The Toronto Vegetarian Association is governed by a volunteer board of directors elected by its membership. For information about our Board of Directors or to find out how you can get involved, please contact our board President, Diane Burgin.


Ariane Bobiash Secretary
Diane Burgin  President & Treasurer
Kevin Downing  Vice President
Scott Garant
Fraser Gibson  Past President
Rita Haddad
Peter McQueen
Cayley Montmarquette
Gyanesh Paliwal
Siddharth Seth
Annette Wiegand

 

Ariane Bobiash

Hello! My name is Ariane and I am a long-time vegetarian and have been vegan for over 5 years. Since moving to Toronto in August 2014, I have been a member of the TVA and have volunteered at many of the organization’s fabulous events. What has resonated most with me about the TVA is its ‘embracing vegetarian choices’ philosophy, which I believe is an effective, inclusive way to draw people to the message.

I have considerable experience leading and growing vegetarian groups, including co-creating and growing an online resource space for vegetarians while working on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. Under my leadership, the group grew to over 300 members within 1.5 years.

I completed my Masters in Global Affairs at the University of Toronto in May 2016, and currently work in Client Relationships at a Canadian technology company in the Corporate Social Responsibility space. In addition to this, I have a varied background with international experience in non-profits and government. I can also communicate in French and Spanish.

I would like to help the TVA expand its membership and programming in the GTA and beyond. In the Strategic Plan, an increase in activities such as cooking classes for those new to vegetarianism were identified as most valuable to current non-vegetarians. I would like to expand this type of programming in the GTA, and would also like to forge stronger partnerships with university veg groups.

 

Diane Burgin

President, Treasurer

Diane Burgin has been a volunteer and member of the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) for over 10 years. She is a long-time vegan and advocate for organic food. She is also committed to many animal and environmental causes. Diane is passionate about eating healthy foods for optimal health.

Diane has an undergraduate university degree in Accounting and accreditation as a Certified Management Accountant. She has held various accounting positions over the years in addition to doing other operations management work and running her own business. Diane is also certified as an Ontological Coach through Newfield Network and a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. Diane has been coaching busy professionals who are concerned about life balance and overall health. Life balance is also important for her, as she continues to do finance work and keep up with her many volunteer commitments.

Diane has served on the TVA Board since 2009, as the Treasurer since 2011, and as President since 2013. She currently works on various TVA-related committees and projects. Diane’s most fulfilling activity is working with other volunteers. For example when coordinating Veggielicious in 2013 and the Toronto Veggie Parade in 2014, it was inspiring to her to see volunteers come together to make an event successful. Diane intends to continue creating success, by working with others to spread messages of compassion and vegan health!

 

Kevin Downing

Kevin Downing

Vice President

I’ve been fortunate to spend the past year on the board of TVA, becoming an active member of the Program Review committee that evaluates TVA’s programs for impact and effectiveness. My first year has given me a lot of exposure to TVA operations and the opportunity to work with its fantastic staff and great volunteers.

I’ve been vegetarian for six years, and vegan for the most recent. There are many good reasons to be vegetarian. For me it was the combination of several – the impact on the environment, health benefits and animal cruelty. While adopting this lifestyle has gotten easier, it still has it challenges in a society that mostly doesn’t cater to the choices we’ve made.

Having personally benefited from education and support provided by TVA, I want to make the path easier for others. I see TVA playing that extremely important role – providing positive education and support resources to aid vegetarians and those making the transition.

I’m one of the founders of a tech start-up that has built a connected thermostat that allows users to better manage their home environment and energy consumption. I’ve also worked for a tech incubator and a cancer research lab.

I’m an active volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Toronto Jazz Festival. I’ve served on the board of the Art of Jazz, volunteered on political campaigns and an advisory committee for the AGO. I earned a BSc with combined honours in Microbiology and Biochemistry at Dalhousie University.

I believe I can continue to contribute to the TVA board through my international work and the diverse experience I have serving on boards and committees in both the private and non-profit sectors. Whether it’s on the board, serving on a committee or acting as volunteer, I’m eager to support TVA in any way that I can.

 

Scott Garant

scottI have been a member of the TVA for almost a decade and I look forward to bringing my knowledge and skills to the board. I have acted in various volunteer roles with the TVA from membership drives, promoting the TVA at the Veg Food Fest, education about plant-based living, and promoting the 7-Day Veggie Challenge. I also am a member of various other organizations (Mercy For Animals, Direct Action Everywhere) where I volunteer to promote plant-based living, animal rights and awareness about the positive effect of plant-based living on our climate. I am currently a teacher of the deaf and have been since 2001. I have also served on my union executive as a vice president for one term and as an executive member currently in my second term. I have also run a couple small businesses in the interpreting field as well as promoting visual arts, which I ran with a partner.

