Board Members

Renee King-Sonnen – Founder

Renee was born and raised in Houston, Texas and is the founder of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary. Renee was a dyed-in-the-vegan wool city girl before moving with her husband, Tommy, to their Angleton, TX Ranch in 2009. She fell in love with all the farm animals on the ranch. She had no idea that her life was about to be forever changed as a result of her husband’s ranching business.

After witnessing time and time again the ranch’s baby calves going to the sale barn, she became more and more depressed about the inherent cruelty of the ranching business. By October 2014, she had decided she no longer wanted any part of ranching. She went vegan and began her pursuit of a dream to open a farm animal sanctuary. She forged relationships with many key leaders in the vegan movement who offered insight and counsel, and with tremendous determination worked toward creating a sanctuary out of what was once a beef cattle ranch.
As a result of her transformation numerous media stories have been published, and have gone viral. Their story has been seen all over America numerous times on CBS, ABC, RFD,  and Animal Planet. Rancher families reach out to Renee on a regular basis because her story has landed in their living room via the news, a TV story or a documentary. Ranchers and their families relate to Renee, and it wasn’t long before she realized that she was also a Ranchers Advocate–and the Rancher Advocacy Program was born. In July of 2018 RAP was launched and is on a fast pace to help animal farmers transition to sustainable business models that are good for the planet, the animals and the farmer.
Renee’s prior background includes a career as a professional singer, songwriter, and recording artist. In her life before Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, Renee traveled extensively with her band, Renee King & Wildcard, and her album, Renee King Queen of Honky Tonk. In addition to her work in the music business, which also included producing and being a publicist, Renee was a Top Producing Realtor for five years running in Pearland, Texas.  She founded and owned a wellness spa, where she was a certified Hatha and Kundalini yoga instructor and Ayurveda practitioner.
Renee’s passion is her greatest asset. She believes her true calling has finally found her in her work at Rowdy Girl Sanctuary. Her desire to be a mother has been fulfilled in the care of the farm animals at RGS.  And now she is a catalyst for change in a sometimes dark and cruel world to educate others about the vital importance of adopting a vegan lifestyle. Renee finds her greatest strength in the still, small voice inside her that she has come to know through her practice of yoga and meditation. And she gives much credit to a guy named Bill.

Tommy Sonnen

Tommy Sonnen is co-founder of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary and is a multi-generational Texas cattle rancher who retired from Dow Chemical in 2014. After over 30 years on the job, Tommy was ready to get back to his roots and revive the ranching legacy of his great-grandfather.  When his wife Renee went vegan and bought the herd, his life changed forever.  Six months later, Tommy went vegan and became co-founder of the now world-renowned Rowdy Girl Sanctuary (RGS). 

Tommy also serves as a lead advisor for the Rancher Advocacy Program (RAP). He works directly with ranchers and animal farmers in transition as well as working closely with the RAP Research and Development team on topics focusing on herd longevity and high quality pastures for the care and nutrition for large bovine populations, and more.  Tommy is currently creating a veganic farm at Rowdy Girl Sanctuary as part of RGS’ long-term viable business model.  Tommy loves to hunt… but now he hunts for historical relics and arrowheads. Tommy is a long time, avid and accomplished metal detector and enjoys walking the land with the herd looking for amazing finds.


Kip Andersen

Kip AndersenKip Andersen’s environmental awakening came as a result of An Inconvenient Truth. After seeing the film, he began to recycle religiously, turn off lights constantly, shower infrequently, and ride a bike instead of driving. Andersen believed he was doing everything he could to help the planet by following the guidelines of national and international environmental organizations, but his life took a different direction when he found out animal agriculture is the leading cause of environmental destruction. He is the founder of Animals United Movement, a pending 501(c)3 focused on creating films and media promoting sustainability, compassion, and peace for all of Earth’s inhabitants. Also a serial entrepreneur, he has built more than a dozen businesses. He is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo school of business and has called San Francisco home for more than a decade.

Learn about his movie, Cowspiracy.

Jane Velez-Mitchell

Jane Velez-Mitchell is the founder and content editor of JaneUnChained, a multi-platform social media news outlet that produces original video content on animal welfare and the compassionate lifestyle.

She has won four Genesis Awards from the Humane Society of the United States for her reporting on animal issues. VegNews named Velez-Mitchell Media Maven of the Year in 2010. In 2013 Mercy for Animals awarded her their Compassionate Leadership Award. In 2014, she was honored for fighting animal abuse by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. In 2015, she received the Nanci Alexander Award at PETA’s 35th anniversary celebration where Paul McCartney performed.

For six years she hosted her own show on HLN/CNN Headline News, where she ran a weekly segment on animal issues that consistently broke news. Previously, Velez-Mitchell reported for the nationally syndicated Warner Brothers/Telepictures show Celebrity Justice, where she did numerous stories on animal issues championed by celebrities. Previously, Velez-Mitchell was a news anchor/reporter at KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and WCBS-TV in New York. She is the winner of both a Los Angeles Emmy and a New York Emmy for her reporting. Velez-Mitchell is a graduate of New York University and began her career with reporting stints in Ft Myers, Florida, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.

Velez-Mitchell is the author of four books. Her 2014 non-fiction New York Times bestseller, Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias offers a detailed psychological analysis of a salacious trial that gripped the American public. Her other New York Times bestseller is her memoir, iWant: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life. Secrets Can Be Murder delves into the secrecy and deceit embedded in tragic scenarios. Addict Nation: An Intervention for America with co-author Sandra Mohr focuses on our culture’s addictive nature and our obsession with overconsumption.

Velez-Mitchell directed and produced the documentary Anita Velez: Dancing Through Life which won a Gracie award in 2001.

Velez-Mitchell hosts #LunchBreakLIVE, a daily FacebookLIVE cooking show that features animal lovers, chefs and a variety of celebrities. #LunchBreakLIVE has been featured on TMZ Live and A&E’s FYI Network.

Paul Magee Berry

Paul is a board member of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. Paul has also been an advocate and full-time professional in the animal protection movement for the past 25 years. He served as the first CEO of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary during 2001-2009 and has served as executive coach and strategic consultant for some of the top national organizations in the animal protection industry.

Paul was the creator and executive producer of “Save the Animals, Save the Earth” campaign, Asheville VeganFest and the “City of Asheville Vegan Challenge”, the first-ever “city-proclaimed” vegan challenge in the US.
In his role as Chair of Rowdy Girl’s, Rancher Advocacy Program, R&D Committee, Paul is coordinating with subject-matter experts from diverse disciplines to develop business and financial models for transition from animal farming to the three core RAP Tracks: Solar Farming, Wind Farming, and scale Veganic Farming.  
The primary deliverables of RAP’s R&D Committee are: (1) Development of a General Assessment Methodology (model) for ranchers interested in exploring transition from animal farming; (2) Development of “Transition Kits” that provide financial costing and ROI estimates for transitioning to the three core RAP Tracks; and (3) a RAP Consultancy of subject matter experts available to support Ranchers through all stages of transition.  

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