*all presenters are subject to change.
LaForce BakerFounder & Executive chef at Moon Meals. Inc
LaForce Baker is the founder & executive chef at Moon Meals. Inc., which makes tasty refrigerated plant-based meals and ingredients (vegan meats, cheeses and sauces). Moon Meals’ products have been featured in the “grab & go” delis of major Chicago-area retailers such as Albertson’s, Jewel and Whole Foods Market. He manages day-to-day operations, new product development, sales, marketing and strategic partnerships. Prior to founding the company in 2012, he helped bring to market new concepts in national grocery chains for large food companies such as Kraft Heinz, Conagra and Nestle. He does this because he is truly passionate about making healthier meals more accessible to people, since he overcame obesity and poverty on the South Side of Chicago by taking control of his own diet. LaForce has spoken on entrepreneurship, marketing strategy and effective networking at various top business and culinary schools. He likes to spend his free time running marathons, networking and mentoring youth from disadvantaged communities.
Rachel BerryFounder and CEO, Illinois Hemp Growers Association
Rachel Berry is founder & CEO of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association, an organization committed to building hemp processing infrastructure and the relationships with farmers necessary to grow the hemp industry. Rachel is an advocate for local food, sustainable agriculture, and women’s voices in the hemp industry. Rachel lives and works on a 13-acre family farm where she raises heirloom vegetables, studies native plants, and tends to her poultry flock. Hemp, a major cash crop in the early days of the United States, was constricted for decades by federal and state laws that banned production of cannabis of all kinds. After years of arguing that hemp did not contain the psychoactive compounds that make marijuana users high, hemp advocates won signal legislative victories in Illinois and in the federal government, which lifted the hemp-growing ban in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Doug BradleyVice President for Culinary/Interim General Manager, SAVOR… Chicago
Doug Bradley brought a long career in developing and operating sustainability programs to his current role at vice president for SAVOR… Chicago. Working now at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center, for SAVOR, Doug has continued to drive a sustainable approach into the foodservice operations there, emphasizing biodiversity in their rooftop garden, increasing waste diversion across the foodservice operation, and maximizing integration into local communities. He spent more than 18 years developing operationally effective sustainability programs for large foodservice venues in the United States, China and the United Kingdom. Doug started with the creation of the Planet Evergreen Sustainable Cuisine program for ARAMARK Sports and Entertainment Executive Chefs in 2005; and served as the Culinary Expert and directed the Sustainability Program for Athlete’s Dining for the London 2012 Summer Games in London, which was awarded the RP Global Sustainability Award for zero waste to landfill. Taking his accumulated expertise in Sustainability back to the US, Bradley served as the Director of Culinary and Sustainability for ARAMARK at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic.
Brandon K. BarnholtPresident & Chief Executive Officer - KeHE Distributors
Brandon has served as president and CEO of KeHE Distributors since March 2007. The company has grown under his leadership from a Midwest specialty food distributor to one of the leading natural and organic, specialty, and fresh food distributors in North America. KeHE distributes nearly 75,000 items and serves more than 30,000 stores across almost every channel of retail from 17 distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada.
Brandon serves on many boards in the Food and Distribution industry and as an advisor or board member to many start-ups and early-stage companies. Brandon is deeply committed to the Organic and Good Food movement, and KeHE has become a B Corporation, a certification that legally requires companies to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.Brandon and his wife have six grandchildren, two of whom are adopted, and serve many organizations in the U.S. and around the globe that provide a hand up for those less fortunate.
DD Danforth BurlinCo-Founder, Sustainable Local Food Investment Group
DD Danforth Burlin is one of the co-founders of the Sustainable Local Food Investment Group (SLoFIG), a mission-based, angel investor group in Chicago that, since its founding in 2010, has been engaged with the Good Food EXPO. SLoFIG has been investing all along the spectrum of food business, from production to processing to distribution to consumer packaged goods and grocery. SLoFIG is an exhibitor in the EXPO’s Good Food Marketplace, sharing space with two of the most prominent companies in its portfolio: Phyter, which makes fresh, refrigerated snack and energy bars, and Rumi Spice, which imports saffron from war-torn Afghanistan. DD is a lawyer by profession, but showed her strong interest in food by studying culinary arts at Insitut Paul Bocuse.
Laura CalvertExecutive Director, Advocates for Urban Agriculture
Laura Calvert joined Chicago-based Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) as Executive Director in the summer of 2017. She brings more than 10 years experience in the sustainable agriculture field, having farmed on various operations throughout the country, with most of her work focused on urban agriculture. Immediately prior to taking the lead at AUA, Laura spent eight growing seasons with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest program. There, she trained hundreds of youth and adult program participants in agricultural practices and managed the program’s business operations. Laura is also a founding board member of the Illinois Farmers Market Association and appointed member of the Illinois Farmers Market Task Force. She graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management; holds a certificate in food hub management from the University of Vermont; and dreams of running her own garlic farm one day.
Irv CernauskasIrv Cernauskas, Co-Founder, Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks and Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance
Irv Cernauskas founded Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks in 2006 with his wife Shelly Herman to provide new market opportunities for farmers and to help stimulate the re-growth of Chicago’s local food system. Fresh Picks’ delivery service brings great food to thousands of area households and businesses. The Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance, formed in 2017, is developing wholesale accounts to further expand opportunities for farmers by making their great crops available to groceries, restaurants, institutions and other businesses. Irv earned an M.A. in Economics and an MBA from MIT, and worked for 20 years as a corporate executive and running his own IT consulting practice. Several years of service on the boards of Seven Generations Ahead and The Land Connection helped forge friendships with local farmers. This convinced Irv of the importance of local agriculture to health, the environment and rural communities, and was the inspiration for starting Fresh Picks.
Kelly CosgroveDirector of New Business Development, Fortune Fish & Gourmet
Kelly Cosgrove expresses her passion for artisan food producers in her work as Director of New Business Development for Fortune Fish & Gourmet, a leading distributor based in the Chicago area. Kelly works with chefs and retailers throughout the Midwest, while also curating a portion of the company’s gourmet portfolio. Kelly has been involved in the food and beverage industry for more than a decade. Her degree in Chemistry lead to an interest in the food and wine industry, and she worked for what she calls a “quirky, boutique wine shop in Chicago.” After a few years of cooking and pairing food with wine, beers and spirits, Kelly entered the distribution world of specialty food.
Casey CoraMedia Director, Frontera Restaurant Group
As director of media for Chef Rick Bayless — a Chicago farm-to-table pioneer — and his Frontera Restaurant Group, Casey Cora is always looking for interesting stories and partnerships in the growing world of Good Food. This pursuit carries over to his work as director of the Frontera Farmer Foundation, a nonprofit organization launched by Rick Bayless. Casey has helped administer dozens of grants to Midwest family farms in what he calls the most rewarding role of his career to date. When he’s not nosing around the restaurant kitchens or sticking cameras in chefs’ faces, he relishes quality time with his wife, Maura, and their three young children. Casey segued into his role at Frontera after a first career in journalism, in which he worked for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida before moving home to Chicago and writing for local news organizations.
Mitchell DavisChief Strategic Officer, James Beard Foundatoin
Mitchell Davis is Chief Strategy Officer of the James Beard Foundation (JBF), where he has worked for almost 25 years. Davis has created and overseen many of the organization’s most impactful initiatives, including the annual JBF Food Summit, a national dialogue of thought leaders on sustainability and public health; the JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, an advocacy training program for culinary professionals; and the JBF Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program, intended to correct the gender imbalance in restaurant industry leadership. In 2013, Davis led the team that was selected by the U.S. Department of State to create the USA Pavilion at the World Expo Milano 2015, for which he served as Chief Creative Officer. More than 6 million attendees visited the USA Pavilion’s exhibits on sustainable agriculture, American food culture, and the future of food innovation and technology. A scholar with a Ph.D. in Food Studies from New York University, Davis is also a cookbook author and journalist who frequently writes about and reviews restaurants.
Alia DalalAlia Dalal, Chef/Culinary Educator/TV Host
Alia Dalal is a trained chef and TV host who helps people live better by eating sustainable whole foods. Considered a leader in healthy cooking in her hometown of Chicago, she shows that eating well can be fun and accessible to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds. You can find Alia as a guest host of Chicago’s Best on WGN-TV, a Midwest Emmy-award winning food show about local dining treasures. She also created, hosted and produced Nightcap, a late night-style web series and live event on the Chicago Good Food and beverage scene. You can find her designing and teaching all of the culinary programming at the World of Whirlpool Experience Center in downtown Chicago. Alia worked in the Michelin-starred kitchens of Annisa (NYC) and Sepia (Chicago), and has also consulted to local food producers to help develop innovative products, such as Here Foods’ dips, juices and salad dressings. Find recipes, articles and cooking classes at aliadalal.com and follow her on instagram at @aliadalal.
