Board of Directors
Mindy Kursban is a lawyer, vegan advocate, and lover of food. She wants to live in a world where chocolate chip cookies are considered a health food, refrigerators double as personal chefs, and chickens can be chickens, not food. Vegetarian since 1992, her switch to veganism in 1999 was coupled with becoming the in-house attorney for the Physicians Committee. Her first assignment was to sue the US Department of Agriculture for establishing a Committee tasked with updating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans whose members were riddled with financial links to the meat, dairy and egg industries. Thereafter, she filed several more lawsuits and petitions against the federal government and multi-national corporations like Kraft and Tysons demanding changes in nutritional policy and truthfulness in marketing. Today, Mindy is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Physicians Committee. Since moving to San Diego in 2018, she has become involved with Plant Diego, a local group that helps people switch to a plant-based diet. Mindy's "day job" is working as in-house counsel for the nation's largest single-location private-duty home care referral company, where she has worked since 2007.
Ruby Lathon, PhD
Ruby Lathon, PhD, is a certified holistic nutritionist who inspires with a powerful story of recovering from thyroid cancer through alternative treatment focused on a whole food, plant-based diet. Dr. Lathon was featured in the hit documentary What the Health and will be featured in two upcoming health documentaries. Dr. Lathon worked as a researcher and an award-winning engineer and now teaches others how to re-engineer their health and live disease-free.
Dr. Lathon received her doctorate and Master of Science in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Oakwood University. Before leaving behind her successful engineering career, Dr. Lathon served as vice president of an engineering and management consulting firm and was a senior engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, a national security research laboratory. She also served as a research fellow at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
Learn more about Dr. Lathon at: www.RubyLathon.com
Mark Sklar, MD
Mark Sklar, MD, is a board-certified endocrinologist and internist. He received his medical degree at the Boston University Medical Center in Boston, Mass. His residency in internal medicine was at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Subsequently, he participated in an endocrinology fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. While there, he worked in the laboratory of Peter Nissley, MD, studying the developmental regulation of the insulin-like growth factor-2/mannose 6-phosphate receptor. In 1990, he joined the faculty in the endocrinology division at the Georgetown University Medical Center as an assistant professor of medicine. While at Georgetown University, Dr. Sklar was involved in patient care, clinical research, and teaching. His research interests were focused on the effects of the influence of diet on the control of type 2 diabetes. In 1996, he worked with the Physicians Committee to design and execute a study examining the effects of a high-fiber, low-fat vegan diet in patients with type 2 diabetes. In 1997, Dr. Sklar left Georgetown University to start a private practice in Washington, D.C., specializing in the field of endocrinology. Since that time, he has been on the board of directors of the Physicians Committee and has periodically worked with the Physicians Committee on outpatient clinical studies.
Dr. Sklar is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and has been recognized yearly as a Washingtonian Top Doctor.
Barbara Wasserman, MD
Barbara Wasserman, MD, is a graduate of Barnard College and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency at Rochester General and Strong Memorial Hospitals in Rochester, N.Y. Dr. Wasserman is board-certified in internal medicine, preventive medicine, and occupational medicine. She has held the position of director of occupational medicine at the National Institutes of Health, National Naval Medical Center, and Potomac Electric Power Company.
Dr. Wasserman has been a member of the Physicians Committee since 2002 and a board member for Physicians Committee-affiliated organizations since 2007. Since 1965, she has been married to Marty Wasserman, MD, who volunteers as the Physicians Committee’s safety officer for clinical research. She and Marty are passionate about ending animal experiments and have been instrumental in many campaign victories, including the Great Ape Protection Act and ending the use of animals in medical schools. They are the proud parents of Brad and Torrey, who also support the Physicians Committee’s work.
Dr. Milton Berkman
Dr. Milton Berkman is a retired orthodontist living in Cornelius, NC, outside of Charlotte. He is one of the founding supporters of the Barnard Medical Center and credits a plant-based diet for his improved health. Milton and his wife Arlene started the Foundation for RespectAbility in 2011 and Arlene is the executive director. The foundation has educators and artists who run programs in local schools to confront bullying and promote social justice through music, education and the creative arts. Milt and his wife Arlene have enjoyed involving their children and grandchildren in their philanthropy. He is also an avid traveler and nature photographer.
Dr. Brooke Bussard
Dr. Brooke Bussard is a health coach, nutrition educator, and speaker whose focus revolves around choosing to eat plants over animals for human health, animal compassion, and environmental sustainability.
As a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, she loves to quote Thomas Jefferson, “Health is the requisite after morality,” as this sentiment ties together many aspects of a plant-based lifestyle.
Through her company, Plants Over Animals, Brooke works with individuals and families to help them transition to a plant-filled kitchen. As a Physicians Committee Food for Life instructor, Brooke strives to spread the word about the prevention and reversal of chronic lifestyle diseases with a whole food, plant-based diet.
Whenever possible, Brooke enjoys hiking in the Rocky Mountains with her vegan family and their German shepherd.
Charlotte Cressey, M.A.
Charlotte Cressey, M.A. Women's Spirituality, is an animal liberation activist and educator, Chopra-Center certified meditation instructor, originator of Earth Energy Yoga®, ecofeminist, lover of life, and enthusiast for the many benefits of a vegan lifestyle and worldview.
Her concern for animals began at three years old, when she refused to eat meat after asking her parents, "Did a cow have to die for me to eat this?" Since then, she has been on a quest to understand how to inspire positive change in humans so that all animals may be free.
As a long-time vegan and activist of 21 years, Charlotte believes in the revolutionary power of Love and challenges the cultural tendency to believe that cruelty and callousness is a necessary part of "getting by." Through her company, Embody Love, Charlotte provides presentations, courses, and Earth Energy Yoga classes, which assist people in unearthing the infinite wellspring of joy, love, compassion, and wisdom within. She views veganism, mindfulness, and embodied movement as part of a larger goal to create a peaceful, harmonious existence for humans, animals, and the Earth.
As a business operations and brand development specialist, Mark’s principal focus over the past 15 plus years has been to increase the reach and impact of the plant-based foods movement by creating, managing, and growing plant-based companies. Mark has achieved success by combining his team-first leadership approach, ability to manage projects across complex organizations, jack-of-all-trades skillset and mission-based focus. Mark has worked with Gobo Restaurant, Candle Cafe & Candle 79, and Matthew Kenney Cuisine.
In 2017 Mark joined BeyondBrands, a conscious and plant-based business incubation and acceleration agency, as a co-founder and where he now serves as its managing director. Through his work with BeyondBrands Mark has supported agency management and growth along with numerous brands including mood33, Pig Out and Cool Beans for whom he has served as their COO for the past two years.
Mark is based, with his plant-based family (he has twins!) in Los Angeles where he is an aspiring minimalist who is always on the lookout for new product innovations, plant-based restaurants, and vegan recipes.
Dr. Kristi Funk
Dr. Kristi Funk is a board-certified breast cancer surgeon who, alongside her husband, Andy Funk, cofounded the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Los Angeles. She has helped thousands of women through breast cancer treatment, including well-known celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Sheryl Crow. Dr. Funk is a frequent cohost on The Doctors and breast expert on Good Morning America, and has appeared on The View, Today, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, and numerous other national and local television and news shows. While writing the national bestseller BREASTS: The Owners Manual, Dr. Funk’s research led her entire family to become 100% plant-based. She lives in Southern California with Andy and their triplet sons.
Dr. Funk is an active promoter of the Let’s Beat Breast Cancer campaign and hosted PCRM’s 35th Anniversary Celebration in December 2020.
Ellen Lavinthal was one of the main organizers of the “Fur Free West Hollywood” campaign, which resulted in a historic ban on the sale of fur and earned her an award at LA Worldfest 2011. She also was named "Activist of the Year" at Worldfest 2012 and was the 2013 recipient of FARM’s (Farm Animal Rights Movement) Issac Bashevis Singer award.
Ellen was an active board member of Social Compassion in Legislation which promotes laws that aim at reducing pet overpopulation. One of their big wins was the mandatory spay-neuter bill passed by the Los Angeles City Council. She additionally has raised awareness for animal issues in the past through monthly columns in the Beverly Hills Times Magazine and LA Yoga and as the host of the webshow "Animal Alliance" on www.Bigisgood.tv. Ellen was also an on-location producer of the 2016 documentary, "Sanctuary", which tells the story of five primates who found refuge from their pasts.
Most recently Ellen co-founded and co-chaired The Animal Museum in Los Angele’s Arts District. The museum is currently in the process of relocating.
After graduating from USC Law School, Ellen Lavinthal assumed the presidency of Animal Alliance, a Los Angeles based animal rescue and advocacy non-profit organization that she has headed up for the past 25 years. Under her direction, Animal Alliance joined forces with several national animal welfare groups in opposition to puppy mills (helping to end the sale of puppy mill dogs in five LA pet stores), the fur trade and elephants in captivity. Additionally, through Animal Alliance, Ellen has instituted programs which help provide low income family pets with spay and neuter surgeries and medical care, and has donated cat food and medical funds to caretakers of feral colonies throughout the city. Animal Alliance was on the forefront of several major hoarding situations, re-homing animals who otherwise stood no chance of survival.
Moby is a musician, singer, songwriter, producer, animal rights activist, restaurateur, and author. He has sold over 20 million records worldwide and his newest book Then It Fell Apart is now available. In 2018 Moby sold his recording equipment and record collection to benefit PCRM’s work. His latest album, All Visible Objects includes PCRM in the charities benefitting from the album’s profits.
John M. Robinson
John M. Robinson is former Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Chief Diversity Officer at the US Department of State. He served as primary advisor to the Secretary of State and his senior leadership on EEO, diversity, affirmative employment, and related issues.
Prior to this appointment, Mr. Robinson was the first Chief of EEO and Diversity for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and served in a similar role for the Internal Revenue Service from 2001 to 2005. He has held a senior position in the Department of Energy (DOE) and throughout his federal career, has led initiatives to promote diversity, wellness, and community outreach.
Leading up to his federal service, Mr. Robinson served in the Rhode Island Governor’s Cabinet as Director of the RI Department of Employment and Training; He was a senior dean at Brown University; and studied leadership in the United States and abroad -- Belize, China, Brazil and Cuba. A Vietnam veteran, he served as a naval officer aboard a destroyer and an ammunition ship where he earned the Navy Commendation Medal. A Brown University graduate, Robinson holds a master’s degree from Tuskegee University.
Sylvia Robinson is an expert in management consulting, strategic planning, and executive coaching for nonprofit, government, and educational organizations. In her distinguished career, she has held leadership positions at Wellesley College and Georgetown University, where she directed the career development and job placement programs.
Ms. Robinson’s position as Executive Director of the American Heart Association in Washington, DC, led her to work with hundreds of volunteers to implement fundraising, cardiovascular science research, and community education programs.
As the Assistant Vice President and Executive Director for the American Council on Education (ACE), Ms. Robinson worked nationally and internationally to implement strategic leadership of the General Educational Development Testing Service (GEDTS). She served as a member of ACE President’s Cabinet.
She holds degrees from Occidental College and Stanford University. Her relationship-building skills serve her well in her current position as real estate broker in Northern VA.
Alicia Sirkin, BFRP
Alicia Sirkin, BFRP, is an internationally known personal life coach who founded and is director of the Sirkin Creative Living Center, located virtually and based in South Florida. Thirty-five years ago, she reversed symptoms of chronic illness by adopting a whole foods, plant-based, healing-prevention diet and lifestyle, which she continues today, supporting PCRM’s efforts in educating the public to take charge of their health. Alicia teaches how to restore positivity and enhance success by self-correcting negative mindsets, letting go of unwanted patterns and living in the present to experience greater harmony, vibrancy, and joy. Before her coaching career, she worked as a licensed dental professional for more than a decade, and, she served as Vice President of a custom homebuilding company for nearly 20 years while working as a union actress in TV commercial, print, and voice-over industries. Alicia’s expertise has been featured in national radio programs, TV shows, and health and wellness articles. She co-authored the globally recognized Bach Flower Remedies Quick Reference Guide, contributed for Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, Alternative Medicine Magazine, and her co-authored scientific research is published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Complementary Health Practice Review.
Steve White is based in Angelo Gordon’s Los Angeles office and is the deputy portfolio manager of the firm’s U.S. real estate funds. Prior to joining Angelo Gordon in 2004, Steve worked in the real estate investment banking group at Goldman Sachs where he participated in the disposition and recapitalization of office, retail, hotel, and multi-family properties. Previously, Steve was a partner and co-founder of a private real estate investment company in the Los Angeles area. Steve is a member of the National Council for the Humane Society of the United States and the Los Angeles Leadership Committee for the National Resources Defense Council. Steve holds an A.B. degree from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Gwyn Whittaker, President’s Council Chair
Gwyn Whittaker, President’s Council Chair, is the owner/CEO of GreenFare Organic Cafe in Herndon, VA, an educational restaurant serving organic, whole plant food as well as hosting classes, book signings, and dinner and a movie night.
After a decades long successful career in the IT field and national security where she started and ran a big data company for ten years, Gwyn now devotes herself to growing the plant-based community and helping others take control of their own health through her restaurant, as a PCRM Food for Life instructor and graduate of Cornell’s Plant Based Certification.
She is a co-Producer of Diet Fiction and an Executive Producer of The Game Changers. Gwyn is also a Certified Master Gardener and currently working on a plant-based cookbook for dogs. She sits on a number of Boards in the technology space, leads Governance for the Humane Rescue Alliance Board of Directors, and is on the Board of the DC Environmental Film Festival. She started and is leading the second Fairfax Veg Fest.