Candidates for the 2020-2021 Board of Directors


November 9, 2020

On Saturday, November 21st, at 1 pm via Zoom, members will meet for the Toronto Vegetarian Association’s 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM). At the AGM, members will review our work over the past 12 months,  and vote to elect the 2020-2021 Board of Directors.

Those not currently yet TVA members can join no later than Friday, November 20th at 9 am in order to attend, but only those who have been members for at least 30 days prior to the meeting will be eligible to vote.

Current Board Members with Two Year Terms: Serving until 2021 – Nital Jethalal, Nicole Fich, Sasha Kevac

2020-2021 Candidates

Elliot Alexander

Elliot became vegetarian in 1990 after doing a high school research project on organic food. He and his husband Tim became vegan in 2000 after Tim took a nutrition course during medical school offered by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a US organization that advocates for the health benefits of plant-based diets and promotes the use of non-animal models during medical school training. They started sending newsletters to the house which Elliot read from cover to cover, ultimately declaring one day “that’s it, we’re becoming vegan!”

Elliot was the owner of Cosmic Treats Vegan Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Kensington Market and supported the TVA by being a business member, as well as hosting and participating in many of their markets and events. He has also been a long-time personal member in the TVA, even submitting an entry in their very first Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off.

Elliot is a registered physiotherapist who has focused on working with people who are homeless, the urban poor and other marginalized populations. He also has a special interest in people with overweight and obesity which was the focus of his research during his graduate degree. He has also volunteered for many years in organizations that address drug policy reform.

In his spare time 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.

Sean Anklesaria

I began my journey to being vegan in 2015 after being diagnosed with obesity, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. As a father of three young boys, I realized I needed to make drastic changes in my lifestyle to avoid major health problems, and possibly early death, in my future. After experimenting with various fad diets, which worked to some extent but were not sustainable long term, I officially began my plant-based journey in 2017. Since then, I have never looked back. I wholeheartedly believe that a plant-based lifestyle is the best lifestyle for longevity, health, spirituality and the environment.

Professionally, I am a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and have been since 2006. I own and operate my own professional accounting firm, Anklesaria CPA Professional Corporation, and have been in an ownership position since 2013. My firm specializes in tax planning and preparation for individuals, corporations, partnerships, trusts, not-for-profit organizations and charitable foundations. Prior to running my own firm, I have held various audit positions of increasing seniority at Deloitte & Touche LLP and SF Partnership LLP. I also held a position in business development for my professional accounting association building relationships with business officials, government representatives and academia to promote my accounting designation.

I intend to use the knowledge and experience I have gained in my career as a business owner, in audit, and in business development to further the goals of the TVA and the plant-based lifestyle in general. Living this lifestyle has given myself and my family so much that I feel it’s my duty to use my skillset to advance the cause and pay it forward to others who may benefit from plant-based living.

Ana De Castro

Ana de Castro first discovered the TVA in 2013 to seek out others sharing her commitment to do no harm to animals. As with many at that time, the term vegan was still foreign to her. It was joining the TVA at that time that helped her understand the distinction and supported her to complete her transition to a complete vegan life.

Ana jumped immediately into volunteering. Her first experience was at the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off which she thoroughly enjoyed. This event wasn’t enough for Ana. She took on so much more including accepting a regular position at the Resource Centre and assisting in hosting the TVA Podcast.

Inside and out of the TVA, Ana’s passion has been in providing exceptional customer service. In her professional life, she gravitated to front line work in the municipal government and has most recently settled in at the Public Library fulfilling her commitment and passion to helping others. She also enjoys walking, good music and dancing.

Ana hopes to continue to support the TVA mission by volunteering on the Board of Directors in supporting our mission to help other chose a healthier, greener, more compassionate lifestyle.

Fraser Gibson

I have been a member of TVA’s Board of Directors for more than 10 years and was President for a five-year term. As a Board member I have spent time on the Nominating & Governance, Programs Review, and Strategic Planning Committees. I have volunteered for the Veg Food Fest for about 20 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 company involved in the distribution and servicing of industrial fire, safety, industrial hygiene and occupational health equipment. My responsibilities include management of quality systems, the facilitation of project teams and a variety of strategic initiatives including implementation of new technology systems. My specialty is supply chain management.

My journey to becoming a vegetarian started more than 35 years ago and almost 20 years ago I adopted a vegan diet. An early inspiration was from an environmental/political perspective, then health, and I finally awoke to the ethical perspective, assisted significantly by presentations at the TVA Veg Food Fest that highlighted the importance of compassion for animals. TVA programs have had a significant positive impact in my life, so it is an honour to be able to give back and help support the organization.

