Jonathan Dickstein Assistant Professor Arihanta Institute
Jonathan Dickstein is Assistant Professor of Jain Studies at Arihanta Institute. He received a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2022. Jonathan's areas of research include Jain Studies, religion and ecology, comparative ethics, and South Asian religions.
Nirva Patel Executive Director Harvard Law School's Animal Law & Policy Program

Nirva Patel is the Executive Director at the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School and a passionate advocate for animal welfare. She is also a registered patent attorney, biomedical engineer, and executive producer for several plant-based films, including “The Game Changers,” “The End of Medicine,” and “Meat Me Halfway.” As Chair of the Board of Directors, Nirva is dedicated to furthering Farm Sanctuary’s commitment to addressing the full scope of interrelated social injustices rooted in animal agriculture. For close to a decade, Nirva worked in animal advocacy in Mumbai, India. In the U.S., she has individually sparked many advocacy campaigns, including successfully pushing to ban the sale of fur in Weston, Massachusetts, and demanding Jain temples across the U.S. in 2018 remove ghee and dairy from their offerings. She also serves on the International Vegan Film Festival board and is an Advisory Board Member of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA). She has provided strategic fundraising efforts for numerous non- profit capital and development campaigns in Boston. Nirva holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University, a J.D. from The New England School of Law, and an M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University. Her passion for animals was predicated by the Jain philosophy of ahimsa (non-violence), which advocates for a vegan lifestyle. She lives in Boston with her husband, four children, and two rescued rabbits.

Shaleen Shah Founder Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary
Shaleen Shah is an Indian-born entrepreneur and co-founder of  Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary  in Colorado. His lifelong commitment to ahimsa and his passion for animal rights led to the unexpected founding of the sanctuary in 2015 with his wife, Shilpi. Together, they have saved over 850 animal lives and welcomed more than 10,000 visitors every year for humane education programs. Additionally, they have founded The Open Sanctuary Project, which provides hundreds of expertly researched resources for compassionate farmed animal care and sanctuary management, accessed by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide annually.
Mamta Valderrama
Mamta Jain Valderrama is the Senior Vice President of Global Operations of Mercy For Animals and oversees shared services including Technology, Data Analytics, Project Management Office, Logistics, Research and Impact, and Human Resources. With twenty years of leadership experience, her expertise is in turnarounds, sustainable growth, and constructing a compassionate food system. As a practicing Jain throughout her life, Mamta’s core value is ahiṃsā, which means respect for all beings and avoidance of harm toward others. In her youth, Mamta served on the national board of Young Jains of America and is an active member in the Jain community. Mamta serves as treasurer of the board for LEAD for Farmed Animals, an organization that provides professional development training to animal activists. She is also the membership lead for the Phoenix, AZ chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Mamta has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from The George Washington University and a Master’s in Business Administration from University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
Pratik Bhansali
Pratik Bhansali has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He thinks taking a stand against any form of discrimination is something that forms basic decency. This stand should encompass all animals – humans and non-humans, and being a vegan is a mere logical consequence of this stand. He also sees the interconnections between all forms of oppression and their links with animals and their rights.
Tushar Mehta
Dr. Tushar Mehta practices Emergency Medicine in the Toronto area, and participates in international health projects, formerly in rural India, and now with an NGO in Haiti.  He has worked with other NGOs including Sea Shepherd’s Operation Zero Tolerance. Dr. Mehta has given lectures and seminars at JAINA, YJA and local Jain events.  Along with a team, he is co-founder of Towards Ahimsa and has volunteered with Jain/Secular youth camps, promoting ahimsa philosophy in modernity, emphasizing the interconnectedness of humans, animals, and all life.  Along with a small team, Dr. Mehta co-founded Plant Based Data, a free database which organizes academic and institutional literature regarding plant-based diet health, environment, food security, and zoonotic pandemic risk.  He frequently lectures on these topics.
Ruchika Chitrabhanu
Born and raised in a Jain family, Ruchika had a deep interest in the philosophy of Jainism. She pursued her Master’s in Philosophy, majoring in Jainism. Inspired by Gurudev Chitrabhanu and Smt.Pramoda Chitrabhanu, Ruchika has been a vegan for over seventeen years, and she raises awareness about animal compassion and the benefits of following a vegan lifestyle through events and festivals in India. She is a co-founder of Ahimsafest, India's largest vegan festival, The Earthen One, an events platform to help people transition to a vegan lifestyle, and a board member of Jain Vegan Initiative.
Christopher Jain Miller Vice President of Academic Affairs, Professor of Engaged Jainism & Modern Yoga
Christopher Jain Miller is the co-founder, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Professor of Jain and Yoga Studies at Arihanta Institute. He completed his PhD in the study of Religion at the University of California, Davis and is also a Visiting Researcher at the University of Zürich's Asien-Orient-Institut and Visiting Professor at Claremont School of Theology where he co-developed and co-runs a remotely available Masters Degree Program focusing on Engaged Jain Studies. His current research focuses on Engaged Jainism and Modern Yoga, and he is the author of a number of articles and book chapters concerned with Jainism and the practice of modern yoga. Christopher is the author of Embodying Transnational Yoga: Eating, Singing, and Breathing in Transformation (Routledge 2024), as well as co-editor of the volumes Engaged Jainism: Critical and Constructive Approaches to the Study of Jain Social Engagement (SUNY 2025) and Beacons of Dharma: Spiritual Exemplars for the Modern Age (Lexington 2020).