Adam DeGrootFounder, DeGroot Logistics
Adam DeGroot is the founder of DeGroot Logistics, a third-party logistics company that services the refrigerated freight market, and 4D Farm Product Sales, a fruit and vegetable sales and distribution company. Adam’s experience in agricultural markets started from growing up on a family vegetable farm in central Illinois, DeGroot’s Vegetable Farm. He has gained from operating and investing in companies throughout the food supply chain and agribusiness industries. Adam received a B.A. in Economics from Loyola University of Chicago.
Carolina DiazChef of Di Cucina Terzo Piano
Carolina Diaz, Chef di Cucina at Terzo Piano in Chicago, was recently announced the 2018 first female Barilla Pasta World Champion, defeating chefs from around the world and becoming the first female ever to win the competition. Growing up in a large Mexican family outside of Chicago, Carolina Diaz always had a special relationship with food. Whether cooking meals for her family or learning her father’s mastery of balancing flavors, Diaz appreciated the art behind creating a culinary experience. Initially a psychology major, Diaz switched to the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago to follow her passion for cooking and focus on culinary management. She graduated in March 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science.
After beginning her culinary career as a line cook and intern at Red Light Restaurant under Chef Jackie Shen, she assumed a position in Chef Bill Kim’s empire. For two years she served as a line cook at Urban Belly and Belly Shack, learning how to run an effective, orderly, and smooth kitchen.
In January 2012, Diaz shifted to Italian cuisine and worked as a line cook at Filini Bar and Restaurant in Chicago’s Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel under Chef Christian Fantoni, leading the restaurant’s homemade pasta production. In July 2012, Chef Bill Kim asked Diaz to assist him as sous chef for the opening of BellyQ. Diaz helped with menu planning, oversaw a staff of more than 30, and developed a cook-training program. After a successful opening, Diaz returned to Filini Restaurant and Bar as sous chef and was soon promoted to restaurant chef.
Diaz joined the team at Terzo Piano at the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2016 as chef di cucina under acclaimed chef Tony Mantuano. She was drawn to the restaurant’s dedication to supporting local, organic, and sustainable foods and purveyors; its focus on Italian and Mediterranean cuisine; and the opportunity to learn from Chef Mantuano. Diaz looks forward to further establishing relationships with the Midwest’s best producers in order to let the ingredients represent themselves, catching them in peak perfection and featuring them in dishes that both locals and visitors will enjoy.
Mikey DiTomassoCelebrity Junior Chef
Celebrity Junior Chef Mikey DiTomasso was a fierce competitor on Fox Television’s Master Chef Junior Season Six, and the first and only recipient of the prestigious Golden Apron. From team captain to finishing in the Top 5, he continues to wow folks with his culinary skills. Nicknamed the “Italian Scallion,” Mikey was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, and infuses all kinds of delicious Midwestern staples with his own personal flair. When Mikey is not whipping up tasty treats — including homemade pasta, his personal specialty — he can be found on a field or in a gym honing his club soccer, basketball, and lacrosse skills. This kid is the whole package: bright, charismatic and loads of fun!
David DonnanGlobal Food and Beverage Lead, A.T. Kearney
David Donnan is an accomplished business leader with a passion for tackling pressing global issues related to nutrition, hunger relief, the global food industry and consumers. During his career, Dave has managed operating companies, run food plants and consulted to leading global retail and consumer product companies in strategy, supply chain and market positioning. A member of FamilyFarmed’s Board of Directors and mentor to early-stage entrepreneurs participating in FamilyFarrmed’s Good Food Accelerator, Dave also is a Public Member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a business advisor and board member to several other food and agriculture startups. He actively speaks and writes on topics of importance to the agriculture, food and beverage, retail and restaurant industries. He has presented at a variety of industry conferences for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Food Marketing Institute, National Restaurant Association and the Retail Council of Canada. He has also appeared on Bloomberg TV and is quoted in various business journals including Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes
Kim FeilChief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Aspire Energy Drinks
Kim Feil is Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer of Aspire Healthy Energy Drinks, an international brand reinventing energy for adults with all natural caffeine and vitamins for everyday use. Kim is building upon a 32-year career as CMO of major public companies that included OfficeMax, Walgreens, Sara Lee and Kimberly Clark. She was also CEO/president of divisions of Information Resources, Inc., and held executive roles with Dr Pepper/7UP. Kim now draws on her transformation experiences as a manufacturer, retailer and insights provider to grow venture backed companies and brands. A passionate advocate for marketing, mentoring women and of the American Heart Association, she is The CMO Club Chicago chapter president, The Network of Executive Women national board nominating team leader, and serves on the Chicago Go Red for Women campaign executive leader team, where she was Chair twice. She is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. She is inducted in the In-Store Marketing Institute Hall of Fame and has led creation of campaigns that have earned the Effie, Grand Reggie and Oracle World Congress Retailer awards.
Kate FieldFounder and CEO, The Kombucha Shop
Kate Field is founder and CEO of The Kombucha Shop, an e-commerce company based in Madison, Wisconsin that provides everything you need to brew your own kombucha at home. Kombucha is expensive in stores, and can be intimidating to make on your own. So Kate set out to fix that problem. After bootstrapping the company in 2013 with less than $1,000, she has since built The Kombucha Shop to become the largest kombucha home brew supplier in the world. In 2018, Kate took The Kombucha Shop onto the Shark Tank TV show, where she struck a deal with investors Barbara Corcoran and Sara Blakely. Kate’s career has spanned politics, food banks, farming and finally, creating and building her own business. Kate first became passionate about kombucha while working with low-income families as a Nutrition Educator at a food bank in Washington, D.C. Kate is now on a mission to spread the knowledge and skills of brewing kombucha so that health and wellness can accessible to all.
Charlotte FlinnFamilyFarmed Board Chair and President, Flinn Consultants
Charlotte Flinn is Chair of FamilyFarmed’s Board of Directors and has been associated with the organization for 15 years. She also plays a leadership role in the development of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Is Good Medicine program. Charlotte is co-founder and president of Flinn Consultants, a 25-year-old consulting firm that assists industrial, service, professional, academic, government and not-for-profit clients to achieve and sustain optimum levels of business, leadership and organizational effectiveness. Consulting strengths include strategic planning, leadership and management development and executive coaching. Her leadership with environmental firms, sustainability and urban agriculture initiatives supports her longstanding interest in the environment in a sustainable economy.
Melissa FlynnExecutive Director, Green City Market
Melissa Flynn is Executive Director of Green City Market, Chicago’s premier market connecting local farmers with the Chicago community. Melissa brings her talents in community building to Green City Market to further its mission to improve the availability of high-quality foods, connect people with local producers and farmers, and promote a healthier society through education and appreciation for local, fresh, sustainably raised produce and products. Since joining Green City in January 2015, Melissa has improved the availability of high-quality foods in Chicago by establishing an evening farmers market at Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field and arranging a long-term home for Green City Market West Loop in the Mary Bartleme Park. Green City Market has markets in Lincoln Park, both outdoor, and indoor during colder months, as well as a number of educational and community-based programs. Melissa launched new educational outreach through Edible Education programs at local elementary and high schools in Chicago, based on her training at The Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley.
Eliza FournierWindy City Harvest Program, Chicago Botanic Garden
Eliza Fournier has served for more than 18 years in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest program, which has helped Chicago emerge as a national leader in urban agriculture while providing training and job skills to young resident of the city’s underserved communities. As Urban Youth Programs Director, she has helped more than 200 communities and schools plan and implement gardens, and hired and managed the hiring and training of more than 800 Chicago teens for summer job training through the Windy City Harvest Youth Farm program. She now oversees all programming aspects of the Windy City Harvest Department: Her responsibilities include the VeggieRx program, which partners urban farms with health care centers to provide nutrition/cooking demos and local produce to Link-eligible patients with diet-related diseases. Fournier earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, and her master’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University. She has made numerous appearances on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight to provide gardening tips.
