CAA welcomes Julie Knopp to our board of directors. (Perhaps you’ve already met her through Wholesome Minnesota, Twin Cities VegFest, or another space!) Read on to learn more about her and how she got involved with CAA and working for the animals.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am a passionate social justice advocate living in Minneapolis. I currently work as an elementary school teacher in Richfield. I’m part of a Spanish-English dual immersion program that works to help our diverse student body become fully bilingual and biliterate. Before that, I founded a nonprofit called City Stay, which invites Minnesota high school students of all colors and creeds to live with self-identified Minnesota immigrant families. The goal of this two-way experiential learning program is to break down barriers between neighbors of different cultures and increase equity in Minnesota. All of my work has focused on equity, education, and cultural inclusion.
When did your journey to being vegan begin and where has it led you?
I became a vegetarian about 17 years ago after doing a project on the meat industry as a freshman in high school. I was inspired by the idea that I could take a stance against violence and animal suffering three times a day, every day, simply by cutting meat out of my diet.
Then I became vegan about four years ago. I was living with a roommate who had a dog named Misty who I really connected with. Misty was incredibly perceptive, athletic, and smart. It would only take a couple of hours to teach her complex tricks, like retrieving drinks from the fridge or cleaning up her toys. My relationship with her forced me to consider what we might not know about the intellectual and emotional lives of animals and about their capacity to suffer. I knew that so many animals like Misty were living lives of complete misery on factory farms and that going vegan was one way to take a stance against that violence.
As a starting point, I read classic books in the movement, like Animal Liberation and The Sexual Politics of Meat. Later I stumbled upon a CAA “Cookies and Conversation” event online related to intersectionality. I decided to attend because I was interested in learning more about how my interest in social justice might connect with my increased interest in animal advocacy. I was amazed as I learned more about how relevant animal advocacy was to so many other issues I cared about: gender and racial equity, climate change, etc.
Since then, I have been more active in the movement, taking on a range of roles at CAA including Leafleting Coordinator, Wholesome Minnesota Program Coordinator, Twin Cities VegFest Committee Member, and now a board member. I also continue to be motivated by my relationships with companion animals and have volunteered with SecondHand Hounds for several years and have worked for Animal Humane Society.
When you’re not working with CAA, what are you doing?
I enjoy spending time with family and furry friends. I have a 14-year-old cat named Waffle Cone who I’m hopelessly in love with, and I foster other animals when my schedule allows. I also love to cook plant-based foods and travel. My most recent trips were to Japan and Iceland.
As a new board member, what is your vision for the organization?
I am excited to be a part of CAA’s continued growth. My vision is for a bigger and more diverse community of animal advocates in the Twin Cities. As we work towards increased funding and staffing, I believe we will be able to reach more people with our inclusive and welcoming approach to animal advocacy. Another part of my vision for CAA’s future pertains to institutional change. I’ve been a part of launching CAA’s Wholesome Minnesota program, which supports institutions like schools and hospitals in providing more plant-based dining options. I am excited about this new chapter for CAA, which involves a strategic pairing of both consumer-based change and institutional change efforts in working towards a kinder world for animals.
Interested in joining CAA’s board of directors? Our board meetings are open to prospective members. If you are interested in attending a board meeting, email email@example.com to find out when the next board meeting will take place.