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Our Team
Looking for the Good Food Conference? Session videos are now posted.
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 clean 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 Matt Ball at mattb@gfi.org.

Bruce Friedrich

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Bruce oversees GFI’s global strategy and programs, working with directors, international managing directors, and staff 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, and a variety of programs on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN. Bruce's TED talk has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. He co-authored two books, contributed chapters to seven more, and has written seven law review articles. He graduated magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, from Georgetown Law and also holds degrees from Grinnell College, 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 clean meat research and development and on ensuring a level statutory and regulatory playing field for plant-based and clean 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. 

Alison Rabschnuk

Director of Corporate Engagement

Alison leads our corporate engagement team in their work with leading food processing and foodservice companies, supermarkets, and restaurants to help increase the quality and quantity of plant-based products available on the market. Alison brings more than two decades of advertising, marketing, and sales experience to GFI working with brands including Taco Bell, Levi Strauss, Gap, Kiplinger’s, and Parents magazine. For the last 17 years, she has developed affiliate programs and ad networks for clients that include General Mills, BET, and Gourmet Ads. Alison works with restaurants, grocery stores, food service, and food processing companies to diversify their protein offerings. She is a graduate of Wellesley College. 

David Welch, Ph.D.

Director of Science and Technology

David oversees GFI’s 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 clean 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.

Annie Cull

Director of Communications

Annie leads GFI’s team of passionate and creative communicators. She brings more than 20 years of strategic communications, public relations, and marketing experience to her role -- including time at a nonprofit, in the private sector, and at multiple Fortune 500 companies. Annie’s path to GFI started when she discovered the transformative power of capital markets through her work at Calvert Investments, a pioneering sustainable investment firm, and crystallized after managing public relations for Whole Foods Market in the mid-Atlantic region. Annie earned a master’s in Strategic Public Relations from The George Washington University and has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Reannon Branchesi

Director of Human Resources and Administration

Reannon supports GFI’s mission to create a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply by keeping our work organized and efficient and providing programmatic support across the organization. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Reannon has more than a decade of nonprofit management experience working primarily to reform animal agriculture. She is also the founder of Generation Veggie, an online community that supports plant-based families by providing resources on how to raise plant-based kids. 

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.  

Sarah David, J.D.

General Counsel and Director of Finance

Sarah joined GFI after a 21-year career at United Technologies Corporation (UTC), a diversified Fortune 50 industrial company that supports the building and aerospace industries worldwide. Her last role at UTC was Vice President and General Counsel at UTC Climate, Controls & Security. Sarah fulfilled her plan of retiring early and doing volunteer work, but when she heard GFI was looking for a General Counsel, she decided to put her legal skills to work in service of a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply. Sarah holds a J.D. and MBA from The University of Connecticut, and a B.A. in Biology and Spanish from Wellesley College.    

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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

Liz Specht, Ph.D.

Associate Director of Science and Technology

Liz analyzes areas of technological need within plant-based and cell-based meat innovation, forecasts future growth bottlenecks, and catalyzes research to proactively address these needs and bottlenecks. She also supports startups and established industry leaders who are moving 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. Liz is a Community Fellow with CU Boulder’s Sustainability Innovation Lab and a Guest Lecturer for Singularity University. She has 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.

MJ Kinney

Food Scientist

MJ applies her background in plant protein and food science R&D, technical sales, and project management in B2B and B2C industry settings to help companies and academic research groups identify barriers and solutions during plant and cell-based meat, egg, and dairy product development. MJ holds a bachelor’s degree in food science and human nutrition from the University of Florida.

James Dale, Ph.D.

Research Funding Coordinator

James leverages his experience to identify and expand scientific research funding opportunities for both plant-based and clean 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.

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. 

Jen Lamy

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. 

Allison Berke, Ph.D.


Allison Berke received her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley, B.S. degrees in math and biology from MIT, and previously worked in biomedical- and security-focused consulting with McKinsey & Co. She has experience managing research, education, and outreach activities as the Executive Director of the Stanford Cyber Initiative and teaches CS181 at Stanford (Computers, Ethics, and Public Policy). At GFI, Allison advises academic research and education initiatives related to clean meat and plant-based meat alternatives.

Lindsay Springer, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Plant-Based Specialization

Lindsay forges pathways to accelerate plant-based meat, egg and dairy adoption through ideation, formulation and raw ingredient improvement.  Synthesizing her knowledge of plant chemistry and food science, she is driven to see new technologies invoke food system changes from the field to the lab to the marketplace.  Lindsay holds a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and M.S. degrees in Pharmaceutical and Biomaterials Sciences from the University at Buffalo.  She received her Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology from Cornell University where she also pursued postdoctoral research experience in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences.

