Meet the team behind our 21st Annual Banquet!

We want to extend a big thanks to this year’s banquet planning committee! This year’s committee included Rae Hermeier, Lucia Skinner de Gregorio, Abraham Rowe, Henry Patterson, and Phil Martens, who worked closely with Executive Director Laura Matanah to organize this event which raised over $10,000 to support our work for the animals!

We connected with Abraham, Lucia, and Rae before the banquet to learn a bit more about what they worked on while planning the banquet, what they were most looking forward to, and more!

Lucia Skinner de Gregorio

Lucia with Mona

What drew you personally to veganism? In my studies—which revolved around gender, feminism, and sexuality—I explored the nature of hierarchies. The idea really resonated with me that the foundation upon which hierarchies are altogether built is the idea that the human species is inherently more valuable than any and all other life. It so happened that as I was exploring this realization, I was diving deeper into the intricacies of intimacy as they evolve in one’s relationship to an animal companion, my dog Mona. It became quickly apparent to me that I could no longer reconcile my authentic and wholehearted love for her with my consumption of and disrespect for other nonhuman life. The peace of mind that follows taking the steps toward a more compassionate life is a beautiful thing. I’ve been meat-free for 2 years and vegan for a year and a half, and have never looked back.

How did you get involved with CAA and what was your first CAA event? I was friends with Abraham Rowe, then-president of the Board, and he graciously extended the invitation to me to acquaint myself with CAA and its mission. I attended a retreat for the Board to get to know its members, and it was a wonderful fit! I am fortunate and grateful to be a part of this community. 

What is your role on the Banquet Planning Committee? I assisting with atmosphere and logistics planning. I’m focusing on ensuring the space is a visually and acoustically warm and inviting one.

What has been your favorite event to organize with CAA so far? This is my first! 

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s banquet? The community—being in a room full of folks who are passionate about inclusion, compassion, and justice for all life.

Besides volunteering with CAA, what are you up to these days? Gearing up for summertime! Particularly getting excited to spend more substantial time adventuring with wonder-dog Mona. 

Rae Hermeier

What drew you personally to veganism? Initially, when I became vegan, it was for health reasons. I was overweight, and a person I follow on YouTube ate a vegan diet 6 days a week to help her stay healthy, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I ended up losing about 60 pounds total over a couple of years! During that time, I was eating plant-based during the week, and eating animal products on the weekends. But as I researched recipes and vegan videos on YouTube, I started coming across videos on animal welfare. I remember specifically watching one called “Farm to Fridge” and I remember being so horrified at the treatment of the animals (especially the pigs really got to me), that I decided I couldn’t ever eat animal products again. I already didn’t have any animal products at home, I only ate them when I went out to eat, so it was actually a fairly simple transition for me.

How did you get involved with CAA and what was your first CAA event? The first CAA event I actually attended was the Annual Banquet in 2018, so I guess this is my one year anniversary! After that, I started getting involved with volunteering and attending more events and I’ve just fallen in love with the community and the organization. 

What is your role on the Banquet Planning Committee? I’m coordinating the volunteers for the banquet. I really enjoy being able to connect with other CAA volunteers, so heading up the coordination of the volunteers is perfect for me. 

What has been your favorite event to organize with CAA so far? I think my favorite event to organize has been this one — I feel a bit more familiar with the tech and the process this time around. My favorite event to attend/volunteer at was Twin Cities VegFest last year.

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s banquet? I’m most looking forward to the presentation. I missed it last year because we had to leave early to get to another event. 

Besides volunteering with CAA, what are you up to these days? For work, I run a group home for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health disorders. I also teach CPR/AED/1st Aid courses for the American Red Cross. In my spare time, I enjoy backpacking, camping, hiking, playing video games, reading, and cooking up tasty vegan food. 

Abraham Rowe

Abraham with George at SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary

What drew you personally to veganism? I think for me, while I’d been interested in veganism long before this, I worked at a farm sanctuary during the school year and summer in college, and realized how amazing so many animals are!

How did you get involved with CAA (and what was your first CAA event)? I’m not sure honestly! I think a potluck or dine out?

What is your role on the Banquet Planning Committee? I’ve been getting auction items to make sure that there are awesome things for our guests to see!

What has been your favorite event to organize with CAA so far? I always lov eTwin Cities Veg Fest! I love how many people it brings in from outside the community, and how many different vendors, organizations, and people it brings together.

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s banquet? I’m always excited for the food!

Besides volunteering with CAA, what are you up to these days? I moved to New York and am working on new animal advocacy projects here! But I miss Minnesota dearly and am excited to be back for the banquet!

We were so fortunate to be in the space at Harriet Island before the great melt took it over—here’s what the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion looks like now, just a week after our banquet! Big thanks again to Rae, Abraham, Lucia, Henry, Phil, and Laura for your work to plan another fun banquet!

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Saturday, June 22, 2019 - Sunday, June 23, 2019

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