Our Team
Our Team

GFI has a team of scientists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and lobbyists, all of whom are laser focused on using markets and food technology to transform our food system away from factory farmed animal products and toward cultivated meat and plant-based alternatives. If you are a member of the media and would like to connect with one of our experts, please contact GFI's Media Team on

Bruce Friedrich

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Bruce oversees GFI’s global strategy, working with directors and international managing directors to ensure that GFI is maximally effective at implementing programs that deliver mission-focused results. Bruce is a TED Fellow, Y Combinator alum, and popular speaker on food innovation. He has penned op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Wired, and many other publications. He has appeared on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, TED Radio Hour, New Yorker Radio Hour, and a variety of programs on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN. Bruce's 2019 TED talk has been viewed two million times and translated into dozens of languages. He co-authored two books, contributed chapters to seven more, and has written seven law review articles. He graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law and also holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Economics.

Jessica Almy, J.D.

Director of Policy

Jessica oversees GFI’s team of lawyers and lobbyists, who are focused on securing funds for plant-based and cultivated meat research and development and on ensuring a level statutory and regulatory playing field for plant-based and cultivated meat. She came to The Good Food Institute from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, where she served as Deputy Director of Nutrition Policy. Before working for CSPI, she worked for the D.C.-based law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal. She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and an M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University. She is a member of the bar in New York and Washington, D.C. 

Sanah Baig

Chief of Staff

Sanah brings both federal and local government-related expertise to her role at GFI, where she works with the leadership team to execute the organization's global strategic vision. She was previously a program director at the National Association of Counties where she managed more than a dozen grant-funded programs designed to increase local governments' capacity for resilience and economic development planning. Prior to that, she served as an advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on place-based and rural infrastructure investments as well as on the Department's response to the opioid epidemic. Sanah holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia and hails from the Washington, D.C. area.

Caroline Bushnell

Director of Corporate Engagement

Caroline leads GFI’s corporate engagement team in their work with the food industry to make alternative proteins as tasty, affordable, and accessible as conventional animal products. Previously, Caroline served as the Director of Marketing for Celestial Seasonings at The Hain Celestial Group. She has also worked at Moet Hennessy and Janus Capital Group. With 15 years of experience in CPG brand management, finance, and consulting, she is deeply familiar with the food industry. Caroline also serves as a governor-appointed member of the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council. She is a graduate of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Sarah David, J.D.

General Counsel and Director of Administration

Sarah is GFI's General Counsel and also leads GFI's Collaborative Assistance Team (CAT). The CAT team provides all the services that keep GFI humming along - Administration, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Legal. A plant-based eater for over 35 years, Sarah came out of retirement to join GFI and put her skills to use to support a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply. Prior to retiring, Sarah was a senior executive with a Fortune 50 Company where she worked for 21 years. Sarah holds a J.D. and MBA from The University of Connecticut, and a B.A. in Biology and Spanish from Wellesley College. She is also a graduate of the UTC-Darden Executive Leadership Program.

Susan Halteman

Director of Development

Susan leads GFI’s development team of fearless fundraisers. She brings nearly 20 years of experience in nonprofit and leadership roles to her work. For the past 18 years, Susan has worked in every aspect of fundraising, 12 of which have involved leading and growing development teams, strategies, and programs. Throughout her career, she has raised funds for the arts, higher education, human services, justice, and housing organizations, most recently at Habitat for Humanity.  

Liz Specht, Ph.D.

Director of Science and Technology

As Director of Science & Technology with The Good Food Institute, Liz works to identify and forecast areas of technological need within alternative proteins, catalyze research to address these needs, and support researchers in academia and industry to move the field forward. Liz has a bachelor’s degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Johns Hopkins University, a doctorate in biological sciences from the University of California San Diego, and postdoctoral research experience from the University of Colorado Boulder. Prior to joining GFI in 2016, Liz had accumulated a decade of academic research experience in synthetic biology, recombinant protein expression, and development of genetic tools. She is a firm believer in the power of technology to enable us to meet growing food demands in a sustainable way.

Sheila Voss

Director of Communications

Sheila serves as GFI’s Director of Communications, helping the organization accelerate a global shift to a healthier food future via thought leadership, messaging, and multi-sector engagement. An award-winning science communicator, Sheila joins GFI following a decade serving as Vice President of Education at Missouri Botanical Garden, a St. Louis-based global plant science institution. In this role, she convened and led regional biodiversity coalitions, developed green workforce programs, and grew capacity for nature-based solutions. From 2016-2018, Sheila served on the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity’s Informal Advisory Committee for Communications, Education, and Public Awareness, a group of experts from 25 countries focused on mainstreaming biodiversity throughout policies and popular culture. Before MBG, she worked in the corporate sector leading global wildlife conservation partnerships and advancing sustainability practices focused on energy, water, and waste. She holds a M.S. in Environmental Sciences, Public Administration and Policy from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University.

Varun Deshpande

Managing Director, India

Varun lives in Mumbai, India and studied at Carnegie Mellon University. He brings experience in healthcare, entrepreneurship, technology, venture capitalism, and knowledge of India's plant-based market to expand GFI’s operations in India. Varun also invests in and serves on the board of a number of Asian technology companies and is assisting them with entering the Indian market. He is also working on establishing an Effective Altruism Foundation in India. 

Nir Goldstein

Managing Director, Israel

Nir leads GFI's work in Israel. Prior to GFI, he worked as a management consultant to startups, investors, food manufacturers and NGOs. He teaches at a Foodtech entrepreneurship course at The Ben Gurion University and has experience in promoting large scale policy plans. He is a member of the Israeli Bar, holds an LLB Law degree and an MBA degree from The Hebrew University.

Gus Guadagnini

Managing Director, Brazil

Gustavo lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil and is focused on developing and promoting Brazil's plant-based food industry. He has experience as a start-up strategist and is involved in the Brazilian entrepreneurship community. Gustavo worked with the Whirlpool Corporation for seven years, and he has a background in project management, product development, and marketing. He holds a bachelors degree in Business from Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo.

Richard Parr, MBE

Managing Director, Europe

Richard leads GFI’s work in Europe. He worked as Special Adviser to the UK Prime Minister between 2012 and 2016, and as Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for International Development from 2010-12 and 2016-18. In government, his main focus was on international development policy, and he worked closely on the formation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Richard holds an MA in Modern History from Oxford University. 

