March 16, 2021

Dear Friends, 

When I started working at Compassion Over Killing (now Animal Outlook) in 2005, we had three staff members and a shoestring budget but we were brimming with determination and resolve to create a kinder world for animals. While so much has changed since then, our commitment remains steadfast and continues to be one of our greatest strengths.   

In serving as Compassion Over Killing’s Executive Director and more recently as President of Animal Outlook, it has truly been an honor to lead this organization through incredible growth, momentous change, formidable challenges, meaningful victories and an ambitious new era with our organizational rebrand in 2020.

After leading this charge for the past 16 years — and after much soul searching —  I have made the decision to step down. I’m deeply grateful for the abundant opportunities this role has provided to merge my personal passions with my professional path, and I will carry these experiences with me as I forge ahead, exploring new endeavors. My last day will be May 7, 2021. 

While many of you have only known this organization with me at the helm since 2005, it’s always been powered by the collective force of our entire team. It’s their ongoing commitment, creativity, and mission-driven energy that has inspired me throughout the years.

My spirit is lifted when I think of our victory removing the egg industry’s misleading “Animal Care Certified” claim from cartons, CNN breaking the news of our undercover video inside a chicken factory farm, persuading BOCA Foods to go 100% egg-free, 25,000 vegans and pre-vegans alike celebrating at our DC VegFest, and so much more.

As I reflect on my tenure here and look toward the future, I’m filled with pride knowing that our tireless efforts have had a profound impact on our movement, our society, our food system, and most importantly, on the lives of animals. While there is still much to be done, Animal Outlook’s unrelenting and innovative work is uprooting the systemic cruelties of Big Ag and shifting vegan eating from the margins to the mainstream. The plant-powered food revolution is now well underway.

These victories and advancements for animals will continue under the bold leadership of Cheryl Leahy, who I’ve had the honor to work alongside since 2006 when she joined our team as General Counsel. She has long been a thought-leader in our movement, and at Animal Outlook she has pioneered groundbreaking legal and investigative initiatives, successfully targeting the harmful practices animal ag relies upon to exist and shuttering the doors of these facilities.

In the past several years, Cheryl’s leadership has expanded — to Executive Vice President in 2019 and as of December 2020, to Executive Director. In this new role, she has already taken the lead in the organization’s visionary and strategic development as well as overseeing the day-to-day demands.   

By harnessing the power of compassion, Animal Outlook is blazing a path for change: exposing truth, delivering justice, revolutionizing the food system, and inspiring others to stand up for animals by leaving them off their plates. Your support makes it all possible. 

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Though I’m leaving Animal Outlook, I do so knowing the dynamic team will continue to thrive as a powerful, unwavering national force for farmed animals. 

With heartfelt gratitude,  

Erica Meier

Dear Animal Outlook Community,

Thanks to supporters like you, the team at Animal Outlook has had much to celebrate over the past year, despite the difficulties and tragedies we’ve all experienced as a global community during this time. Looking back on the past year, I’m filled with gratitude for the impact for animals we’ve made: through our truth-exposing undercover investigations, groundbreaking legal filings and victories, shifting major corporations into more vegan supply lines and engaging with people all over our country to empower them to live their compassionate values. Most of all, however, my gratitude stems from the spirit of our team and our supporters as they’ve dedicated themselves to the transformative work that we do here at Animal Outlook. Our work impacts not only the animals, but also ourselves: our compassion for animals elevates how we see ourselves as people. Especially during such challenging times, it is remarkable how the people who comprise our team here at Animal Outlook have persevered and continued to innovate and to build strategies for change. Our team and our work has grown as a result.

One growth moment for me was my appointment as Executive Director of Animal Outlook in late 2020. I began my tenure here in 2006 as General Counsel, working alongside a small team helmed by Erica Meier. I’ve had the privilege of watching the organization transform from a small grassroots organization making its way through largely untested waters, into a national voice for farmed animals. Back then, we were conducting some of the earliest undercover investigations, lawsuits, vegan-focused outreach, and corporate actions against big animal ag; now, we are widely recognized for  our dozens of victories and path-blazing “firsts.” I’ve also watched the animal protection movement and the cultural salience of vegan values grow and succeed beyond what I could have possibly expected 15 years ago. Over the years, we’ve been a part of a cultural reckoning, empowering so many to stand up for animals, and sharpening our skills and impact. Still, we have a lot of important work ahead of us.

It is against that backdrop and with bittersweet feelings that I see Erica’s resignation as the end of one chapter and the beginning of something new. 

I am incredibly grateful and appreciative for what Erica has meant to this organization, the movement, the animals, and for me personally over the years. Instead of watering down the stark truths about the plight of animals and ideas about how to help them, she’s helped move the world into that perspective, making real change in the way the food industry and our culture at large thinks and behaves. It is that legacy that will carry forward and grow in its impact and influence. Erica has earned her place in the history of the animal protection movement, and I invite you to join me in celebrating Erica and thanking her for her dedication, intelligence and compassion. 

As we enter the next era for Animal Outlook, my hope is that each of you will join me and consider yourselves a vital member of the Animal Outlook community, contributing to our vision of realizing a compassionate food system, untethered from animals, that empowers people to live their values.

Animals are counting on all of us to stand up for them. Your support today will help fuel our fight to disrupt Big Ag and inspire compassion. 

Photo by Mark Nicholas

Together for the animals,

Cheryl Leahy
Executive Director