I would like to bring my background in advocacy, education and activism, gained from my union work, teaching and small business experience, to the board in order to further the mandate and strategic plan of the TVA. I look forward to being active in working with the board, increasing membership, raising the profile and influence of the TVA through education and advocacy to promote vegetarianism as well as people’s commitment to plant-based living through education and support. I would also like to work with volunteers to widen the education about plant-based living to elementary and high school students with curriculum-based, ready-to use resources for teachers and teaching staff.

TVA has been a leader in education, promotion and advocating vegetarianism for the past 70+ years. As the TVA grows along with plant-based living, it is perfectly positioned to be THE voice for a more compassionate, healthy and sustainable world.

 

Fraser Gibson

Past President, Strategic Planning Committee Chair

I have been a member of TVA’s Board of Directors for almost nine years and was President for a full five year term. As a Board member I spent five years on the Nominating & Governance Committee and have been leading our strategic planning efforts since 2007. I have volunteered for the Vegetarian Food Festival for about 16 years and have been actively involved in various Outreach events for TVA. I have also been a coordinator for Veggies of Halton & Peel (a TVA social group) although I now reside in Toronto.

I have previous board experience with non-profit arts organizations. In the workplace I’m a Vice-President at a national distributor of industrial fire, safety and environmental monitoring equipment and services. My responsibilities include facilitation of project teams, strategic planning, training programs and technology implementations. My specialty is supply chain management and I’m a professional member of the Logistics Institute.

My journey to become a vegetarian started more than 35 years ago and approximately 14 years ago I adopted a vegan diet. Early inspiration was from an environmental / political perspective, then health, and I finally awoke to the ethical perspective about 16 years ago, assisted significantly by presentations at the TVA Food Fair that highlighted the importance of compassion for animals. TVA programs have had a significant positive impact on my approach to food. It is an honour to be able to give back and help support the organization.

During 2016 we will reach the half-way point for the period covered by our current strategic plan and I look forward to working on initiatives within that plan and helping build on the success of TVA. I will work hard at further strengthening the organization and enhancing the effectiveness of our programs and the message we deliver.


Rita Haddad

unnamedThrough my work experience as a Human Resources Manager for Learning and Development at Loblaws – my role relied heavily on creativity, communication and stakeholder management. I have excelled in all three areas as a result of my commitment and dedication to design, develop and oversee the grad training program, while managing several competing priorities and relationships, in turn ensuring a successful implementation and execution.

I am also an avid believer in making a difference where I can – that is why I volunteer during my free time at community based organizations such as, Woman for a Prosperous Community (WPC) and Carassauga. Here, I harvested many skills such as event planning, sponsorship solicitation and event promotion, to name a few. I feel very strongly that my combined work and volunteer experience make me an ideal candidate and an asset to your Association.

I have been a Vegetarian for over 10 years and I can attest to the positive difference it has made in my life and in the lives of those around me. I have a passion for sharing the knowledge I have gained with others, to help and guide people to a healthier, greener, more compassionate way of living. Witnessing the impact I had made in such a short period of time, inspired me to leave behind a lucrative corporate job and pursue my personal aspirations to expand the vegan community further out in the GTA.

With that said, my motivation for serving on the Board of Directors is rooted in the will and drive to educate people in order to expand the TVA community beyond its current boundaries. I have the vision of involving younger members of our community in order to instil the Association’s values (which are highly aligned with mine) and build a program that incorporates them into the core of our educational system.

 

Peter McQueen

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I have served TVA for many years as a director, outreach volunteer, President two times, as a committee chair in the past, and currently as a member of the Marketing and Development Committee. In addition to my local experience I also have contacts in the wider North American and international vegetarian/vegan movement. Furthermore, I have strong connections with the very active Toronto animal rights scene. In my youth I was active with several environmental groups and still am knowledgeable about the environmental movement. My profession is teaching. For several years I have been a special education teacher, but previously worked in business and government. My business studies help me understand financial statements, strategic planning, human resources, and marketing.

In the 40 years since I became vegetarian and the approximately 25 since I became vegan I have witnessed and contributed to the amazing growth in veg*n resources in our city, the country, and many parts of the world. TVA has also grown and changed over our 70 year history. Our Veg Food Fest, Veggie Challenge, directory and discount program have inspired countless groups and individuals. I wish to continue to serve this truly wonderful organization in whatever way I can. My values and TVA’s strongly align. I believe in our inclusive, welcoming approach. Our diversity, both in our membership and in our programs, is our strength. We need to continue to build on that diversity by reaching into diverse communities and by encouraging meat reduction as a step towards vegetarianism and veganism. I look forward to contributing to our strong team of staff, directors, committee members, other volunteers, and members in moving TVA forward.

 

Cayley Montmarquette

LinkedIn PictureNominating & Governance Committee Chair

Hi! I’m Cayley.

I became primed for veganism during my undergraduate studies, where I specialized in Kinesiology and Physiology. Every piece of Science that I studied pointed to veganism as the clear solution to an abundance of pathologies. I began exploring a plant-based diet and the effects that it had on my personal health, overall well-being, and the environment around me. This is where my journey as a vegan began… and I haven’t turned back.