Elaine Siu

Managing Director, Asia Pacific

Elaine leads GFI’s work in Asia Pacific. Elaine has over 10 years experience at global law firms and financial institutions specialising in corporate and finance law, from IPO and M&A to structured products and investment funds. She then spent 5 years immersing herself in social entrepreneurial pursuits, before joining GFI to put her mixed skillset in law, finance, and startup ventures in service of accelerating the alternative protein sector and transforming the food system. Elaine holds a M.S. in Entrepreneurship from Foster School of Business, University of Washington, a M.S. in International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law from University of Edinburgh, and an LLB Laws degree from King’s College London.

Clare Bland

Associate Director of Philanthropy

Clare brings more than two decades of fund development, community relations, program management, and leadership experience to GFI, first in the private sector and then in the nonprofit field. Focused on securing transformational gifts and grants, Clare has developed philanthropic support for a major medical center and teaching hospital, companion animal shelters, a wildlife rehabilitation center and hospital, and the United States’ leading farmed animal protection group before joining the team at GFI. 

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D.

Associate Director of Science and Technology

Erin earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from DePauw University before going on to obtain a Master’s in Public Health in epidemiology from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in genetics from Duke University. She has ten years of research experience focused on a variety of topics, including molecular biology, nutrition, poverty, and social disparity. Erin seeks out funding opportunities for plant-based and clean agriculture research, and she is also working to establish a dedicated plant-based and clean food lab at a top research university in the United States. 

Elizabeth Derbes, J.D., MPH

Associate Director of Regulatory Affairs

Elizabeth works on global and domestic regulatory issues affecting cultivated meat and plant-based food entrepreneurs. She was previously a partner in a financial regulatory practice at the law firm of WilmerHale LLP. She holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and an M.P.H. with a Certificate in Food Systems from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a member of the bar in New York, Washington, D.C., and California.

Stephanie von Stein

Associate Director, International Engagement

Stephanie oversees the day-to-day work of GFI’s international operations to expand GFI’s impact internationally. Prior to GFI, Stephanie spent two decades building strategic partnerships and managing international teams and programs across the private and non-profit sectors. An Asia specialist, she founded and ran the Asian Waterkeeper network for the clean water advocacy organization, Waterkeeper Alliance. Stephanie earned an Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and an A.B. in History from Brown University.

Melissa Ahlborn

Senior Marketing and Analytics Specialist

Melissa inspires and grows GFI’s online audience through strategic social media management and other digital marketing initiatives. She holds a B.S. in Communications from Boston University and spent 4 years working in marketing at Focus Pointe Global before graduating with a Master’s in Food Systems from NYU's School of Nutrition and Food Studies. While in graduate school, she worked for an independent research organization that evaluates the social and environmental impact of food produced domestically and abroad and taught nutrition education classes as a volunteer with City Harvest. 

Mary Allen

Creative Manager

Mary is the driving force behind GFI’s blog and newsletter. Mary most recently served as a communications specialist for the Markle Foundation. During that time she was also the editor at FoodFutureCo. Previously she worked in translation rights for Penguin Random House. Mary studied French Literature and Neuroscience at Kenyon College. She is the founder of Brooklyn-based running group Plant Nasty Athletes and a vegan ice cream-cranking enthusiast. 

Vanessa Assaro-Aluisa

Executive Assistant

Vanessa is a graduate of Purchase College and has more than a decade of administrative experience. She is also on the advisory board of the only no-kill shelter in the Bronx. At GFI, Vanessa uses her passion and skills to support both the SciTech and Corporate Engagement teams, enabling numerous team members to efficiently focus their expertise on furthering GFI's mission.

Marika Azoff

Corporate Engagement Specialist

Marika supports GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative through building relationships with the private sector to increase investment in, production and sale of alternative seafood products. She has spent over a decade studying and working in animal protection in many different capacities including wildlife conservation, farmed animal welfare and companion animal welfare, both domestically and internationally. Prior to joining GFI, Marika worked at the ASPCA’s Community Engagement Program in New York City, where she cultivated strategic partnerships with local non-profits, law enforcement and government agencies and advocated for the integration of pet-related services within existing systems. Marika earned her BA in Animal Conservation from the University of Rochester with a minor in Studio Art. Her passion for marine conservation was ignited while studying abroad in Tanzania where she conducted research on local fisheries and became scuba certified.

Matt Ball

Senior Communications Specialist

Matt has graduate degrees in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University and in forest ecology from the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign, which he earned during his tenure as a Department of Energy Global Change Fellow. Prior to grad school, he was an engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton and Pratt & Whitney. Matt left CMU’s Ph.D. program in environmental engineering to pursue advocacy full-time, and he went on to found two nonprofit organizations and to work for and advise several others. Matt has spoken on environmental and animal issues around the world and has written two books.

Nigel Barrella

Regulatory Counsel

Nigel works on domestic regulatory issues affecting cultivated and plant-based foods, and he also litigates those issues when they end up in court. He joined The Good Food Institute after seven years in private practice. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.S. in neuroscience from Duke University. He is a member of the bars of New York, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

Olivia Battle

Human Resources Manager

Olivia graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University-Houston with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and HR Management. She is passionate about all things HR and brings almost two decades of experience in benefits, payroll, onboarding, compensation, compliance and reporting to the GFI team. Olivia holds certifications as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from the Human Resources Certification Institute and a SHRM-Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) from the Society for Human Resource Management. 

Renee Bell

Science Content Specialist

Renee holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rochester, a master’s of education from DePaul University, and an MBA in managing for environmental sustainability from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Over her 20-year career, Renee has enjoyed a variety of vocations with science as a common theme including laboratory research, science education, and medical sales. Inspired by GFI's mission to change the future of food, Renee helps her team craft compelling messages and operate as efficiently as possible.

Brian Berry

Strategic Planning Specialist

Brian provides strategic support within GFI to build, track, and evaluate goals across U.S. and international teams to ensure that cross-organizational priorities are well-coordinated, evaluation metrics are sound, and progress is clearly communicated to all stakeholders. He most recently served as operations lead at a NYC startup and previously spent 5 years working across retail, marketplace, and logistics at Amazon. Brian earned his B.S. in Business Administration from American University in Washington, D.C.

