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Episode 535: Aryenish Birdie on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

By Jasmin and Mariann — April 11, 2020

This week Jasmin interviews Aryenish Birdie about her incredible work with Encompass. She tells Jasmin about the work of the DEI Institute (which stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion), and how she and her co-founder managed to switch what was supposed to be the institute’s live conference to a Zoom conference. Aryenish talks with Jasmin about why focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion are vital to the growth of organizations, and how people can foster that growth in their own organizations. She also explains the meaning of the term “global majority.”

Aryenish founded Encompass after witnessing firsthand the urgent need for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive animal protection movement. Prior to Encompass, Aryenish spent seven years at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine promoting alternatives to animal tests. As a federal lobbyist, she was part of a four-woman team instrumental in reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act to ensure that animal protection language was integrated into the law. Because of her work on this effort, she was invited by the White House to watch President Obama sign the bill into law, marking one of the highlights of her career.

In addition to her more than two decades of experience in animal protection, Aryenish has worked in other social justice movements, including those striving for racial equity, queer rights, and reproductive freedom. She has been trained on how to develop the capacity of organizations by the School of Unity and Liberation, Race Forward and the Center for Social Inclusion.

In the intro to the show, Jasmin talks about attending the DEI Institute’s conference via Zoom, Mariann celebrates a birthday while social distancing, we discuss the merits of keeping a diary during a pandemic, and we introduce our Supporting Vegan Businesses program by shouting out Beyond Investing. Later in the episode, Mariann brings us Rising Anxieties!

As always, the award-winning weekly Our Hen House podcast is hosted by Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer.



This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at

Our Hen House is now part of the iROAR podcast network.

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Don’t forget to tune into Our Hen House’s other two podcasts: The Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan Podcast, and The Animal Law Podcast.

The Our Hen House theme song is written and performed by the incredible Michael Harren.

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