Meet Our New Board Member – Henry Patterson

CAA welcomes Henry Patterson to our board of directors. Read on to learn more about him, his various projects, and how he got involved with CAA and working for the animals.

Throughout his career, Henry has worked primarily as a project manager and consultant in manufacturing for various technology projects including early medical films and x-ray equipment for 3M, data storage and backup, and CD-ROM, as well as a furniture company. “I started out in engineering in 3M, doing summer internships during college, worked part-time permanent, and then got a permanent job in the Twin Cities.” His work brought him from Minnesota to California and then back to Minnesota.

Most recently he’s been working with startups in addition to his non-profit work. An alum of St. Thomas Academy (STA),  he’s fairly active with the school and their STA Connections group. He also serves on the board of the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center in the Friends of Lake Elmo Sunfish Lake Park, which opened June 2018.

At home, he spends time with his two Basenjis, Lokan and Emi, and enjoys taking photos––in the summer, he’s been trying out drone photography.

Journey to veganism

Henry started his journey to being vegan when he lived with his brother in California. His brother was in law school at the time and became vegetarian after reading, Diet for a Small Planet. “I said, ‘Make a case for why I should go from being an omnivore to vegetarian,’ which he did.” His brother also recommended that he read the same book. “I would say 99% of my diet went from being an omnivore to primarily vegetarian diet, which I maintained for several years.”

After moving back to Minnesota, he went completely vegan. “I realized that there were more products available to make it easier, more options at places I could eat, most restaurants I could call ahead and find out what was on the menu if it wasn’t clear––it became a lot easier.” The hardest thing to eliminate? “Cheese was really the only thing I was still having that was keeping me on a vegetarian diet was cheese. I started going to classes in the Twin Cities to learn how to make vegan cheeses. Between that and reading stuff, I really saw no reason not to switch to vegan.”

“I think I’m a lot more aware and conscious of the environment around me, how important the footprint that we have on the planet and the things that we do, how much waste we have and how we treat the planet and animals on the planet. I started to see the suffering more and I want to do something to stop that.”

Involvement with CAA, joining the Board

Henry first got involved with CAA after attending a few Twin Cities Veg Fests. He’s been involved with the planning committees for both the 2018 Vegan Thanksgiving and 2019 Vegan Chili Cook-Off.

As a new board member, Henry wants to support CAA’s mission through expanding the reach of our mission and increase exposure. “You want to get more people more exposure and help on how to maintain the diet, how they can continue to make progress. I think I can help there and that’s where we need to put some effort.”

“What I’ve seen that’s given me a lot of hope for the future are companies like The Herbivorous Butcher and J. Selby’s. I never thought I’d actually see something like them in the Midwest and in Minnesota,” said Henry. “We still have a long way to go, but it’s really exciting to see the growth of the Twin Cities and in my mind I’ve sort of grown with it and I’m encouraged that there’s a lot more things we can do, a lot more we can expose people to.”

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 to find out when the next board meeting will take place.

What Happened at the November Board Meeting

For CAA’s November Board Meeting, we decided to gather remotely. Our hope was to explore this as an option so that we can recruit board members who may not be able to make it to the CAA community space.

We began with a discussion of the incredible success of our fourth annual Twin Cities Veg Fest. The event attracted about 2,500 people and more food vendors than ever before. We’re looking forward to moving the event to a new venue next year as a way to make room for the festival to grow.

We really like the idea of offering an event like the Twin Cities Veg Fest on the U of M campus, though, so we discussed the possibility of holding a small scale version of the festival at the U of M campus during spring semesters. We thought we could encourage U of M students to plan the event during the school year and the event itself could be held outside of Coffman Union, for example, where food trucks could park. Holding the event outside could attract lots of passersby as well.

CAA is working with a new bookkeeper who has transitioned us to new web-based bookkeeping software. This will make the business of keeping up with the finances much easier, since those who need access will be able to log in to the online site rather than make their way into the office.

We ended the meeting by discussing how it went to meet remotely. In the beginning, it was difficult to iron out some minor technological difficulties, but in the end things seemed to go pretty smoothly. We tried using video chat for the first part of the meeting and then we transitioned to a conference call for the second part of the meeting. We found video chat was best.

We’ve decided that we’ll continue with remote board meetings. Our next meeting will take place on Google Hangouts on Monday, January 21 at 6:00pm. Be sure to let us know if you’d like to join in. If interested, email Unny Nambudiripad at

What Happened at the August Board Meeting

CAA’s August board meeting began with a report from our Executive Director, Unny Nambudiripad, about some recent successful outreach events CAA has been engaged in. We leafleted at the Warped Tour and ran a pay-per-view event at Twin Cities Pride. Unny also reported on CAA’s presence at the national Animal Rights Conference in Washington D.C..

As we transition to a new internal website used to plan events and projects, a lingering worry has to do with whether we will be able to export content from this site if we find ourselves needing to make a change down he road. While there is no built in option to do this, it appears that Dave Rolsky (our treasurer) will be able to write a software program that can do this for us. Good thing we have someone with computer programming skills on the board!

We next turned our attention to the complex business of evaluating the effectiveness of our programs. Unny and Justin (our Communications and Events Coordinator) had discussions around these issues with leaders in this area at the Animal Rights Conference. One of the suggestions we look forward taking up was the idea of engaging in dialogue with members of our target audience about how to help them make more compassionate food choices. Once we have good information about those needs, we can tailor our programs to meet them. We also decided to continue making use of existing research (for example, Nick Cooney’s excellent book Change of Heart) to inform our outreach and communication efforts.

We revisited the question of board member recruitment and we decided that we will announce opportunities for volunteer board members through the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. We also decided to explore the possibility of recruiting folks from across the country who work successfully on the kinds of issues that are central to CAA’s mission.

Our next board meeting is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, November 5 at 6pm. You should consider being a part of that meeting if you’re interested. If you’d like to participate, contact Unny Nambudiripad at

What Happened at the June Board Meeting

We began CAA’s June board meeting by briefly reviewing and unanimously ratifying the budget for the coming fiscal year. We have a growing interest in assessing our work as an organization, so we decided to have a look at donation history to begin to get a better sense of the impact of our fundraising efforts. We’ll take a look at that history at our next meeting.

Board members were then introduced to the new website where organizational information will be collected. Because of its ease of use and integration with Google services, we feel this new site will offer lots of advantages over our current wiki for everyone involved in CAA’s work.

Our discussion then turned to the difficult task of assessing the extent to which CAA should get involved in campaigns like promoting Meatless Mondays. Traditionally, CAA has focussed on organizing outreach events (like leafleting and pay-per-view) and community building events (like the Chili Cook-off and the Twin Cities Veg Fest). We see campaigns like Meatless Monday as potentially powerful ways to help reduce the amount of suffering animals endure on factory farms as well. While these campaigns can generate a lot of energy, it happens that support for them among volunteers can fade over time. In view of this, we considered the possibility of allocating more staff time to work on these efforts and drawing up contracts between staff and volunteers that lay out clearly in advance the amount of time being involved in these campaigns will require of volunteers.

We also discussed board recruitment. Board members are central to helping shape CAA’s work and we are currently looking for new board members to join us. You should consider coming to a meeting if you’re interested. Our next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, August 25 at 6pm. If you’d like to attend, contact Unny Nambudiripad at

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