Claire Bomkamp, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist — Cultivated Seafood Specialization

Claire serves as the cultivated seafood-focused Senior Scientist and is a member of GFI's Sustainable Seafood Initiative. She focuses on analyzing the technical landscape of the cultivated seafood industry, identifying bottlenecks, and engaging researchers in order to move cultivated seafood technology forward. She holds a PhD in neuroscience from the University of British Columbia and a bachelor's in behavioral neuroscience from Western Washington University. Her academic research used both cell culture and computational techniques to understand molecular mechanisms of neuronal connectivity and function, and she has also been heavily involved in youth science outreach programs.

Laura Braden

Regulatory Counsel

Laura works on regulatory issues affecting cultivated and plant-based meat. She joined GFI from Wiley Rein, where she worked on wide variety of regulatory and litigation issues as a consulting counsel. She has also worked at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and at Fish & Richardson PC. Laura holds a JD from Harvard Law School, an MA from NYU, and a baccalaureate degree in English from Princeton. She is a regular volunteer for Food Rescue D.C. and often judges high school debate on the weekends.

Reannon Branchesi

Culture and Hiring Manager

Reannon supports GFI’s mission to create a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply by supporting and building our incredible team; cultivating a strong and inclusive work culture; and collaborating with GFI's leadership team to build a more diverse and equitable organization. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Reannon has almost two decades of nonprofit management experience working primarily to reform animal agriculture. 

Blake Byrne

Business Innovation Specialist

Blake leads GFI’s efforts to discover and impel high-potential entrepreneurs and business professionals to create the latest innovations in plant-based and cell-based foods. A former strategy consultant, advisor to an institute for regenerative medicine, and health policy enthusiast, Blake is laser focused on harvesting the next crop of companies that are unambiguously good for our planet and palate. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Public Health and a minor in Entrepreneurship. 

Brittany Chambers

Corporate Philanthropy Officer

Brittany has spent her career developing innovative pathways of fundraising and constituent engagement for the advancement of the nonprofit world. She came to GFI from Keuka College, where she served as the Director of Alumni Relations and Development, connecting a broad base of diverse constituents to causes that inspire philanthropic support. Brittany volunteers on several nonprofit boards, primarily as fundraising strategy counsel. Brittany holds a master’s degree in management from Keuka College, where she studied the science behind building a culture of philanthropy, and a bachelor of arts degree in history and communications from SUNY Cortland.

Charles Christiansen

IT & Data Manager

Charles brings more than 20 years of IT experience in a variety of roles from programmer to CTO, along with more than 2 years of experience as a plant-based meat producer, to GFI. Charles spends his spare time volunteering at farmed animal sanctuaries and teaching plant-based cooking classes with a local community education group. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of North Florida and an M.S. in Internet Engineering from the Graduate Center at Marlboro College.

Austin Clowes

Scientific Research Funding Coordinator

Austin oversees GFI's Competitive Research Grant Program and works to increase the amount of open-access research on plant-based and cultivated meat to inspire new innovations. Prior to GFI, he was a Research Analyst with the World Resources Institute, a global sustainable development think-tank, where he advised companies and governments about how to reduce food waste and worked with guitar companies to improve timber sourcing practices. Austin holds a B.A. from Macalester College.

Alicia Crawford

Strategic Operations Manager

Alicia supports GFI's team of creative communicators. She graduated magna cum laude with bachelor's degrees in journalism and history from the University of Maryland, College Park. Alicia worked as a reporter and editor before making the move to strategic communications. She most recently worked at a clean water nonprofit and is excited to support GFI's efforts to combat the world's most pressing environmental problems by revolutionizing the food system.

Nate Crosser

Startup Growth Specialist

Nate consults with startups and investors to capitalize, commercialize, and scale new products and services as well as build tools for the alternative protein industry at large. He brings experience in startup consulting, venture capital, commercial law, investigative journalism, and most recently worked at a university biotechnology incubator. Nate earned a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Kansas.

James Dale, Ph.D.

Research Funding Coordinator

James leverages his experience to identify and expand scientific research funding opportunities for both plant-based and cultivated meat. He also coordinates with GFI's allies in academia and industry, connecting them to research funding opportunities from both the public and private sectors. James received his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech where he studied the environmental interactions of anthropogenic nanomaterials and developed his skills in communicating interdisciplinary scientific concepts to broad audiences. He received his bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Chapman University.

Rebecca Frank

Executive Assistant

Prior to joining GFI, Rebecca was a Global Health Corps fellow, working as the nutrition program coordinator at a set of three clinics in the Bronx. Previously, she spent time working in communities and researching health systems in Nicaragua, Nepal, and Malawi. She has a BA, MPH, and MS in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tufts University, as well as a Certificate in Climate Change and Health from the Yale School of Public Health. 

Kyle Gaan

Research Analyst

Kyle analyzes data and market research to identify meaningful insights and trends within the plant-based food industry, helping to pave the way for the development and sale of more plant-based food. Kyle previously worked as an associate at EY-Parthenon, a global strategy consulting firm. He received his B.S. in Business Administration and B.A. in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley.

Tracy Grade

Finance Specialist

With more than 15 years of experience in development, operations, and finance, Tracy ensures that GFI runs smoothly behind-the-scenes. She has expertly managed offices, databases, accounts, and spreadsheets for many years and is thrilled to live her values by supporting a good food future. Tracy holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Washington-Seattle.

Audrey Gyr

Philanthropy Officer

Audrey connects visionary philanthropists with GFI's work to create a sustainable, healthy, and just food system. Audrey has dedicated her career to securing funding for high impact nonprofit  causes. Prior to joining GFI she worked in the field of financial inclusion and technology, higher education, and sustainable agriculture. She holds a B.S. in Animal Science and Development Sociology from Cornell University. 

Julia Hart

Finance Manager

Julia manages GFI’s financial reporting and provides financial support to GFI’s departments and staff. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting/mathematics from Regis University and a master’s degree in communication from Saint Louis University. She has more than fifteen years’ experience in non profit accounting and is president of the St. Louis Not-for-profit Financial Management Association.

