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Our Team
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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 all aspects of GFI’s strategy and operations, working with directors and staff to ensure that GFI is maximally efficient and effective at implementing programs that deliver mission-focused results. Bruce graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law and Phi Beta Kappa from Grinnell College and also holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Economics. Bruce is a popular speaker and has delivered two TEDx talks (e.g., here) and presentations on food innovation at most of the nation's top universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT. Bruce has co-authored two books, contributed chapters to five books, and authored seven law review articles.

Jessica Almy, Esq.


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.

Nicole Rawling, Esq.


Director of International Engagement

Nicole oversees our operations in China, India, Israel, Brazil and around the world, working to bring GFI’s efforts worldwide and plant seeds for the good food movement around the globe. Nicole has a B.S. in international affairs from Georgetown School of Foreign Service. After earning a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law, she spent eight years at an international law firm advising Fortune 500 companies and executives on white collar and securities issues. Nicole left the law firm to work with animal protection nonprofits in both litigation and governance. She has also served on the board of directors of six nonprofits and fostered almost 300 animals. 

Brad Barbera


Director of Innovation

Brad guides our innovation team as they support the development and growth of startups in the plant-based and clean meat market sectors. Brad has thirty years of experience bringing innovative products and ideas to market in a wide variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, ergonomic devices, and food. While he has worked with major brands like Walgreens, Kraft, and Jergens, his most recent work has focused on helping start-ups, small businesses, and nonprofits strategically out-innovate their larger rivals. Brad has a B.A. in economics and a B.S. in chemical engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. 

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 Operations and Human Resources

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. 

Amy Shepherd, Esq.


General Counsel and Director of Finance

Amy earned her B.A. in economics from the University of California, Davis, and her law degree from the University of California, Hastings. After law school, she clerked for the Hon. Philip M. Pro of the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. She then worked for four years at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission before moving on to a variety of in-house legal positions addressing finance, compliance, corporate governance, and regulatory issues at for-profit corporations, institutes of higher education, and nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining GFI, she spent five years as Deputy General Counsel and then General Counsel of a large manufacturing trade association in the Washington, D.C. area.

Clare Bland


Director of Development

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. 

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 is working to build and grow a good food ecosystem in the Asia Pacific region. She spent more than ten years as a solicitor in Hong Kong at international law firms and financial institutions. Elaine then left the conventional workplace to immerse herself in social entrepreneurial pursuits and the startup world. Elaine has an LLB Laws degree from King’s College London, a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship from Foster School of Business, University of Washington, and currently pursuing a Master of Science in International Animal Welfare Policies & Laws at the University of Edinburgh.

Or Benjamin


Managing Director, Israel

Or brings more than two decades of partnership development, program and people management and leadership experience to GFI, in both business and non-profit sectors. She holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering, a BA in Life Sciences, and an MBA majoring in finance and marketing and is also a graduate of the Institute of Humane Education. Or is focused on creating a dynamic ecosystem for research, innovation and commercialization of plant-based and clean- alternatives to animal products and making Israel a global leader in this space. 

Felipe Krelling


Research Coordinator, Brazil

Felipe is a Systems Analyst focused in data science, committed to using technology and data to make the world a better place. He studied at the Federal Technology University of Paraná and at the University of Toronto. At GFI, he focuses on developing the plant-based market in Brazil by assisting GFI's partners with research into promising alternative proteins.   

Liz Specht, Ph.D.


Senior Scientist

Liz holds 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 Fellow with the University of Colorado at Boulder Sustainability Innovation Lab. She has a decade of academic research experience in synthetic biology, recombinant protein expression, and development of genetic engineering tools. Liz works to identify and address areas of need for plant-based and clean meat innovation and encourages funding agencies to prioritize research that moves this field forward.

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D.


Scientific Foundations Liaison

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. 

Allison Berke, Ph.D.


Academic Research Advisor

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.

Elliot Swartz, Ph.D.


Academic Research Advisor

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 leverages these skills to educate the public, assist start-ups in clean meat development, increase the activity of clean meat and plant-based meat research, and expand awareness of the career opportunities in these fields.

