April 10, 2019

History of the Animal Law Committee

BARBARA GISLASON - CHAIR 2004-2005 and 2005-2006

Barbara Gislason is a 1974 graduate of Carleton College and a 1980 graduate of William Mitchell College of Law. She was a 1978 Regional Winner of the ABA Client Counseling Competition. In private practice since 1986, she was the Founding Chair of the Art and Entertainment Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association, and held leadership positions with the Computer Law Section, the Bar/Media Committee, the MIPLA Copyright Committee, and State Law Day. She also served as an adviser to the State Board of Law Examiners.

She is an adjunct professor at Hamline University School of Law, and teaches animal law with Lee Scholder. They also received approval from the William Mitchell College of Law Curriculum Committee to teach the first animal law course there. She is the Founding Chair of both the MSBA Animal Law Committee and Animal Law Section. Programs offered under her leadership include National and International Trends in Animal Law, Endangered Species Act, Equine Law, Animal Law 101, Indicator Species & the Health of an Ecosystem, Dog Cases and Other Adventures in Animal Law, Dangerous Exotics, Saving Wildlife Habitats, and Do Animals Have Standing?

Gislason is also the founder of the Minnesota Common Law Project in Animal Law. Ms. Gislason keynoted at the annual meeting for MNFRAC, the largest Agricultural Consortium in Minnesota, participated on a panel with renowned Professor Bernard Rollins at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Veterinary Association, and spoke about animal law and the Livestock Industry at the University of Minnesota Department of Animal Science in September 2004. Gislason has also been a guest on a variety of radio shows, including Discovery Channel, American Public Radio, and the Pat Miles show. She has been quoted at news outlets around the country, including Animal Planet.com and FoxNews.com as well as newspapers affiliated with the Minneapolis StarTribune.


Kristina Hancock graduated first in her class at the University of San Diego School of Law after working for thirteen years as a critical care nurse at Cedars Sinai Center and UCSD Medical Center. Hancock is currently Senior Counsel at Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps LLP’s Del Mar, California office, representing nonprofit organizations in matters ranging from tax exemption, unrelated business income tax, and nonprofit corporate tax to general business matters. Hancock has taught Animal Law since 2000 at California Western School of Law, where she is an adjunct professor.

At the law school, she co-chaired the International Animal Law Conference, the first-ever international symposium of its kind. She currently serves as a network attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and is a member of the Board of Directors of SNAP, the San Diego Spay-Neuter Action Project. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of City Ballet of San Diego and was its president for 1995-2000.


Gilda I. Mariani is the Chief of the Money Laundering and Tax Crimes Unit of the New York County District Attorney’s Office (“DANY†), a post she has held for over a decade. She joined DANY in 1984 and has held several supervisory positions including Deputy Chief of the Frauds Bureau. Prior to joining DANY, she was a litigation associate at the criminal defense firm of Obermaier, Morvillo & Abramowitz, P.C. (now Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer, P.C.). Prior to that, she clerked as an appellate law assistant in New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division (Second Department). She had a significant role in drafting legislation including the New York Money Laundering Statute (enacted in November 2000) and the misdemeanor crime of Providing a Juror with a Gratuity (enacted in November 2001). She has written articles and spoken on legal issues relating to money laundering and tax fraud prosecutions.

Mariani is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law (J.D. top five percent of her class and Law Review) and St. John’s University College of Liberal Arts (B.A. summa cum laude, Political Science). She is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. She is active in the leadership of the New York City Bar Association as Chair of the Personal Income Taxation Committee (2009 through 2011), and former vice-chair of the Personal Income Taxation Committee and former Chair of the Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals Committee. She is active in the leadership of the three sections or divisions of the American Bar Association (“ABA†): former Chair of the Animal Law Committee and Chair-Elect of the Government Law Committee and a member of the Diversity Committee of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (“TIPS†); co-host of TIPS internet radio podcast series “Legal TIPS;†TIPS liaison to the ABA’s Coordinating Committee on Military Law and Justice; a member of Council in the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division; and Liaison from the International Law Section to the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division; and a member of the Task Force on Treaties in U.S. Law formed by the International Law Section and the American Society of International Lawyers.