Emily Hennessee

Policy Associate

Emily works to secure governmental support for alternative protein research and growth. Prior to joining GFI, she worked on statewide sustainable food efforts at Georgia Organics as the Farm to School Director and Director of Programs. Previously, Emily was the Sustainability Programs Coordinator at Emory University’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives. She holds a bachelors in cultural anthropology from Emory University and an M.P.H. with a concentration in Food Systems from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dara Homer

Development Executive Assistant

Dara graduated cum laude from Columbia University with a degree in English and Comparative Literature where she was selected to spend a year at Cambridge University and complete an internship with The 52nd Street Project. Prior to joining the team at GFI, she taught as a corps member with Teach for America and was the program coordinator for a leadership development nonprofit. Dara is part of the fearless fundraising team at GFI and works to create a sustainable, healthy, and just future for our global food system.

Amy Huang

University Innovation Specialist

Amy helps lead GFI's efforts to inspire students and professors at universities around the world to join the cell-based and plant-based food movement. She has a background in global health, effective altruism, and design thinking. As a former user experience designer, educator, and homeless shelter director, Amy is passionate about helping universities become the powerhouses for cell-based and plant-based research and innovation. Amy has an A.B. in Economics from Harvard University.

Emma Ignaszewski

Corporate Engagement Project Manager

At GFI, Emma manages projects to catalyze corporate innovation that will radically transform the food system. She has previously worked in strategy, marketing, and communications in the design industry as well as the health education and access sector. Emma also has a background in the TED community, founding and curating regional TEDx events and helping thinkers hone their ideas worth spreading. She holds a BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Cornell University.

Olivia Jefferson

Communications Specialist

Olivia earned her bachelor’s degree in political communication and political science from George Washington University. Since graduating in 2016, Olivia has spent the past several years working in a variety of communications and marketing roles for both private and nonprofit organizations. She is a personal trainer in her spare time and loves all things health, fitness, and plant-based. Her passion for plant-based nutrition and sustainability drew her to GFI, and she is excited be working in a role that marries her interests with her professional skills.

Maia Keerie

Media and Communications Manager

As the Manager of Media and Communications, Maia develops and implements strategic communications, media relations and thought leadership programs that support GFI's mission and accelerate plant-based and cultivated meat industry growth. Maia works with leading U.S. and international media to elevate GFI's voice and proactively inform public opinion about this game-changing method of meat production. Maia brings more than a decade of experience in strategic communications and media management to her role at GFI, and has worked with leading organizations in the professional services, food & beverage, and logistics sectors. Maia holds a master's degree in Journalism from the University of Queensland in Australia.

Jen Lamy

Senior Sustainable Seafood Initiative Manager

Jen manages the expansion of GFI's Sustainable Seafood Initiative to ensure that it proceeds strategically and with the input and involvement of key stakeholders. Her academic background is in environmental economics and sustainable food systems and she most recently worked on federal climate policy advocacy. Jen holds a master’s in environmental management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and a bachelor’s in economics and environmental studies from Wellesley College. 

Patrick Landy

Full Stack Developer

Patrick brings an engineering mindset to GFI, furthering his goal of effectively contributing to climate change solutions. He writes code for GFI's web properties and data tools, helping staff members and stakeholders interact with the data they need to make our global food systems more sustainable. Patrick graduated cum laude from Cornell University in 2015 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and he holds a Professional Engineering license. After working for four years on sustainability in the construction industry, he pivoted to software engineering through App Academy, a rigorous web development bootcamp. 

David Mai

Development Operations Manager

David supports GFI's team of fearless fundraisers by managing the department's fundraising data and serving as the team's project management lead. Prior to GFI, David worked in the development department at a non-profit theatre providing database management and administrative support. He is excited to bring his development operations experience to GFI to advance the organization's mission of transforming the current food system. David graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Film Studies.

Nicole Manu, J.D.

Staff Attorney

Nicole works on plant-based regulatory issues and manages GFI's Freedom of Information Act requests. She is a graduate from Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. During school, she worked as a law clerk at a small law office and completed several internships, giving her experience in various areas. Most relevant to her position now, Nicole was a food policy intern for Representative Chellie Pingree and a legal intern with GFI’s Policy Department. 

Maggie Mascarenhas

Communications Specialist

Maggie graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in history. Before joining GFI, she worked at a campaign strategy firm in Washington DC, where her clients ranged from nonprofits focused on voter registration to organizations advocating for endangered species conservation. Maggie also recently WWOOFED on a small organic vegetable farm in Maine and is passionate about transforming our food system to be better for both people and the planet.

Heather Mount

Web Project Manager

Heather is a web project management and digital marketing professional with a passion for UX/UI and process development. She spends her spare time photographing her hikes in the Smoky Mountains and cooking up fabulous plant-based meals at home. At GFI, her experience allows her to guide GFI’s digital expansion to inspire others to transform the food system.

Sharyn Murray

Senior Investor Engagement Specialist

Sharyn partners with investors and startups to increase investment in the alternative protein industry. Previously, she spent nearly a decade as a researcher and marketing professional at GCM Grosvenor, where she built expertise in the alternative investments industry. Sharyn earned a BA in economics and psychology from Northwestern University, and is a CFA® charterholder. She feels incredibly privileged to have a chance to devote her career to mitigating the challenges presented by industrial animal agriculture.

Maille O'Donnell

Corporate Engagement Assistant

Maille (pronounced “Molly”) provides support to the Corporate Engagement team in working to increase market shares of plant-based foods and support the burgeoning cultivated meat industry. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park. In her spare time, Maille runs the ethical lifestyle blog Green and Growing and teaches group fitness classes. She is thrilled to combine her passions for animal rights, sustainability, and health to support the Corporate Engagement team’s high-impact work. 

Mark Onley

Policy Associate

Mark supports GFI's lawyers and lobbyists to promote smart and equitable government oversight of plant-based products and cultivated meat. He holds a B.A. in government and philosophy from William & Mary and has interned in a wide variety of legal settings. Mark worked as a Lead Litigation Paralegal at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP supporting teams on complex, cross-border disputes and corporate human rights advice before joining GFI to help ensure a better future for our food system.

Annie Osborn

University Innovation Specialist

Annie is the east coast University Innovation Specialist at The Good Food Institute, where she works with students, faculty, and university administrators to increase engagement and collaboration between universities and the rapidly-growing alternative protein space. Annie comes from a background of development economics and sustainable food systems. Prior to joining GFI, she researched nutrition, childhood development, and education in northwestern China with Stanford's Rural Education Action Program. She holds an M.S. and a B.S. with Honors in Earth Systems from Stanford University.