Sanah Baig


Special Advisor to the Executive Director

Sanah brings both federal and local government-related expertise to her role at GFI, where she supports the executive director in implementing the organization's strategic goals. She previously served as a program director for the National Association of Counties, where she managed more than a dozen grant-funded programs that increased local governments' capacity for resilience and economic development planning. Prior to that, she served as an advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture on place-based and rural infrastructure investments as well as the Department's response to the opioid epidemic. Sanah holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia and is a native of the Washington, D.C. area.

Elizabeth Derbes, JD, MPH


Senior Regulatory Counsel

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.

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. 

Elan Abrell, J.D., Ph.D.


Senior Regulatory Specialist

Elan works on U.S. regulatory issues affecting clean meat to help ensure it has a fair and predictable path to market. He was previously a Farmed Animal Law and Policy Fellow at Harvard Law School's Animal Law and Policy Program, where his research focused on regulatory challenges to cellular agriculture, and a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Urban Studies Department at Queens College, City University of New York. He holds a J.D. from Berkeley Law School at the University of California, and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the Graduate Center of CUNY. He has authored multiple articles and book chapters as well as a forthcoming book based on his dissertation research on animal sanctuaries. 

Nicole Manu


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. 

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.

Brianna Cameron


Business Analyst

A public health professional with an academic background in tissue engineering research, Brianna most recently worked at Booz Allen Hamilton as a senior consultant on a variety of health care projects. She holds a Masters of Public Health from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Cornell University. Brianna's work at GFI is focused on launching new plant-based and clean meat companies and helping start-ups be as successful as possible.

Aylon Steinhart


Business Innovation Specialist

Aylon graduated cum laude from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and has co-founded two startups, Photopaz (now part of DigiLabs Inc.) and BrideBox. At GFI, Aylon uses his expertise in entrepreneurship, go-to-market strategy, marketing, and business development to help entrepreneurs launch the next generation of good food startups. He brings significant business leadership experience to GFI and has worked with companies such as Kellogg's, Applebee's, and Nestle.

Michael Fotinatos


Strategic Implementation Specialist

Michael is focused on driving and measuring strategic alignment across GFI. He is experienced in driving large-scale programs in the tech industry, leveraging skills in both software engineering and behavioral science. Michael has worked to deliver global energy efficiency programs at Opower and most recently helped to foster rapid growth in the Maps contributor community at Google. He holds a B.S. in Biology and Society from Cornell University.  

Shannon O'Neill


Business Analyst

Shannon brings experience from both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors to GFI, where she is focused on helping startups excel in the plant-based and clean meat space. Her previous work includes launching and growing a social impact startup and on-site management for one of Rice University's global health projects that spanned several developing countries. Shannon holds a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Boston University.

Caroline Bushnell


Senior Marketing Manager

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.

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.    

Zak Weston


Corporate Engagement Specialist

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. 

Peter Hamilton


Philanthropy Officer

Peter brings to GFI more than 35 years of professional experience spanning the fields of law, medical technology, real estate, and education administration. Throughout his life, he has been committed to advancing philanthropic causes. At GFI, Peter’s skills, experience, and connections combine to support our mission and secure a vibrant future for human health, animal welfare, and the global environment. Peter has an A.B from Princeton University and a J.D. from Washington University and maintains his law licenses in California, Missouri, and Colorado.

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.

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.

Mark Onley


Paralegal

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.

Annie Osborn


International Engagement Project Coordinator

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.

Tracy Grade


Development and Operations Coordinator

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.

Cameron Meyer Shorb


Policy Coordinator

Cameron holds a degree in biology with distinction from Carleton College. He has interned and worked for several nonprofit organizations, including Animal Charity Evaluators and Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, a project of the Humane Society of the United States. Cameron enables GFI to achieve its mission as rapidly as possible by working closely with the Policy team to level the playing field for plant-based and clean meat in the United States.  

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


Team Expansion Leader

Anastasia graduated with honors from the University of California at Berkeley where she studied sociology. After several years in sales, she began recruiting for startups in Silicon Valley where she witnessed first-hand the power of technology and its ability to transform long-established industries and practices. Inspired by the possibilities for growth and innovation in the plant-based industry, Anastasia brings her skills and passion to GFI where she helps discover and attract top talent to the organization.

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.

Anne Green, Ph.D.


Executive Assistant, International Engagement

Anne earned her Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her first career was as a Teaching Professor of German at Carnegie Mellon University, where she received her college's highest award for excellent in teaching, among other honors. Since 2007, she's worked in the non-profit sector for several groups, including two she co-founded. Anne brings considerable experience in editing and behind-the-scenes organizing to the GFI team.