Steve GaitherPresident, JB Chicago (a C.A. Fortune Company)
Steve Gaither is president of JB Chicago, an integrated marketing agency that recently became a division of the C.A. Fortune Company. JB Chicago is focused on Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), with clients who range from larger brands, such as Smithfield Foods and Tetrapak, to emerging brands that include Real Good Foods and Protes. His is a mentor for FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator, the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC) and The Hatchery food business incubator. His relationships with entrepreneurs led him to co-found the Windy City Troublemakers, an early-stage food brands group in Chicago. Steve was formerly a partner in Spiral Sun Ventures and Windy City Food Brands, where he and his fellow CPG experts provided the operational know-how and go-to-market strategies that help brands accelerate their growth.
Anubhav GoelPresident - Client Growth Solutions, SPINS
Anu Goel is President – Client Growth Solutions at SPINS, the only source for consumer insights; digital applications for brands, consumers, and retailers; cross-channel retail analytics; health & wellness expertise; and industry-leading consulting services. In this role, Anu leads SPINS’ Brand Growth Solutions, Consumer Insight Solutions, and Financial Partners Group. Brand Growth Solutions is the leading strategy consulting boutique for the Natural Products Industry, working with more than 100 of SPINS’ brand clients on sales and marketing growth strategies. Consumer Insight Solutions enables unique insights into the natural and organic consumer using the National Consumer Panel, concept testing and primary research solutions. Goel’s newest division, SPINS’ Financial Partners Group, provides unique solutions to help investors find, analyze and invest in winning health and wellness brands. Prior to joining SPINS, Anu held leadership positions at Brand Equity Ventures, McKinsey & Company, and Beam, Inc. He has more 20 years of experience building winning strategies that help brands and retailers succeed.
Tommy GordonDirector of Partnerships & Perspectives, Relish Works
Tommy Gordon is director of partnerships and perspective at Relish Works, the independent innovation hub of Gordon Food Service — the largest family-operated broadline food distribution company in North America. Relish Works was established in 2017 to keep the eyes of the enterprise open wide, put customers at the center of decision making, and bring new value to the food service industry. Tommy has worked in sales, development and strategy for 13 years, in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. Surrounded by best-in-class thinkers, designers and strategists, he has developed a love for the innovation discipline and the unique collaborations that lead to the best problem solving. In his role as “chief dot connector,” he marries external partners and internal strategies, building the relationship infrastructure that enables success — and helps to bring new products, services or tools to life to benefit Gordon Food Service and our communities.
Arn GrashoffVice President of Marketing & Merchandising, Innovative Food Holdings Inc.
Arn Grashoff is Vice President of Marketing and Merchandising for Innovative Food Holdings Inc. Innovative Food Holdings Inc. is a multifaceted national specialty foods provider to foodservice and direct-to-consumer through multiple operations: igourmet.com, Food Innovations, and Artisan Specialty Foods. Arn Grashoff is a Specialty, Import, Gourmet & e-commerce food industry professional with more than 30 years’ experience in working in the U.S. Retail, Natural, Foodservice & e-commerce food space. He began his career in sales developing new markets with a small Chicago-based importer and distributor of Scandinavian foods. Arn then served a 21-year career as Senior Director- Fresh Products with KeHE, the largest U.S privately held specialty food distributor servicing Retail & Natural Food accounts nationally. He then went on to serve as Director of Marketing and Procurement with European Imports, a Sysco subsidiary, overseeing all importing, product assortment and marketing, supplying foodservice and retail accounts nationally with specialty domestic and imported product assortments.
Melissa GrahamFounding CEO and Head Spear of Purple Asparagus
Melissa Graham is the founding CEO and Head Spear of Purple Asparagus, an award-winning 501(c)(3) non-profit that educates children, families and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet. Though its Delicious Nutritious Adventures program taught at over thirty Chicagoland sites, Purple Asparagus teaches parents and children about eating that’s good for the body and the planet.
Melissa has received several awards for her work including a Chicago Tribune Good Eating Award and the International Association of Culinary Professionals Culinary Youth Melissa was recently named one of Chicago’s NewCity Big Heat: Food and Drink 50 — the Dining and Drinking Cultural Leaders of Chicago. Melissa is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a professional honor society for women in the food industry.
Melissa received her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Colgate University in 1991 and her law degree from the Washington College of Law, The American University in 1994. Melissa is currently pursuing her Executive MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Contrary to what you might think, Melissa’s favorite vegetables are carrots and her favorite color is red.
Greg GunthorpOwner-operator of Gunthorp Farms
Greg Gunthorp is a pioneer among Midwestern pasture-raised, grass-fed livestock producers who have turned away from conventional agriculture, and is a recognized advocate for sustainable meat production. Greg owns and operates a pasture-based livestock operation in northeast Indiana along with his wife and three children, two of whom are adults now active as the 5th generation in the family farming operation. Gunthorps have raised pigs on pasture for at least four generations and they also have one of the largest pastured poultry operations in the U.S. Their operation includes an on-farm, full USDA-inspected plant performing slaughter, processing and curing/smoking meats, and rendering fats. They supply antibiotic-free pork, chicken, duck and turkey to some of the best restaurants in Chicago, Indianapolis and surrounding region. Greg has spoken at major small farm and sustainable agriculture conferences on pastured pig and poultry production, operating a very small processing plant, and ecological waste treatment. He is a board member of the American Grassfed Association and a past board member of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association.
Jason HammelChef of Lula Cafe
Chef Jason Hammel, FamilyFarmed’s 2019 Good Food Chef of the Year, is a pioneer of farm to table dining in Chicago. He opened Lula Cafe in the city’s historic Logan Square neighborhood in 1999 — it is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year — and it quickly became known as a harbinger of the local foods movement and — through its hyper-seasonal menus — an expression of restless, artistic change. Jason in 2017 added to his restaurant portfolio with Marisol at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where he takes a similar approach to his preparations as at Lula Cafe. Jason also has a strong social consciousness and is a founding member of Pilot Light, a not-for-profit, chef-centered organization that works with Chicago Public Schools to integrate food education into students’ curriculum. Through his work in education and in the kitchen at Lula Cafe, Jason seeks to bring community, creativity, nourishment, and purpose back to the table around which we all sit.
Kara HanninenFounder, Craveity Marketing
Kara Hanninen is a digital marketing strategist with nearly 10 years of experience at traditional advertising and web development agencies. In 2015, she created Craveity Marketing, a mission-focused digital marketing agency that aims to improve the U.S. food system by supporting healthy, locally-focused & sustainable food companies with their brand awareness, online content and e-commerce sales. All of Craveity’s clients are businesses and nonprofits that are doing good things with food. Their clients span across the food system from food producers who create healthy, sustainable, responsibly made products, to companies that reduce food waste, improve food security or educate children and adults on nutrition. Craveity takes great care in its projects and truly invests in its clients’ success, helping them use strategic websites, social media and content as tools to grow their audience, communicate their mission and make a greater impact in their communities.
Mike HarshfieldPresident and Chief Operating Officer, BLMG Holdings LLC
Mike Harshfield is president and chief operating officer for BLMG Holdings LLC, where he focuses on creating a more sustainable world through better technology. He has deep experience across multiple markets and product categories for leading blue chip and early-stage PE/VC companies. He is recognized as an organizational architect and systems designer who formulates and executes operational methodologies to achieve strategic outcomes, category leadership and best-in-class performance. Mike is particularly focused on harnessing technology-driven solutions to build scale operations and motivate rapid deployment to consistently deliver revenue and profit growth. Mike and his partner have 20+ years in the cannabis sector in areas such as enterprise consulting, cultivation, facility design, processing, supply chain and regulatory affairs.
Stuart HermanSenior Consultant, HG Horticulture Consulting
Stuart Herman is the senior consultant of HG Horticulture Consulting and has been offering his proficiency of the Green Plant Industry since 1979. Today he is working to help the budding industrial hemp industry get off the ground in Illinois, in the wake of the 2018 enactment of state and federal laws legalizing hemp production, long prohibited under blanket bans on the cultivation of cannabis plants. Stuart holds his Bachelor of Science Degree from the School of Agriculture at Southern Illinois University with a concentration in Plant and Soil Sciences.
Brandon HernandezCo-Founder, Whole Brain Consulting
Brandon Hernandez is the co-founder of Whole Brain Consulting of Chicago and Boulder, Colorado — a robust team of experienced food industry experts that provide a wide range of services, from co-manufacturer sourcing and contract negotiation to R&D, food quality, food safety and supply chain, logistics and operations management services. After earning a B.S. in biology from Colorado State University, Brandon began his career in food safety at Zateca Foods (now Teasdale Latin Foods). He is the former owner of BJH Food Safety, which merged with the Chicago company known as Right Brain Consulting to create Whole Brain Consulting.
