Our Mission and Core Values

The Animal Rights Coalition works to end the suffering, abuse, and exploitation of non-human animals through information, education, and advocacy. We believe that animals matter for their own reasons and that they should not be used by human beings for profit, pleasure, amusement, or simply because it is our habit to do so.

We seek to abolish the use and exploitation of animals for human interests, rather than simply reforming or improving the conditions under which animals are used and exploited. We believe that animals are morally entitled to pursue their lives free of human violence according to the needs of their species and should be free from coerced physical and psychological suffering.

Our Work

The Animal Rights Coalition is the oldest and most successful animal rights organization in Minnesota, with over three decades of helping animals. ARC's membership has grown significantly over the years and it is a locally and nationally recognized voice for animal rights.

We focus on spreading the word about compassionate living and believe that positive change comes about from connection, communication, and education. From helping people transition to a plant-based diet to publicizing the abuse of animals in laboratories to educating the public about the exploitation of animals used in entertainment, ARC’s unique and innovative education and outreach programs reach thousands of people every year.

ARC has remained a grass-roots group because we believe that real and lasting change for animals will happen at the grass-roots level; that is, it's going to take a critical mass of people at the local level to reach a tipping point in our culture's treatment of animals, not policies created and enforced by people higher up in traditional power structures. We believe our members and volunteers are the animals' real heroes and the people who will move our society toward justice for all species.

Our Programs to Help Animals

We focus on spreading the word about compassionate living.

Our unique and innovative education and outreach programs to help animals include:

Board of Directors and Staff

Brenda Burchfield

Brenda is the ARC Treasurer. She became aware of ARC through attending Petland demonstrations. Brenda grew up in a southern Minnesota community with a slaughterhouse and was always deeply disturbed by the practices going on there, but never knew how to take action against it. This is what led her to ARC and transitioning into a vegan lifestyle. Brenda is committed to educating others about animal rights and abolitionism, and about how a vegan diet can impact health and help to manage illnesses such as diabetes. Being a diabetic herself, Brenda can often be spotted speaking to others about a plant-based diet and animal rights issues. Brenda and her husband, Gary are caregivers to their much beloved rescued cat, Kringle.

Angie Chesney-Mattison

Angie became vegan at age 30 after realizing that she was not living according to her own values of compassion for all animals; human and non-human alike. She is a licensed Attorney who fosters dogs through a local animal rescue and has experience volunteering in various non-profit organizations. Angie has a natural resources and environmental background and views veganism as a way to live compassionately towards all animals and reduce negative impacts on the planet we all share.

Charlotte Cozzetto

Charlotte is the ARC Executive Board President. Highlights of her time with ARC include working on the campaign that led to the abolition of the University of Minnesota’s live dog lab for first year medical students, ARC’s successful lawsuit against the University of Minnesota for previously denied access to research records, ARC’s successful campaign to persuade the Animal Humane Society to discontinue use of the gas chamber for euthanasia, and working on the campaign that led to a ban on mandatory pound seizure in Minnesota. Charlotte is also a member of the Chicken Run Rescue Advisory Board.

Justin Erickson

Justin started volunteering with ARC by securing donations from companies, writing speeches and publications, and engaging in vegan outreach. He has been an animal advocate since becoming vegan as a teenager and was drawn to ARC by our abolitionist vegan philosophy. He has a degree in Chemical Engineering and has worked in the natural resources, aerospace, and electronics industries. He has fostered many rescued animals and brings his adopted rescued dog to as many events as possible.

Rose Hobot

After being a vegetarian for more than 10 years, Rose says her life completely changed after seeing the movie Earthlings. “I was profoundly struck by the connection of animal-earth-and-human oppression. The work at ARC reflects the values and ethics that I aspire to as a compassionate vegan and I am proud to be part of that.” Rose is an RN, certified in plant based nutrition, and a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. She currently resides in an inter-species house with 6 rescued felines and one adopted canine.

Melissa Maaske

Melissa is passionate about animal advocacy and promoting an abolitionist message. Her past volunteer experiences include working with a no-kill dog rescue, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, and providing assistance to people experiencing homelessness. Melissa was born and raised in Minnesota, and appreciates ARC’s local, grassroots approach. Melissa is a Vegan Mentor in the ARC Vegan University program, leads grocery shopping tours and dine-outs, and enjoys educating others about adopting a vegan life. She is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota and currently works at a local non-profit as a Licensed Social Worker. In her spare time, she enjoys kayaking and spending time with her animal companions.

Kim Socha

Kim is the ARC Executive Board Vice President. An East Coast native who moved to Minnesota in 2009, she was immediately drawn to ARC’s philosophy that enduring change for animals comes through education, outreach, and a total liberation perspective. Kim holds a Ph.D. in English and is the author of Women, Destruction, and the Avant-Garde: A Paradigm for Animal Liberation, contributing editor to Confronting Animal Exploitation: Grassroots Essays on Liberation and Veganism and Defining Critical Animal Studies: An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation, and she is currently working on a book connecting animal liberation to secular thought. Kim also volunteers in the area of drug policy reform and spends her leisure time with her companions Patrick and Siouxsie.

In Memoriam – Vonnie Thomasberg

Vonnie was named President Emerita of ARC in 2005 and was a founder and past president of ARC. For over 30 years, Vonnie defended the rights of non-human animals and advised, counseled, and provided effective leadership and inspiration to others in the ongoing effort to liberate all animals.