr. Shapiro has been interviewed in hundreds of print, broadcast, and online news sources as an authority on farm animal welfare and animal advocacy. He has also published dozens of articles about animal welfare in publications ranging from daily newspapers to academic journals.

Dave Simon

Author of Meatonomics

David SImonDavid Simon is a lawyer, writer and animal advocate. He works as general counsel for a healthcare company and serves on the board of Animal Protection & Rescue League and the APRL Fund. Mr. Simon received his B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and his J.D. from the University of Southern California. He has brought numerous challenges to unconstitutional free speech rules and has led efforts that, through negotiation or litigation, have resulted in better free speech rights for people seeking to engage in expressive activity at more than 20 venues in Southern California, including Downtown Disney, Hollywood Park, South Coast Plaza, and others.

Mr. Simon is also the author of the book Meatonomics, which was published in September 2013 to strong reviews. Publisher’s Weekly calls the book “provocative and persuasive.” VegNews calls it “Riveting.” And the Huffington Post says it “deserves a prime spot in the library of everyone who cares about the politics of food.” Among other things, Meatonomics looks at the economic effects of ag-gag laws and other aggressive legal protections that animal food producers have put in place over the past three decades.



Alexis Fox

The Humane Society of the United States, Massachusetts State Director

Alexis FoxAlexis Fox is the Massachusetts State Director for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). She helps animals through legislation, corporate campaigns, citizen advocacy and coalition building. Ms. Fox is also the Co-Founder of Lighter, a nutrition & wellness company, and an adjunct Professor of Leadership at Emerson College.

Ms. Fox holds a Juris Doctor from Lewis & Clark Law School. She specialized in animal protection law and was a visiting fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. She is a member of the Cornelius Honors Society and her writing has appeared in Animal Law. Before joining HSUS as a State Director, Ms. Fox worked in animal protection litigation.

With more than a decade of experience in advocacy, Ms. Fox has worked with numerous animal protection organizations including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the National Center for Animal Law.

Wendy Jacobs

Harvard Law School Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic, Clinical Professor and Director

WendyJacobsWendy B. Jacobs is a Clinical Professor at Harvard Law School, Director of the HLS Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, and on the faculty of Harvard’s Center for Global Health and the Environment.  In the Clinic, she and her students work on a variety of complex environmental law and policy projects focusing on renewable energy, sea level rise, regional stormwater management and other aspects of climate change adaptation, sustainable aquaculture, hydraulic fracturing, carbon capture and sequestration, mountaintop removal mining, and improved oversight and management of offshore drilling.  Prior to joining Harvard Law School, Ms. Jacobs practiced administrative and environmental law as a partner in the Boston law firm Foley Hoag LLP for nearly 20 years, and before that as an appellate attorney and special litigator for the U.S. Department of Justice in its Environment Division in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Jacobs received her J.D. with honors in 1981 from Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Baylen Linnekin

Keep Food LegalExecutive Director

linnekinBaylen J. Linnekin, B.A., M.A., J.D., LL.M., is the founder and executive director of Keep Food Legal, a Washington, DC-based nonpartisan grassroots nonprofit organization that advocates in favor of food freedom—the right of every American to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat, and drink the foods of their own choosing. He writes a weekly column on Food Law & Policy issues for Reason magazine’s website, serves as an adjunct faculty member at American University, and will teach “Food Law & Policy” at George Mason University Law School in fall 2014.

Mr. Linnekin’s writing on Food Law & Policy and Constitutional Law issues has appeared in the Wisconsin Law Review (forthcoming), Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Chapman University Law Review, Northeastern University Law Journal, Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Routledge International Handbook of Food Studies, New York Post, Baltimore Sun, Huffington Post, and many other publications. He has presented his research on these topics at Yale Law School, University of Chicago Law School, Harvard Law School, Tulane Law School, and many other law schools and universities. He has offered expert commentary on NPR, BBC Radio, Fox Business Channel, Al Jazeera America, Southern California Public Radio, New Hampshire Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, and numerous other radio and TV programs and has been cited/quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wilson Quarterly, ABA Journal, National Review, Bloomberg News, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Voice of America, and many others.

Mr. Linnekin earned an LL.M. in agricultural and food law from the University of Arkansas School of Law, a J.D. from Washington College of Law, an M.A. in learning sciences from Northwestern University, and a B.A. in sociology from American University.