Sandra HollChef/Owner, Floriole Cafe & Bakery
Sandra Holl is chef/owner of Floriole Cafe & Bakery, located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. She was born and raised in the Midwest, and returned to the area after attending culinary school, working in France and San Francisco. In 2006, Sandra and her husband started Floriole with a table, tent and a few pastries at Chicago’s Green City Market. By 2010, they had grown their business into a flourishing full-service cafe and bakery specializing in French-inspired pastries rooted in Midwestern ingredients. Floriole has since been recognized among the top 10 bakeries in the country, has received a Chicago Tribune Dining Award and is known for having some of the best bread and pastries around; Sandra still frequent Green City Market to buy ingredients from local vendors. Sandra was named Pastry Chef of the Year at the 2016 Jean Banchet Awards, given to the best in Chicago’s culinary community.
Renée HowarthFood Access and Distribution Manager, Growing Home
Renée Howarth is Food Access and Distribution Manager for Growing Home, a mission-driven nonprofit that provides training, work and job placement for people in underserved Chicago communities who have employability challenges, while growing more than 30,000 pounds of organic vegetables on about one acre of land in the West Englewood community on the city’s South Side. Renée Howarth uses the kitchen table as a way to connect people: Her work is grounded in the idea that sharing food builds deep and meaningful relationships. She is an graduate of Loyola University Chicago’s Institute for Environmental Sustainability and has been working in the Chicago food system for nearly a decade. She also serves as secretary on Green City Market’s Junior Board and works as a freelance nutrition and Good Food educator.
Stephanie KatsarosFounder & President, Bright Beat
Infinitely inspired to do good work with good people, Stephanie Katsaros founded Bright Beat in 2010 to activate environmental stewardship and social responsibility across sectors. As costs and consciousness rise, so has the value of a sustainability program delivering operational efficiency and impact-driven engagement. Her project partnerships and advocacy includes work with corporations and non-profits — including FamilyFarmed, with who she consults on sustainability and recycling efforts at the Good Food EXPO — cities and special events, food purveyors and beer makers. These efforts have influenced policy, inspired community legacy projects, won awards and continue to raise the bar on responsible production and operations. Stephanie leads the Chicago Sustainability Task Force, serves on the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition Board of Directors and iHeartMedia Advisory Board, and she was named the 2014 Illinois Recycling Association Educator of the Year.
Ellen KingHead Baker and Co-Owner, Hewn Bakery
Ellen King deploys her passion for history, heritage grains, and baking as co-owner and head baker at Hewn bakery in Evanston, Illinois, where she creates hand-forged artisan bread. The journey to Hewn began after King welcomed her son Asher and moved back to Illinois from Seattle in 2009. While staying home with Asher, King filled the air of her Evanston condo with the smell of freshly baked bread made with heritage grains. Word got out about King’s airy, light creations, prompting her to start the Underground Bread Club — baking all morning, strapping Asher on the back of her bike, and riding around town dropping off loaves to her members. It was through the Underground Bread Club that King met her partner, Julie Matthei, and Hewn opened its doors in Evanston in June 2013. In the years since, King and Hewn have been featured in many articles and she has appeared on television, radio and podcasts numerous times. Her first cookbook, Heritage Baking, was published by Chronicle Books in October 2018.
Wes KingSenior Policy Specialist, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Wes King serves as senior policy specialist for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), the leading federal policy advocate for the sustainable and local food communities. A frequent participant in the Good Food EXPO, Wes has worked on sustainability and food policy issues for 10 years. He staffs NSAC’s Marketing, Food Systems and Rural Development Committee. Before joining NSAC in 2016, Wes spent the previous six years at Illinois Stewardship Alliance — an NSAC member organization — working on food access, farmers markets and working-lands conservation policy. He also led efforts to create a more risk- and scale-appropriate regulatory environment for farms and local food businesses. Prior to that, he worked for the Illinois Environmental Council. Wes holds an M.A. and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois.
Brendan KittFood Resources Development Manager, Greater Chicago Food Depository
As Food Resources Development Manager at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Brendan Kitt is responsible for sourcing donated food products from local businesses while cultivating a culture of food sustainability and stewardship. Greater Chicago Food Depository is a local non-profit food bank that strives to end hunger in Cook County. The organization distributes an average of 100 tons of food every day to people in need across Chicago and Cook County. The Depository distributes food through its network of partner agencies and programs, including mobile distributions and responses for children, older adults and veterans. The food is donated, purchased or part of federal government programs. Food donations happen at every point along the supply chain, from farmers and manufacturers to distributors, wholesalers and retail grocers. The Depository purchases food in bulk to meet the needs of the community and ensure the availability of nutritious options.
Megan KleinCo-founder and President, Here Foods
Here Foods produced delicious plant-based dips, dressings and cold-pressed juices, with most of its ingredients sourced from farms in its home Chicago region. Megan Klein, as co-founder and president, has led Here to its status as one of the area’s fastest-growing early-stage Good Food companies. Klein — a 2017 graduate of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator — developed a love of produce at an early age in Milwaukee, where her grandfather was a produce buyer and owner of one of the Midwest’s first discount grocery chains. It was from him she developed her firm belief that everyone should have access to healthy food at an affordable price. A lawyer and policy advocate by trade, Klein served as an environmental associate at Earthjustice, where she fought factory farms and fracking, and more recently as president of FarmedHere, formerly the largest vertical farm in the United States. Committed to supporting farmers and promoting women within the food industry, Megan serves on the Associate Board of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator and was named one of the 2018 “Top Women in Grocery” by Progressive Grocer.
Andy KlinkCompost Site Manager, Midwest Organics Recycling
Andy Klink on March 9 will celebrate his fourth anniversary with Midwest Organics Recycling (MOR), where he is the compost site manager. After graduating in 2010 from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, Andy traveled the Midwest working at small organic family farms in order to learn more about gardening, animal husbandry and, as a by-product, compost. In 2015, he came across the position at MOR, and has continued his pursuit to help make his community more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. Midwest Organics Recycling produces Organimix, a soil amendment that is used to help build healthy soils.
Peter KislukSenior Vice President, KeHE Solutions
Peter Kisluk is Senior Vice President for KeHE Solutions, which advises food retailers on best practices for in-store promotions, merchandising warehouse management, ordering and logistics technology. He also is an Executive Senior Team member of KeHE Distributors, one the largest natural, organic and specialty food distributors in North America, where he is responsible for all e-commerce, alternate channel and export business. Prior to his work at KeHE, Peter provided executive-in-residence expertise and investment capital to various entrepreneurial pursuits. He held senior executive level roles with Capmark Financial Group and its affiliates, most notably overseeing all origination, underwriting and administration activities for Capmark’s $12.5 billion Construction Lending Division, co-managing the Affordable Housing Division of Capmark Capital and serving on the board of trustees of Newman Capital, an affiliated tax-exempt bond fund. Additionally, Peter was a member of Capmark Bank’s Executive, Valuation and Credit Committees. In the 10 years prior to joining Capmark, Peter held positions with various Samuel Zell-affiliated companies including Equity Group Investments and Equity Office Properties Trust.
Mallory KriegerFarmer Training Manager, The Land Connection
Mallory Krieger is Farmer Training Manager for The Land Connection, a nonprofit based in Champaign, Illinois, that is dedicated to growing the local food economy both on and off the farm. There she develops and facilitates educational events, networking opportunities and risk management resources for organic specialty crop and grain farmers. Mallory also serves as business manager for Abundant Biology LLC, her family’s compost production company. Mallory has a B.A. in Political Science and an M.S. in Statistics and Research Methods, which she applies to developing system level solutions to food system problems.
Chandra LeeCEO and Founder, Organic Flava’s Ltd./Embrace Raw Living
Chandra Lee is CEO and founder of Organic Flava’s Ltd./Embrace Raw Living. Chandra founded the company in 2007 to share her passion and knowledge about nutrition, whole foods and sustainable living. A former fashion photographer, she is now a holistic nutritionist, herbalist, alchemist, raw vegan chef and spokesperson for Alkaline Living. Chandra’s five loves are food, fashion, music, art and nutrition, and she is completely dedicated to and has a passion for educating the masses with her holistic approach to nutrition, food and wellness. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition from New York University and is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City.
Buddy LevinLocal Forager Associate Coordinator, Whole Foods Market
For farms and early-stage food businesses, people who hold the title of “forager” — like Buddy Levin — are among the most important people to know at Whole Foods Market. Foragers are constantly on the lookout for exciting new products that customers will want to buy, and Buddy works with small local suppliers in Whole Foods Market’s Midwest Region looking to get their products on store shelves. Buddy started her career with Whole Foods Market almost nine years ago. She worked in Prepared Foods at the store level for 4-1/2 years before transitioning to the Midwest Regional Support Office. From there she worked as a Financial Analyst on the Financial Planning & Analysis Team for three years, and transitioned into her current role as Local Purchasing Associate Coordinator in June 2018.
