Staff Leadership

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. In 2015, Gene was granted a faculty appointment in Health, Behavior, and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He was recently named one of Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul 100 Givers.

Susie Coston, National Shelter Director

Susie Coston joined the Farm Sanctuary staff in 2000, after spending six years working with a veterinarian and at a sanctuary in West Virginia. With more than two decades of experience working with farm animals, she is a leading authority on both their care and behavior, and she calls on both her expertise and her deep connections with these animals (often referred to as “the farm animal whisperer”) to advocate for compassion for farm animals everywhere.

As Farm Sanctuary’s National Shelter Director, Susie oversees a team of caregivers, who provide individualized care to hundreds of rescued farm animals across the organization’s sanctuary locations. They work closely with veterinarians who help Farm Sanctuary create and deliver cutting-edge care and treatment to farm animals at every stage of their lives. Advances in farm animal care and treatment made at Farm Sanctuary under Susie’s guidance have led to tremendous strides in the field of farm animal medicine. She also shares her wealth of knowledge with other farm animal advocates, acting as a mentor to many peers who have started their own sanctuaries and leading Farm Sanctuary’s annual Farm Animal Care Conference, which provides valuable resources and hands-on training for people interested in caring for farm animals.

Committed to increasing awareness of farm animals’ sentience and the abuses they routinely face in the animal agriculture industry, Susie can often be found sharing the stories of her rescued farm animal friends both at speaking engagements and through the Animals of Farm Sanctuary project, which she founded in 2016.

Susie is based at Farm Sanctuary’s Watkins Glen, NY, location and regularly travels to the organization’s two West Coast sanctuaries. When she is not at one of Farm Sanctuary’s shelters, she shares her home with six cats and two dogs.

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.


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.