Naijha Wright-Brown is The Baltimore Sun's 25 Black Marylanders to watch in 2023 and a 2021 Baltimore Business Journal Enterprising Women of Excellence Honoree. A native New Yorker, raised in the South Bronx, Naijha is a people person and loves to make connections. Naijha was introduced to gardening, farming, environmentalism, sustainability, and the basics of eating healthy while spending summers in Massachusetts as a teenager. Naijha has an MBA in Business from the University of Phoenix and is a successful serial entrepreneur. The thought of owning a restaurant never crossed her mind until she relocated to Baltimore in 2005 and met her fellow Verizon Wireless co-worker, now husband, Gregory Brown.
Naijha is the Marketing Director for The Land of Kush, VeganSoul Bistro, and co-creator of Vegan Soulfest and Maryland Vegan Restaurant Month. She is the Executive Director of the Black Veg Society, a non-profit organization whose mission is mission is to educate predominantly Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, on the benefits of holistic living, the plant-based diet, and veganism. Naijha, also, has a digital talk show, Naijha Speaks, that helps people on a mission to find their vegan soul!
Shannon Blair & VeganEvan
Shannon’s journey toward animal liberation really got going Thanksgiving Day, 1996, when she was just 9 years old. Her super cool, older cousin came home from college for the holiday and dared her not to eat ‘meat’ for the whole day! It was a lot easier than she expected. Then, that night, her cousin showed her a movie of what happens to animals on their way to our plates. After that, she never ate another animal again and immediately became an activist, stickering packages and holding demos outside of supermarkets. After about 2 decades of eating a vegetarian diet, after becoming aware of the atrocities in the dairy and egg industries and watching Cowspiracy she transitioned to a Vegan Lifestyle. Her son, Evan, also decided to go vegan at that time (even though she tried talking him out of it). Shannon quit her job in 2017 to advocate, educate, and activate full-time. Shannon and Evan travel all over doing outreach & actions for the animals. Shannon is the Activism Director for Animal Hero Kids and also serves on their Board. She is also a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator.
VeganEvan is a passionate and talented young animal advocate committed to creating a healthy, compassionate, and regenerative world. He is the President of Animal Hero Kids and a spokesperson for the Solutionary Species and the Million Dollar Vegan. VeganEvan has spoken to audiences at major events around the country. He has been awarded the Russell Simmons Creative Animal Hero Kids Award, and in 2016, he earned PETA’s Cutest Vegan Kid award. In 2017, he was awarded the Shining World Leadership Award for Compassion from the Supreme Master Ching Hai Association. He enjoys leafleting, protesting, going on marches, Open Rescue, Cooking Demos, disruptions, and making videos and rap songs! Evan also participates in Anonymous for the Voiceless Cubes of Truth and Vigils with the Save Movement. Most of all, he loves visiting all of his rescued friends at the sanctuaries where they are happy, safe, and free from harm.
Thomas Wade Jackson
Thomas Wade Jackson received his Masters from Florida State University's College of Motion Picture Arts, where his thesis film, Slow Dancin’ Down the Aisles of the QuickCheck, won both the Student Academy Award and the Student Emmy Award, as well as 20 other awards and honors. He is the founder of The Compassion Project Inc, a not-for-profit multi-media production company, and the director of the award-winning, feature-length documentary, A Prayer for Compassion. Thomas is a vegan and animal rights activist and lives in the woods of North Florida with his daughter and their cat friend Obi Wan.
Imari & Royce Ashcroft
Our Main Stage is being emceed by Imari and Royce Ashcroft! They are known as Central Florida’s Vegan Power Couple. Imari is a professional runway model, actress and emcee who has been vegan since April 2017. Royce is a talk show host, stand-up comedian and emcee who has been vegan since January 2016. The two have combined their talents to create Noor XVII, the vegan entertainment network.