Scott Stoll, MD — Co-founder & Board Chairman

Dr. Stoll is the co-founder of the Plantrician Project, the International Plant Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention, and the Regenerative Health Institute, a unique collaborative project with the Rodale Institute that integrates health with agricultural and environmental regeneration. He is a member of the Google FoodLab think tank, serves on the advisory board at Whole Foods for their healthcare clinics and served as a member of the Whole Foods Scientific and Medical Advisory Board. Dr.Stoll is the Chairman of the Board for the Plantrician Project and Chief Medical Director for the Rouxbe Cooking School.

Every year Dr. Stoll hosts the very popular one week health immersion, Dr. Stoll’s Immersion in Naples, Florida and helps attendees recover lost health, overcome addictions, and restore emotional balance. In addition to authoring several books and scientific articles, hosting his own daily TV and radio programs, Dr. Stoll has appeared on numerous national shows including the Dr. Oz Show, hosting a 2018 PBS special Food As Medicine, and numerous documentaries including Eating You Alive, Wait Till It’s Free, and The Game Changers. As well as being a published author and member of the 1994 Olympic Bobsled Team, he is a highly sought-after international speaker. Dr. Stoll and his family live in Franklin, Tennessee.


Susan Benigas — Co-founder and Board Member

Susan’s work has spanned the gamut, from running political campaigns to serving in senior management and consultant roles for organizations ranging from professional sports and media to healthcare technology and worksite health promotion. It was while president of a worksite wellness company that she had the paradigm-shift leading to her life’s passion: She questioned the status quo approach to “wellness”—all too often to diagnose and medicate—as opposed to a primary focus on identifying and eradicating the cause of disease.

With a B.S. in Communications from the University of Tulsa and a Certificate in Plant-based Nutrition from eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, Susan’s passion for reaching the gatekeepers of dietary recommendations—our nation’s physicians and healthcare practitioners—led to her founding The Plantrician Project and co-founding the International Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, showcasing the efficacy of whole food, plant-based nutrition in its ability to prevent, suspend and often even reverse much of the chronic, degenerative disease afflicting our world.

Her experience and successful track record in the areas of organizational leadership, project management, strategic marketing, public relations, development, and Internet-based solutions design and development have helped to fuel the success of many organizations and endeavors. In addition to her work with The Plantrician Project, Susan serves as executive director of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

She and her husband, Jon, and furry family member, veggie-eating dog Bailey Blue, reside in Town & Country, MO, where Jon serves on the Board of Aldermen and is chairman of the Green Commission.


Tom Dunnam, MBA — Co-founder and Board Member

With attention paid to every minute operational detail, Tom has successfully married his business management expertise with his passion for health promotion in his role with The Plantrician Project. He co-founded the International Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference and also serves as president of Total Health Immersions (THI). THI is a 7-day lifestyle intervention program that, several times each year, touches employees of some of the nation’s most admired employers that are committed to reining in healthcare costs and improving the quality of life for their employees.

Holding a BA in Management from St. Leo University, where Tom was a pitcher and team captain of the baseball team, he concluded his graduate studies with an MBA from the John F. Welch College of Business at Sacred Heart University. Along with his wife, Andrea, and their two children, Tom calls New Canaan, CT home, where he spends much of his free time coaching youth sports. He is also an active volunteer with the American Diabetes Association and the Fairfield County Sports Commission.


Ethan Brown — Board Member

Ethan Brown, chief executive officer and co-founder of Beyond Meat — a company focused on perfectly replacing animal protein with plant protein – gained a profound appreciation for the natural world from his father, a professor and conservationist. Ethan’s passions for the environment shaped the direction of his adult life. After earning an MBA from Columbia University and an MPP from the University of Maryland, he embarked on a career in clean energy which included eight years at Ballard Power Systems, the world’s leading PEM fuel cell company focused on helping to create a better world.

Although he enjoyed a successful career in the clean energy sector, Ethan felt a need to make a bigger impact by addressing climate change, global resource constraints, animal welfare and human health. Committed to a plant-based diet, he often wondered if the staggering amount of animal protein produced and consumed could be significantly reduced if a perfect plant-based meat replication existed.

Pursuit of this idea led him to Dr. Fu-hung Hsieh and Harold Huff at the University of Missouri. Their collaboration along with support from The University of Maryland, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and The Obvious Corporation led to the creation of Beyond Meat in 2009. The company also gained support from Morgan Creek Capital, The Humane Society, Closed Loop Capital and most recently, Bill Gates.


Eydie Desser — Board Member

A marketing specialist, Eydie has over 20 years’ experience in local media sales management in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Dallas for CBS, and has overseen media sales for the Texas Rangers, Dallas Mavericks, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

She’s earned a Grande Diploma of Culinary from the French Culinary Institute in NYC as well as a certification in Rouxbe’s Plant-based Cooking Professional Course. She currently teaches whole food, plant-based cooking classes out of her home.


Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD — Board Member

Dr. Esselstyn received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.D. from Case Western Reserve University. In 1956, pulling the No. 6 oar as a member of the victorious United States rowing team, he was awarded a gold medal at the Olympic Games. He was trained as a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and at St. George’s Hospital in London. In 1968, as an Army surgeon in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

During his association with the Cleveland Clinic, which began in1968, Dr. Esselstyn served as president of the Staff and as a member of the Board of Governors. He chaired the Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force and headed its Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery.

In 1991, Dr. Esselstyn served as president of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, That same year he organized the first National Conference on the Elimination of Coronary Artery Disease. In 1997, he chaired a follow-up conference, the Summit on Cholesterol and Coronary Disease, which brought together more than 500 physicians and health-care workers. In April, 2005, Dr. Esselstyn became the first recipient of the Benjamin Spock Award for Compassion in Medicine. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Association in 2009. In September 2010, he received the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame Award. Dr. Esselstyn received the 2013 Deerfield Academy Alumni Association Heritage Award In Recognition of Outstanding Achievement & Service, and the 2013 Yale University GEORGE H.W. BUSH \‘48 LIFETIME OF LEADERSHIP AWARD.

His scientific publications number over 150, “The Best Doctors in America” 1994-1995 published by Woodward and White cites Dr. Esselstyn’s surgical expertise in the categories of endocrine and breast disease. In 1995, he published his bench mark long-term nutritional research arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients. That same study was updated at 12 years and reviewed beyond twenty years in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, making it one of the longest longitudinal studies of its type. Dr. Esselstyn and his wife, Ann Crile Esselstyn, have followed a plant-based diet for more than 26 years. Dr. Esselstyn presently directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and serves on the Medical and Expert Advisory Board for the International Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference. The Esselstyns have four children and ten grandchildren.


James W. Heavener — Board Member

James W. Heavener is the CEO of The Heavener Company, through which he holds and manages his interests in education, media & film production, Internet services, real estate franchising, banking and information technology.

Mr. Heavener is Co-Chairman and CEO of Full Sail University, Co-Chairman of LA Film School, and RMCAD (Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design). His real estate interests include serving as a Managing Director of ERA Europe, a group of 1,100 European residential real estate offices located in 19 European Union countries, Co-Chairman of ProMarketWeb, Ltd., a European residential MLS, and Co-Chairman and CEO of Silver City Partners of Florida, a real estate holding company with assets in apartments, land development, office buildings and single purpose net leased assets. He is the Co-CEO and Director of Pioneer Technology Group, LLC, a software development company specializing in software solutions for government institutions. He is controlling shareholder of Florida Capital Bank, which specializes in mortgage banking and Government lending programs.

In addition to his professional responsibilities, Mr. Heavener serves as the Chairman of the University of Florida Board of Trustees, the State of Florida’s preeminent University, the University of Florida Investment Company (UFICO), is a Distinguished Alumni at the University of Florida, Director of the University of Florida Alumni Association, a Director with The University of Florida Foundation, a Legacy Director and past-President of the University of Florida Booster Association and a member of the Advisory Council to the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. He serves on the Board of Enterprise Florida, Inc., The Gianna Simone Foundation, and the Tim Tebow Foundation. He is a Member of the Harvard Club of Central Florida and New York.

Mr. Heavener holds a BSBA from the University of Florida and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School OPM.


John H. Hull — Board Member

For over 25 years John has been advising middle-market companies on a variety of transactional matters from M&A to capital raising. John has worked with clients in a number of industries including manufacturing, consumer products, healthcare, life sciences and business services.

Prior to joining The Fortune Group in 1998, he was a member of the mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance practice groups of a leading St. Louis law firm for several years. John started his career as a commercial bank lender servicing family-run and middle-market businesses. As an adjunct professor, John has taught M&A classes at Washington University’s School of Law. In addition, he has written articles for trade publications and has spoken at a number of events on M&A-related topics. John is registered with FINRA and maintains the following license: Series 24, Series 82, and Series 63.

John is an active member of his community and has served in volunteer leadership roles for several non-profit organizations, including youth sports leagues, business groups and his church.


Jana Kohl, PsyD — Board Member

Jana Kohl, PsyD is a doctor of psychology, author, artist, activist and philanthropist. She has been an advocate for plant-based nutrition for the past fifteen years, as well as a champion of many causes. Having worked for the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, she has long been concerned with how society sanctions cruelty and abuse. Dr. Kohl testified before the Illinois legislature on the link between violence against animals and inter-human violence and has worked on legislative initiatives seeking bans on animal cruelty practices in various industries. She is the author of ‘A Rare Breed of Love.’

Dr. Kohl’s interest in plant-based nutrition had a moral and ethical basis but over the past decade she has embraced the other benefits now attributed to a plant-based lifestyle: Human health, reversing environmental destruction, the means to ending world hunger, and a positive impact upon failing economies.

One of Dr. Kohl’s passions is in assisting people on the journey to plant-based health and happiness. As a psychologist she is interested in understanding why people either resist or embrace change, especially when offered a chance to reverse or prevent illness through a plant-based diet. She is also interested in spreading the word about pediatric nutrition since her twin sons have thrived on a plant-based diet from infancy.

