Help Reveal Impact of Diet on COVID-19 Resilience

We invite you to join a revolutionary movement to explore the connection between what we eat and COVID-19 resilience. First of its kind, this study boldly aims to uncover the impacts on physical and mental health as a result of COVID-19. What can we learn from this pandemic to positively impact public health for the future? What role have things like race, gender and ethnicity played in COVID-19 outcomes? These are important questions we seek to answer.

Project GAIA is an all-women led Public Health research initiative of the JIVINITI Research Program at The Virsa Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Team GAIA works to create a more compassionate, cruelty-free, healthier plant-powered world, especially for those amongst us for whom the Global Pandemic has amplified the impact of systemic racism and nutritional insecurity. Our research is dedicated to serve Communities of Color in the United States and elsewhere in the Global South. 

With the support of over 50 partners, Project GAIA launched a public health survey in October 2021. Over the course of 8 weeks, we achieved a sample size 20 times greater than initially anticipated. We are now well positioned to enter the data-analysis phase.

We need your support to expand our analysis and share our findings with the public.

WHY SUPPORT PROJECT GAIA? 

Investing in Accessible, High Impact Plant Powered Public Health Communications  
1. Have you ever wondered why we don't see enough plant-based public health messaging? Over the course of this pandemic it has become increasingly challenging to share reputable, easily understood, messaging with the general public. There are simply not enough funds available to support communication campaigns delivered in an evidence-based, creative storytelling format. Our primary objective is to ensure that research outcomes are made highly accessible to the wider public. Project GAIA anticipates our research insights to inform the shaping of pandemic era public health policy, nutrition guidance, and enhanced public awareness of the benefits of a whole foods plant-based approach to nutrition and veganism as an ethical philosophy. 

Bridging the Gender Equity Gap in Nonprofit Funding 

2. Did you know that only 1.6 percent of philanthropic giving goes towards women-led projects? (The Women & Girls Index, 2020). We are a diverse and intersectional team entirely led by women. With several decades of past & current corporate, clinical, academic and military experience between us, we are aligned towards one common purpose: inclusive and representative public health solutions through plant-based approaches to resolve nutritional insecurity, burden of disease, and pandemic severity. 

Together, we can bring data-driven storytelling to life for the cause of public and planetary health.

We need your support! Especially for Communities of Color in the United States and elsewhere in the Global South - for whom the Global Pandemic has amplified:

1. Systemic Racism 

2. Nutritional Insecurity

3. Climate Refugees 



Thank you for your generosity. 

If you would like to offer us a philanthropic referral or have a larger donation in mind, please reach directly via our website form: https://www.thevirsafoundation.org/contact-virsa?rq=contact 



Nivi Jaswal, MBA, NBC-HWC, MVLC
Project Co-Lead and Strategy, Project GAIA

A connector at heart, Nivi Jaswal, MBA, NBC-HWC, brings experience in marketing, consumer research & strategy in Consumer Packaged Goods, Life Sciences and Media & Research; In assignments across APAC, EU & Mid East & Africa, Nivi has managed complex product innovation, consumer research & advertising communications projects. At her Boston nonprofit The Virsa Foundation, Nivi brings together specialists in Anthropology, Psychology, Animal Rights, Lifestyle Medicine, Filmmaking to design intersectional vegan initiatives addressing public and planetary health. Her early interest in public health was motivated by participant observation research carried out by her anthropologist parents in the northeastern Himalayas. During her undergraduate study in Psychology and her graduate study in Marketing, she focused on consumer behavior in the personal care, foods and beverages sector - ultimately leading a large-scale hygiene intervention study for one of the largest personal care brands in the world. Multiple diagnoses of chronic illness in 2015 turned Nivi's attention to a whole food plant-based approach to nutrition in 2018 and having reversed what she thought were 'family genetics' in less than a year, she is now committed to bringing this awareness to the world especially to communities of color and to persons in the Global South, notably India - where Nivi is originally from. Nivi's special interest is in addressing the impact of media determinants of health and hopefully countering it with equally compelling public health programming, especially to prevent early stage health disparities from taking root.