Trista LiFounder and CEO, KitcheNet
Zhipeng “Trista” Li is the founder and CEO of KitcheNet, an award-winning social enterprise that eradicates food deserts by delivering fresh, delicious and exciting fruits to offices. KitcheNet helps its office clients stay healthy with fruits and snack-time events. In return, the offices support the opening and operation of fresh pop-up markets on the South Side of Chicago. Prior to starting KitcheNet, Trista opened a union kitchen and launched a meal kit service to support the effort of making fresh and healthy food more accessible in underserved communities. Her love for the work originated through her experience launching a microfinance market in Chicago with Kiva.org. She has an MBA/MPP at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harris School of Public Policy. A Shanghai native, she is a globalist at heart and a taco enthusiast.
Tyler LowellManaging Partner, C.A. Fortune
Tyler Lowell is the Managing Partner of C.A. Fortune, a leading full-service national consumer products sales and marketing agency specializing in the lifestyle brand sector. With more than 325 employees nationwide, the company offers clients a turnkey solution — offering brand incubation, client development, sales management, marketing and branding, insights, retail services and more. The company, which is headquartered in Chicago, has regional offices in Bentonville, Arkansas; Cincinnati; Dallas; Denver; Des Moines; New York City; and San Francisco. Its Natural Channel consists of co-ops, independent retailers, regional chains and supermarkets in which more than half of the sales include natural and organic products and supplements.
Jarintzy LuaHemp Cultivator and Researcher
Jarintzy Lua, a United States Navy Veteran and a cannabis patient, is a hemp cultivator and researcher. She plans on processing medicinal grade CBD products and biodegradable hemp products to replace plastic. She works with the Weed for Warriors project and was quoted in Prairie State Wire on February 8 stating that she wanted to speak up about the 22 veterans that die by suicide every day, adding, “I’m an advocate for vets to use cannabis to treat disabilities. I want to ask any legislators here to let people use this plant medicinally.”
Denise MackowiakVice President, Custom Merchandising Services
About CMS: Custom Merchandising Services, Inc. (CMS) is family owned and operated by Diane Bednarz (founder of Demo’s By Diane, Ltd.) and her daughter, Denise Bednarz Mackowiak. CMS is a local female, family owned boutique demo agency executing dynamic in-store product events through storytelling and sample distribution.
-Denise served as the Director of Marketing and Operations of Demo’s By Diane, Ltd. For 17 years. Then transitioning the company into a new name of Custom Merchandising Services, Inc. (CMS), Denise manages all aspect of the business for over 25 years. Responsibilities include the development and execution of all promotions and events on behalf of clients to improve brand recognition, boost sales, and ultimately, assist the client in achieving business objectives.
-Denise holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing & communications from North Central College in Naperville, IL and hold a food service sanitation certification for the state of Illinois.
William MaddenCo-Founder and CEO, Whole Brain Consulting
William Madden is co-founder and CEO of Whole Brain Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in outsourced operations in the food industry that operates from offices in Chicago and Boulder. From supply chain and operations management to food safety, quality and regulatory compliance, Whole Brain Consulting utilizes the cumulative expertise of more than two dozen industry experts to solve problems for rising food companies. As a highly respected senior food industry consultant, William brings 20+ years experience in the field of outsourced operations and entrepreneurship to the table. In addition to authoring Separating the Con Man From the Co Man: How to Source a Contract Manufacturer, Madden has contributed to the forward movement of the industry through multiple avenues. He first founded Right Brain Consulting, utilizing his deep knowledge of the food industry to negotiate contracts between food companies and co-manufacturers, and started a candy company, Dulce Foods. As Madden’s influence in the industry grew, he merged Right Brain Consulting with BJH Food Safety, which now operates as Whole Brain Consulting.
Cathy MantuanoWine Consultant, Spiaggia Restaurant
Cathy Mantuano is a sought-after expert on wine and food pairings from New York to San Francisco, and a contributor to Chicago television and radio. She creates wine pairings for Chicago’s Spiaggia restaurant, owned by her husband, Chef Tony Mantuano, and she helps restaurants around the country create distinctive wine lists. Cathy got her start working in the dining room of a prestigious Milwaukee restaurant during college. There she met Tony, then a young chef, with whom she shared a remarkably similar passion for all things Italian. The two went on to work in several Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy — she in the dining room, he in the kitchen. They then took brought their experience and passion to Chicago and Spiaggia. Cathy has gone on to open and operate a number of successful restaurants, teach classes on wine and wine-and-food pairing, and co-author both The Spiaggia Cookbook and Wine Bar Food with Tony Mantuano.
Tony MantuanoChef and Partner, Spiaggia, Café Spiaggia, Terzo Piano and River Roast
James Beard Award winner Tony Mantuano is an influential culinary force, a chef who has been on the ground floor of defining true Italian cuisine in the United States. In addition to his role as chef-partner at Chicago’s Michelin-starred restaurant Spiaggia, Tony is chef-partner at River Roast, situated on the Chicago River; Terzo Piano, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant at The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago; Terralina Crafted Italian, a waterfront Italian restaurant located in Disney Springs and set to open this spring; and a new restaurant concept set to open early 2019 in the heart of Wrigleyville in partnership with Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon. Tony is a recipient of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest and The Chicago Tribune’s Good Eating Award, which honors achievement in the food and restaurant industry. Outside of the kitchen, he is often recognized for his participation on season two of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.” Other projects include cookbook collaborations with wife Cathy Mantuano, a wine expert and former manager of Spiaggia.
Katrina MarkoffFounder and CEO, Vosges Haut-Chocolat & Wild Ophelia
Katrina Markoff’s journey toward becoming a chocolate industry innovator was international in nature. She moved to Paris just three days following her graduation from Vanderbilt University. After studying culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu, she embarked on a world tour that began with an apprenticeship in Spain under the direction of renowned Chef Ferran Adrià. She continued east through Southeast Asia and Australia, where she was inspired to create the purple house of Vosges Haut-Chocolat and her concept, Travel the World through ChocolateTM. Inspired by her passion to empower American female entrepreneurs, Katrina created Wild Ophelia to put her mission into action. Wild Ophelia is both a celebration of Katrina’s own wild adventures, and an opportunity for her to pass along her life-changing experiences to the next generation of female entrepreneurs. Katrina is the recipient of numerous accolades including Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40, the Bon Appétit Food Artisan of the Year Award, and being named “THE innovator in chocolate to lead the US through the next 30 years” by Food & Wine Magazine
Kerri McClimenSenior Director of Communications, Niman Ranch
Kerri McClimen is senior director of communications for Niman Ranch. She promotes great-tasting, quality Niman Ranch meats, which are raised humanely and sustainably without antibiotics or added hormones by a community of more than 740 independent family farmers and ranchers. She highlights successes of partners, farmers, customers (both retail and food service), consumers and chefs. Prior to joining Niman Ranch, Kerri spent more than six years as a consultant to The Pew Charitable Trusts (PEW). Her work focused on advocating for meat and poultry raised without antibiotics as part of the Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming and the Antibiotic Resistance Project. Highlights of her work with Pew included the national launch of Supermoms Against Superbugs in Washington, D.C., and coordinating with the Chicago Public School system to serve chicken raised locally without antibiotics as part of its formal school lunch program.
Edwin K. McDonald IV, MDAssistant Professor in Gastroenterology at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Ed McDonald is a trained chef and board certified physician dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities through nutrition education. He obtained his undergraduate education at the University of Michigan and his medical education at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. During medical school, he developed an interest in community health education and subsequently developed program focusing on training local hip-hop and spoken word artists as health educators with funding support from the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. This program was inspired by his experience of training barbers as health educators at the CNN featured, Project Brotherhood, a clinic focusing on the health of African-American men in Chicago. His experience at Project Brotherhood made him keenly aware of the impact of social determinants of health, but he was most interested in the effects of nutrition on health and disease.
After medical school, he completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Northwestern. As a resident, Dr. McDonald often shared recipes with his clinic patients at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. Witnessing the effects of simple lifestyle interventions on the health of his patients prompted him to seek further training in nutrition. He then completed a fellowship in clinical nutrition at the University of Chicago and culinary training at the prestigious Kendall College School of Culinary Arts. He subsequently completed a fellowship in Gastroenterology at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. McDonald currently is an Assistant Professor in Gastroenterology at the University of Chicago. He is also the Associate Director of Adult Nutrition at the University and an instructor in culinary medicine.
