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A Post from Our Board President

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

I’m an activist at heart and I got my start at an early age. I recall my first activist endeavor with my elementary school class. We went to demonstrate in the daily protests that were held at the (then) Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C. advocating for the release of Refuseniks– Soviet Jews who were being denied the right to emigrate from the USSR to Israel. These protests started on December 10, 1970 and continued every day from 12:30 to 12:45 pm until January 27, 1991. I remember boarding the school bus from our private Hebrew day school in Maryland, driving down to the embassy, lining up on the street, holding signs and singing songs. As a child, it struck me as such a strange thing to do. After all, nobody came out of the embassy. Each year when we would join the protests I had a progressively worsening feeling that we were losing this battle. That all changed when, as a young adult, I lived to see the release of the Refuseniks. That’s when I learned the most important lesson; persistence is a key to perseverance in activism.

Twenty-five years ago, as a young gay right rights activist, I felt that familiar sense that I was fighting a losing battle. I’ve since come to realize that enduring changes for LGBTQ rights came when a visible chorus of LGBTQ allies stepped up and advocated for our true equality. There is a huge lesson from the gay rights movement for those of us in the animal rights movement; allies make all of the difference. The animal rights and welfare movement is a movement of allies. We are all animal-allies speaking up for animals in our various human communities.

Being a gay man in a leadership role in this movement for animals feels like an opportunity for me to take the lessons of my lifelong activism and use them to pay it forward. Just like we stepped up for the Refuseniks, and just as straight friends and family stepped up in allyship for me and my LGBTQ community, I now get to come out for animals in allyship, advocating for them, for justice and animal liberation.

Becoming the new board president at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary feels like the natural extension of my work on the board for the past three years. As the vice president of the board, I was fortunate to work very closely with our past president, David Cabrera, on a number of different initiatives and I feel very ready to take the wheel on those, going forward. As the chair of the board development committee, I have been integrally involved in bringing on over half of the members of this board and I feel uniquely positioned to best help them express their strengths and talents and utilize them for their work in service of the board.

In recent years, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has undergone a period of rapid expansion. To stay true to our founding principles during that process, we undertook a lengthy strategic planning process that refined our mission and vision. Having been part of the board that went through that process gives me a great deal perspective on our motivation for clarifying the focus of the organization and I am keenly aware of where this board envisions us over the coming years.

For my part, I’m looking forward to spending even more time with the residents at the Sanctuary over the next few years. I’ve formed some close personal bonds with so many of them including Mishka (named after my husband!), our newest baby cow rescues Colin and Woody, and my good friend Clyde (or, as I call him, “The Mayor of Woodstock”). Being able to give these amazing individuals the lifelong sanctuary and care they deserve is ultimately the reason I volunteer my time for this Board.

Being elected to this position of leadership is an enormous privilege as it affords me the opportunity to further enact that vision. I’m aware that I and my fellow board members, do not enact that vision alone. It takes the support and allyship of a huge number of supporters that make up the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary community. If you’re reading this, you’re part of that community and your support sustains us all at Woodstock in our pursuit of a more peaceful world rooted in respect and justice for all living beings.

For the animals,

Ethan Ciment
Woodstock Sanctuary Board President

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