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Founders

 

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The roots of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary go back to 1980, when Jenny Brown lost a leg to bone cancer at age ten. To keep her company during recovery, Jenny was allowed to adopt a kitten, Boogie, who became her constant companion. Boogie’s complex emotions and personality planted a seed for Jenny, but it took eight years and a leaflet about factory farming to help her make the connection between her dear cat and the farmed animals she’d been eating. She went vegetarian on the spot.

Over the next decade, Jenny built a career in film and television production, and began volunteering her time and talents for various animal advocacy organizations.

In 2000 she met award-winning film editor Doug Abel on Errol Morris’ television show First Person. They continued together for a few years on their respective career paths with great success, but when Jenny volunteered for Farm Sanctuary to travel to Texas and videotape farm animal abuse undercover, she was forever changed. She’d found her true calling–and the courage to speak out and take action.

Jenny left her TV career to live and work at Farm Sanctuary’s western New York location, to learn all she could about shelter operations, animal care and effective advocacy. It was that essential experience that gave the couple the confidence to open up a sanctuary of their own.

Jenny and her now-husband Doug found a house with 23 acres in the famous town of Woodstock, NY, and moved there in May of 2004. They immediately starting building barns and fences, and began rescuing and sheltering animals just a few months later. Their wedding in October that same year was the first fundraiser for their newly established non-profit organization.

Over the next decade the pair oversaw Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s robust growth, both in size and reputation. Their work was featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, HLN’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show, CNN and more. Jenny’s memoir-with-a-mission, The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight For Farm Animalswas released in 2012 to great acclaim.

In 2014, after ten years in Woodstock, the need to expand became obvious. The number of animal residents topped 250, and thousands of visitors were exceeding the property’s capacity. In 2014 Jenny and Doug found a new 150-acre property in High Falls, NY, on what was previously the site of a camp and retreat center. They raised funds, acquired the property, and began intensive construction of new barns, coops, fencing, and other infrastructure. The Sanctuary officially relocated to the new location in mid-2015, which greatly enhanced its capacity for rescue and advocacy, and laid the groundwork for decades to come.

In late 2016, Jenny and Doug left the organization and pursued other ventures. Jenny now speaks at universities across the country, educating students about the harsh realities of our food production system, the emotional lives of farmed animals, and the many benefits of a vegan diet. If you are interested in having her speak at your school you can find her on Facebook.