Dr. McDonald has conducted basic science research in gastroenterology with funding through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). He has presented research at national meetings including Digestive Disease Week. His current research interests include small intestinal disorders, obesity, nutrition education, health disparities, and colon cancer prevention. His articles have been featured in scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.
Kenya MerrittChief Small Business Officer, City of Chicago
Kenya Merritt serves as the Chief Small Business Officer for the City of Chicago, and is responsible for public engagement and program development for small businesses. She also leads the Neighborhood Business Development Centers (NBDC) program, the linchpin connecting the City and external partners to the community. She is responsible for outlining Chicago’s small business agenda and strengthening programs that support business growth and invigorate communities in every corner of Chicago. With more than 19 years of public service with the City of Chicago, Kenya previously worked as Chief Financial Officer with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; Chief Financial Officer at the Department of Family and Support Services; and as Analyst in the Office of Budget and Management. In each of her roles, she has brought a fresh perspective, and has worked to improve communities by forging partnerships with individuals, organizations, and businesses to provide a variety of programs from social services and business support to arts and culture.
Erin MeyerFounder and Director, Basil’s Harvest
Erin Meyer’s passion is connecting chefs, health professionals, educators and farmers in supporting how food is grown, prepared and eaten through experiential education. Erin is a dietitian and chef with an M.S. degree in sustainable food systems. She uses her previous experiences as a certified diabetes educator, food service entrepreneur and an executive director of a nonprofit to lead the development and expansion of farm-to-institution food systems that emphasize equitable access to local regenerative foods, dietary shifts for community health, and environmental protection. In addition to being a food systems entrepreneur, Erin loves to start the day on her yoga mat, cook for her daughters, be on her bike, watch all Oscar-nominated films, and eat vine-ripened cherry tomatoes in the field.
Dave MillerChef of Baker Miller
Backstory: Dave is the co-founder of Ipsento Coffee, Founder of Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits and now owns Baker Miller- Chicago’s first artisan stone mill bakery & dinette. He’s married to Megan Miller the pastry chef and co-owner of Baker Miller and they have a young son together.
Dave has won a Zagat 30 Under 30 Award and has been nominated twice as Outstanding Baker Semifinalist by the James Beard Foundation.
Jamie MooreDirector of Sourcing and Sustainability, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group
Jamie Moore’s development of FarmSource™, a local purchasing program, stems directly from his 18+-year career with Eat’n Park Hospitality Group. As the company’s Director of Sourcing and Sustainability, Jamie determined a need to develop and maintain an innovative program that would separate Eat’n Park Hospitality Group from its competitors. The FarmSource program ensures that 20 percent of all sites’ food sourcing is purchased in the communities surrounding where the food is served, whether at Eat’n Park, Hello Bistro or The Porch Restaurants, or through Parkhurst Dining, the company’s contract dining division. Jamie works to maintain and augment the company’s sustainability initiatives, from composting food waste to starting onsite gardens. Jamie is also responsible for finding, inspecting and evaluating provider partners to ensure they each have a food safety and a traceability program in place. He also identified an opportunity to help local, family-run producers grow by developing Forged Partners, which gives these makers an opportunity to receive a wider footprint of distribution and visibility, while also allowing Eat’n Park Hospitality Group to offer unique products.
Michael MovitzFounder & Managing Partner, The Movitz Group
Michael Movitz has more than 28 years of experience in the conscious and premium products industry. Michael’s work today is focused on helping early-stage brands raise capital and build revenue. Leveraging his industry knowledge and network, Michael formed The Movitz Group in 2016 to create a source for strategic advocacy — an authentic voice designed to foster the relationship between enterprise and humanity, driving the simultaneous progress of both as complements to each other. Michael’s previous tenures included working with an independent natural products retailer, a natural products broker, the natural products division of the JM Smucker Company, and 16 years with SPINS, the leading provider of retail consumer insights, analytics and consulting for the Natural, Organic and Specialty Products Industry. During his tenure at SPINS, Michael advised leading and emerging brands on go-to-market strategies and product positioning, and held senior executive roles across strategic partnerships & business development, sales, sales operations, service management & marketing, and intellectual property asset development.
Liz Moran StelkExecutive Director, Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Liz Moran Stelk is executive director of Illinois Stewardship Alliance, which works on behalf of the Illinois local farming community and serves as its leading advocate in state policymaking in Springfield. Liz is a veteran organizer with experience in sustainable agriculture policy and building powerful organizations. Liz previously served as a regional organizer with the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) in Montana, for whom she worked with farmers and ranchers in seven states on local, state and federal food and agricultural policy. She formerly organized home healthcare and nursing home workers with SEIU Healthcare Illinois and managed the field operations for the successful campaign to abolish the death penalty in Illinois. Liz serves on the Steering Committee of the National Healthy Soils Policy Network and is a partner in the ReGenerate Illinois collaborative.
Adam MurphyAssistant Professor, Department of Urology, Northwestern Medicine - Feinberg School of Medicine
Adam B. Murphy MD, MBA, MSCI is an academic urologist who studies the underpinnings of prostate cancer and health disparities faced by African Americans and other ethnic minorities. In his research, he noted that dietary habits, vitamin deficiencies, food desserts and zip codes were very predictive of prostate cancer and prostate cancer mortality. In Nigeria food storage quality suffers exposing their population to aflatoxin from molds and excess cancer risk. It became clear that good food is prevention and prevention is the best medicine. Dr. Murphy works to educate men about the connection between diet and cancer prevention and general health. He joined the board of Family Farmed to support their efforts to improve access to Good Food for all. Dr. Murphy is an Assistant Professor at Northwestern Medicine in the Department of Urology.
Ken MyszkaFounder & Chef of Epiphany Farms Hospitality Group
Chef Ken Myszka, raised in Downs, IL, first discovered his interest in hospitality through hosting family gatherings and parties for close friends. During high school, Ken became wholly intrigued with the culinary world, by its energy, excitement, and complexity. At the guidance of Ken’s teachers he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Curious about the business side of the food industry, Ken enrolled at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas for a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management. Las Vegas provided the perfect opportunity for Ken to blend his interest in immaculate cuisine with the world of hospitality. Ken has worked in elite kitchens in Vegas and throughout the US. However, despite an early career in some of the country’s finest restaurants, Ken never lost sight of his roots in Central Illinois.
Armed with impressive culinary experience and a vision for a sustainable farm/restaurant, Myszka returned to Bloomington, Illinois in January 2009, to begin establishing the foundation for Epiphany Farms Enterprise. The mission is to create a diversified, pasture based food system, one that blends beyond organic farming with impeccable food. In 2014, they rebranded the former Central Station Cafe as Epiphany Farms Restaurant. In 2015, they opened Anju Above in the same historic building. 2016 saw the opening of the Old Bank Restaurant & Bar in LeRoy, with their most recent addition, Bakery & Pickle, opening in 2018. Their next concept, a Korean BBQ space, is slated to open in 2019.
Working with the land completely changed Ken’s perspective on food. He began to see cuisine on a more connected and sustainable level. Ken sees Epiphany Farms as a beacon for sustainability, a catalyst for social change. With each experience at providing warm hospitality comes an opportunity to educate about the importance of alternatives to the conventional restaurant industry. Additionally, public presentations have become a way for Ken to expand upon his mission, as forums to showcase this new model of farm/restaurant. Ken is committed to supporting, growing, and showcasing a thriving local food culture, in an effort to re-envision the current culinary landscape.
Arthur NealArthur Neal, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
Arthur L. Neal, Jr. serves as the Deputy Administrator of the Transportation and Marketing (TM) Program under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in Washington, DC. To help accomplish the agency’s mission of facilitating the competitive and efficient marketing of agricultural products, Arthur provides leadership and direction for the agency’s multi-million dollar grant programs that support the development and growth of local and regional food systems, as well as fund research that addresses marketing challenges for agriculture industries. In 2018, he led the USDA team that developed and published the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. This Standard provides regulates how manufacturers must disclose bioengineered information to retail consumers.
Arthur, a native of Louisiana, graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from
Southern University and A&M College, and earned a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and the Scottish Agricultural College in Aberdeen, Scotland (UK).
Arthur and his wife reside in the Washington, DC metro area.