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.

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.

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.

Elizabeth Derbes, J.D., MPH

Assistant Director of Regulatory Affairs

Elizabeth works on global and domestic regulatory issues affecting clean 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.

Mark Onley

Policy Coordinator

Mark supports GFI's lawyers and lobbyists to promote smart and equitable government oversight of plant-based products and clean 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.

Ken Forsberg, Ph.D.

Senior Policy Specialist

Ken leads GFI’s legislative efforts, working to level the playing field for clean and plant-based meat, dairy, and eggs. He previously led budget advocacy at InterAction, the 180-strong association of international development nonprofits and did legislative work for Senators Dick Durbin and Bob Kerrey. Ken holds a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University, and a B.S. in Applied Math, Engineering, and Physics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. 

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. 

Emily Hennessee

Policy Coordinator

Emily works on legislative and regulatory efforts to level the playing field for plant-based and cultivated meat in the United States. 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.

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. 

Alene Anello, J.D.

Legal Counsel

Alene provides support on a variety of legal matters related to GFI’s mission and nonprofit status. Prior to joining GFI, Alene was a Litigation Fellow with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. After graduation from law school, Alene clerked for a federal judge in Connecticut. She obtained her BA and JD from Harvard and worked at PETA as a Special Project Coordinator between college and law school. 

Scott Weathers, MSc.

Senior Policy Specialist

Scott leads GFI’s state-level lobbying efforts, working to level the playing field for clean 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. 

Keri Szejda, Ph.D.

Senior Consumer Research Scientist

At GFI, Keri’s research advances the plant-based and clean meat market sectors by generating effective messaging that helps consumers make healthy, humane, and sustainable food choices. She is also a Visiting Scholar with the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU). Keri earned her Ph.D. in Communication from ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and completed postdoctoral work in Science Communication with ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

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. 

Emma Ignaszewski

Corporate Engagement Strategist

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.

Caroline Bushnell

Associate Director of Corporate Engagement

Caroline works with leading manufacturers and retailers to increase the quality, quantity, and availability of plant-based products. She also advises on marketing and merchandising best practices for the plant-based foods industry. Caroline most recently served as the Director of Marketing for Celestial Seasonings and has held positions in brand management, finance, and consulting. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.S. in business administration and finance.

Azi Akpan

Business Analyst

Azi (pron. "Ozzy") leads investor engagement to drive growth and innovation in the plant- and cell-based startup space. She brings her passion for sustainability, technology, business, environmental policy, and social justice to this role. Before joining GFI, Azi served as a founding member of the Environmental Law Institute's Innovation Lab where she spearheaded projects on the cannabis industry, the sustainable blue economy, and environmental justice. She holds a B.S. from Cornell University's College of Engineering.

Melissa Ahlborn

Marketing 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

Content Specialist

Mary is 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. 

Matt Ball

Senior Media Relations 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.

Rose Convery

Senior Creative Manager

Rose is a classically trained designer with experience maintaining brand and evolving design, setting up and running in-house studios, and collaborating with teams, stakeholders, and vendors to bring ideas and strategies to life. She is passionate about GFI's mission to change the world by transforming animal agriculture, and she develops graphic designs and creative materials to empower that mission. Rose graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a BFA in graphic design.

Natalia Veinott

Event 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. At GFI, Natalia works with the leadership team to create and coordinate a wide range of compelling events for scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and companies working in plant-based meat and clean meat technologies.    

Christine Dvorak

Graphic Designer/Production Artist

Christine works to ensure the food revolution is visually powerful by supporting GFI’s departments in solving communication challenges and developing a variety of creative materials.  She holds a BFA degree in graphic design from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. After graduating she worked as a brand designer at an agency where she learned the ins and outs of how brands are built, maintained, and evolved.  She is passionate about GFI’s mission and hopes to amplify their message through the power of design.

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.

Nate Crosser

Business Analyst

Nate consults with startups and investors to capitalize, commercialize, and scale new products and services as well as builds tools for the plant-based food industry at large. He brings experience in entrepreneurial ecosystem building, venture capital, corporate M&A and real estate 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.

Zak Weston

Foodservice Analyst

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 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. 

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. 

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.

Victoria Wheeler

Executive Assistant, Development

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.

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.

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.

Brittany Chambers

Senior Development Manager

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.

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.

Annie Osborn

University Innovation Specialist

Annie comes with a background of development economics and sustainable food systems. She holds an MS and BS with Honors in Earth Systems from Stanford University. Prior to joining GFI, she researched nutrition, childhood development, and education in northwestern China with Stanford's Rural Education Action Project. At GFI, Annie helps members of the international good food community connect with and utilize resources and professional networks outside their home countries.

