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-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.
Renee’s background includes a star-studded 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, and whatever she invests her time and heart into has manifested brilliantly in the world. But 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

I was born and raised in South Texas.  I worked in the chemical industry almost 40 years before retiring recently.  I love to search for history with my metal detector.  I love the outdoors and I was formerly a rancher.

Tommy and Dog  Tommy and horse

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.

Drew Alexis

Drew Alexis 2Drew met Renee and Tommy in January 2015 at their home while on a trip to Texas. At the time, Drew was the General Counsel and Chief People Officer of Farm Sanctuary, Inc. Immediately seeing that Renee and Tommy were the “real deal” and were working on an important project to bring a compassionate vegan presence to meat-centric Texas, Drew happily volunteered his time to get Rowdy Girl Sanctuary set up as a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation. In April 2016, Drew was invited to join the Board of Directors of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, Inc. and happily accepted the invitation. With a sharp legal mind and a wealth of experience in non-profit law, corporate law, employment law and animal law, Drew brings a valuable skill set to Rowdy Girl. Drew has also taught Animal Law at UC Irvine School of Law and Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California.

When not helping Rowdy Girl on all things legal, Drew operates his own law firm in Long Beach, California representing employers and employees in employment disputes and providing general advice and counsel to non-profit organizations, and enjoys spending time with his husband and cats and playing the mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer.

Mick Davoudian

Mick Davoudian has been an avid animal lover since childhood and has never turned away from an animal in need. Mick has always been an advocate and activist for the rights of humans and non-humans alike. He lives and works in Silicon Valley and for the past 25 years has spearheaded large scale fundraising campaigns, and successfully engaged the philanthropic arms of many hi-tech companies. He has been active in numerous non-profits and boards and has served as President of an arts organization based in San Jose, California.

“It takes heart, vision and courage to speak up for animals in a world that largely deems them as property or mere things. To achieve basic rights for all animals and someday full freedom from human tyranny will require changing hearts and minds to overcome societal apathy and learned helplessness. The good news is humans are innately kind and caring, and once exposed to the truth behind factory farms and slaughter houses they refuse to support these industries. Fighting for the rights of all animals is the next frontier of social justice movements, and farm animal sanctuaries are a crucial part of this movement. I’m proud to be among those fighting for justice and honored to be a part of the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary family.”

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