Our speakers are passionate about educating people how to live a healthy, sustainable, plant-based lifestyle that is healthier for people, animals and the planet!
Justin is the co-founder of the Fort Myers Anonymous for the Voiceless Chapter. Anonymous for the Voiceless is an organization that hosts public demonstrations in which its members show the public videos of factory farming conditions and have conversations with the public about the subject of animal rights. Justin has been helping members of the public reach a vegan conclusion in their thought process about animals since November of 2017. In order to increase his effectiveness in creating a kinder world for animals, Justin has attended numerous academic trainings and lectures spanning across the subjects of societal change, individual behavioral change, animal ethics, and nutrition. In addition, he spends much of his free time studying debates, ethics, environmental science, and nutrition that relates to animal agriculture.
DR. RONALD KNAUS
Dr. Ronald Knaus is a psychiatrist in Saint Petersburg, Florida. He received his medical degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and has been in practice for more than 20 years.
DR. BRIAN TASCHNER
Dr. Taschner has been practicing Cardiology in his hometown of Fort Myers, Florida since 2005. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Florida where he was accepted into the Junior Honors Medical Program, and later graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1998. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency at Virginia Commonwealth University where he served as Chief Resident of Internal Medicine, and subsequently completed his Cardiology Fellowship at Saint Louis University where he was the Chief Cardiology Fellow.
Lifestyle & Fitness Coach with a speciality in helping busy professionals with high stress levels overhaul their lifestyles on a limited schedule. After a near death scare with two unexplained blood clots, and pulmonary embolism I was inspired to grow my knowledge in plant based wellness. Since turning away from doctors, and healing in 16 month my vision is to help educate, and inspire on the possibilities of living both PLANT BASED and STRONG!
XYLO ZOHN SMITH-PAJARES
Xylo Zohn Smith-Pajares, also known as XYZo, strives to uplift, educate, and inspire everyone with whom he interacts. He is currently finishing his undergraduate career at Florida Gulf Coast University, studying Contemplative Studies & Entrepreneurship, with plans to open healing centers. In addition to instructing hundreds of Yoga classes throughout his time at FGCU, he has been an event facilitator & community organizer, playing a key role in several events of many kinds. He is tremendously excited to continue sharing his passions with the greater community through VegFest!
JESSICA K. BLANKS
BS in Marine Science, MS in Environmental Health Sciences (University of South Carolina, Columbia). Worked on various research grants while employed at University of South Carolina (January 2001 to February 2004, January 2005 to June 2008) and Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution (February 2004 to September). Research Associate (June 2008 to January 2015) with Algenol Biofuels. Environmental Specialist II with Florida Department of Health sanitary nuisance investigations and septic compliance (April 2015 to August 2017). Currently employed as Environmental Compliance Manager with The Hertz Corporation in Estero, FL (August 2018 to present).
Calusa Waterkeeper Executive Director Noted community organizer and international media specialist, K.C. Schulberg was appointed Calusa Waterkeeper’s Executive Director effective July 1, 2018. Schulberg’s background merges film, television, marketing and fundraising with hands on civic engagement and community organizing, allowing him to bring a new global set of administrative tools to Calusa Waterkeeper’s mission. In a sense, this appointment brings Schulberg full circle as his first exposure to the SWFL ecosystem came when, at the age of five, his father and uncle produced the first studio-financed environmental-themed feature film, Warner Brothers’ “WIND ACROSS THE EVERGLADES” starring Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer in 1957
10am | MOVIE SCREENING
"A PRAYER FOR COMPASSION"
Compassion: A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. ~ Dictionary.com
A Prayer for Compassion is a feature length documentary that strives to inspire and encourage those already on a religious or spiritual path, to expand their circle of compassion to embrace all life, regardless of species, and make choices in alignment with this value.
The film follows Thomas Jackson on a quest across America, that ultimately takes him to Morocco for the UN Climate Conference and throughout the Indian subcontinent to ask the question, “Can compassion grow to include all beings? and Can people who identify as religious or spiritual come to embrace the call to include all human and nonhuman beings in our circle of respect and caring and love?”
Drawing on traditions including Christianity — evangelical, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Friends (Quakers), Seventh Day Adventism, Unity, and more; Judaism; Islam; Hinduism; Buddhism; Jainism; the Native American tradition; Unitarian Universalism; Zoroastrianism; and the “spiritual but not religious” point of view — A Prayer for Compassion calls on people of faith and spiritual seekers of every stripe to come together to bring about a world in which “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them…They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6 and 11:9)