about Leap

Leaders for Ethics, Animals, and the Planet

About Leap

Founded by three non-profit animal sanctuaries in Northern California – Jameson Humane, Blackberry Creek, and Rancho Compasión –  LEAP  provides in-depth monthly curriculum, hands-on workshops, and positive leadership training. Our aim is to prepare the leaders of tomorrow to transform the food industry, advocate for animal welfare and human rights, tackle the challenges of food deserts and food insecurity, and lead the way in climate solutions.

As of Spring of 2023, LEAP has become an official 501(c)(3) non profit organization and has expanded to 25 sanctuaries across the country! LEAP was proud to partner with Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) for non-profit formation.

Sebastian - Leap for Animals

LEAP’s Origin Story

In 2017, Blackberry Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary received a thoughtful letter from a high school freshman named Audori in Orange County, CA who had been placed in an FFA class at school as an elective. When she found out she’d be raising a pig (whom she later named Sebastian) she was excited… that is, until halfway through the semester when her teacher explained they’d be sending their animals to slaughter. Audori instead chose to save Sebastian’s life, raising the money via a crowdfunding campaign to buy her friend from the school program and finding him a safe, permanent home at Blackberry Creek where Josh and Danielle Hanosh started the education program that beget LEAP. This innovative alternative was started for all of the students out there like Audori who are eager to learn about leadership, climate solutions, our food system, and animal care in a sustainable and compassionate way.

What is Leap?

Leaders for Ethics, Animals, and the Planet (LEAP) provides education and training for high school students in the areas of:

  • hands-on, compassionate animal care
  • food and agricultural systems
  • leadership development
  • wildlife and habitat conservation
  • farmed animal welfare
  • human health supported by a vegan diet
  • the intersection of human and animal rights
  • climate change solutions
  • social emotional learning
  • ocean conservation
  • food deserts and food insecurity
  • domestic animal care and community outreach

From September through May for approximately 10 hours per month, students and their peers will meet at a local animal sanctuary to care for rescued animals, assist with infrastructure projects, and participate in a humane education curriculum, all culminating in a community-based project related to the rescued animals!

Scholarship Opportunities

At the end of the student’s completed year with LEAP, they will have the ability to apply for competitive scholarships of $500 or $1000 to go toward college or career training. We offer these scholarships to encourage initiative, leadership, hard work, and believe it is imperative that we show students they can earn money for education by HELPING animals rather than exploiting them for money by selling them for slaughter like in traditional agricultural programs.

Rancho Compasion Sanctuary Teens at barn with goat
LEAPers with rescued veal calf, Duncan, who is now five years old.

If you are an incoming or existing student, find your resources below.

Are you a sanctuary who would like to participate?

Learn how you can get involved in the LEAP Program Now!

Meet Our team

Monica Stevens smiling as she feeds an apple to a rescued pony.

Monica Stevens

Co-Founder – Board President/treasurer

Monica is the co-founder and president of Jameson Humane in Napa, CA. Her background in luxury lifestyle hospitality and experience in the wine industry paired with her passion for animal welfare, ranks her as one of the most successful and influential change makers for animals on the West Coast.

Miyoko Schinner hugging a Holstein cow.

Peter Cnudde

Board President

Peter is a seasoned software engineering executive and an active investor in the plant-based food sector. He co-founded the alt-meat lab at UC Berkeley, driven by his commitment to creating a food system free from animal products. Residing in Los Altos, CA with his wife Isabelle, their home is a sanctuary to 7 chickens, a turkey, and a dog — all rescues from the egg and meat industries.

Danielle Hanosh lying on a blanket at the park with her two dogs, a Golden Retriever named George and an Anatolian Shepherd/Great Pyrenees mix named Wrigley.

Danielle Hanosh

Co-Founder, Secretary, and Executive Director

Danielle is the Co-Founder of Blackberry Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary in Colfax, CA. With a teaching credential, MA in Education, ten years of experience as a public school teacher, and nine years of experience running a farm sanctuary, she is uniquely positioned to ensure LEAP’s success as a robust, nationwide program as the new Executive Director. She is also a ghostwriter and the author of several children’s books about animals.

