Tom and Nancy Regan

“Neither Tom nor Nancy stinted in their commitment to living the hard truths of animal rights as a philosophy and a praxis. But at the same time, they welcomed generations of cross-genre activists, scholars, practitioners, writers, and artists to engage with them through the Compassionate Living Festivals, the grants of the Culture & Animals Foundation, and through their presence—open, accessible, earthy—at innumerable conferences and protests over the years.”—Mia MacDonald, CAF Board member

For more than three decades, animal rights philosopher Tom Regan (1938–2017) and his wife Nancy (1938–2021) stewarded the Culture & Animals Foundation, hosting the International Compassionate Living Festival, in Raleigh, and providing annual grants to scholars and artists.

A leading animal advocate and social justice activist, Tom taught philosophy at North Carolina State University (NCSU) for 34 years, and published hundreds of professional papers and more than twenty books, including the pioneering The Case for Animal Rights (1983). As well as receiving numerous awards for excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching, Tom was named University Alumni Distinguished Professor; won major international awards for film writing and direction; and presented hundreds of lectures throughout the United States and abroad. In 2000, he received the William Quarles Holliday Medal, the highest honor NC State University can bestow on one of its faculty. In 2000, NCSU established the Tom Regan Animal Rights Archive, which consists of notes, letters, manuscripts and typescripts, books and pamphlets, and audiovisual materials documenting Tom’s work, as well as other material relating to the history of the animal advocacy movement. Tom’s autobiography, Bird in a Cage, is part of a special edition of The Animals’ Voice magazine, edited by Laura Moretti, which forms a section of the comprehensive website dedicated to Tom’s life and work. Here, you can learn about Tom’s books, watch videos of his speeches and interviews, and read articles by him. We thank Laura for her commitment to documenting the life and work of one of the most important voices for animals in the last half century.

Nancy Regan graduated from Thiel College with a major in English and gained certification in teaching children with special needs from the University of Pittsburgh. It was because of her interest in the arts that CAF supports artists of all kinds in their promotion of animal rights. Nancy heard about Los Angeles–based performance artist Rachel Rosenthal (1926–2015), who brought animals on stage to open people’s hearts and minds to the “others” with whom they share the Earth. Nancy was struck by the celebratory nature of the event—animal advocacy that used art and culture to raise awareness. Nancy’s vision, complemented by her husband Tom’s academic leadership as a philosopher, helped CAF take shape.

A year before Tom’s death in 2017, friends and supporters of Tom and Nancy recorded their thoughts on video, as a commemoration of their half-century-long commitment to animal rights and to commemorate thirty years of CAF’s existence. You can watch all five videos here.

“Tom and Nancy played a major role in shaping animal rights discourse and advancing our shared cause, and their work will inform and inspire us for generations to come.”—Gene Baur, co-founder Farm Sanctuary