My extended knowledge about plant-based nutrition is a key area of focus that I will bring to the TVA Board. According to our Survey of Non-Vegetarians, conducted in Spring 2013, an overwhelming majority of non-vegetarians cited nutrition as their chief motivator in considering vegetarianism. I will use this information in conjunction with my highly connected professional network to spread awareness of TVA’s mission and strategic initiatives. Furthermore, I am already involved with two of TVA’s committees – specifically, the Nominating & Governance Committee and the Programs Review Committee

In addition to my Health Sciences background, I hold a Master’s degree in Professional Communication, and have won several awards for my advancements in content development and strategic communication. These achievements led me to my present occupation, in which I lead the Talent Acquisition for the legal entity of a Big 4 firm. My recruiting expertise will help TVA to attract and onboard the best talent and human capital strategies possible. Furthermore, my legal specialization will serve as an asset when creating clear and comprehensive policies that serve to govern the organization. Living a green, plant-based, and sustainable lifestyle is an intrinsic factor in my personal life, and a key area of identification for me. It is time that I translate this passion into strategic change, and give back to this supportive and unique community.

 

Gyanesh Paliwal

Gyanesh PaliwalA vegetarian since birth, I enjoy complete, fresh and undigested nutrition in plant-based foods. I passionately promote vegetarianism for the greater good of humankind and the animal world. A business graduate, an entrepreneur for 25 years, I am a Realtor, dealing with people and groups. I am a team player and team lead, and easily build relationships and influence people.

I salute the 18 pioneers who started the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) in 1945. I also salute the countless volunteers who have kept the organization going for 69 years. With 400 members in 1980, 1000 in 2000, and 1700 in 2014, and 1000 unique visitors a day to the website, popularity is growing. TVA has shown that vegetarianism is a viable lifestyle, and created the buzz through various activities and events, especially the Annual Vegetarian Food Festival. More Torontonians are aware humans can live a healthier, greener, more compassionate lifestyle through plant-based eating.

My aspirations as a Board member are to membership and fundraising drives by building alliances with ethnic associations and multiplying TVA’s outreach.

 

Siddharth Seth

10246440Siddharth Seth was raised vegetarian – in a family mindful of animal sentience, of environmental responsibility, and of the direct health impacts of diet on general well-being. Herbal and natural cures for diseases and using nutrition-based healing for everyday illness was imbibed into his lifestyle from the get go. After graduating from college in India, he decided to pursue grad school in the United States, where he lived for about a decade, and never ceased to be appalled by the commercialization and marginalization of life forms and human ideologies due to stereotyping. His core value of compassion became more strongly ingrained as he strived to assimilate in the western lifestyle and judiciously reconcile ideological differences among cultures and practices.

Now a passionate Canadian, Sid has become increasingly aware of western farming practices as he mingled with the activist community following his move. He has volunteered for the TVA for about 5 years, and has been recognized for his contributions at various points. He organically resolved to veganism nearly 2 years ago, when a slogan on a volunteer appreciation gift from TVA struck his attention given his largely vegan lifestyle.

Sid’s professional career as a global technology product manager for a Big Four firm in the professional services network provides a unique opportunity for strategic planning, managing projects, vendor relationships, and global initiatives. Working closely with intellectually stimulating people in 150 countries on a daily basis makes him celebrate diversity and implement inclusion and engagement through skills such as active listening, scientific questioning, learning by observation, and empathetic communication. He strives to spread awareness through leading by example, and striking constructive dialogue with people at various points in their journey towards exploring a plant-based lifestyle. He is eager to apply his knowledge to implement the vision and mission of TVA to make an impact that matters, while advancing his leadership skills and social eminence.

Annette Wiegand

Annette is a strategist, brand builder a go-to person for ideas, creative energy and inspiration. She specializes in understanding consumer insights, how they relate to achieving organizational goals and implementing best practices throughout. She believes that to be successful we need to continue to understand the changing world around us, react fast, ask questions and find the key insights.

Annette has over 20 years of marketing and communications experience

With a BCOMM degree and Marketing Major she took a deep dive into the marketing realm and honed her skills working on a range of world-class brands. Her focus now is to use her experience to work with good organizations she believes in. She wants to inspire, motivate and help people understand the widespread impacts of their lifestyle choices.

Annette is passionate about volunteering and giving back to her community

Over the years Annette has volunteered at a broad range of organizations, where her involvement ranges from grassroots (Habitat for Humanity) to the strategic (marketing advisor for United Nations, a local Research Reserve) and events (Co-chair for the Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope, and Local Arts Initiatives).

Annette believes that the world would be a better place if we were to all adopt a plant- based diet

Annette wants to leverage her marketing experience and work with the TVA to engage the community. To further the TVA mission by generating awareness of the benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle. She is excited about the prospect of working with the TVA board, staff and community and contributing to anything that will help the TVA reach their key objectives – both on a tactical and strategic level.