Location: Lerner Hall Auditorium


9:30–9:40am  Opening Remarks (Columbia Vegan Society president)
9:40–10:00     Vault Information Session and Call for Submissions (Meera Kanabar)
10:00–11:00     Consumer Banking and Ethical Finance (Curt Albright)
11:00–12:00pm  Investing in a Vegan Future (panel facilitated by David Benzaquen)
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12:00–1:50      Break for Lunch

Important Note: Lunch will not be provided by the conference; however, information about local vegan options near Columbia campus will be provided.  

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2:00–3:00pm        A Conversation with Nike Athlete Joe Holder (Joe Holder)
3:00–4:00pm        Mainstream Media and the Growth of Veganism (Ashlee Piper)
4:00–5:00pm        Plant-based Nutrition: Medicine & Media (Martica Heaner)
5:00–6:00pm        Social Justice and the Founding of Treeline Cheese (Michael Schwarz)

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6:00pm                  Concluding Remarks and Vegan Cheese Sampling (Conference Director)



Consumer Banking and Ethical Finance

A change in consumer spending can yield tremendous societal change, a phenomenon vegans have witnessed in the sectors of food and fashion. However, in consumer banking, there are no banks or credit unions that proactively screen out companies who benefit from non-vegan practices when lending out money. What are the existing options for everyday people to save and accumulate money without supporting these practices, and what can we create for better options in the future?

Speaker: Curt Albright

Speaker Background: Curt Albright is a Partner, and Senior Vice President with Vining Sparks, Investment Banking Group., LLC and lives in Charlotte, NC.  Curt grew up and worked as a Sr. VP in Private Banking at a bank in Washington, DC before a transition to Charlotte in 1991 with Vining Sparks.  He has been actively involved in assessing balance sheet risk and addressing solutions for the community banking and credit union industry for the past twenty-five years. Curt is passionate about his work for the animals, the environment, and the dysfunction of the food industry.


Investing in a Vegan Future


Description: Entrepreneurs have driven the development of a major market for ethical goods and services, and as new entrepreneurs create new businesses, they require significant capital to grow and compete with their non-vegan counterparts. What is the current landscape for vegan investment in companies from startups to booming success stories? This panel explores this question and more with experts in angel, venture-capital, and hedge-fund investing.

Panel Facilitator: David Benzaquen

Speaker Background: David Benzaquen is the Founder and CEO of PlantBased Solutions, a strategic brand management and marketing
agency for plant-based consumer products. PlantBased Solutions helps
companies launch and grow their businesses through marketing, branding, fundraising and more. David is a sought-after natural products industry expert.

He serves as a mentor and advisor to multiple food incubators, accelerators
and venture capital firms, and is a contributing writer with the trade publications

New Food Economy and New Hope Natural Media’s IdeaXchange.

Panelists include: 
Chris Kerr: (left) Chris Kerr has more than two decades of leadership experience
in financial and venture capital management. In addition to his work with NCC,
Chris serves as director at MIXONIUM Group Holdings Inc., Pitcairn Financial Group,
and Anark Corporation, and as managing partner at Abele Kerr Investments. As partner
of NCC, Chris manages deal flow, and performs asset and market level analyses.

Lee Slonimsky: (middle) Lee Slonimsky is the manager of hedge fund Green Hills
Partners LP, which currently trades as a "side pocket" of his 17 year old
NYC-based technology fund, Ocean Partners LP. Green Hills uses various
strategies, including a positive humane screen and targeted short selling,
to reduce factory farming's unethical practices. Green Hills
also manages individual accounts with similar humane strategies.  

Michael Pellman Rowland: (right) Michael Pellman Rowland is a Senior Partner at Morgan Stanley,                                        on a wealth management team that provides personalized services in a cookie cutter world.                                          A key component of his work is to help families pass wealth to future generations. His focus
areas include LGBT family planning and Socially Responsible Investments.
He is a frequent guest lecturer, and has been featured in The Wall Street
Financial Times, and Institutional Investor. He sits on the Morgan
Stanley Environmental and Social Finance Forum Steering Committee, and
is an active participant of the Pride and Ally group at Morgan Stanley. Recently,
he was selected as an Honoree in the Investment News, class of 2015,
40 Under 40 list.


The Power of Plant-Based Living: A Discussion with Joe Holder

Description:  Joe Holder will be discussing how a plant based approach to eating has provided the catalyst for performance enhancement as an athlete, productivity enhancement in his personal life, and a source of inspiration for his passion regarding public health.  