Victoria Ramm

Philanthropy Officer

Victoria brings to GFI a unique and valuable blend of both nonprofit and startup experience. Her career ranges from years at The Humane Society of the United States, where she managed social media communications, advocacy, and fundraising, to the challenging realm of content marketing startups, where she held roles in business development and client solutions. At GFI, her experience helps connect innovative thinkers with innovative projects as the Philanthropy Officer on the East Coast. Victoria holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of South Carolina-Columbia. 

Josh Richards

Grant Writer

Josh graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a B.A. in philosophy. He has dedicated his career to advancing the missions of impactful nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining GFI he managed research funding proposals and grants at Northwestern University and the University of Virginia overseeing portfolios representing tens of millions of dollars in annual research funding. Most recently he was The Humane League’s Chicago field organizer. At GFI, Josh identifies, solicits, and stewards gifts in support of GFI’s mission.

Irina Rodina

Legal Counsel

Irina holds a dual B.A. summa cum laude from Columbia College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Prior to joining GFI, Irina ran a regulatory consulting practice where she worked with nonprofits to provide strategic and legal advice on a wide range of energy, environmental, and corporate law issues, including electric utility regulation, tariff design, tax equity, and project finance. At GFI, Irina works to optimize the contract review and approval process, ensure GFI compliance with data protection regulations, and provide legal support to GFI programmatic departments. 

Lauren Stone

Policy Assistant

Lauren provides support to the policy team in working to promote equitable government oversight of plant-based and cell-based foods. She holds a bachelor's degree in English with Honors from Brown University and a master’s degree in Food Studies from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she closely studied the American food system and reinforced her passion for system reform.

Elliot Swartz, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Elliot holds a bachelor's degree in behavioral neuroscience from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. He has experience utilizing induced pluripotent stem cells for modeling neuromuscular disease as well as consulting with Verge Genomics in drug discovery for neurodegenerative disease. Elliot's work at GFI focuses on analyzing core technology areas and driving key GFI-sponsored research projects in cell-based meat, educating scientists and the public, and expanding awareness of the career opportunities in the plant-based and cell-based meat fields.

Alexis Vanderhye

Senior Foundations Manager

Alexis graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Communication Studies. She has dedicated her career to securing foundation funding for many worthy nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Alexis has served as a grant writer, an independent grants consultant, and most recently as a director at a grants consulting firm. At GFI, Alexis establishes relationships with foundations that share our passion for harnessing the power of food innovation and markets to create a healthy, humane, and sustainable future of food.

Natalia Veinott

Paralegal and Administration Coordinator

Natalia earned her bachelor’s degree, with majors in History and Political Science, and her master’s degree in Education at SUNY Potsdam. After working as a hybrid course designer and coordinator at Potsdam, she worked as visitor experience manager and event planner for a nonprofit animal protection organization. In her first role at GFI as Event Coordinator, she planned the Good Food Conference for two years. As Paralegal and Administration Coordinator, Natalia supports GFI’s mission by assisting the Legal Collaborative Assistance Team (Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Legal).

Scott Weathers, MSc.

Senior Policy Specialist

Scott leads GFI’s state-level lobbying efforts, working to level the playing field for cultivated and plant-based meat, dairy, and eggs. He came to GFI from Compassion in World Farming-USA, where he was a Strategic Partnerships Manager, establishing CIWF’s first-ever program focused on plant-based proteins. Scott’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Vox, NowThis, Civil Eats, and more. He holds a Master of Science from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

Zak Weston

Foodservice and Supply Chain Manager

An active member of the Effective Altruism community, Zak holds a B.A. in Business Management from Cedarville University, and joined GFI after several years of experience in sales and working with start-ups. He works with leading grocery, foodservice, and restaurant companies to help increase the quality and quantity of their plant-based product offerings. 

Victoria Wheeler

Annual Fund Manager

Victoria earned her B.S. in Agriculture and Natural Resources from Berea College where she minored in English Literature. Previously, she worked in the local food scene in Kentucky as the assistant manager for her college farm store, the interim manager for an urban farm startup, and the sole administrative/finance staffer at a food and farm policy organization. At GFI, Victoria supports our development team as they work with the GFI family of supporters to fuel our growth both in the U.S. and globally.

Milena Esherick, Ph.D.

Senior Advisor

After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in economics, Milena went on to earn a doctorate in psychology from the Wright Institute, where she developed expertise in dietary behavior change. Milena currently holds an academic position as director of counseling psychology at the Wright Institute. She has also partnered with a number of nonprofit organizations to promote the wide-ranging benefits of a plant-strong diet. Milena is a California state councilmember for The Humane Society of the United States and speaks nationally on the psychology of dietary and social change. Milena organizes meetups for good-food entrepreneurs and advises GFI on consumer behavior. 

Chris Kerr

Senior Advisor

Chris has more than two decades of leadership experience in financial and venture capital management. Chris is investment manager of New Crop Capital and serves as director of Anark Corporation, director at Pitcairn Financial Group, and managing partner at Abele Kerr Investments. Chris mentors startups in the good food space, provides market-level due diligence for potential investors, and connects the most innovative and disruptive good food companies with an array of potential funders.

Jacqueline Kravette

Senior Advisor

As an advisor to GFI, Jacqueline assists restaurants and wholesale distributors with improving and expanding their plant-based offerings. She has enjoyed a diverse career spanning both public and private sectors, most recently as a Senior Account Executive for Open Table, working with local and national restaurant chains as well as independent operators. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Virginia.

Jamie Macfarlane

Communications Advisor

Jamie Macfarlane is a political and brand communications specialist and is currently completing an MBA at Stanford Business School. He spent five years with communications group WPP, where he ran election campaigns across the world. He served as a high level communications advisor to the Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Croatia and led the digital campaign of the democracy movement in Cambodia. Jamie also has extensive experience working with major consumer brands, designing advertising campaigns for Unilever, Carlsberg, Red Bull, and GSK. Jamie supports GFI through engaging in social science research and by representing us in social science coalitions related to plant based and cultivated meat research.

