INVESTORS & ENTREPRENEURS
MAKING CHANGE HAPPEN
Food Funded 2022
November 10, 2022
Meet experienced leading practitioners at the intersection of food, investment, and impact
Aldo is Managing Director and co-founder of Amazonia Impact Ventures, an impact investment company empowering indigenous and forest people to protect and regenerate the Amazon Rainforest and its biodiversity.
We are Alicia and Dane, Co-Founders of Nutr, a wellness brand and creator of the patent-pending Nutr Machine – a signature product that makes plant-based milk at the push of a button. We are also launching a nut blends product line for our customers to enjoy making with our machine every day.
Alicia Kidd is a seasoned social impact entrepreneur in the wine industry. With 18 years of professional work experience in the corporate sector, Alicia's passion for wine, travel, art, and culture turned into a part-time job in the wine industry and led her to create her first company The Wine Noire. With the success of her current business, she created CoCo Noir Wine Shop & Bar. CoCo Noir Wine Shop & Bar is a brick-and-mortar wine shop that offers Women, BOPIC, and POC winemakers the opportunity to sell their wines. Her company is raising capital on the Wefunder platform and will open in the 1st quarter of 2022 in Downtown Oakland California.
Founder & CEO
Aner is passionate about pioneering multi-stakeholder governance and ownership models that ensure more equitable and fair outcomes for workers and communities. He serves on the boards of Transform Finance, Complete Solar, Firebrand Artisans, Native American Natural Foods (Tanka Bar).
Before starting Candide, Aner was a Project Leader at the Boston Consulting Group, where he in the energy, water and transportation sectors. Prior to that, he worked at Israel's leading Project Finance consulting firm. Aner holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a BA in Economics and History from Tel Aviv University. He is fluent in Spanish, French and Hebrew.
Bill is a financial activist. He connects people and ideas to create opportunities for transforming the capital markets. In his role as CEO of Iroquois Valley Farms - as well as through his previous endeavors as the founder of the independent advisory and consulting firms, 45North Partners and NorthFork Financial, and as a co-founder of HomeStake Venture Partners, an innovative platform to help mid-market businesses access non-extractive growth capital from like-minded investors - he is deeply committed to creating opportunities to support self-determination, thriving communities, and vibrant ecosystems.
Cole is a modern-day shepherdess, an agrarian entrepreneur, educator, and community advocate. With over a decade of experience working in land stewardship, regenerative agriculture, and targeted grazing with sheep and goats, Cole's pursuits contribute to ecological resilience, wildfire mitigation, evolution in the fiber and hide industries, and supporting the next generation of agrarian change-makers. Shepherdess Land and Livestock Co. is a targeted grazing business with educational, consulting, and wool production arms. She is also the director of the Community Supported Grazing Program, an endeavor of the Ojai Fire Safe Council, and co-director of the Grazing School of the West, a training program for new shepherds and grazing entrepreneurs.
Shepherdess, Owner Operator
At the American Sustainable Business Network, Colton manages the Clean Water is Good for Business and the Regenerative Agriculture and Justice initiatives that connect business leaders with issue advocacy. He obtained his M.A. in Global Environmental Policy from American University and published the peer-reviewed article "Ecological Costs of discrimination: racism, red cedar, and resilience in farm bill conservation policy in Oklahoma, in the Journal of Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems." He previously worked on sustainability, agriculture, and justice through fellowships at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Food Tank, and the Rural Coalition. Before entering the policy world, Colton worked in sales and marketing for the natural foods industry and spent time on organic farms in Spain and Costa Rica through work exchange programs.
Senior Manager, Policy and Advocacy
What do I want? Equitable access to all facets of the Natural Products and CPG industry for anyone who wants to join!
When do I want it?? Now!!
Combining 2 decades of experience assessing, creating and optimizing "systems" with a doctorate in Public Policy and Education Leadership - Cynthia tries to throw the majority of her mental effort behind actions and initiatives that solve the (arbitrary and systemic) inequities that prevent individuals from reclaiming the right to shape their lived reality.
VP - Operations, Membership and Belonging
David co-leads the Food & Beverage Practice at the law firm Hanson Bridgett, a long-time Certified B Corporation. He is an experienced business attorney, providing corporate, tax, and international licensing and distribution expertise to the firm's agribusiness and other transactional clients.
At Know Agency we specialize in providing SEO, PPC, and digital marketing expertise that gets you connected and resonating with your customers. Rely on us to give you proven SEO and search strategies based on Google data. We crunch the numbers, analyze the search terms, and audit your digital brand, giving you honest professional feedback on what you need to do to meet your goals.
CEO Know Agency
Janice St. Onge is President of the Flexible Capital Fund (“Flex Fund”), a CDFI impact fund providing flexible risk capital to New England’s food, forestry and clean technology businesses. Janice brings economic and business development as well as financial expertise to the organization, having worked in technology, financial services, higher education, non-profit and government during her career. Janice is a Just Economy Institute fellow and a co-founder of the Vermont/Northern New England Women’s Investors Network and Slow Money Vermont’s Committee.
JANINE FIRPO is a values-aligned investor and social innovator. In 2017 she left a successful 35-year career in technology and international development to focus on how women can create a more just and equitable society through their financial investments.
Her book, Activate Your Money, was published in May 2021. Later that year, Janine co-founded Invest For Better, a non-profit organization that helps women invest their money in ways that align with their values.
Jennifer “Jen” Astone is a financial activist and philanthropic leader. At Integrated Capital Investing, she catalyzes foundations and investors to use all their assets – grants, endowments and leadership – to create equitable, regenerative and restorative economies.
She publishes The Transformative 25 and helped establish the Agroecology Fund and the Transformational Investing in Food Systems Initiative.
Jillian Gerstley serves as the Manager of Investors Circle, ASBN’s early stage angel investor program.
Manager, Impact Investor Services
Joni is an Ethnobotanist, RN, and passionate advocate for climate-smart crops such as millet, sorghum, teff, and others. She believes that diversity on the plate drives biodiversity in the fields which is critical to both human health and growing the regenerative agricultural movement.
Joni sees an opportunity to reinvent America’s favorite foundational foods using innovative application of drought-resilient ancient grains that are naturally allergen-free and have superior nutritional profiles to their commodity counterparts, making foods for the future.
Kathleen Casanova has spent more than a decade working in and with nonprofits and universities across the country as a fundraiser, talent consultant and DEI program manager. In 2018, Kathleen decided to pursue her lifelong dream of working with food (she’s been throwing dinner parties since she was nine) and entered the CPG space as a recruiter for emerging brands. She soon fell in love with the industry but also saw the need for more support and resources for other professionals and entrepreneurs of color in the field.
Founding Executive Director
Lolita is a passionate changemaker, committed to building strong and resilient communities, and is proud to be a champion of positive change for social, racial justice, and environmental issues. She brings over 25 years of diversified and progressive experience from the nonprofit, financial, and for-profit sectors.
Director of Programs and Investor Relations
Once I found out I had allergies to soy, gluten, dairy and an adverse reaction to refined sugars, I began creating treats that I could eat. After sharing these goodies with friends and receiving amazing feedback, I decided to change the direction of my career and put these out in the world for people with similar dietary restrictions.
CEO & Founder
Matt turned his lifelong passion for baking and working in the food service industry into Firebrand in 2007. Matt has a passion to create a great workplace culture of inclusion, hard work and service. