Staff Leadership

Megan Watkins

Megan Watkins, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director

Megan Watkins has spent more than two decades championing vulnerable populations. She brings valuable strategy, management, and philanthropy experience to her role, and a personal commitment to farm animal protection — having dedicated nine years to Farm Sanctuary’s board of directors.

Megan previously served as Managing Director and National Practice Executive in the Philanthropic Solutions group at U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management. She advised individual, corporate, and family-wealth clients of U.S. Trust and Merrill Lynch on philanthropic management and strategy for more than 10 years. Megan grew a robust philanthropic advisory practice, helping clients articulate their philanthropic vision and implementing programs that resulted in gifts of hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable work.

Before joining U.S. Trust, Megan was a vice president in the Philanthropic Services Group at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, where she managed a client and grant portfolio focused on animal welfare and protection, community development, and human services. Megan developed a variety of funding initiatives and conducted organizational assessments of hundreds of nonprofit organizations working on behalf of companion animals, threatened and endangered species, at-risk youth, survivors of domestic violence, and the homeless. Her experience also includes international and domestic program development and policy work in the nonprofit sector.

Megan is a graduate of Barnard College and holds a Master of International Affairs degree, with a specialization in economic and political development, from Columbia University.

Gene Baur

Gene Baur, President and Co-Founder

Gene Baur has been hailed as “the conscience of the food movement” by Time magazine. Since the mid-1980s, he has traveled extensively, campaigning to raise awareness about the abuses of industrialized factory farming and our system of cheap food production.

A pioneer in the field of undercover investigations and farm animal rescue, Gene has visited hundreds of farms, stockyards, and slaughterhouses, documenting the deplorable conditions. His pictures and videos exposing factory farming cruelties have aired nationally and internationally, educating millions about the plight of modern farm animals, and his rescue work inspired an international farm sanctuary movement.

Gene has also testified in courts and before local, state, and federal legislative bodies, advocating for better conditions for farm animals. His most important achievements include winning the first-ever cruelty conviction at a U.S. stockyard and introducing the first U.S. laws to prohibit cruel farming confinement methods in Florida, Arizona, and California. His efforts have been covered by top news organizations, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and The Wall Street Journal. Gene has published two bestsellers, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food (Scribner, 2008) and Living the Farm Sanctuary Life (Rodale, 2015), which he co-authored with Forks Over Knives author Gene Stone. Through his writing and his international speaking engagements, Gene provides simple, actionable solutions coupled with a compassion-first approach to help us be the change we wish to see in the treatment of animals and our food system.

Gene began his activist career selling veggie hot dogs out of a VW van at Grateful Dead concerts to fund farm animal rescues. Today, he serves as president of Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, with shelters in New York and California. Providing rescue, refuge, and adoption for hundreds of farm animals each year, Farm Sanctuary shelters enable visitors to connect with farm animals as emotional, intelligent individuals. Gene believes these animals stand as ambassadors for the billions of factory farm animals who have no voice, and he has dedicated his career to advocating on their behalf. Gene holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University, Northridge, and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University.  He was recently named one of Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul 100 Givers.

Lisa Fielding

Lisa Fielding, Chief Development Officer

Lisa Fielding joined Farm Sanctuary in 2019 and is delighted to continue her work in the area of animal welfare.

Most recently, Lisa was Director of Major Gifts at Best Friends Animal Society, where she built and led the national major gifts strategy. Lisa is an entrepreneurial marketing and fundraising professional with over 20 years of experience working in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. She has led the development of marketing campaigns and fundraising strategies for organizations including the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Save the Children. Lisa built the corporate fundraising team at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. She initially developed her marketing experience in the private sector, working as a Brand Manager at General Mills. Lisa co-founded, developed and led gifthero.com, an online retail business she co-created. Lisa has a Masters of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and an A.B. from Princeton University.