MEENA ALAGAPPAN - Chair 2008-2009

Meena Alagappan is the Executive Director of Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART), a non-profit public charity that is a full-service humane education provider in the NYC, Chicago, Indianapolis and Portland (OR) areas. Prior to joining HEART, Meena was a humane education consultant for Animal Welfare Trust, a private operating foundation. She was also a senior instructor for Advantage Testing, an academic test preparation company, and practiced corporate law at the Manhattan law firm Shea & Gould.

She is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and serves on the Board of Directors of the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals and PAWS (Pioneers for Animal Welfare Society). Meena is the author of “The United States’ Enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species” published in Northwestern University’s Journal of International Law and Business and co-author of “A Note on Pedagogy: Humane Education Making a Difference” published in the Journal of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies. She received her B.A. from Cornell University, J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, and M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.


Joan Schaffner is an Associate Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School. She received her B.S. in mechanical engineering and J.D. from the University of Southern California and her M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She worked at the law firm of Irell & Manella in Los Angeles, California and clerked for the Honorable Marianna Pfaelzer in the Central District of California before coming to George Washington University.

Professor Schaffner teaches Civil Procedure, Remedies, Sexuality and the Law. She is the faculty advisor to Lambda Law, the GLBT student organization at GW, and is faculty advisor and editor-in-chief of the American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal.

Professor Schaffner directs the GW Animal Law Program which consists of the GW Animal Welfare Project (AWP), a pro bono effort of faculty and students devoted to researching and improving animal welfare laws in the District of Columbia; seminars in animal law; and a student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF). She co-directs the Animal Welfare Project and is the faculty advisor to SALDF. She also coordinates the Animal Law Lawyering Project that provides students with outside placements in the animal law field and teaches the seminar Animal Law Lawyering. Additionally, Professor Schaffner has testified on behalf of non-breed specific dangerous dog laws and has participated on animal law panels at conferences world-wide. She is active in various organizations, including: Chair (2009-2010), Publications Vice-Chair, and Newsletter Vice-Chair of the ABA TIPS Animal Law Committee; Founding Chair of the AALS Section on Animal Law; consumer member for the District of Columbia Board of Veterinary Medicine; and Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.


Mariann Sullivan is the deputy chief court attorney at the New York State Appellate Division in New York City and an adjunct professor of animal law at Brooklyn Law School and Cardozo Law School. She is the former chair of the Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals of the New York City Bar Association and a current member of that committee as well as chair-elect of the American Bar Association's Animal Law Committee. With David Wolfson, she is the author of "What's Good for the Goose…The Supreme Court of Israel, Foie Gras, and the Future of Farmed Animals in the United States,†in the 2007 volume of the Duke Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems; “Foxes in the Henhouse: Animals, Agribusiness and the Law, A Modern American Fable,†in Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions; and “If it Looks Like a Duck: New Jersey, The Regulation of Common Farming Practices, and the Meaning of “Humane†in Animal Law and the Courts.

LEDY VANKAVAGE - Chair 2011-2012

Ledy VanKavage is the Senior Legislative Attorney and National Manager of Best Friends Animal Society's Pit Bull Terrier Initiative. Before coming to Best Friends Ledy was the Senior Director of Legislation and Legal Training for the ASPCA. In 1985 she organized the Madison County Coalition Against Pound Seizure, successfully stopping the sale of pets for research in her county. She then founded the Madison County Humane Society( now Metro East Humane Society) and was its president for eight years. In 1992 she co-founded the Illinois Federation of Humane Societies and was a cofounder of Operation SPOT (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today.) She has spearheaded the passage of over 30 humane state bills and is current Chair of the American Bar Association's Animal Law Committee.

Ledy and her husband have adopted three pit bulls and oversee a community cat colony. She contends that pit bulls and ferals face many of the same challenges.

REBECCA J. HUSS - Chair 2012-2013

Rebecca J. Huss is a Professor of Law at Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana. Professor Huss has also taught at the University of Iowa College of Law, Notre Dame Law School, Stetson University College of Law and Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College.

Professor Huss has a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from the University of Iowa College of Law and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Richmond School of Law. Professor Huss practiced in law firms on corporate matters, as well as in-house at in the animal health division of a pharmaceutical company prior to beginning her academic career.