Vanessa Assaro-Aluisa


Executive Assistant, Innovation and Corporate Engagement

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 Innovation 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 Assistant

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.

Lance Lively


Campus Fellow

Lance received his bachelor's degree in chemical and biological engineering from Princeton University and is a current Wharton MBA student. Prior to Wharton, Lance worked as an investment analyst at the McKinsey & Co. Investment Office and at The Rockefeller University, a biomedical research university. As a Campus Fellow, Lance encourages University of Pennsylvania students to pursue scientific and entrepreneurial opportunities in the plant-based and clean meat space.

Jake Kneller


Campus Fellow

Jake holds a bachelor's degree from Stanford University in Science, Technology, and Society. After graduating, Jake worked on the investment team at Makena Capital, an endowment-style investment fund investing across all asset classes and geographies. He worked on the strategy team at Impossible Foods before returning to Stanford to attend the Graduate School of Business, where he is currently earning his MBA. Jake supports The Good Food Institute's mission by increasing the number of students at Stanford interested in pursuing clean protein entrepreneurship through maximizing GFI's visibility on campus, planning events, guest lectures, and more. 

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.

Emma Lucas


Corporate Engagement Intern

Emma is a student at the University of Miami majoring in exercise physiology with a minor in chemistry. She found her passion for a plant-based and active lifestyle after taking a nutrition class two years ago. She's excited to intern with GFI and help meat alternative products become more mainstream. 

Kyle Fish


Innovation Intern

Kyle is an interdisciplinary scientist with a background in biochemistry, tissue engineering, neuroscience, and global health. He recently spent a year coordinating public health and nutrition programs in Guatemala, and currently works in a laboratory pursuing various projects related to tissue engineering and clean meat development. A passion for innovative technology and global problem solving brought him to GFI, where he helps accelerate food innovation by establishing relevant contacts at top universities. 

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. 

Tessa Urbanovich


Consumer Research Fellow

Tessa is currently pursuing her M.S. in Health and Strategic Communication at Chapman University in Orange County, CA. As an avid health advocate for both humans and animals, she is passionately curious about the most useful methods of communicating about clean meat and plant-based foods. Tessa is excited to support GFI's research on effective consumer messaging.

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.

Yad Jayanth


Science and Technology Intern

Yad is an experienced software professional with a passion for animal rights and the environment. Armed with an insatiable curiosity, Yad aims to be a part of the solution to the big problems that earthlings face. As an intern at GFI, Yad envisions using technology to tackle these problems and bring positive change to the world's many varied residents.

Valentin Waschulin


Science and Technology Intern

Based in Denmark, Valentin is a biotechnology MSc from the University of Copenhagen. Led by the conviction that a more humane and sustainable future of animal products is possible and motivated by the social isolation felt as a vegan at barbecues, he wants to use his knowledge to help bring about the cellular agriculture revolution.

Colleen Deyo


Science and Technology Intern

Colleen is a student at Cornell University, where she is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Food Science. She is passionate about using food science to develop more sustainable and nutritious products. At GFI, she supports the Science and Technology team by uncovering information about plant proteins. 

Harriet Arnold


Science and Technology Intern

Harriet graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Biology, a minor in Environmental Studies, and a passion for food sustainability. She has worked with GFI to explore novel plant protein sources viable for utilization in plant-based meat, and is providing administrative support for the UC Berkeley Challenge Lab focused on plant-based meats for the Fall of 2017. She hopes to pursue a higher degree in Food Science and Technology in the future so she can work towards mitigating problematic causes of climate change, poor human health, and animal cruelty by providing healthier and more sustainable plant-based food options.

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.

Winnie Lam

Winnie is the "Water Captain and Air Pilot" at Google. She is responsible for environmental initiatives, with a focus on data centers' environmental footprint. Since joining Google in 2004, Winnie has won several Founder's Award and Executive Management Awards, recognizing her contributions to Google's top achievements. Winnie is also an avid champion for animals.  She successfully advocated for the ban of elephant ivory products to be sold through Google. She advises several charities on using technology to further conservation, including World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy. For three years, she recruited Google employees to volunteer on a turtle conservation project in Belize, with scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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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