Jen NelsonSenior Program Manager, Seven Generations Ahead
Jen Nelson is zero waste program expert for Seven Generations Ahead, an organization based in Oak Park, Illinois that promotes sustainable and healthy communities, farm to school programs, and food waste reduction. Jen works with communities, institutions, businesses, schools, events and residents to develop sustainability goals and to take those goals from idea to action. This includes strategic planning, waste and cost analysis, outreach, education and more. Jen is a founding board member of the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition, working to advance food scrap composting through policy and infrastructure change, and she is a member of the Illinois Wasted Food Solutions Task Force.
Micheál Newman-BrooksProject Manager of Urban Agriculture, City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development
Micheál Newman-Brooks serves as the Project Manager of Urban Agriculture for the Sustainable Division of the Department of Planning and Development with the City of Chicago. She is also an instructor of Business and Agriculture courses offered by City Colleges of Chicago, in conjunction with Chicago Botanic Gardens Windy City Harvest Programs. Her passion for environmental and food justice lends to her 15+ years of experience in non-profit and for-profit businesses, which includes Marketing and Advertising, Project Management, Construction and Escrow, Investments, Finance and Accounting, and Community Organizing and Engagement, in addition to Agriculture and Horticulture. She also serves as Chief Financial Officer of Canaan Community Redevelopment Corporation in Chicago’s Englewood community and as Executive Director of 5 Loaves Co-Op and Farm, and partners with several local urban gardens and community organizations in various roles. She sits on the governing boards of Growing Home, LARC (Lead Abatement Resource Centers), and WEROCK for Girls. Micheál earned degrees in Business, Agriculture and Horticulture.
Patrick NyczFounding President, NewPoint Marketing
Patrick Nycz is Founding President of NewPoint, a full-service branding and strategic marketing firm for emerging food brands on a mission to grow. NewPoint, based in Lafayette, Indiana, stages the annual Emerging Brands Conference, held at Purdue University, and was a sponsor of the entrepreneur Pitch Slam at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference in June 2018. Patrick is author of Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain, a business & marketing “call-to-action” book that leverages trends (local food) and research (retail food buyer interviews and surveys) to help local, smaller, and regional food brands increase market share and grow their business. A marketing veteran of more than 20 years, Patrick is a member of the Forbes Agency Council and has been quoted in the New York Times, USA Today and Adweek.
Laurie OudingRegistered Nurse, Rush Medical
Laurie has been a nurse for 33 years and at Rush for the past 11 years, focusing on pediatrics. She is currently on the Health Equity Nursing Council, and she advocates for improved health outcomes in neighborhoods throughout the city, where food inequity is a problem. After she moved from rural southwest Michigan to Chicago, she was disturbed by the number of children who were admitted with illnesses related to poor nutrition, and was inspired to do something to change this. Laurie has developed a program that brings healthy, affordable, locally grown foods to kids and their families, along with the necessary nutrition and culinary education. She is on a mission to bring families and communities back to the table, empowering them to have more control over their food and making the connection that food matters.
Jay L. Owen, Jr.Managing Partner, DOM Capital Group
Jay is a Managing Partner of DOM Capital Group, a firm he co-founded in 2008 to build iconic, consumer-focused businesses that have a lasting impact on people’s lives. DOM brings decades of operating experience and relationships to partner with entrepreneurs and founders in growing their businesses. Prior to DOM Capital, Jay was an Executive Director at JP Morgan and also held senior positions at Morgan Stanley and PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting. He currently sits on the boards for Farmer’s Fridge, Kona Deep, Suckerpunch Gourmet and Tortas Frontera and is a former board member for Freshii. Jay received a B.S. degree from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. His personal interests include biking, skiing and hiking, boating the Great Lakes, cooking Italian food and watching his kids participate in sports.
Shelby ParchmanStrategic & Innovation Strategist, FamilyFarmed Good Food Accelerator
Shelby Parchman consult with FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator (GFA) as its strategic & innovation strategist, working with entrepreneurs who are currently participating in the program or who have graduated from previous cohorts. Shelby also is actively involved in the development of GFA Extension, an expansion of the program that will, in part, target services to the special needs of entrepreneurs in underserved communities. He is a seasoned entrepreneur who has parlayed his experience into a career focused on assisting start-up and existing businesses. After obtaining a Dual B.S. in Biology and Chemistry and then a Master’s in Analytical Chemistry, Shelby became a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry. He went on to become a serial entrepreneur who has started many successful small businesses including BHK Laboratories, Inc. and the Functional Beverage Group, Inc. Prior to becoming Managing Partner of InUrban Strategies LLC, Shelby was the Managing Director of Sunshine Enterprises.
Katie PaulVice President of Category Management and Growth Solutions, KeHE Distributors
Katie Paul leads a team at KeHE Distributors that develops category management solutions based on analytics, consumer insights and category trends. Katie has been been with KeHE for 10 years and has held positions in Analytics, Pricing, Category Management, Smart Assortment, and Growth Solutions. In her immediate previous role as KeHE’s Executive Director for Growth Solutions, Katie led a retailer-facing category management team that analyzed multiple and diverse data sources to define assortment and merchandising opportunities and provide actionable insights and solutions. She has presented at multiple industry events regarding natural and specialty product trends, brand innovation and compelling insights. Working for KeHE was a natural transition for Katie, who studied Food & Consumer Packaged Goods Marketing at Western Michigan University; she subsequently received an Executive MBA in Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University.
Ryan Pintado-VertnerFounder & Principal, Smoketown, LLC
Ryan Pintado-Vertner is the founder & principal at Smoketown, LLC, a brand strategy and design consultancy that partners with business founders and visionaries to build bold, inspiring, consumer-driven brands. Smoketown combines consumer research, strategy, design and grit to give entrepreneurs and investors an end-to-end partner in category disruption. We obsess about three areas of potential: 1) accelerated product-market fit, 2) profitable distribution, and 3) better return on investment —financial, environmental & social. We accomplish this with a relentless focus on building brands that solve real problems, both for consumers and the world, in a differentiated way. In addition to leading Smoketown, Ryan is a fifth-generation innovator with a knack for uncovering extraordinary ideas. His 20-year track record spans the social impact and CPG sectors, including 12 years leading brands at Fortune 500 companies such as The Clorox Company and Conagra Brands.
Jamie PonceDirector of Strategic Partnerships, City Tech Collaborative
Jamie Ponce, as director of strategic partnerships with the City Tech Collaborative, works to drive breakthrough solutions to critical city challenges using technology, analytics and cross-sector collaboration. A member of the FamilyFarmed Board of Directors, Jamie is committed to mission-driven, market-based food system improvement, and was convener of a municipal Good Food Task Force that resulted in Chicago becoming the second U.S. city to adopt a Local Food Purchasing Policy. He previously served as director of innovation with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. From 2012-16, Jamie was Chicago director of energy and climate innovation with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, where he led initiatives on energy, sustainable development and climate in the office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and across a network of global megacities. Prior to these roles, Jamie spent 10 years with global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, specializing in corporate strategy, institutional effectiveness and organizational development.
Elle RamelDirector of Development, Fairpoint Development
Elle Ramel is Director of Development at Farpoint Development, and she helps to project manage the redevelopment of the Michael Reese Hospital site on Chicago’s South Side. Previously, she led strategic partnerships at City Tech Collaborative, the smart city lab of Chicago, and was an Economic Policy Associate in Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office. She has worked on financial issues and economic development, including infrastructure, corporate recruitment, job growth, sustainability, food business, innovation spaces and land use. She completed her bachelor’s at Yale University in Urban Studies and a master’s degree at Cambridge University in Land Economics/Town Planning. She also co-founded City Open Workshop a bi-monthly forum designed to bring architects and planners together to assist communities with design capabilities.
Dave RandCo-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Local Foods
Dave Rand has spent the past six years as Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Local Foods, Chicago’s only wholesale distributor of strictly local, sustainably raised, farm-direct foods from the Midwest. Local Foods’ retail store opened in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood in June 2015, and features a whole-animal butcher shop called The Butcher & Larder and an all-day café. Dave oversees all aspects of procurement, sales, and distribution at Local Foods. Dave began his career working in the commercial salmon industry in Bristol Bay, Alaska. He then managed all aspects of the fresh milled flour operation and field work at Bluebird Grain Farms in Winthrop, Washington, an organic heirloom grain farm in Washington. Back in his native Midwest, Dave served as Farm Forager for the City of Chicago and Green City Market. He most recently left his post as partner at Quarter Circle Seven (Q7) Ranch, a local, all-natural, grass-fed cattle ranch based out of Marengo, Illinois.