Alison Rabschnuk

Senior Advisor

Alison serves as Business Development Director, Plant Proteins, at Kerry Group. Before Kerry, Alison was GFI’s first corporate engagement director, a role she served in from 2017-2020. In her time at GFI, Alison built a team of corporate engagement specialists who serve as the global authorities in alternatives to industrial animal production and who work with food processors, restaurants, grocery stores, and food service companies to promote plant-based alternatives to conventional meat, dairy, and eggs. She is a graduate of Wellesley College.

Jaime Surenkamp

Senior Advisor

Jaime graduated with honors from Longwood University in Virginia. Shortly thereafter she moved to California and began a career in corporate sales. Jaime’s experience is focused in the restaurant and hospitality industry, having worked with industry leaders such as OpenTable, Daiya Foods and HotSchedules. She is encouraged by the growing focus of putting plants at the center of the plate, and as an advisor to GFI, she helps to connect chefs and restaurant operators with leading innovators and innovations in plant-based and cultivated meat, dairy, and eggs.

David Welch

Senior Advisor

David served as GFI's Director of Technology from 2017-2020. At his time at GFI, he oversaw a team of scientists, combining his background in plant biology and regenerative medicine to help companies and academic research institutions accelerate the development of plant-based and cultivated meat alternatives to animal products. David holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in plant developmental cell biology from Utrecht University. He has more than fifteen years' experience in the life science industry, including the product development, market development and commercialization of cells, scaffolds, cell reprogramming tools and cell culture media for regenerative medicine and bioprocessing applications.

Miranda Grizio

Research Fellow

Miranda is a food scientist working in R&D for the natural foods industry who has won several new product awards, including a Vegetarian Times Foodie Award. She holds a master’s degree in Food Science from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in International Development from Tulane University. Miranda also volunteers at Compatible Technology International providing technical assistance for food processing projects in developing countries to improve the incomes and nutrition of smallholder farmers and their families. At GFI, she supports food entrepreneurs and scientists interested in plant-based foods by researching plant-based ingredient functionality. 

David Masica

Research Fellow

With GFI, Dave is applying his background in data science and statistics to forecast worldwide production of plant- and cell-based meat through the 21st century. These models leverage large-scale historic data to predict consumer trends and incorporate production inputs at every scale from micronutrients to manufacturing infrastructure. Results from these efforts will be published as open-source, interactive web-apps that can inform decision-making among innovators, investors, and researchers. Dave earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), and was later a research professor in Biomedical Engineering at JHU. He currently develops bioinformatics algorithms and artificial intelligence in biotech.

Stacey Skaalure

Science & Technology Research Fellow

Stacey has extensive experience designing biomaterials and scaffolding for tissue engineering applications. She aims to apply her skill sets to improve cultivated meat technologies, and to encourage further research in this emerging field. Stacey has a BSc in Bioengineering from Rice University, a PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder, and 5 years of postdoctoral research experience at Imperial College London. Stacey is passionate about food sustainability, and sees great promise in translating knowledge from the biomedical sector towards improving food systems.

Nikki Jedlicka

Corporate Engagement Intern

Nikki is a communications and management professional with diverse experience in government, corporate, and non-profit engagement. She has a master's degree in public relations from the George Washington University and a bachelor's degree in international relations from the College of William and Mary. She vividly remembers launching her plant-based journey after a Valentine's Dinner in Taipei, and looks forward to supporting the Corporate Engagement team in introducing more plant-based and cultivated meat alternatives to various markets.

Jackie Oestreicher

Strategic Evaluation Extern

Jackie works across GFI teams to measure the impact and results of each initiative. She joins GFI as an extern from Bain & Company where she is a Senior Associate Consultant in the Chicago office. Jackie received a B.S. in Economics and Entrepreneurship from Washington University in St. Louis.

Board of Directors

Advisory Council

Khaled bin Alwaleed

HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, an advocate of animal rights and a proponent of healthy living, believes in a bevy of clean and green methodologies. Khaled, having enthusiastically adopted a vegan lifestyle and energy efficient alternatives, is an avid healthpreneur. As a business figure, a technology enthusiast, and the founding chairman of KBW Investments, Khaled has holdings on five continents. He invests in diverse global businesses and early-stage ventures, including those in advanced technology and clean energy, at the intersection of innovation and economic stability. A member of the Saudi Arabian royal family, Khaled is a motivated spokesperson for entrepreneurs in the Middle East and endeavors to educate on animal rights while advocating the benefits of sustainability and going green. In his capacity as chairman of the elected Saudi Green Building Forum Trustee Board, he works to advance Saudi Arabia’s green building targets.

Michiel Bakker

As the Director of Global Programs for Real Estate & Workplace Services, Michiel Bakker leads Google’s renowned workplace programs and services such as food, transportation, events, sustainability, and fitness and well-being. Bakker is focused on providing integrated workplace services and experiences that enable Google and Googlers to thrive.

From 2012 to 2017, Bakker led Google’s Food program, supporting all food service related activities and initiatives for Google’s global community as well as developing internal and external partnerships to explore and tackle the challenges and opportunities in the broader food systems. Before joining Google, Bakker spent 17 great years with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. in various roles. 

Bakker continues to be very involved in the ever-evolving and growing intersection of food, health, and sustainability through various roles and organizations around the world such as the Culinary Institute of America’s Menus of Change Business Leadership Council; the EAT Forum Advisory Board; and the Yale School of Management Center for Customer Insights' Advisory Board. 

Josh Balk

Josh Balk is co-founder of Hampton Creek, one of the fastest-growing food technology companies in the marketplace today. Josh works full time at The Humane Society of the United States where he helps build start-up companies in the food tech arena. He also works with the world’s largest food companies, such as Walmart, McDonald’s, and Starbucks, to create more humane, sustainable purchasing policies. The New York Times, Fortune magazine, and CNN are among the many media outlets to spotlight his work.

Ryan Bethencourt

Since Ryan Bethencourt co-founded Indie Bio in 2014, he and his team have funded 42 biotech startups, including companies building the post-animal bioeconomy: Clara Foods, Memphis Meats, Gelzen, New Wave, and Pembient. Previously, Ryan headed the Life Sciences Prize Group at the XPRIZE Foundation and co-founded Berkeley Biolabs in addition to serving as its CEO. He is co-founder of Sudo Room, Counter Culture Labs, Lab Launch, and The Open Source Insulin Project as well. Ryan also helped catalyze the early biohacker movement starting in 2008.