The challenges of 2020 have applied stress to our organization and have further highlighted the importance of some of the strategic concepts we have started to implement. I look forward to continuing work on defining and implementing that strategy and helping build on the effectiveness and impact of our programs and the message we deliver.

Anne Hussain

I adopted a vegan lifestyle over 13 years ago alongside my husband out of compassion for our planet, its beings, and our bodies – it’s how we both transformed our personal health issues and we’ve never looked back.


I am now a naturopathic doctor who practices plant-based medicine. My approach to healthcare is plant-focused and includes whole foods, herbs, strategic supplementation, and acupuncture to support menstrual, thyroid, and hormonal health. I teach my patients about their bodies and hormones, how the food we eat and the environment we live in impacts the body, and how to be advocates for themselves and their families.


I am on the board of directors for the Aurora Community Band, an expert contributor to The Whole Family and Naturopathic Currents publications, a supervising clinician for Naturopaths Without Borders Thailand, and run a variety of local community events. You can often find me spending time in nature, eating chocolate, drinking tea, reading sci-fi/fantasy and research studies, upcycling old clothes, and playing the alto sax.


I have been a member of the TVA for many years, served on its board this last year as the organization navigated its course through a global pandemic, and have been part of several of its committees. I look forward to the opportunity to continue supporting the TVA’s mission and community.

Leslie Lawrence

My professional experience for the past 25 years has been in the capacity of sales rep/sales trainer/sales manager.  I have led teams of up to 100 people whilst navigating the day in/day out challenges of running and growing the business.  Since 2002 I have been working mostly in the event space – consumer and trade events – working with exhibitors, sponsors and partners.

I am an avid traveller and have been to 60+ countries (maybe 70+ I’ve lost track).  On several trips, I worked in a volunteer capacity holding various roles from fundraising, program creation, website design and ESL instruction.


It was 2005 when after watching a few of the ‘meat industry’ movies I decided to become vegetarian.  In the Fall of 2018, I resigned from my role as Director of Sales and embarked on a world travel adventure inviting time and space to decide my next career path.  Covid brought me back to Canada in April.

In addition to my sales/management/training experience, I have also completed the International Development Program at UBC, am a Certified NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) Practitioner and a Practitioner in Training for The Journey – an emotional healing modality.

I look forward to bringing my experiences to TVA doing my part to help the movement.

Peter McQueen

Peter is the longest serving board member of TVA. The co-founder of Veg Food Fest, he has held many positions including President (twice), chair and member of several committees, outreach specialist, and Veg Guide distributor. Currently Peter is the chair of the Name Change Committee and a member of the Marketing and Development Committee.


In addition to his experience with TVA, Peter has connections in the North American and international vegan and vegetarian movement. He is also active in the local animal rights community including helping plan marches and other events. In his youth, Peter founded the Canadian Organic Growers and was an environmental activist.


He has a business degree and work experience in both private industry and government, as well as an education degree. Peter recently retired from a 24-year career in elementary education with a focus on reading instruction and special education.


He became a vegetarian in his mid-teens and has been vegan for 30 years. In that long time, but especially in the last few years, we have witnessed an enormous growth in interest in plant-based foods and veganism. In Toronto, TVA has contributed enormously to that growth and with a name change will be positioned to do so even more.


Peter believes in TVA’s inclusive, welcoming approach, and in our diversity. He wishes to continue contributing to our strong team of directors, staff, and volunteers.

Krista Schwab

Krista Schwab has been a board member of the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) since January 2019 and a TVA volunteer since 2016. She has been vegan for more than three years thanks to the support, events and community provided by the TVA. She is currently the Co-Chair of the Marketing and Development Committee that provides planning, advice and support for TVA’s communications and events, including virtual events such as the 75th Gala and Veg Food Fest. She also sits on the Name Change Committee where she supports strategy and planning activities and the Strategic Plan Committee where she provides writing expertise for the development of the plan.

Krista has been a board member through times of transition and growth for the TVA, including bringing on a new Community and Engagement Coordinator, TVA’s move to a new office space and the development of a new strategic plan. This year, she supported the TVA as we shifted our activities and events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Prior to being a board member, Krista volunteered with the TVA in communications roles. She led the development of a comprehensive social media strategy to grow the TVA’s digital outreach efforts. She managed the TVA Instagram account (@TorontoVeg) for one year, growing the organization’s followers by 32%. She has also led the TVA’s social media for events such as the Vegan Bake-off, Veg Holiday Market, Veg Spring Market and Veg Food Fest. 

