STEVEN M. WISE – President, Nonhuman Rights Project
Steven M. Wise is an animal protection attorney who pioneered the study of animal rights law and developed the strategy of using legal personhood as a means for protecting animals. He holds a J.D. from Boston University Law School and a B.S. in Chemistry from the College of William and Mary and is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.
In 1990, Wise taught the first-ever law school course on animal rights, and in 2000 he was the first person to teach it at Harvard University. Over the course of his 30-year career, he has written three highly acclaimed books that explore our relationship with animals and our legal system, among them the 2005 New York Times front-page reviewed “Though the Heavens May Fall – The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery,” about the 1772 Somersett Case in which the first slave transitioned from a legal thing to a legal person. Other books are “Rattling the Cage – Toward Legal Rights for Animals” (2000); “Drawing the Line – Science and the Case for Animal Rights (2003); and “An American Trilogy – Death, Slavery, and Dominion Along the Banks of the Cape Fear River” (2009). He is also working on a fifth, a memoir about the Nonhuman Rights Project.
Wise is the founder of the legal organization the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), the only organization of its kind, which is pursuing legal rights for highly intelligent animals like chimpanzees, elephants and dolphins. Wise and his work have been featured on Dateline NBC, CNN, the BBC, NPR, The New York Times and The Guardian, among others. His 2015 TED Talk in Vancouver about the Nonhuman Rights Project has more than 900,000 views. He regularly travels the world lecturing on animal rights jurisprudence and the Nonhuman Rights Project.
NATALIE PROSIN – Former Executive Director, Nonhuman Rights Project
Natalie Prosin served as the Executive Director of the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) from 2011-2015 having already spent two years conducting legal research for the organization while in law school. During her tenure at the NhRP, she oversaw the organization’s growth and strategic direction, as well as its public outreach. Prosin has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Science Magazine and Rolling Stone, among others. In October 2015, Prosin joined Harvard Law School where she will be developing and managing the new Animals, Law, and Religion Project in the Islamic Legal Studies Program. Prosin graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern University. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Brown University and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.
LIDDY STEIN – Animal Rights Lawyer, Nonhuman Rights Project staff attorney
Elizabeth Stein is a solo practitioner with an office in New Hyde Park, New York where she focuses exclusively on legal issues pertaining to animal rights, welfare, legislation and advocacy. Stein is New York counsel and staff attorney for the Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. and is general counsel to and sits on the board of various animal-related organizations. She served as the co-chair of the Nassau Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee, was appointed to and served on the Town of Smithtown Animal Shelter Advisory Council, and serves on the New York City Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee. Stein lectures, participates in panel discussions and appears frequently on radio and television.
Stein holds a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law and a B.S in German from the State University of New York at Albany where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude. She began her legal career in the corporate/banking arena as in-house legal counsel to Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company and later changed career paths to practice animal law.
MONICA MILLER – Attorney, Nonhuman Rights Project senior counsel
Monica Miller is an Attorney and Legal Working Group Leader of the Nonhuman Rights Project. She also serves as Senior Counsel at the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. She graduated from Pitzer College in 2008 and from Columbia University in 2009 with a Masters in Public Administration for Environmental Science and Policy. She graduated cum laude from Vermont Law School in 2012. Ms. Miller was a Dean’s Fellow at Vermont Law School where she taught first-year legal writing and was a semi-finalist in the 2012 National Animal Law Moot Court Competition.
Ms. Miller has served as NhRP’s legal researcher and has helped draft memoranda for NhRP’s cases. Ms. Miller has litigated First Amendment cases in federal courts across the country and has authored several amicus briefs filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. Ms. Miller has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC, as well as local television stations and radio shows, and is regularly quoted by national and local media outlets, including Fox News, Aljazeera, USA Today, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the National Law Journal, among many others.
MARY LEE JENSVOLD – Director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute
Mary Lee Jensvold is Primate Communication Scientist at Fauna Foundation in Carignan, Quebec, Canada. She is Senior Lecturer in the Primate Behavior & Ecology Program and Department of Anthropology and Museum Studies at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA, and is the former director of the Chimpanzee & Human Communication Institute. She worked with the CHCI family of signing chimpanzees since 1986. In 1985, she received a B.A. in Psychology from University of Oregon, in 1989 a M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Central Washington University, and in 1996 a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from University of Nevada-Reno.
Jensvold specializes in ethological studies of apes, animal intelligence, communication, language and culture. Her studies include conversational behaviors, private signing, phrase development, chimpanzee to chimpanzee conversation, imaginary play and artwork in chimpanzees. Other research includes caregiving practices, zoo visitor effects and public education about chimpanzees. She is active in improving conditions for captive chimpanzees through research and advocacy. Jensvold is on the boards of the Animal Welfare Institute, Fauna Foundation and Friends of Washoe. She was a Sigma Xi distinguished lecturer and has numerous publications on chimpanzee communication, behavior and care.
SUE SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH – Primatologist
Sue Savage-Rumbaugh is a psychologist and primatologist, the first and only scientist to conduct language research with bonobos. Savage is most known for her work investigating the linguistic and cognitive abilities of bonobos using lexigrams and computer-based keyboards. Her work with Kanzi, the first ape to learn language in the same manner as children, was detailed in “Language Comprehension in Ape and Child,” published in Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development (1993). It was selected by the "Millennium Project" as one of the top 100 most influential works in cognitive science in the 20th century by the University of Minnesota Center for Cognitive Sciences in 1991.
Originally based at Georgia State University's Language Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia, she worked at the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary in Des Moines, Iowa from 2006 until her departure in November of 2013. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of Bonobo Hope.