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.
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.
I went vegetarian and then vegan three weeks later. This was the single best decision I ever made in life.
Distributed over 100,000 vegan outreach materials at schools, campuses, and youth events. You can find out more info at VeganOutreach.ca/why.
I coordinated the internship program at The Canadian Animal Liberation Movement. More info at CALMAction.org/internship-faq .
Inspired by SHAC, I lead a campaign to shut down a local fur store. More info at CALMAction.org/fur.
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.
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.
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.
My main client base was male youth struggling with poverty and abuse.
I took a year off to focus on activism.
I completed a 4-year honours degree in 2 years, with a focus on social movements.
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.
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.
Fundraised for anti-poverty initiatives and for programs that reduce the impact of sexual violence among youth.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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
Princeton + Philedelphia
Farm Sanctuary + Ithaca
Playa Del Carmen
The Animal Activist Support Line was a 24/7 support service for animal rights activists, struggling with burnout and other stresses associated with the life of an animal rights activist. Burnout is unfortunately the norm in this movement and it severely reduces our ability to create change. The Animal Activist Support Line exists to help the people that help animals.My role: Co-Founder, Tech Admin, Counselor (2015-2016) / learn more
I've helped groups such as Animal Justice Canada, Toronto Pig Save, Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary, Sexual Violence Prevention Network, The Affordable Food Project, Humane Voters, and dozens of others with a bit of everything including web development, video production, strategy, the process of incorporation, hiring, fundraising, PR, and much more.My role: Pro Bono Consultant (2011-2016) / learn more
I write on topics relating to effectively helping animals at EffectiveVegan.com. It holds some of the ideas relating to my experiences experimenting with new tools and approaches. It houses the results of a successful experiment that tested the utility of including a 24/7 support-line on vegan outreach materials.My role: Writer, Designer (2016-present) / learn more
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).