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Hi, I'm Em.

I work on innovative projects that help animals.
My strengths are in strategy, communications, and design.

I take on one major project at a time outside of my work at Mercy For Animals as the Associate Director of Innovation. If you need help on an initiative, email me at Em@non-profit.work

about me

My name is Em Heppler. I wake up excited to help animals every day. After just over a decade of working double time, I finally have the freedom to live and work mostly undetracted. 

I'm a bleeding heart with an analytical mind. Before finding my passion to help animals, I was pursuing computer science. With an eclectic set of skills based in emotional intelligence and scientific thinking, I have a knack for hearding cats (both literal and metaphorical).  

Empathy is likely my defining quality. The understanding it brings has helped me excel as a social worker, designer, and strategist. 

2016 focus

Reduce veg*n recidivism - If we plugged the leak of veg recidivism, we'd start to see exponential growth as a movement.  Right now up-to about 80% of vegetarians/vegans stop being veg.

Motivated by a passion to help animals, I'm using a combination of skills as a marketer, designer, and social worker to build scalable support systems that make it easier to go vegan and stay vegan. The problem of veg*n recidivism is a solveable one and that excites me.


Helping Animals

  • Age 15 - went vegan

    I went vegetarian and then vegan three weeks later. This was the single best decision I ever made in life.

  • Age 17 - Youth Outreach Project

    Distributed over 100,000 vegan outreach materials at schools, campuses, and youth events. You can find out more info at VeganOutreach.ca/why.

  • Age 18 - CALM Internships

    I coordinated the internship program at The Canadian Animal Liberation Movement. More info at CALMAction.org/internship-faq .

  • Age 20 - Shutdown Fur store

    Inspired by SHAC, I lead a campaign to shut down a local fur store. More info at CALMAction.org/fur.

  • Age 21 - Probono work

    After a bout of burnout at 20, I found it difficult to lead projects, so I shifted to supporting animal rights organizations with everything from the process of incorporating as non-profits to web design.

  • Age 23 - Vegan Food Project

    The project's main goal was to reduce the consumption of animals by making plant based foods much more available and affordable for youth. More info here.

  • Age 25 - Built HelpActivists.org 

    I co-founded The Animal Activist Support Line, a free, 24/7, and confidential support service offered by professional counselors for animal rights activists struggling with burnout.

  • Age 26 - Coming up 

    My main focus is on improving veg*n retention rates by building scalable 24/7 support systems at NewVeg.org and ExVegetarian.com. 


  • AGE 15 - Got into Social Work
  • Age 16 - Graduated HighSchool
  • AGE 17 - Year Off

    I took a year off to focus on activism.

  • AGE 19 - Graduated University

    I completed a 4-year honours degree in 2 years, with a focus on social movements.

  • AGE 20 - Burnt out badly

    Through high school and university I took a 200% course-load, while working and doing activism. This level of stress was not sustainable. This was the hardest time in my life.

  • AGE 21 - Became an uncle

    I now have a nephew and two nieces that make me smile more than I knew I was capable of.


    Founded an organization focused on supporting youth survivors of sexual violence. More info here.

  • AGE 24 - Fundraised 1.5mil

    Fundraised for anti-poverty initiatives and for programs that reduce the impact of sexual violence among youth.

  • AGE 26 - Life Continues

    Life is fairly awesome. The stress of school is a distant memory,  I've long since reached a healthy work-life balance, and my work provides me with freedom to help animals most of the time.

  • AGE 27 - Mercy For Animals

    Joined the amazing team at Mercy For Animals and then transitioned into the role of Associate Director of Innovation.


Strategy games
Herding cats 
Vegan outreach

my skillset

I'm a polymath by necessity. My forte is in strategy and design, but in order to get work done in non-profits where funding limits hiring a team of professionals, I have had to develop skills as a designer, writer, presenter, fundraiser, rabble-rouser, paralegal, researcher, network technician, recruiter, construction worker,  executive director, manager, board member, video producer, web developer, bookkeeper, chef, counselor, and organizer.

"Can I help accomplish X?" - probably. I put myself fully into my work and will only take on projects that I am certain can be completed well. If I don't have the skills to help you, it's likely I can help you find someone who does.  


  • strategy + coordination

    Good strategy comes from understanding. Whether you're trying to dismantle a business built on cruelty or bit by bit replace the existing global food network with a vegan one, systems thinking provides a framework to effectively plan where to focus efforts and what tactics to use.

  • pr + communications

    PR and effective communication is one of the most important tools for a social movement.  It is not enough to care deeply, we need to communicate in a way that inspires action.

  • design

    Design is persuasion. The words and images we use are the difference between encouraging action or apathy, whether for an individual, an institution, or the general public.

my approach

Helping as many animals as I can is what drives me. This doesn't just mean getting the world to go vegan, but getting the world to go and stay vegan as fast as possible. 

My strategies are informed by an understanding of other social movements and I stay versed in behavioural economics, social psychology, and other fields that are particularly applicable to our work in the animal rights movement. 

I do one thing well at a time. I always build projects in a way that they can self-perpetuate and scale. I would always choose to build a real castle, over 10,000 sand castles. Challenges excite me. 

my days

  • Favourite Stoop

  • Ometepe

  • My boy

  • Adventures in Central America

  • e


  • Finger Lakes

work & life

Patterns keep me productive and happy. I usually work from 7am until 8pm, every 2-3 hours taking a break to excercise and eat. My mornings go to creative tasks that are cognitively demanding to do well, such as design. My evenings go to simpler tasks like responding to emails, web maintenance, and preparing for my next day. At night I learn, play, and socialize. At the end of it all, I dream.

Work-life harmony is important to me. I take breaks often to rest and adventure.  

Recently Read Non-Fiction

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

The Art of Learning

Drive: What Motivates Us

The Obstacle is the Way

Recent Travel

Princeton + Philedelphia

Farm Sanctuary + Ithaca


Playa Del Carmen



Upcoming Travel




Washington, DC

Intellectual Pursuits

User Experience
Game Theory
Systems Design

Adventure & Play

Virtual Reality
Rock Climbing
Augmented Reality



If you share a passion to help animals/people and want to connect, I'd love to hear from you. My response time is usually 1‑2 days. 

If you need help quickly , please preface the subject line with "URGENT" (e.g. you need a website and/or press release within 24 hours).