Aryenish Birdie

Aryenish Birdie is founder and executive director of Encompass, an organization working to foster racial diversity and inclusivity in the farmed animal protection movement. Prior to Encompass, Birdie was a federal lobbyist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine promoting alternatives to animal experiments. She was part of a four-woman team instrumental in reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act to ensure that animal protection language was integrated into the law. Birdie completed her Master’s degree, Magna Cum Laude, in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University. 

Kevin Boylan

Kevin Boylan is co-founder and co-chairman of Veggie Grill, the largest plant-based restaurant company in the United States. He is also a founding partner of Powerplant Ventures, which invests in emerging growth companies that deliver better nutrition in more sustainable and ethical ways by making it easier and more enjoyable to consume plant-based products. Kevin spent the first 10 of his more than 25 years in finance at investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert as senior vice president and the subsequent 15 years at his own firm, Standard Capital Group. 

Jill Brant

Jill is a Founder & Managing Partner at the Seurat Group, an insights-driven consumer packaged goods consulting and private equity firm. Jill’s passion for helping brands grow began at General Mills and has been part of her DNA for 20+ years.

She works with a range of partners, from entrepreneurs to the largest CPG companies in the world, to help them better orient towards future trends and accelerate growth. Jill received her BS from the University of Pennsylvania and her MBA from Harvard Business School.

She lives in Fairfield, CT with her husband and their twins. You can find Jill spending weekends with her family, playing with the dog, or trying to improve her tennis game.

Asheem Chandna

Asheem Chandna is a partner at Greylock Partners where he assists entrepreneurs in creating and building the next generation of enterprise companies. He has helped establish and grow multiple businesses to market-leading positions. Asheem has appeared on the Forbes Midas list of top technology investors for the past several years.  

Michael Christie

Michael Christie is a patent and trade mark attorney with a technical background in biotechnology. He assists entrepreneurs and start-ups through to large research institutes and multinational corporations to identify, protect, and enforce their inventions. Before working as a patent attorney, Michael worked as a post-doctoral scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Tuebingen, Germany and as a commercialization analyst at an Australian technology transfer company. Michael holds a bachelor's degree in biotechnology (with honors), a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, a Masters Degree in Intellectual Property, and a Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialization.

Jeremy Coller

Jeremy Coller is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Coller Capital, a leading global private equity firm. With offices in London, New York, and Hong Kong, Coller Capital has invested in approximately 16,000 private companies worldwide and has current assets under management of approximately $17 billion. Having founded the Coller Institute for Private Equity at the London Business School in 2008, Jeremy established the Coller Institute for Venture at Tel Aviv University in 2013. Most recently, he endowed the Coller School of Management at Tel Aviv University.

The Jeremy Coller Foundation is also active in grantmaking, research, and strategic initiatives to end factory farming. JCF recently launched FAIRR, a collaborative investor network that shares research to raise awareness of the financial risks linked to the factory farming industry and mobilizes investors to engage with global food companies to improve practices. Since December 2015, FAIRR has signed up investors representing more than $4 trillion AUM.

Jeremy holds a BSc (Hons) in Management Sciences from the University of Manchester, UMIST and an MA in Philosophy from Sussex University. He attended Carmel College and the Diplôme Cours de Civilisation Française at the Sorbonne. In 2011, Jeremy was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the London Business School. In 2013, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Tel Aviv University.

Liz Dee

Liz Dee is changing the conversation about food production and sustainable business through her dynamic experiential base as a company executive, ethical vegan, and angel investor. As co-owner and co-president of Smarties Candy Company and CEO of Baleine & Bjorn Capital LLC, Liz provides unique insights into the future of food production, agro-business safety, and the shifting trajectory toward conscious business models. Liz has been featured on CNN Money and in The New York TimesThe Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star, among other publications. She shares updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Brad Goldberg

Brad Goldberg spent 35 years in investment management as an executive vice president, portfolio manager, and head of the value and balanced account segment of Jennison Associates, a subsidiary of Prudential Financial. He is a certified financial analyst. Brad founded Animal Welfare Trust in 2001, which provides grants to students and organizations, and is chair of HEART, a humane education organization. Brad helped establish the Animal Studies Initiative at NYU and the Animal Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School.

Alinta Hawkins

Alinta Hawkins is co-founder of the ARK Foundation, which donates to and invests in environmental projects, animal welfare charities, and other compassionate causes. She also co-owns a plant-based restaurant in Bahrain, helps create and sustain animal shelters around the world, and serves as the voice of animals across the Middle East. Alinta is passionate about natural health, well-being, animals, and the environment.

Chuck Laue

Chuck Laue is vice chairman of Asurion, responsible for global underwriting and insurance operations as well as key client executive relationships. Chuck is on the board of the Great Plains SPCA and The Humane Society of the United States, and is a co-founder and board director of The Quinn Foundation and Ringo's Fund, private foundations focused on animal welfare. Chuck sits on the board of IRL Holdings in Mexico City and is also managing partner of Quinn Capital, a private investment firm focused on insurance assets. He and his wife, Jennifer, co-founded Stray Dog Capital, which focuses on mission-centric direct investment in food and technology companies with vegan and animal advocacy business models.

John Mackey

John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, has led the natural and organic grocer to a $15.7 billion Fortune 500 company with more than 460 stores and 87,000 team members in three countries. 

While devoting his career to helping shoppers satisfy their lifestyle needs with quality natural and organic foods, Mackey has also focused on building a more conscious way of doing business. 

A strong believer in free market principles, Mackey co-founded the Conscious Capitalism Movement and co-authored a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book entitled “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business” (Harvard Business Review Press 2013) to boldly defend and reimagine capitalism, and encourage a way of doing business that is grounded in ethical consciousness. Mackey is also the co-author of the new book, “The Whole Foods Diet” (Grand Central Life & Style 2017).

Nicole Negowetti

Nicole Negowetti is a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. In 2016 - 2017, she served as GFI’s Policy Director. Nicole was an Associate Professor of Law at the Valparaiso University School of Law from 2011 - 2016. Nicole serves on the Food & Drug Law Journal Editorial Advisory Board and is a founding member of the Academy of Food Law & Policy. She is also a co-founder of the Northwest Indiana Food Council, whose mission is to build a just, sustainable, and thriving locally-oriented food system.

