Animal Awakenings
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Advocacy Session

Creating Change Through Effective Advocacy

Policies and practices of government and corporations have a profound impact on the welfare of animals. Positive change can be brought about through effective advocacy. Experienced advocates will share their insights. A current lawmaker will provide perspectives directly "from the hill". Discover how to make a far-reaching difference, at the capitol, in the boardroom and in "your own backyard". 

Friday, May 20, 2:00 - 3:30 PM EDT

Presenters: Stephen Otto, Kara Holmquist, Julie Lewin      
Animal Legal Defense Fund; Massachusetts SPCA;
                            National Institute for Animal Advocacy

For animal support organizations

Animal Legal Defense Fund

Presenter: Stephan Otto,
Legislative Director


"The Animal Legal Defense Fund fights to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system."

For more than three decades, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. Founded in 1979 by attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law, ALDF has blazed the trail for stronger enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and more humane treatment of animals in every corner of American life. Today, ALDF’s groundbreaking efforts to push the U.S. legal system to end the suffering of abused animals are supported by hundreds of dedicated attorneys and more than 100,000 members.

Stephan K. Otto is an attorney and director of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. In this capacity he oversees the development of animal protection laws at the local, state and federal levels. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School where he teaches an animal law legislation clinic. Mr. Otto is the author of various animal protection bills, statutes and ordinances in jurisdictions throughout the country. He is the publisher and editor of the
Animal Protection Laws of the United States of America & Canada compendium (now in its eleventh year), ALDF Model Animal Protection Laws collection, and annual comparative reports, State Animal Protection Laws Rankings and Canadian Animal Protection Laws Rankings. Mr. Otto speaks on an array of animal-related issues at hearings and presentations across the country. He is frequently interviewed and quoted in regional, national and foreign media on a variety of animal law issues, and has published several articles on animal protection laws and legislation. Mr. Otto lives in Portland, Oregon and is a member of the Oregon and Washington Bars.

Massachusetts SPCA

Kara Holmquist
Director of Advocacy

Kara Holmquist is the director of advocacy for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA). She is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School.  Much of Kara’s work at the MSPCA includes lobbying for stronger animal protection laws in the state legislature.  She has also worked on several
successful ballot question initiatives.  

Kara  is on the steering committee of the Humane USA-Massachusetts political action committee, which seeks to elect humane-minded legislators to office, is on the board of the Massachusetts Animal Coalition, and on the board of the Link Up Education Network, an organization that works to educate and create programs relating to the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.  Kara is also a part of the newly formed Animal Law Practice Group in the Massachusetts Bar Association.

National Institute for Animal Advocacy

Presenter: Julie Lewin

Often called NIFAA, we are the only charitable organization that provides political  training for animal rights and rescue advocates who want strong state and local laws to protect animals from abuse and neglect--and aggressive enforcement of those laws. NIFAA's four-part mission: Educate advocates why political organizations that endorse candidates must be a mandatory component of their advocacy, as it is for all other issue groups; create a political culture in our movement, as all other issue groups have; train advocates how to launch and run political organizations for animals; and to inspire existing state and local  animal rights and rescue charities to form affiliated political groups and show them how. NIFAA's training is offered through live, online webinars called NIFAA-Nars; comprehensive in-person workshops; and NIFAA's comprehensive how-to book, "Get Political for Animals and Win the Laws They Need: Why and How to Launch a Voting Bloc for Animals in Your Town, City, County or State--and the Simple Steps It Takes to Do It" (available at

Julie Lewin, President

National Institute for Animal Advocacy


Julie created the animal advocacy presence in Connecticut's statehouse after convincing animal rights legend Cleveland Amory of The Fund for Animals to create a job for her there. She has also lobbied for the Animal Welfare Trust, ASPCA, Connecticut Humane Society, and the Humane Society of the US. She saw that political organizations that endorsed candidates had far more power in the lawmaking arena than charities, and that all other issue groups lobbied through political organizations. She left to write NIFAA's how-to book (above). Julie also provides political consulting through Strategic Political Services.




Future Is Now Foundation
Moderator/Presenter: Marcia Elder

Marcia is the Founding Director of the Future Is Now Foundation and has served as its Executive Director since 2002. She also has been a professional consultant for over 27 years, providing communications, technology and other professional services. She is a former state government official and holds a graduate degree in Environmental Engineering. 

Her past experience includes 28 years in legislative advocacy as a state government legislative director, legislative director for multiple state-level non-profit organizations and other roles. 

Marcia is writing an inspiring and informative book about the care of special needs dogs and what it means to be an animal lover. Animals are her greatest passion in life, and she operates a farm-based education center where all animals are loved and live quality lives.



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