Originally from New Jersey, Lisa lives in Manhattan with her two children and two rescue dogs. During her time at Best Friends Animal Society, Lisa became more aware of animal cruelty in the food industry and began her transition to a vegan lifestyle.

Emily von Klemperer, General Counsel

Emily von Klemperer joined Farm Sanctuary as General Counsel in 2018 and is honored to have the opportunity to use her law degree to help farm animals and support Farm Sanctuary’s compassionate vegan mission.

Before coming to Farm Sanctuary, Emily served as Director of Legal & Corporate Affairs for the PETA Foundation, where she advised on all manner of corporate legal matters and was PETA’s federal lobbyist on Capitol Hill. Prior to that, Emily served as a judicial clerk for Massachusetts Appeals Court Justice Joseph Grasso, Jr. She was a summer associate at the law firm of Drummond Woodsum and completed an internship at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine.

Originally from Waterville, Maine, Emily received her bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, where she graduated cum laude. She earned her JD and Law & Business Certificate from Vanderbilt University Law School, where she received a Dean’s Scholarship and served as Senior Notes Editor of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law. As President of the Vanderbilt Animal Law Society, Emily gained exposure to the field of animal law and had the opportunity to bring inspiring speakers to campus, including a former Farm Sanctuary general counsel.

Emily is a life-long animal lover and longtime vegan who resides in Washington, D.C., with her husband, daughter, and rescue dog. She enjoys CrossFit, getting outdoors, and baking (and eating) delicious vegan treats.

Holly McNultyHolly McNulty, Director of Shelter Operations

Holly McNulty has been with Farm Sanctuary for more than 25 years, working in an array of positions within the growing organization. In June of 2019, she was appointed Director of Shelter Operations, reporting directly to CEO Megan Watkins.  This newly created role was part of a Shelter Department restructure based on the development of multidisciplinary shelter management teams at our Watkins Glen and Acton sanctuaries—each shelter management team is comprised of Facilities, Animal Care, and a staff Veterinarian (also a newly created position). Holly is uniquely positioned to manage administrative oversight of the Shelter team and activities having previously served as a Caregiver, Education Coordinator, Administrative Director and for the last seven years as Director of Human Resources & Volunteer Programs.

Mary O'Reilly

Mary O’Reilly, Chief Operating Officer

Mary O’Reilly joined Farm Sanctuary as Chief Operating Officer in 2020, and is thrilled to be aligning a lifetime of dietary practices in support of animal welfare and cancer prevention to her work.

Mary has spent the last 20 years working in HR and operations within digital startup organizations and large media corporations. In her most recent role as VP of Human Resources at Viacom, she supported the organizational strategy for the reimagination of traditional cable brands like MTV, Vh1 and Comedy Central for the digital landscape. During her work in various technology startups prior, she built operations from the ground up, helping scale teams and processes to drive business growth.

Mary received a Bachelors in Psychology from Antioch University and holds certifications in integrative nutrition from both Teachers College, Columbia University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is also a certified plant-based chef, running coach, yoga instructor and marathoner.


Samantha Pachirat, National Director of Education and Strategic Initiatives

Samantha joined Farm Sanctuary in 2000 after visiting an organic, “humane” dairy farm and witnessing firsthand the plight of the farm animals there. During her tenure with Farm Sanctuary, she has directed both the Development and Education departments and now combines her expertise in these two areas as Farm Sanctuary’s national director of education and strategic initiatives.

While Samantha’s work involves a range of responsibilities, she is most passionate about bringing the transformative experience of meeting and forming relationships with farm animals to broad audiences; humane education; and raising awareness about the ethical, health, and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Samantha also seeks to inspire individual and institutional partners to join Farm Sanctuary in creating a more compassionate and just world for all beings.

Originally from St. Louis, MO, Samantha holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, as well as Parker, Mia, Baby Po, and a quintet of rescued felines named Neko, Chaang, Rusty, Mango, and Arrow, and two rescued fish named Bob and Dan.