Michael Pellman Rowland

Michael Pellman Rowland is Partner at Alpenrose Wealth Management International. Michael also writes a column for Forbes, discussing the future of food. Michael's passion centers around improving our food system to address the world's most pressing problems.

Mark Post, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor Mark Post has taught for the KNAW Interuniversity Cardiology Institute of the Netherlands, Harvard Medical School, and Dartmouth Medical School. Since 2002, he has served as professor of vascular physiology at Maastricht University and professor of angiogenesis in tissue engineering at the Technical University Eindhoven. Since 2008, he has worked on creating "clean" meat (i.e., cultured meat), including a highly publicized project to produce a clean meat hamburger, which was funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Matt Prescott

Matthew Prescott is Senior Food Policy Director for The Humane Society of the United States. For over a decade and a half, Prescott has spearheaded efforts to reform our food system and global diet. His work has led to sweeping changes in the supply chains of over 100 major food companies and impacted countless individuals' diets. Prescott is a leading figure in the global movement to reform the way we farm and eat-he's a sought-after speaker, published writer and thought leader on the topic, having lectured and spoken at Ivy League universities, Fortune 500 food companies, and more.

Alicia Robb

Alicia Robb is a senior fellow with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. She is also founder and CEO of Next Wave Ventures, which has launched two angel funds and training programs focused on bringing more women into angel investing. Alicia is a visiting scholar with the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is founder and former executive director and board chair of the Foundation for Sustainable Development, an international development organization. Alicia currently serves on the board of the National Advisory Council for Minority Business Enterprise, the Advisory Board for Global Entrepreneurship Week, and the Deming Center Venture Fund. She is also a guest contributor to outlets such as The Huffington Post and Forbes.

Maggie Sadowsky

As founder of The Culinary Architects, Maggie transforms food categories and innovates products. She is focused on shifting the way people eat and is considered a thought leader in natural, organic, and plant based solutions. She has influenced and launched more than 100 successful products in her 20 years in the CPG industry. Maggie is a Certified Food Scientist from the Institute of Food Technologists and holds a B.S. in Food Science from The Ohio State University.

Chad Sarno

Chad Sarno is Vice President of Culinary at Good Catch Foods and cofounder of the Wicked Kitchen line of foods in Tesco. Chad also is an ambassador for Rouxbe, the world’s largest online cooking school, where he launched the Professional Plant-Based Certification course. He spent several years at Whole Foods Market as Senior Culinary Educator and media spokesperson for the Global Healthy Eating program. Before that, Chad launched a line of boutique restaurants in Istanbul, Munich, and London. He has been a contributing author to more than a dozen cookbooks, and if not in the kitchen he’s getting lost in his gardens.

Derek Sarno

Derek Sarno is the Executive Chef and Director of Plant-Based Innovation for Tesco, the third-largest food retailer in the world. Derek is cofounder of the Wicked Kitchen line of foods in Tesco and cofounder of Good Catch Foods. He is also the former Senior Global Executive Chef at Whole Foods Market, where he catered all the company’s major executive leadership events and oversaw national recipe development. After culinary school, Derek owned several critically acclaimed restaurants and catering businesses. He spent a few years farming and spent some quality time learning to meditate and cook a variety of foods at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Derek has always loved to train squirrels in the ways of the ninja.

Kurt Schmidinger, Ph.D.

Kurt Schmidinger is a geophysicist and earned a doctorate in food science in Vienna, focusing his dissertation on "clean" (i.e., cultured) and plant-based alternatives to animal products. In 2005, he founded the project Future Food, which gathers and presents a worldwide portfolio of alternatives to animal products for human nutrition, as well as possible future technologies for food production, such as biofermentation and clean meat.

Uma Valeti, M.D.

Uma Valeti, M.D., is CEO of the "clean" (i.e., cultured) meat company Memphis Meats and is laser focused on advancing the commercial viability of meat farmed directly from real meat cells. A cardiologist by training, Uma believes that meat that is safe and sustainable should be good for the body and the soul. Uma has extensive business experience and is an investor in a variety of food and tech companies. In addition to his many contributions in health sciences, he wants his biggest contribution to be leading the development of a profitable and a world positive future food system. Fun fact: Uma has rescued several people in cardiac arrest.

Susan Vitka

Susan Vitka brings more than three decades of experience as a strategic financial adviser to clients in the private and social benefit sectors. Her clients have consisted of startups, Fortune 100 companies, and sovereign wealth funds, among others. She is an active early stage investor and adviser, with particular interest in life sciences, nutrition and agriculture, and the environment. Susan has served on numerous boards in the U.S. and abroad, including those of Women for Women International, Women for Women International UK (as founding chair), Physicians for Human Rights, the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, and several family foundations. 

Arlin Wasserman

Arlin Wasserman is the founder of Changing Tastes, a consultancy that helps it clients find opportunity and realize value at the intersection of the five major drivers of change in our food system:  sustainability, public health, information technology, demographics, and the changing role of the culinary professional. While serving as the first Vice President of Sustainability at Sodexo, Arlin created the concept of plant-forward dining, which now serves as a major focus of culinary innovation in the restaurant industry. He also chairs the “Menus of Change” Sustainable Business Leadership Council for the Culinary institute of America and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Suzy Welch

Suzy Welch is co-author, with husband, Jack Welch, of international best sellers The Real Life MBA and Winning. She is also author of New York Times best seller 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea. Her career expertise and perceptive commentary have made her a regular contributor on The TODAY Show and Bulls & Bears. Suzy, a vegan and longtime animal rights supporter, currently serves on the board of directors of The Humane Society of the United States and is a mother of four. 

Eron Zehavi

Eron Zehavi is the founder and CEO of WellNest, an on-demand platform that provides in-home health and wellness services with trained professionals. Prior to WellNest, he was the co-founder and chief rewards officer of Swagbucks, the web's largest and most engaged rewards and loyalty community, with more than $100 million in distributed rewards upon his departure. Eron is also a socially conscious consultant and investor with a focus on food education and reform, having worked with the Food Revolution Network and Thrive Market. He is committed to his family and friends and creating a happy, healthy, harmonious, and compassionate world.

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