She and her children currently live in CA, where they grow organic fruit and vegetables, which they share with anyone who comes to visit.


William Li, MD — Board Member

Dr. Li is president, medical director, and co-founder of the Angiogenesis Foundation. He trained in the lab of Dr. Judah Folkman, pioneer of the angiogenesis field, and has been actively engaged in angiogenesis research and clinical development for 22 years.

Under Dr. Li’s leadership, the Foundation has developed a unique social enterprise model based on national and international collaborations with leading medical academic centers around the world, biopharmaceutical innovators, the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, and medical associations. The Foundation’s work has led to the realization of 27 new treatments for diseases ranging from cancer to blindness to diabetic complications. Having testified and presented before congressional and other government panels on the impact of angiogenesis in healthcare, Dr. Li lectures widely on angiogenesis-related topics in front of clinical, government, and industrial audiences. He is involved in global efforts to advance the application of angiogenesis to health and wellness, and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, has designed programs featured at the World Economic Forum, and launched the Eat to Beat Cancer, and Do iT Yourself Health campaigns to bring science- and evidence-based health recommendations to the public. Dr. Li has been published in Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and other leading peer-reviewed medical journals.

Receiving his A.B. with honors from Harvard College and his M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dr. Li completed his internship, residency, and fellowship training in General Internal Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He has held appointments on the clinical faculties of Harvard Medical School, Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. Dr. Li is an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Wound Care Specialists and has served as advisor and consultant to leading global public and private companies.


Dan Purjes — Board Member

Growing up in New York City, the son of a taxi driver and a homemaker, Dan Purjes earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Computer Science, and completed all course-work for a Ph.D. He established, built and sold a software development firm, and also managed software development for a number of large companies.

Dan has built several businesses from start-up to profitable revenues of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, before selling them to larger corporations. Dan bought ownership of a tiny NYSE member securities firm, and grew that firm to 2,000 people in 250 offices before selling it to one of the largest banks in the country. He went on to grow other successful businesses, from digital printing to software to solar energy.

Today, Dan devotes much of his time to The Purjes Foundation, the non-profit charity founded and funded by him and his wife. He not only provides funds for worthwhile causes, particularly those involving health, but he takes an active role in those causes. Dan has served on the boards of numerous national and local charities such as the American Tinnitus Association, the Abraham Fund, Plant-based Utah, and others.

Ever since his heart attack in 2011, Dan has followed a plant-based diet. He has passionately supported plant-based causes, leading him to acquire and produce the documentary, Eating You Alive; launching, together with the Plantrician Project, the first peer-reviewed medical journal devoted to plant-based nutrition – the International Journal of Disease Reversal & Prevention; funding vegan clinical trials at leading medical institutions; funding the Nutrition/Lifestyle Program at the University of Florida College of Medicine; and establishing the Disease Reversal Association to fund studies and clinical trials employing a whole foods, plant-based diet.

Dan is the father of an adult son and daughter, and the step-father of an adult daughter. He is an avid skier, hiker, snowshoer, and bicyclist. He is an amateur astronomer, likes to ride his original 1970 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle, and greatly enjoys reading, concerts, operas, museums and scientific presentations. He is intensely interested in all religions, and is a student of Zen … and still learning.


Gianna Simone — Board Member

Gianna Simone is an exemplary role model for kids, teenagers, young adults, and young professionals, who seek inspiration for how they can positively impact the world. Overcoming great obstacles of her past Gianna found great strength in acting. She has been in some of Hollywood’s biggest successes such as “Star Trek Into Darkness”, “I Can Only Imagine”, Garry Marshall’s “Mother’s Day”, & “Gods Not Dead 2”

She has spoken at the United Nations on behalf of her foundation The Gianna Simone Foundation. Which provides scholarships to Rwandan survivors of the 1994 genocide and also works closely with foster youth, sex trafficked women and animal rescues.



Brian Wendel — Board Member

Brian is founder and president of Forks Over Knives, a lifestyle brand that empowers people to live healthier lives by changing the way the world understands nutrition.

He created and executive produced the 2011 documentary film Forks Over Knives, which made the case that chronic ailments such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes can be prevented, halted, and oftentimes reversed by leaving animals foods and highly refined foods off the plate, and adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet instead. The film, which received rave reviews from medical experts and entertainment critics alike, has been viewed by millions of people around the world and has become one of the most influential documentaries of our time.

Under Brian’s leadership, Forks Over Knives has evolved into a multimedia brand that offers an array of tools to make plant-based living easy and enjoyable—including bestselling books; a top-ranked mobile recipe app; the weekly, customizable Forks Meal Planner service; Forks Over Knives magazine; a growing line of food products; and a website that serves as a leading destination for people seeking plant-based health news, real-life success stories, and delicious recipes.

Brian is a partner in the commercial real estate firm Huntington Group, LLC and a member of the board of directors for the Lisa Wendel Memorial Foundation. He lives in Santa Monica, California.


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