Recent publications include: Aging Adults and Animals: Legal Issues Relating to Living with Companion Animals, Canines (and Cats!) in Correctional Institutions: Legal and Ethical Issues Relating to Companion Animal Programs, Canines on Campus: Companion Animals at Postsecondary Educational Institutions; Canines in the Classroom: Service Animals in Primary and Secondary Educational Institutions, Why Context Matters: Defining Service Animals Under Federal Law; Lessons Learned: Acting as Guardian/Special Master in the Bad Newz Kennels Case;and Issues Relating to Companion Animals and Housing, in Animal Law and the Courts: A Reader (Taimie L. Bryant, Rebecca J. Huss & David N. Cassuto eds., 2008). Her primary focus in research and writing is on the changing nature of the relationship between humans and their companion animals and whether the law adequately reflects the importance of that relationship. Her scholarship can be accessed at http://ssrn.com/author=330506

In 2007 Professor Huss was appointed by the District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia as the guardian/special master in Civil Action No.:3:07CV397, United States v. Approximately 53 Pit Bull Dogs (the Bad Newz Kennels case). For her work as guardian/special master, she was the recipient of a 2008 Law Enforcement Public Service Award from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, an Award of Excellence form the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, a 2008 President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency and Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency Award for Excellence, and a United States Department of Justice, National Asset Forfeiture Award for Outstanding Investigation or Case (awarded July 2009).


Yolanda Eisenstein is an attorney with an animal law practice in Dallas, Texas. She is an adjunct professor of animal and wildlife law at SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas. She is currently vice chair of the Animal Law Committee and former chair of the State Bar of Texas Animal Law Section.

Yolanda serves on the advisory board of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, a nonprofit organization that lobbies for pro-animal legislation in Texas. She speaks regularly on animal and animal law issues and is the author of The American Bar Association Legal Guide for Dog Owners (American Bar Association) and Careers in Animal Law: Welfare, Protection, and Advocacy (ABA Law Practice Management Section and ABA Law Student Division). She is a contributor to Animal Cruelty: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding (Carolina Academic Press).

Yolanda received her B.A. magna cum laude in Arts and Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas. She graduated with honors from SMU Dedman School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Texas and New Mexico. She shares her home with husband Abram and dog Skylar.


Chris Green is the Executive Director of Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Program. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Illinois, where he created the college’s first Environmental Science degree. Chris previously was the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and is the former Chair of the American Bar Association’s TIPS Animal Law Committee. Chris has been published in the Animal Law Review, won First Prize at the inaugural National Animal Law Competition, regularly testifies at legislative hearings, and has consulted on animal legal issues for dozens of major media outlets. Chris also spent several decades working in the fine arts, film and music industries, and currently manages an Illinois farm that has remained in his family for 180 consecutive years

Chris was a member of the California Veterinary Medical Association’s Non-Economic Recovery Task Force, helping explore legislative options to balance the profession’s increasing liability exposure with a more equitable assessment of companion animal value. He later acted as an advisor to members of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Task Force on the Legal Status of Animals, addressing those same legislative issues at a national level.

In 2004 Green wrote The Future of Veterinary Malpractice Liability in the Care of Companion Animals, which was published in the 10th Anniversary Issue of the journal Animal Law. That same year he won First Prize at Harvard's inaugural National Animal Law Competition, an event he still regularly judges. Chris has consulted on animal legal issues for CNN, CBS News, NBC News, Headline News, POLITICO, The Atlantic, Bloomberg News, Harper’s, Huffington Post, Science Magazine, Smart Money Magazine, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post & Vice News.

He additionally has testified at dozens of legislative hearings, and frequently lectures on animal protection legislation, Ag-Gag anti-whistleblower laws, exotic animal ownership, and companion animal valuation at law schools and conferences around the country. Chris also spent several decades working in the fine arts, film and music industries.

Year One (2004 - 2005)
Year Two (2005 - 2006)
Year Three (2006 - 2007)
Year Four (2007 - 2008)
Year Five (2008 - 2009)
Year Six (2009 - 2010)
Year Seven (2010 - 2011)
Year Eight (2011 - 2012)
Year Nine (2012 - 2013)
Year Ten (2013 - 2014)
Year Eleven/Twelve (2014 - 2016)
Year Thirteen (2016 - 2017)