Speaker: Joe Holder

Speaker Background: Joe Holder is the founder of The Ocho System (OS), a philosophy that was formulated during his time at the University of Pennsylvania. The Ocho System couples the view food
as fuel with positive thinking and effective workouts, promoting an   
elevated and healthy life.  Joe frequently contributes and has been
mentioned in a variety of publications including Business Insider,    
ShapeRunner's WorldWomen's HealthHuffington Post, and more.

He has also been referred to one of the top trainers to follow on Instagram in DetailsSelf, and Muscle & Fitness Hers. Additionally, he has been able to share his knowledge via public speaking at a variety of institutions including Harvard University and Princeton University.  Joe now lives in New York, splitting his time between health & wellness consulting, public speaking, and training/run coaching for Nike and S1o. In addition, Joe will
be involved in a Q&A regarding his own journey that culminated in the founding of his own health philosophy, The Ocho System. Beginning at childhood to the University of Pennsylvania as a standout player on the 3 time Ivy League Championship football team, his time as Community Manager at Health Warrior which is one of the fastest growing companies in the natural foods space, and now living in New York City working as a health & wellness consultant, Nike trainer, and fitness specialist at S10 Training Joe will discuss how plant-based eating has helped him manage it all.

Mainstream Media and the Growth of Veganism


Description: What has often been thought of as a taboo topic has gone mainstream. But much of the mainstream media treatment about veganism focuses on one facet of the lifestyle: food. Since carving her unique advocacy niche just a year and a half ago,
Ashlee Piper has appeared on over 50 local and national television shows displaying how fun, approachable, and easy a vegan lifestyle can be. Accomplished without any paid assistance, PR, or former contacts in TV and print, Piper will share how to bring the vegan message (whatever the audience members' respective niches) to media producers in a way that is resonant, effective, and entertaining. From crafting a pitch to finding the right contacts and following up, to preparing for the camera and lingo to use and to avoid, this session is a must for anyone interested in taking their
polished message to greater heights within the media and
entertainment space.

Speaker: Ashlee Piper

Speaker Background: Ashlee Piper is a nationally-recognized eco-lifestyle expert.
She runs the site The Little Foxes, is a regular guest and co-host on a variety of
national and local TV shows (see her here) including FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC, The
LiveWell Network, and others. She also writes for online and print publications,
such as Refinery29, MindBodyGreen, NYLON, Allure, and Reader's Digest on all
things planet-friendly and chic. Ms. Piper holds a BA from Brown University and
a MSW from the University of Oxford.


Plant-based Nutrition: Medicine & Media

Description: A cloud of confusion about what to eat exists in the consumer media and the blogosphere. This session will take a scientific look at common nutrition misconceptions about protein, fat, and carbohydrates, along with an evidence-based exploration of using a plant-based diet to treat debilitating health conditions.

Speaker: Martica Heaner, PhD

Speaker Background: Martica is a nutritionist, exercise physiologist and adjunct associate nutrition professor at Hunter College in NYC. She obtained her masters and doctoral degrees from Columbia University and has been a research associate at Columbia University Medical Center studying the effects of resistance training on muscle physiology in weight-reduced overweight and obese participants. She is the author of 8 books, including Cross-training for Dummies, and has written hundreds of articles on health, nutrition and fitness for the New York TimesShapeFitnessSelf, GlamourMen’s Health and other publications. Her plant-based lifestyle fuels the 10+ group fitness classes she teaches every week.


Social Justice and the Founding of Treeline Cheese

Description: In this discussion with Michael Schwarz, we will explore Michael's professional history before Treeline, how Treeline was initially started and developed, what factors have influenced Treeline's success, and how Michael intends to grow Treeline even further within the US and overseas markets.

Speaker: Michael Schwarz

Speaker Background: Michael Schwarz is the founder and CEO of Treeline Treenut Cheese, one of the leading makers of artisanal vegan cheeses in the world. Michael's views on social justice (and hence veganism) were formed in in South Africa, where he grew up, during the apartheid era. (His parents were prominent opponents of the system of legalized racism.) Michael practiced intellectual property law in New York, Washington, DC and London before starting Treeline. He divides his time between New York’s Hudson Valley, where Treeline is made, and the East Village.




The groundwork for the iV Conference was first laid in the Fall of 2011 after leaders of the peer organizations comprising this conference initiated their plan to build a new vegan conference that would occupy a unique and important niche. After a few months, the groups had developed the conference’s first meeting which took place at Penn in March 2012. Since that time, the conference has grown in scope, attendance, and media visibility. Please click below for summaries of the previous years' conferences.


iV 2016 at Columbia University

iV 2015 at Cornell University

iV 2014 at Princeton University

iV 2013 at Yale University

iV 2012 at the University of Pennsylvania