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.

Tracy Grade

Information Systems 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.

Chris Hu

Team Expansion Leader

While Chris has worked at various investment firms in NYC and abroad, his strongest motivation is to have a positive and meaningful impact on the world. At GFI, he hopes to make that better world possible, and to give others like him that chance as well. Chris graduated from New York University with a bachelor's degree in Finance and Business Economics.

Andrew Kirschner, Ed.D.

Hiring Team Manager

Andrew has worked as a nonprofit executive director, college professor, recruiter, job developer, and director of a postgraduate university writing center. The founder of a plant-based nutrition bar company, he also volunteers as a writer, speaker, advocate, and fundraiser for healthy, humane, and sustainable food. At GFI, he manages our hiring team and helps identify talent to build the organization. Andrew holds a bachelor's degree from The George Washington University, a master's degree from Florida Atlantic University, and a doctoral degree from Walden University. 

Anastasia Orth

Culture and Engagement Specialist

After beginning her career in sales, Anastasia was a recruiter for startups in Silicon Valley where she witnessed first-hand the power of technology to transform and disrupt long-established industries and practices. Inspired by the possibilities for growth and innovation in the plant-based industry, she brings her skills and passion to GFI where she supports the creation of a fair, respectful, diverse and high-performance culture that enables employees to contribute their very best to the organization. Anastasia graduated with honors from the University of California at Berkeley and is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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.

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. 

Sarah Dressel

Team Expansion Leader

Sarah holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Sciences with a minor in Sociocultural Anthropology from The George Washington University. Previously, she worked as a nonprofit recruiter at an executive search firm in Washington, D.C. and has a passion for plant-based nutrition and transforming the food system. At GFI, Sarah works on assessment and hiring to help build our incredible team.

Toube Benedetto

Executive Assistant, Operations and Human Resources

Toube (pron. "Toby") brings more than 15 years of executive assistant experience from tech startups and the banking industry to GFI. She is passionate about creating a healthier, more compassionate world and serves as a consultant for California State University and Chico’s Town Hall Meeting program on the topic of the humane treatment of animals. Toube also holds a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

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.

Renee Bell

Science and Technology Editor and Assistant

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.

Alicia Crawford

Communications Coordinator

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.

Maggie Mascarenhas

Communications Assistant

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. 

Olivia Jefferson

Communications Assistant

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.

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.

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. 

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 “clean” (i.e., cultured) meat, dairy, and eggs.

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 clean meat research.

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.

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. 

Lindsay Gaesser

Environmental Policy Fellow

Lindsay is currently pursuing an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She earned her J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law, where she focused on environmental advocacy and natural resources conservation. Lindsay hopes to help pave the way for the cellular agricultural revolution by promoting policies that bring cell-based meat and other cultured animal products to a commercial reality.

Jeremy Piacente

Science & Technology Research Fellow

Jeremy Piacente is an undergraduate studying Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida. His concern regarding climate change and interest in clean meat as a solution has lead him to collaborate with a variety of entities on campus, including  Al Gore's Climate Reality Project Campus Corps and the Cellular Agriculture Society. With GFI, Jeremy hopes to accelerate clean meat production through the development of a low cost and easy to produce cell culture media supplement.

Cecelia Mercer

Corporate Engagement Intern

Cecelia Mercer earned a bachelor's degree from Duke University in Environmental Science and is currently pursuing a degree in business sustainability from University College Dublin. She brings her experience working on sustainability in the public and private sectors to GFI. 

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.

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 clean meat alternatives to various markets.

Valerie Madamba

Legal Fellow

Valerie Madamba is a regulatory lawyer with experience across the spectrum of FDA-regulated products and a special focus on food issues, having worked for several years as a food lawyer with the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel.  Long devoted to all things food-related, Valerie is currently part of the Legal team at Blue Apron, where she established the role of Food Regulatory Counsel, advising on issues including food safety, labeling, communications, and legislative and regulatory affairs.  She frequently volunteers as a mentor to food startups in the U.S. and internationally and has also recently served as an adjunct professor of Food Law at Brooklyn Law School.

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.

Craig Phillips

Craig Phillips has held leadership positions in foodservice for decades. These include director of purchasing and corporate director of strategic planning at U.S. Foodservice Inc., and vice president of purchasing for Metz Culinary Management, a top 20 management company running foodservice operations in college, hospital, K–12, and other segments, as well as franchisee restaurants and hotels. Craig is especially interested in helping plant-based companies better understand the needs of foodservice companies.

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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