This year’s JNF sessions will bring a diverse group of speakers ranging from a variety of fields, including politics, social activism, and bodybuilding. Attendees will experience more of an interactive dialogue with speakers and will not only learn about the evolving opportunities to practice Jainism in today’s modern society, but also be challenged to ponder about issues facing our generation, while making lasting friendships.
JNF Keynote Speaker
J. Ashwin Madia's parents moved to the United States from Mumbai, India. Madia's family settled in Plymouth, Minnesota, where he went to Osseo Senior High School. He attended the University of Minnesota, where he became student body president. He then attended New York University School of Law. Madia provided pro bono representation to battered women, disabled children, and immigrants seeking asylum while in law school.
Madia then joined the U.S. Marine Corps and completed Officer Candidate School and The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. His first duty station was Okinawa, Japan, where he served as a prosecutor, defense counsel, and legal advisor to a Marine Corps commander. Madia was one of the first attorneys to successfully defend a fellow Marine from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Madia announced his candidacy for Congress in his home district in November 2007, which had not elected a Democrat in fifty years. Despite the lack of any existing political or fundraising base, the political newcomer defeated his heavily favored opponent for the Democratic nomination in April 2008. Because of the Madia campaign’s strong organization and fundraising, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee placed Madia’s race on its “Red to Blue” list, reserved for the top campaigns in the country. In the general election in November 2008, Madia fell just short and lost a three way race to the Republican candidate. Madia opened his own law firm in May 2009. He specializes in employment and civil rights litigation.
Vegan Bodybuilder, Motivational Speaker, Author
Robert Cheeke grew up on a farm in Corvallis, OR where he adopted a vegan lifestyle in 1995 at age 15. Today he is a best-selling author of the book Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness - The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet.
As a two-time natural bodybuilding champion Robert has been considered one of VegNews Magazine's Most Influential Vegan Athletes. He tours all over North America regularly giving talks about his story transforming from a skinny farm kid to champion vegan bodybuilder. Currently Robert works full-time for Vega, a line of vegan whole-food products, as a representative of the new pro-vegan film Forks Over Knives and also works full-time running Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness on www.veganbodybuilding.com, which includes writing books, touring and maintaining the popular website.
Robert recently moved to Austin and continues to spread the vegan way of life leading by example as an accomplished vegan athlete. For more information about Robert please visit www.veganbodybuilding.com