Monica Stevens - Co-Founder

Camellia Schinner

Co-Founder, Board member

Camellia Schinner (she/her/hers) is the current Manager at Rancho Compasión Sanctuary. She is interested in facilitating heart-expanding experiences between people and other-than-human beings, and helping people think critically about the mindsets that create and perpetuate oppressive systems. She loves dancing, eating vegan food, and kissing the animal sanctuary “farmily” members.

Portrait of Ed Winters.

Ed Winters

board member

Ed Winters is a vegan educator, best-selling author, public speaker and content creator. Ed has spoken at over 1/3 of UK universities and at every Ivy league college, including as a guest lecturer at Harvard University in  2019 and 2020. In 2022, Ed began teaching as a Media & Design Fellow at Harvard.

He has given speeches across the world, including at the University of Cambridge, EPFL, Pinterest, LinkedIn, American Express, Google NYC, Google Ireland and Google Zürich. In early 2019 he gave 2 TEDx talks, surpassing a total of 2.3 million views online. His speech “You Will Never Look at Your Life in the Same Way Again” has 35 million accumulative views online and has been given to thousands of students across UK universities.

Joshua Hanosh holding two rescued chickens, Lucas and Peep.

Joshua Hanosh

Co-founder, board member

Joshua Hanosh runs Dedicated Designs which is a leading Sacramento, CA branding, web development and marketing agency that is helping numerous companies grow and prosper. Josh co-founded Blackberry Creek with Danielle Hanosh in 2014 and actively help run the sanctuary until 2018 when he started his agency. He is still very much involved in advocating for nonhuman animals through his continued work with LEAP and Blackberry Creek. He is a vegan athlete and won back-to-back ultra distance races in 2022 and 2023.


Monica Stevens - Co-Founder

Miyoko Schinner


Miyoko is a vegan chef, cookbook author, entrepreneur, and founder of both Miyoko’s Creamery and Rancho Compasión, a farm sanctuary in Nicasio, CA. Her enormous contributions to sustainability and ethics in the food industry along with her leadership in the Farm Transition Program and the vegan movement in general have inspired thousands to adopt a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle.

Portrait of Ed Winters.

Dr. Crystal Heath

board member

Dr. Crystal Heath is a 2012 graduate of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduating, she has spent her career helping homeless animals in shelters while also working part time at a general practice. She grew frustrated with how homeless individuals in shelters often receive better medical and preventative care than those seeking care at a general practice. So she founded Vet Harmony to meet the needs of those in the community who were not benefitting from access to care. Dr. Heath volunteers abroad to help animals overseas and won a Jefferson Award for her volunteer work in Fiji. 

She also believes in advancing compassionate care for all species on this planet in order to raise awareness and advocate for policies that address climate change. She is an advocate for One Health, the idea that human, plant, animal and environmental health are all interconnected. She believes in confronting the corporations and institutions that stand in the way of advancing compassionate care of all species on this planet. 

As a result of her advocacy she faced backlash from industry. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald reported about the coordinated efforts of the animal agriculture industry to surveil her and other advocates and discredit their reputation. After her story gained international media attention, many veterinarians reached out to her and reported their own stories and the fear they have about speaking out against corporate animal abuse. They founded the group OurHonor.org to tell their stories and encourage other veterinarians and veterinary students to speak out and work to advance compassion for all species. 

She supports a ban on declawing cats, and discourages any cosmetic alterations of animals for the benefit of humans. She promotes positive reinforcement in training, spaying and neutering for health benefits and population control, and stresses the importance of microchipping, proper vaccination schedules and access to parasite prevention for all animals.

Joshua Hanosh holding two rescued chickens, Lucas and Peep.

Matthew Liebman

board member

Professor Matthew Liebman joined the USF faculty in 2020 as the endowed Justice for Animals chair and as an associate professor of law. Before coming to USF, Matthew practiced law for 12 years with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, including three years as the organization’s director of litigation. At ALDF, Professor Liebman litigated a wide variety of animal protection issues, including cases to defend the First Amendment rights of activists and to establish fundamental legal rights for nonhuman animals.

