The mission of GEAR is to foster gender equity, diversity, and inclusion by supporting, connecting, and elevating womxn, non-binary people, and transgender people in the animal rights movement.


Gender Equity in Animal Rights (GEAR) aims to foster and support the inclusion of — and equality of opportunity for — womxn, non-binary people, and transgender people (WNBTP) in the animal rights movement.

We envision a movement in which womxn, non-binary people, and transgender people:

  • Have full and equal access to roles, resources, and positions of leadership.

  • Feel supported and are supportive of each other, hold one another up and speak positively of each other, look out for each other, and provide each other access to opportunities.

  • Are safe, prepared, and welcomed to join the movement and to progress into leadership roles.

  • Experience no discrimination, sexual harassment, or other sexist, gender-exclusionary, WNBTP-disparaging behavior.

  • Are valued for their skills, knowledge, and unique experiences.

GEAR is committed to working toward this vision inclusively; we are especially interested in lifting up WNBTP who are also members of other marginalized groups. As members of a global movement for gender equity, we will collaborate with our counterparts in other movements and industries, and are committed to including men as both partners in this work and beneficiaries.


  • Leadership: paving a path forward for womxn, non-binary people, and transgender people in the movement

  • Community: building a strong network of support to uplift womxn, non-binary people, and transgender people in the movement and understanding our power to affect change together

  • Equity: correcting imbalances in the animal rights movement that have resulted in greater consideration and opportunity for men than womxn, non-binary people, and transgender people

  • Diversity and Inclusion: fostering a movement that values and incorporates a variety of perspectives, especially those of historically marginalized group members

  • Respect: cultivating an atmosphere of trust and treating all human and non-human animals with kindness and compassion


GEAR is organized by a dedicated team of volunteers, outlined below.

If you're interested in joining the steering committee, please see the steering committee member application here.

Jessica Carlson (she/her) received her Bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia and has been working in leadership roles the majority of her career. For almost 10 years she worked in education and was an Assistant Director; then promoted to Executive/Center Director for KinderCare Learning Centers. While working there she was able to help educate families and children about the importance of plant-based eating as well as implement programs such as “Meatless Mondays”. Jessica made a career change in 2017 and moved to the nonprofit sector focusing on animal protection work where she has held positions as Director of Operations and International HR Manager. Jessica currently serves as a board member for Kind Veg and the Veg Society of DC. Jessica shares her home in MD with her three dogs, 4 cats, and a chinchilla (all are rescues).

Neysa Colizzi (she/her) (founding member) is a 20-year vegan. Professionally, she is a leader in Bain & Company’s Results Delivery® practice and is an experienced trainer and facilitator in organizational change management and behavioral science. Neysa has worked with organizations across the globe, including all continents, and spanning many industries such as consumer products, retail, pharma/biotech, financial services, mining, automotive, technology, and nonprofit. Neysa has a B.S. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan and master’s degrees in Business Administration from Kellogg Graduate School of Management and Industrial Engineering from McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University.

Andrea Gunn (she/her) (founding member) is the Executive Vice President for The Humane League (THL), leading strategic initiatives to strengthen programs and culture, sustain growth, and maximize impact for animals. The Humane League is ranked as "Best In America" by the Independent Charities of America and has been named "Top Charity" by the charity navigator Animal Charity Evaluators for all of their rating periods. Andrea is studying business at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and will earn her Executive MBA in 2021. She resides in Charlotte, NC.

Emily Kolakowski (she/her) is the Individual & Foundation Giving Officer at Animal Equality. She holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Appalachian State University where she self-designed a degree in Animal Studies, supporting the creation of the University’s Animal Studies minor. Emily has dedicated her career to creating impactful change for all animals and is passionate about solutions that empower people and the planet. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her partner, Joey, and her rescue dog, Tucker.

Allison Jai O’Dell (she/her) is The Humane League’s Data and Analytics Engineer. She previously enjoyed a career in academic libraries, working to advance research and learning through development of international data standards and user-friendly information-seeking platforms. She has an M.S. in Library and Information Science, an M.A. in Book Arts, and a passion for advancing equity and inclusion in the workplace.

Tam Wallace (she/her) is an Operations professional based in Phoenix, Arizona. She works in the non-profit industry and serves on the board of a greyhound rescue. Tam volunteers for both Best Friends Animal Society as a data researcher and analyst and for the Arizona Humane Society as a Jill of All Trades. She is also a Girl Scout Alumni, and currently serves as an adult mentor to younger girl scouts as a member of Troop Pearl, the adult Girl Scout program in Arizona. An avid animal lover, when Tam is not out volunteering with animal rescue and welfare events, or playing photo-tourist in her home state, she shares her home with 2 retired greyhounds, Lace and Amaya, and kitty, Meow.

Former Steering Committee Members:

Nicole Brodeur (founding member)

Jennifer Fearing (founding member)

Chelsea Gale (founding member)

Carol Kline

Caroline Love (founding member)

Stuart McDonald

Erica Meier (founding member)

Stacey Owens (founding member)

Lisa Rimmert (founding member)

Michelle Rojas-Soto (founding member)

Shawna Weaver

Kelly Witwicki (founding member)

We'd like to thank and recognize Alicia Robb, Katie Cantrell, Krystal Caldwell, Leah Garces, Lydia Harris, Sharon Nuñez Gough, and Nirali Shah for their contributions to GEAR's creation and initial projects.