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 20 years. Steve 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, Steve co-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. Steve also served as one of the founding board members of the nation’s largest animal welfare certification, Global Animal Partnership (GAP), and was the longest serving member of their board when he was replaced as Farm Forward’s GAP representative by Aaron Gross in 2017. Steve lives with his partner and dog in La Mesa, California.
Aaron S. Gross, Ph.D. has played a leadership role in a wide variety of national and international farmed animal welfare campaigns in the Americas, India, and the Middle East since the mid-1990s. While collaborating with novelist Jonathan Safran Foer on Foer’s internationally best-selling critique of industrial farming, Eating Animals (Litttle Brown 2009), Aaron saw the need for an organization devoted entirely to ending factory farming and founded Farm Forward in 2007. Aaron has served as FF’s CEO from the beginning and grown the organization into a leading national nonprofit with ten full time staff. Alongside Foer and director Christopher Quinn, Gross is a co-writer for the new Eating Animals documentary film narrated by Natalie Portman. In addition to his advocacy work, Aaron is an internationally respected expert on religion and animals. He is a tenured Associate Professor at the University of San Diego where he teaches courses on animals and religion, food and religion, and modern Jewish thought. He has authored two scholarly books and numerous articles dealing with animal and food ethics from both religious and secular perspectives, including his critically acclaimed The Question of the Animal and Religion: Theoretical Stakes, Practical Implications (Columbia University Press 2015). Gross currently serves as President of the Society for Jewish Ethics and on the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States. He lives with his partner and dog in San Diego.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.