Kelly ReinkeSpringboard Incubator Lead, Kraft Heinz
Kelly is responsible for building and running the Springboard Incubator Program, an entrepreneur development program created in 2018 by the Kraft Heinz Company. Kelly previously was a core member of the Beverages team at Kraft Heinz, where she exceeded the targets on her category every year. She graduated from Cornell University and began her career at Unilever, where she worked in Breyers branding, cross-category sales strategies, and in-store executional efficiencies. She is especially savvy in business analytics, strategy, and execution. Springboard is representative of the growing interest shown by many major Consumer Packaged Goods companies in innovative companies and products in the growing Good Food sector. According to Springboard’s website, “The program was created to turn start-ups with disruptive products and brands into thriving companies in the food and beverage industry. Companies invited into the Incubator program are given a unique opportunity with an abundance of tools and resources to help make their goals a reality.”
Harry RhodesCo-founder and longtime Executive Director, Growing Home
Harry Rhodes made a major impact on both urban agriculture and social justice as co-founder and executive director of Growing Home, the Chicago nonprofit he led for 17 years before stepping aside in October 2018. Located in West Englewood — an economically challenged community on Chicago’s South Side — Growing Home is Chicago’s only nonprofit high-production organic urban farm. It also uses farming to transform lives and communities by providing job training, skills, and employment for ex-offenders and other hard-to-employ local residents. During his tenure, Growing Home grew from one staff member to 21, increased its annual budget from $50,000 to $1.8 million, trained and placed hundreds of people in jobs, and developed outdoor and hoop house growing practices that produce more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables every year on little more than an acre of land. A conscientious and transformational leader, Harry previously resided in Israel, where he was a leader in the coexistence movement between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.
Dr. Melinda RingExecutive Director, Osher Center of Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University
Dr. Melinda Ring serves as executive director of the Osher Center of Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University, putting her at the forefront of the movement to better incorporate food’s impact on health into patient care and wellness. Dr. Ring’s passion for complementary and integrative medicine evolved while she earned her medical degree and completed her internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago, along with her holistic philosophy of needing to treat the whole person to achieve true health and healing. Following residency, she completed a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona with Dr. Andrew Weil. In her role at Northwestern, she maintains an active integrative medicine consult practice, oversees the medical trainee integrative medicine and culinary medicine education, and conducts research on juice cleanses and CBD. Her interests include women’s health, food as medicine, dietary supplements, mindfulness and the healing power of nature. She is passionate about raising awareness of the power of integrative medicine to heal ourselves and our health care system.
Walter RobbPrincipal, Stonewall Robb Advisors, Executive-In-Residence, S2G Ventures and former Co-CEO, Whole Foods Market
An investor, mentor and advisor to the next generation of American food companies, former co-CEO of Whole Foods Market Walter Robb has a long and varied entrepreneurial history, ranging from natural food retailer to farmer to consultant. Robb joined Whole Foods Market in 1991 and in 2010 was named co-CEO along with John Mackey, at which time he joined the Whole Foods Market Board of Directors. In 2017, Robb transitioned his leadership focus to his role as a passionate advocate for greater food access in underserved communities, serving as Chairman of the Board for Whole Kids Foundation and Whole Cities Foundation. Robb also serves on the Board of Directors for Union Square Hospitality Group, The Container Store, FoodMaven, HeatGenie and Apeel Sciences.
Dr. Derek Robinson, M.D., MBA, FACEP, CHCQMVice President and Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Derek J. Robinson is vice president and chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. He provides clinical leadership and strategic oversight to help ensure effective and efficient delivery of quality medical care to more than 8.5 million health plan members. Dr. Robinson, a practicing emergency medicine physician, also serves as the chair of the company’s Health Equity Steering Committee, which is responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s health equity strategy, including institutionalizing equity across the company’s business operations. Dr. Robinson previously served as vice president, Enterprise Quality and Accreditation at Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), the nation’s largest non-investor owned health insurer, serving more than 15 million members. During his tenure, he was responsible for quality improvement operations for Retail, Medicare Advantage, Managed Medicaid and Federal Employee Program membership. Earlier, Dr. Robinson was the first physician member of the executive leadership team at the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, where he led efforts to improve health care quality and safety for patients across Illinois. Dr. Robinson is the former Chief Medical Officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Chicago Regional Office.
Eric RodriguezFood Ecosystem Coordinator, Inner-City Muslim Action Network
Eric Rodriguez works in the Community Organizing department of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) as Food Ecosystem Coordinator. Eric is passionate about social and environmental sustainability, and believes strongly that food and cooking can serve as crucial avenues towards addressing these issues. A big part of his mission is to organize community using the backyard garden, farmers market, community kitchen and different parts of IMAN’s Food Ecosystem to promote community health, wellness and healing. He interned at The Plant Chicago building vertical hydroponic systems and co-founded The Urban Canopy, an urban agriculture and composting business on Chicago’s South Side that is a graduate of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator program. He is excited to be part of bringing healing to Southwest Side communities through growing and sharing food. Eric is a graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
Dr. Julie RowinM.D. in Clinical Private Practice, Westchester, Illinois
Dr. Julie Rowin, M.D., is a board-certified neurologist and neuromuscular subspecialist with more than 30 years of experience in academia and clinical practice. She is also board certified in Integrative Medicine, which focuses on identifying and treating the root causes of disease and combines Western medicine with ancient wisdom. She brings a holistic healing approach to the treatment of neurological conditions, integrating nutrition, acupuncture and mind-body energetics with conventional medical management. Dr. Rowin is currently in clinical private practice in Westchester, Illinois. She previously served as Associate Professor of Neuromuscular Medicine at Rush University and subsequently at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Liz RupelPolicy Organizer, Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Liz Rupel is the Policy Organizer at the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, which works on behalf of the Illinois local farming community and serves as its leading advocate in state policymaking in Springfield. One of Liz’s missions as an organizer is to engage with with farmers in Illinois in order to learn about their hopes, successes and barriers, in order to find solutions that will keep family farmers as stewards of the land. Liz has become well-versed with the state’s new rules and regulations that govern the legalization of the production of industrial hemp, and has acted as a resource for hopeful hemp cultivators all over the state. She attributes her connection to local food and farm systems to her work on local farms and at local farm-to-table restaurants.
Luke SaundersFounder and CEO, Farmer’s Fridge
Luke Saunders is the founder and CEO of Farmer’s Fridge, a rapidly growing network of 200+ automated smart Fridges stocked with chef-curated, restaurant-quality salads, sandwiches, bowls and snacks. He is also a member of FamilyFarmed’s Board of Directors. The business is built around an app that enables customers to view what products are available in their local Farmer’s Fridge, while ensuring that each Fridge is stocked daily while fresh, healthy, delicious food choices. During his years as a traveling salesman, Luke was regularly challenged by finding fresh food on the road. Applying his entrepreneurial mindset to problem solving, he arrived at the concept for Farmer’s Fridge: good health starts with what we eat and eating well shouldn’t be hard. Luke set out to build a disruptive yet simple way to make fresh, healthy food as accessible as a candy bar. Today, Farmer’s Fridge operates in locations across Chicago and Milwaukee, including O’Hare International Airport, Chicago’s famed Willis Tower and the University of Chicago.
Raghela ScavuzzoLocal Foods Program Manager, Illinois Farm Bureau
Raghela Scavuzzo is the Local Foods Program Manager in the Governmental Affairs and Commodities Division of the Illinois Farm Bureau, a position she has held since June 2017. Raghela is responsible for developing and coordinating farmers and food market channels for local food initiatives and food safety. This includes business development outreach to county farm bureaus, monitoring organic production regulations and food safety issues, and coordinating Farmer-Buyer meetings. Raghela oversees local and regional food development and local food workings groups. She establishes relationships with corporate and regional buyers while serving as the local food spokesperson for the Farm Bureau with statewide local food organizations. Her previous experience includes local-supply chain coordination, food packaging and quality control management, local food marketing campaign coordination, operations process and system development, training and workshop implementation, consumer education management, and farmer-buyer relationship coordination.
Anton Seals Jr.Lead Steward, Grow Greater Englewood
Anton Seals Jr. is the lead steward (executive director) of Grow Greater Englewood, a social enterprise that focuses on building an equitable and resilient local food system — one that fosters protections of vacant land in divested communities and focuses on connecting those residents with community wealth-building opportunities. Anton also is on staff at the Egan Office for Urban Education and Community Partnership at DePaul University (his alma mater), training and teaching with a cross-section of small and large organizations, using the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute, also located at DePaul University Steans Center. A South Shore Chicago native, he is a strong cultural voice of his generation.