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About Us

Mad City Vegan Fest is a project of Alliance for Animals and the Environment, Wisconsin's voice for animals since 1983 (address below).

Mad City Vegan Fest
Alliance for Animals and the Environment
P.O. Box 1632
Madison, WI 53701

Our Mission Statement

  • To highlight the ethical, environmental, and health benefits of a lifestyle free of all animal products (vegan).
  • To provide a nonjudgmental, supportive, and fully inclusive environment for vegans and for those hoping to learn more about veganism.
  • To demonstrate the accessibility of veganism by showcasing vegan products and organizations with an emphasis on local resources.
  • To advocate compassion as the means by which to alleviate the suffering of humans and animals alike.

Meet the Mad City Vegan Fest Organizers!

Hannah West: Founder

Hannah West photo

A 2014 graduate of UW-Madison, Hannah was appointed Executive Director of the Alliance for Animals and the Environment in August 2014. Although she's always felt a kinship with animals, Hannah went vegan after a middle school project on modern day slavery caused her to make connections between human and animal rights. Since then, she's tried to practice an intersectional veganism that includes both human and non-human animal rights. She is the founder of the Mad City Vegan Fest, the Madison Chapter of Vegan Drinks, and the Simply Vegan E-Newsletter.

Gina Stuessy: Coordinator

Gina Stuessy photo

I'm currently Vice President of the board of directors for Alliance for Animals and the Environment, and enjoy volunteering for many of their farmed animal advocacy efforts. I am interested in effective altruism, and more specifically how we can help animals most effectively. I have lived in the Madison area all my life and work as a applications and software engineer at a small company in Middleton, WI. I live with my boyfriend (Ben, below) and our 2 cats. I enjoy board games, chocolate desserts, and medical dramas.

Alex Goke

Alex Goke photo

Currently a student at UW-Madison studying Environmental Science and Community & Nonprofit Leadership, I am constantly seeking ways to align my educational, professional, and moral ambitions with my personal lifestyle. Veganism was a natural choice, benefiting not only my personal health but also propagating a passion for animals and the environment, both of which I've always held dear. I am so lucky to have been a part of Mad City Vegan Fest since year one. At the time an incoming freshman, MCVF gave me not only a plethora of resources, but also a wonderful community to support me in my ongoing transition from a six-year vegetarian to a hopefully-lifelong vegan! Aside from assisting with graphic design and marketing for the Vegan Fest, I can be found helping out at Dane County Humane Society on the weekends, attempting (but mostly failing) to sustain vegetative life in my student slum apartment, biking out the Military Ridge State Trail, aggressively trolling Library Mall for vegan meals from the various food carts, or just catching some rays on the Union Terrace!

Ben West

Ben West photo

I am an aspiring effective altruist and I run a software startup which makes it easier for doctors to fill out Medicare forms. My hobbies currently center around quantitative finance, but if you have an idea from a field with "theoretical" in the title, I'd probably be interested. My sole contribution to mankind thus far has been creating the following joke: "Why was Sun-Tzu always on time? Because he knew the Chinese Reminder Theorem!" If you thought that joke had too much humor and not enough math, you'd probably enjoy my blog.

Dave Friedman

Dave Friedman photo

As a kid, I didn't like the idea of hurting or killing animals. And when I was nine I decided to be vegetarian. In 2010, 32 years laters, having learned more and reflected on my values more, I decided to be vegan. I get a lot of support from my friends in the Madison Area Vegetarian Meetup Group. Since I started organizing the group in 2007, we've grown to over 1,000 members and held around 200 events, including monthly vegan dinners at local restaurants, potlucks, cooking lessons, game nights, camping trips, scenic hikes, apple picking outings, and many others. Check out for more information. It's free to join. Other aspects of my life include ultimate frisbee, word games, and gadgets.

Judi Duncan

Judi Duncan

My husband and I relocated to Madison in November because we felt more at home here than we did in our former home in Illinois. We have owned a second home in Columbia County sort of in the 'sticks' for several years, and we spent so much time coming to Madison that we realized we wanted to live here full time and so we sold our Illinois home and made it happen, knowing no one in Madison. Since I no longer work for pay, I now work for my causes. I've been vegetarian a while but only recently transitioned to veganism. As I set up my new life and make new friends, I expect the Alliance to figure prominently. I'm looking to help in whatever ways I can. I enjoy working out, nutrition, hiking, reading, and spending time with my dogs. I also volunteer with the Sierra Club and am setting up volunteering with the UW Hospital and the Humane Society.

Lucy Pearson

Lucy Pearson

California born and raised, I'm now happily enjoying the unpredictable and varied weather of the Midwest. I made the switch to a veggie lifestyle in high school, and it only gets better with each passing day. I love every minute, and see the decision to become vegan as one of the best and most impactful in my life. When I'm not involved in activist events, eating vegan cookies, or explaining what seitan actually is, you can find me out running around the lakes, biking, or curled up with a fantasy novel.

Sara Andrews

Sara Andrews

A Wisconsin native from the Milwaukee area, I have lived in Madison for the past eight years with my husband and our two cats. Professionally I work in the library field with a focus on library preservation and conservation. I have a lot of interests a few of which are medieval reenactment, crafting of all kinds (embroidery, bookbinding, clothing design and construction, weaving, knitting), dancing, cooking, playing computer and video games, reading, kayaking, archery, and taking late night walks in the woods (without a flashlight). However, my primary interest is the well being of the non-human animals which share our planet and the kind of world we create for ourselves and leave behind for those who come after. I initially became interested in plant based eating after learning how much more resource efficient and environmentally friendly a diet based on plants is than a diet that is based on animal sourced foods. This led to more information seeking which grew into a realization of how our individual choices effect non-human animals and people alike and caused a shift in my behavior and thinking. I hope our work on this festival will help others make the same connections!