Erin Sinnaeve, DNP FNP-C
Project Co-Lead and Strategy, Project GAIA

Erin's career in healthcare has spanned more than 25 years and in addition to practicing as a Nurse Practitioner in the clinical setting, she is part time faculty at Chamberlain University. She works to improve patient and community health through practicing evidence-based lifestyle medicine. She is committed to implementing evidence-based programs that advance health equity to ensure that all people have the opportunity to lead long healthy lives. Completed research project topics have focused on postpartum depression assessment and tobacco cessation. Erin has also presented at numerous medical conferences and at academic institutions. Her presentations include clinical topics including asthma, allergies, sports physical assessment, health equity, and antimicrobial stewardship. Erin is also the founder of Thrive Plant Life and secretary of HEAL – Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle Medicine, an interest group at American College of Lifestyle Medicine. 

Priyanka K. Naithani, BA (International Development and Political Science)
Branding and Communications, Project GAIA

A graduate from Clark University with a degree in International Development and Political Science, Priyanka has experience working on both national and grassroots levels to address complex global issues such as climate change, food insecurity, and racial injustice. In the field of data-driven storytelling and communications, she has worked with The World Food Prize, Harvard Medical School, the United States Department of Agriculture, and The Hunger Project. Priyanka is a Betsy J. Peterson Scholarship Awardee, completing a certificate course in Market Research at University of Georgia. Her current role as the Communications Manager at The Virsa Foundation and JIVINITI Research Program works to uplift historically marginalized voices through advocating for plant-forward public policy, intersectional veganism, and public and planetary health. Guided by her multi-cultural roots in India and Ecuador, Priyanka believes in re-indigenizing food and lifestyle choices to connect back to the earth. 

Krista Leoncavallo, BS (Marketing)
Community Outreach & Partner Support, Project GAIA

Krista Leoncavallo is a volunteer partner relations and communications consultant with Project Gaia, a public health research study conducted by The JIVINITI Coalition. She is a Prosci® Certified Change Management practitioner and experienced instructional designer and facilitator. Krista is currently a Senior Manager on the Enterprise Culture & Change Management team for CVS Health, a Fortune 4 health care company. In this role she is responsible for leading and managing culture and change management initiatives that impact up to 300,000 CVS Health colleagues across the continental United States. She has been with CVS Health for 11 years. In 2019, Krista received her Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Krista enjoys yoga, reading and cooking plant-based meals for family and friends. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband of 12 years and two children aged 7 and 10.

Katrina Monti, DMSc, PA-C, DipACLM
Manuscript Development, Project GAIA


Katrina is a volunteer research collaborator with Project GAIA, a public health research study conducted by The JIVINITI Research Program. She has been a physician assistant since 2009 and has conducted multiple research studies as a principal and co-investigator. After observing the frequency of early chronic lifestyle-related diseases in her active-duty Army patient population, she became certified in Lifestyle Medicine in 2019. She led the first Lifestyle Medicine practice on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, for 3 years in her Special Forces unit before retiring from the Army after 23 years of service in 2021. She is an active member of the Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle (HEAL) Medicine Initiative, the DoD/VA member interest group, and the Lifestyle Medicine Provider Network with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. She also volunteers as the Digital Communications and Membership Data Management Lead with the Air Force Lifestyle & Performance Medicine Working Group. Her passions are spreading the message of lifestyle medicine and working to improve health equity for the benefit of all people. Her hobbies include spending time with her husband and two sons (ages 5 and 7 years), reading, listening to plant-based podcasts, kayaking, running, walking, swimming, practicing and teaching yoga and meditation, traveling, and picking out plant-based recipes for her husband to cook.

MORE ABOUT THE VIRSA FOUNDATION: 

The Virsa Foundation, the fiscal sponsor for Project GAIA, and the JIVINITI Research program has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, a big database and resource where grant making organizations may verify legitimacy and other in-depth credibility driving metrics for US nonprofit organisations. Check out our GuideStar profile here.

In the past 8 weeks of USA-wide data collection for Project GAIA, we have received survey dissemination support from over 50 partners and continuing. 

  • Akil Taher 
    • $25 
    • 2 mos
  • Debra Shapiro 
    • $25 
    • 2 mos
  • Peter Goldstein 
    • $25 
    • 3 mos
  • Gagan Babbar 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Niki Shroff 
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
See all

Organizer

JIVINITI Research Program 
Organizer
Lincoln, MA