Photo by Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times Cover of Metro Section May 1, 2008,
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead
Jenny's path to a career as a champion for farmed animals is a not what one would normally expect. She was raised in a conservative Southern Baptist family in Louisville, Kentucky where, like most people, she never thought about the animals on her plate. Nor did she make the connection in a truly conscious way that the meat, milk, cheese or eggs actually comes from animals.
The roots of Jenny's activism go back to 1980, when she was diagnosed with bone cancer and suffered a leg amputation at age ten. Her trauma and the resilience required to cope with her illness led her to become highly empathetic with other helpless beings, beginning with a scrappy litter runt. This feline’s personality and emotional capacity planted a seed for Jenny, but it took eight years and a leaflet about factory farming to help her make the connection between her beloved cat and all the animals exploited and abused for fur, experimentation, entertainment and the meat on her plate. At age 18, she became vegetarian and began advocating for animals.
Over the next decade, Jenny built a career in film and television production, while also volunteering her time and talents, including undercover video, for various animal advocacy organizations. But it was an assignment in 2003 to film downed animals (animals too sick or injured to stand or walk), that her life was forever changed. During that week in Texas spent traveling from stockyard to stockyard, Jenny witnessed sights that still haunt her to this day.
With this inspiration, the very next year she left her flourishing career as a film and television producer to start a sanctuary for animals from the food production industry. In May of 2004 she and her husband Doug Abel found a house on 23 acres in the famous town of Woodstock, NY, and started building barns.
Over the next decade the pair oversaw Woodstock Farm Sanctuary blossom into one of the most recognized and respected farmed animal sanctuaries in the country.
In 2015 the sanctuary moved to a new, much larger location closer to New York City. It is home to over 350 victims of the food production industry, who've all been given a second chance at life.
Jenny and the Sanctuary have received a great deal of attention over the years because of her first-hand experience with prosthetics. Several animals under her care have been fit with limbs or use devices that aid their disabilities.
Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, HLN’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show, CNN and more (see Media).
Jenny’s memoir-with-a-mission, The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight For Farm Animals, was released in 2012 to great acclaim.
“Jenny Brown’s passion for helping farm animals flows off of every page. The Lucky Ones is an affecting read, a cri de coeur for animals, a tale of personal triumph over adversity, a chronicle of institution-building, a love story, and a narrative of inspiration all at once.”
— Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States
"If you care about animals, and if you believe that actions speak louder than words, The Lucky Ones is written for you. It will open your heart and inspire you to greater alignment between your compassion and your life. Jenny Brown's book is beautiful and a blessing."
— John Robbins, bestselling author of Diet for a New America