Hope Bohanec
Hope Bohanec has been active in animal protection and environmental activism for over 30 years and has published two books on the subject of veganism, humanewashing, and greenwashing. She is the Executive Director of Compassionate Living, a national non-profit promoting ethical eating, and hosts the Hope for the Animals Podcast. Hope has studied Jain and Hindu Dharma for many years and founded the Ahimsa Living Project to bring to light the deep parallels between dharma religions and veganism.
Cogen Bohanec Assistant Professor at Arihanta Institute
Cogen Bohanec is an Assistant Professor in Sanskrit and Jain Studies at Arihanta Institute where he teaches Sanskrit language, and Jain philosophy and its applications, and Sanskrit and other languages. He is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Claremont School of Theology (CST), and he has taught numerous classes on South Asian Religions and Sanskrit at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley. Dr. Bohanec specializes in comparative dharma traditions, philosophy of religion, and Sanskrit language and literature, and has numerous publications in those areas. He has a PhD in “Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion” with an emphasis in Hindu Studies from GTU, and he also holds an MA in Buddhist Studies from the Institute of Buddhist Studies at GTU.
Nisha Mehta
Nisha Mehta Ivey is a New York City-based screenwriter and TV producer. She recently wrote for the new Netflix series The Fame Game, starring Madhuri Dixit, and has worked for US and international networks, including AMC, HBO, and Apple. Nisha currently serves on the board of the Global Jain Network, a digital forum that connects Jains around the world; and is an advisor for its partner organization, the Jain Vegan Initiative, designed to promote the Jain principle of Ahimsa through veganism. She also serves as vice-chair of JAINA’s Ahimsa Eco-Vegan committee.
Sunny Jain
Sunny Jain is the founder and current chair of the Global Jain Network, a virtual Jain community with a reach of over 13 thousand Jains globally. He is also on the leadership team of The Jain Vegan Initiative and the JAINA Eco-Vegan Committee and previously served on the YJP Executive Board from 2018 to 2019. In his personal life, Sunny enjoys writing, blogging, and philosophy, and attests his spiritual growth and development through the practice of Jainism.
Parveen Jain President and CEO Arihanta Institute
Parveen Jain, PhD, the founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Arihanta Institute and a resident of the Silicon Valley, enjoys life after an exciting corporate career of over thirty years as a founder and chief executive of multiple technology companies, including a senior executive role at McAfee, the cyber security company. Parveen has always cherished philanthropy and has held leadership roles in various non-profit organizations. He has been a long-time trustee of the International Mahavira Jain Mission, where he has been deeply involved with the growth of Siddhachalam, the first Jain tīrtha outside of India, from its founding. He led the team to build Jain Temple in the San Francisco Bay Area, has served as chairman and president of Jain Center of Northern California, and continues to be an active advisor. Previously, he was a founding director of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, served as a trustee of the American Foundation for the Blind and was a founding team member of the South Asian Heart Center. Currently, besides other non-profits, Parveen serves as a founding director of Stanford Center for Asian Health Research and Education (Stanford-CARE). In addition, he enjoys mentoring bright entrepreneurs and serves on the boards of several technology companies. Besides the philanthropic and mentoring activities, Parveen joyously spends time with his grandkids, self-studies, and writing. He is the author of the book An Introduction to Jain Philosophy. Parveen is most passionate about furthering the initiatives inspired by Ācārya Sushil Kumar in the service of Jain tradition: promoting the message of nonviolence, creating Jain educational platforms, and applying Jain principles to everyday life among the growing global Jain community, for current and future generations.
Jina Shah
Dr. Jhankhana (Jina) Shah is the Past Chair of the Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA and a Climate Realities Leader. She is Board Certified in General Preventive Medicine and in Family Medicine, with experience in global public health, drug development, lifestyle medicine, and bioethics. She decided to go vegan more than 30 years ago for ahimsa and, with her professional experience, has come to appreciate and teach the health benefits of a whole foods, plant based diet. She contributes to the blog and authored the Jain contribution to the Interfaith Vegan Coalition kit.
Asha Gala
Asha Gala is the Lifestyle Clinical Director at Ethos Primary Care, a first-of-its-kind medical practice. She is certified by the National Board of Health & Wellness as a Lifestyle Coach and approved by Brown University’s Mindfulness Center as an MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) teacher. Over the past decade, Asha has worked as a lifestyle coach in New Jersey. Today she puts these skills to use by supporting Ethos Primary Care’s patients on the day-in, day-out aspects of their healing journey. From designing and teaching lifestyle classes, to facilitating support groups for patient’s healing from chronic illness, to providing one-on-one lifestyle coaching sessions, Asha is offering not only professional support, but also personal understanding. Asha is excited to ease the path of all who are on their wellness journey; gently and compassionately helping put into practice everything she has learned over her decades of study and experimentation. Her partnership with Dr. Weiss MD in designing yearly regenerative human health and wellness programs and applying them, has helped many in successfully losing over 50 pounds of weight, getting off all medications, and/or reversing chronic illness. Outside her busy work life, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. She incorporates not only a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) diet, but also dance, meditation, music, and hiking, as tools for healthy and harmonious living.