Professor Liebman’s practical experience inspires his scholarship, which examines the socio-legal effects of law and litigation in the animal rights movement, as well as various substantive and doctrinal issues in animal law. Professor Liebman’s current research explores the need to empower nonhuman animals by establishing their legal rights, while grappling with the ethical challenges of providing legal representation to those who cannot speak in the language of the law. 

Professor Liebman is a frequent media commentator on animal law issues. With Bruce Wagman, Professor Liebman co-authored the book A Worldview of Animal Law, which examines how the legal systems of different countries govern our interactions with animals. Professor Liebman’s writing has also appeared or will appear in the Minnesota Law Review, Ecology Law Quarterly, the Animal Law Review, the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, and the Journal of Animal Law. Professor Liebman clerked for the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


Leap’s Advisory Board

Leah - Leap Board

Leah Garcés

Leah Garcés is the CEO and president of Mercy For Animals and author of Grilled: Turning Adversaries into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry. With more than 20 years of leadership experience in the animal protection movement, she has partnered with corporations, communities, and governments on her mission to build a better food system.

She is the founder of Mercy For Animals’ Transfarmation program, working to transition factory farmers from industrial animal agriculture to production of specialty crops, such as mushrooms and hemp. Her book about this program and the way to transition to a just and sustainable food system is due to be published by Beacon in fall 2024. Leah oversaw international campaigns in 14 countries at the World Society for the Protection of Animals and launched Compassion in World Farming in the United States. Her work has been featured in national and international media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, VICE, and the Chicago Tribune. She has presented at global forums, including TEDx, RIO+10, and the World Health Organization’s Global Forum for Health Research. She was proud to be called a “moral weirdo” by philosopher Will MacAskill and named in Vox’s Future Perfect 50 list of scientists, thinkers, scholars, writers, and activists building “a more perfect future.”

Michelle - Leap Board

Michelle Cehn

Michelle Cehn is a kind living crusader working to inspire positive change and make vegan living easy, delicious, and fun. She is the founder of the popular food and lifestyle website World of Vegan, co-host of the Plant-Powered People Podcast, and the creative force behind @Vegan on Instagram where she has brought together a plant-passionate community over one million strong. Michelle is also co-author of the Friendly Vegan Cookbook, and a speaker, writer, filmmaker, photographer, YouTube personality, and mama on a mission to create a better future for our world.

Michelle - Leap Board

Kate Dugan

Kate Dugan is a passionate animal lover and environmentalist. Most recently, Kate led Global Product Portfolio and ESG at Beyond Meat, where she worked with cross-functional teams to create meat alternatives that look, cook, and taste like the animal equivalent, but are healthier, less resource intensive, and leave animals off the plate. Before that, Kate worked in consulting at PWC and Booz & Company. Kate has her MBA and enjoys endurance sports in her spare time. She is a fourth-generation 4-Her and relies on the skills she learned there and benefited from the community she was part of. She’s elated that LEAP offers ethical and accessible alternative programming for youth that aligns with her values. She lives with her partner, twins, dog and cat in Los Angeles, California.

Leah - Leap Board

Dr. Jan Hawkins

Dr. Hawkins is a professor and the Head of Large Animal Surgery at Purdue University in Indiana. He has dedicated his life to helping animals and teaching the next generations of veterinarians and is positively pushing the envelope of equitable medical care for traditionally farmed animals.  He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts regarding equine surgery with an emphasis on disorders of the upper respiratory tract and the use of surgical lasers. He is a co-author of the textbook Respiratory Diseases of the Horse and an editor and author for Advances in Equine Upper Respiratory Surgery.

Dr. Hawkins is the current president of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) and has previously served on the Board of Regents. 


Vegan Grants
Women Funders in Animal Rights
Stray Dog Institute
Little Saint
Vegan Grants
Women Funders in Animal Rights
Humane America

Donate to support young world changers

Founding donors are needed to support curriculum development, staffing, educational materials, student lunches, and scholarships.  LEAP has been offered a $150k matching opportunity, so your contribution to this program will be DOUBLED! Donations to fund the program can be made through our GivingFuel link below.

LEAP student holing a large white rooster.