By day, Krista is a Senior Strategic Communications Advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation where she leads the planning, development and implementation of a broad range of communications projects and initiatives. Prior to this role she was 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

Mark and his wife became vegan in 2013, after watching Vegeducated. They were immediately sold on the benefits of veganism — for animals, the environment and our health. The morning after, they cleaned all of the animal products out of their home and have been vegan ever since.

Mark became a TVA member in 2016, and joined TVA’s Program Review Committee in 2018 where he has supported the evaluation of a number of TVA programs. He also served on the selection committee for TVA’s 2019 Lisa Grill Compassion For Animals Award and supported delivery of the 2020 Award.

Most of his career has been spent in the public and not-for-profit sectors, with a focus on health and wellness. For the last ten years, Mark has worked in the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries in the Ontario Public Service, where he has guided the planning, development, delivery and evaluation of several high-profile provincial strategies, policies and programs.

Prior to joining the Ontario Public Service, he worked as a business analyst and project manager for a boutique consulting firm, where 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.     

Emily Smith

I attended Veg Food Fest for the first time as a veg-curious omnivore struggling to decide whether or not veganism was something that I could truly commit to. Although the food and speakers at the festival were fantastic, it was the vibrant Toronto veg community that ultimately
inspired me to take the leap; less than two months after the event, I was fully vegan and loving it. I have attended every Veg Food Fest since that year (2017) as well as a number of TVA events, and am more convinced than ever that veganism is truly the most compassionate lifestyle for both the planet and for the wonderful animals that inhabit it.

Given my personal relationship with the TVA, I am excited to serve as a board member and to support the TVA in creating a more inclusive, compassionate and just world through vegan education and outreach. As the only vegan among my friends and family, I am inspired by (and
thankful for) the organization’s commitment to connecting veg*ns and veg-curious people across the city and look forward to helping the TVA continue to create and foster these important relationships.

Having served as an executive member of my university’s veg club for three years, I have extensive experience in project management, event organization and community outreach which will serve me well as a board member. Furthermore, as an avid reader, I am well-versed in current vegan news, vegan philosophy, plant-based nutrition, and strategies for effective activism. I also have a B.Sc. degree (Honours Neuroscience) from McMaster University and am currently pursuing a Master of Science at the University of Toronto.

My hope is that the scientific literacy and critical thinking skills I have acquired over the years will enable me to bring a unique perspective to the board which will support the TVA’s growth through these unprecedented times. 

Karel Vredenburg

Karel Vredenburg became vegetarian 37 years ago, inspired by the ethical vegetarianism of his wife. They raised their four children vegetarian, and the whole family, including partners and dogs, went vegan 6 years ago after a discussion during a vacation about the reality of the dairy
and egg industries. Karel and his family created the website during another vacation three years ago to advocate for, outline the benefits of, and provide guidance to adopt a plant-based vegan lifestyle. Karel also uses his Instagram account for outreach and is
thrilled that many followers have been inspired to go vegan by his posts.

Karel and his family have been part of the TVA for many years, having regularly attended events such as the Veg Food Fest, the Spring Market, the Holiday Market, and sanctuary trips and listening to the Veg Out podcast.

After undergraduate, Masters, and PhD studies at the University of Toronto, Karel was recruited by IBM and is currently the company’s Director of Design and Academic Programs globally. Domestically, Karel heads up IBM Studios Canada and IBM Canada’s Innovation Corps. For the
past eight years, he was instrumental in introducing a new strategic and innovative organizational design transformation program to IBM worldwide and to many leading Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, as well as start-ups and scaleups. He is also a frequent keynote speaker at industry conferences and organizer of global design challenges.

In his role as Industry Professor, Karel codeveloped Innovation by Design programs for the DeGroote School of Business, the DeGroote Health Leadership Academy, and McMaster University, and he regularly teaches in the Digital Executive MBA program, the Emerging Health
Leaders program, and the Innovation by Design pan-university program. Karel serves on the IBM Employee Charitable Fund Board of Directors, an organization that has responsibility for and governance of the raising of funds for and dispersal of funds to charitable organizations, and he has for several years taught Canadian board directors new strategic, innovative, and creative problem-solving methods in a module that is part of The Directors College curriculum. This year, the focus of his teaching and webinars has been on providing board directors the tools for dealing with the challenges of guiding and governing organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karel blogs at; his Life Habit Mentoring podcast is available there as well as on all podcast apps and services.

Filed under: Uncategorised