Election of VSDC Directors

Candidate Statements

David Banks

David Banks has been on the VSDC Board since 2014. Prior to joining the Board, he served as the Coordinator of the African American Networking Group. David is a Registered Nurse who serves as the Research Training Director at the National Institute of Nursing Research within the National Institutes of Health. He also serves as a faculty member at the University of Maryland University College where he has taught the human sexuality course since 1993. He has served on the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Body Work as well as Fairfax County’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Board: A Way Forward.

David has been vegan since 1995 and lives with his 7 year old cat, Nia, in Germantown, Md.

Saurabh Dalal

For so many years in the metro DC area, VSDC has been a uniquely active and positive force for promoting vegan diets and lifestyles and bringing people together. I feel honored to have served VSDC in various capacities over the last two decades and helping shape our direction and presence. I believe the multi-faceted approach that helps animals, people’s health, and the planet is important for VSDC to leverage, to welcome and attract even more people to a vegan way of life.

As a lifelong vegetarian and vegan since 1991, I bring an unwavering commitment to this essential and worthy cause while having chosen to pursue this passion beyond the local arena and to several other similarly minded organizations. I feel I possess positive energy, vital management and organizational skills, broad connections, and a healthy team spirit for us to accomplish much more still.

VSDC is again in a time of transition so I see the need for strengthening / growing the infrastructure along with engaging more people to become involved as high priorities. Additionally for programming,greater emphases for VSDC in showing people ‘how’ to make the change to being vegan is vital, and ensuring our activities are purposeful, informative, impacting, and measurable as best possible. More engaging events, outreach to targeted audiences, and visibility in / utilization of the media can all be beneficial focus areas to validate this life-affirming path to those we hope to reach. I also ask our membership and supporters to help build VSDC further as part of a coordinated movement for change, bringing much-needed positive energy, thoughtful creativity, team orientation, and a giving spirit.

Elissa Free

As a long-time member of VSDC, I would be honored to serve on the board of such a valuable and historic organization. My first exposure to VSDC was when my mother took me to VSDC potlucks in a church basement in the 1970s. The organization has come a long way since then, and now that I have time, I would like to assist in keeping VSDC strong and growing.

As an ethical vegetarian since the age of 13, and a vegan for the past eight years, I feel like being veg is almost part of my DNA. I was fortunate to attend Main Street Vegan Academy in NYC last fall where I became certified as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. I am passionate about encouraging and supporting as many people as possible in choosing a compassionate, sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

I am currently working as a consultant, after a career in journalism and communications. I was a producer at CBS News and CNN, followed by a dozen years as the Executive Director of Communications at Georgetown Law. I am currently the media relations coordinator for VSDC, and I recently obtained a certificate in social media management from Georgetown University.

Adam Gorod

I have been a member of the VSDC Board of Directors since August 2015 and currently serve as the Membership and Database Coordinator. I am excited by VSDC’s role in promoting the many benefits of vegetarianism to all who live and work in the DC area. VSDC is the only organization in the region that assists and supports people of all backgrounds in organizing social and educational events around vegetarianism that speak personally to them. I believe it is imperative for us to harness that unique role.

If I am elected to continue serving on the Board, I would hope to help VSDC partner with other community groups to spread the word about the values of a plant-based diet. There are many who share VSDC’s commitment to one, if not all, of our objectives in furthering personal health, environmental sustainability, and compassion towards animals. However, many have never heard about VSDC–much less participated in any VSDC events. I would work to find ways of bringing those individuals into the VSDC community. In addition to VSDC, I also volunteer with Compassion Over Killing and Jewish Veg.

Bethany Owens

As a long-time DC resident and a passionate vegan (for the animals, the environment, and my health), I am committed to building up the DC veg community, through education, community-building, and social activities. While I’m relatively new to VSDC (I began volunteering in October 2015), the organization has quickly become a touchstone for friends and community in DC. I’ve met many great people, including through book club, restaurant visits, and cooking classes. In addition to my commitment to good vegan food and good vegan people in this city, my role as VSDC’s Social Media Coordinator — and organizer of periodic in-person events — has given me a thorough understanding of the activities and composition of the organization.

I believe that VSDC has huge potential to continue its great work in the future, by harnessing the power of local organizations, supporting advocacy efforts, building community around food and causes, and spreading the word of the benefits of a plant-based diet to the broader DC community. I hope to continue my commitment to building up the plant-based District community through serving on VSDC’s board.

Carmen Gillmore Scott

I am a native Washingtonian, who became vegetarian while in college and vegan following a bout with Shingles in 2007. I found out about PCRM’s Washington Center for Clinical Research when they offered a low fat weight loss study through my employer. I applied, was accepted, and have followed a plant-based food plan ever since. In 2009, I graduated from VSDC’s Eat Smart program where I learned the value of nutrition and reading labels.

Currently, I table and support VSDC events. Since 2014, I have been a member of the Board of Directors of VSDC, Meetup Coordinator and more recently, a member of the newsletter team. I am on the board of my alumni association and newsletter editor. I have a degree in Journalism and studied sign language and deaf education at Gallaudet University, where I also worked as a Production Assistant. Working as a senior graphic designer at GEICO, I also developed the Vegan Support Group there in 2008.

My goals for VSDC are to engage more non-vegetarians in embracing a plant-strong food plan and write books for pre-teens that encourage more compassion and understanding at an early age. Also, I want to solicit additional volunteers to help us grow VSDC and share our message on a continuing basis. I am honored to serve on the VSDC Board of Directors.