Jill Ryther – Chief Executive Officer/Founder
Jill Ryther is the Founder and CEO of Expand Animal Rights Now (EARN) and an attorney specializing in Animal Rights Law, Activist Defense, LGBT Family Law and Civil Litigation.
Jill grew up in Michigan and graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree with a dual specialization in Political Science and English, along with a minor in Political Philosophy. While attending the University of Michigan Jill was a member of many campus organizations and was the recipient of several distinguished scholarship and achievement awards. After graduating, Jill worked at a prestigious family law firm, Oyler and Woldman, in Santa Monica, California.
Jill subsequently attended UCLA School of Law, where she was President of the Mock Trial Association and won several awards in multiple competitions. Jill also served as the Communications Director for the Animal Law Society, and was featured in several newspapers and radio shows as the campus administrator for the Yes on Prop 2 Campaign. While in law school Jill worked as a law clerk for the Los Angeles District Attorney in the Hardcore Gang Division for three years, conducting preliminary hearings in the courtroom and assisting in several murder trials against various Los Angeles gang members.
At UCLA, Jill took a class, “Animals and the Law” that changed her life. It was then that Jill realized she could combine her legal education with her love of animals to make a career out of ending the animal exploitation by being an activist attorney. Jill regularly speaks at conferences, law schools, and other events about her experience with animals and the law.
During her career she has successfully defended well known animal rights activists, worked with animal rights educator, Ric O’Barry in Taiji, Japan to bring awareness to the dolphin slaughter (documented in The Cove), and has worked with the Beagle Freedom Project on several rescues including the rescue of 41 Beagles from a laboratory in Spain. Jill has saved many dogs from dangerous dog hearings. She has successfully represented human companions of dogs that were injured by police officers. And she campaigned in West Hollywood to outlaw the sale of fur within the city limits.
Jill is a proud to be a long time vegan and eager to continue standing up for animals through her work and volunteer efforts.
Amanda Fortino – Director
Grayling, Michigan native Amanda Fortino grew up as an animal lover in a family of hunters. Some of her earliest memories include feeling sad upon seeing her uncle’s huge collection of deer antlers, and crying at a zoo because she instinctively knew the animals were suffering in captivity. After years of witnessing animal abuse and animal suffering firsthand, Amanda became a vegetarian at an early age and started on a course that would turn her compassion into action.
In 2004 Amanda graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Political Science. Shortly after she moved to California and her life changed forever when she picked up a copy of the best-selling vegan diet book Skinny Bitch. Its graphic testimonials by slaughterhouse workers struck a chord with her, and by the time she finished the book, Amanda had gone vegan. She then became active in the campaign to support Proposition 2, a state ballot initiative to ban the confinement of calves, laying hens, and pregnant pigs to cramped cages or crates. Buoyed by the success of the measure, Amanda applied for a position at PETA and became one of the group’s most prominent organizers.
Amanda has done almost everything imaginable for animals, from dressing up as a cow in Washington, D.C., to handing out soy hot chocolate during President Obama’s inauguration, to showering nearly naked on major city sidewalks to bring awareness to the massive amount of water that is wasted on factory farms and in slaughterhouses. She has also been interviewed by TV, radio, and newspaper outlets throughout North America.
Amanda now currently enjoys working as a Major Gift Officer at Farm Sanctuary. But her compassion isn’t confined to the workplace. Amanda inspired her sister Anna to become a vegan and after showing friends and family members the documentary “Earthlings,” many of them not only embraced a plant-based diet, but also became animal rights activists. In her free time Amanda very much enjoys rescuing animals. Recent success stories include an injured rabbit who was stranded in the middle of Texas freeway and a dog who was just seconds away from being hit by a barreling snowplow.
Michelle V. Paul - Attorney
Michelle V. Paul is an attorney specializing in civil litigation and animal rights law. Michelle grew up in the Washington, DC area and graduated with honors from George Mason University, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Writing. She earned a Master's degree in Educational Psychology, with distinction, from the University of Virginia, and her law degree from American University – Washington College of Law. While in law school, Michelle founded the student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and completed her legal internship at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Michelle also spearheaded the successful campaign to add an Animal Law course to her law school's curriculum.
After graduating from law school, Michelle worked in the organized crime division for the county prosecutor's office before starting her own civil litigation practice. She later joined two Northern Virginia civil litigation firms, where she specialized in the fields of family law, corporate law, property law, and trust and estate law. Throughout her legal career, Michelle has provided pro bono legal representation to Compassion Over Killing, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, and the Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center. She has also served on several legal committees, including the Fairfax Bar Association, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, and the Virginia Women Attorneys Association.
Michelle adopted a vegan lifestyle after having researched factory farming for a college paper and being deeply troubled by the abhorrent treatment of farmed animals. Michelle has since devoted her life to advocating for animal compassion and continues to do so through her work with EARN.
Contact EARN at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 403-6694.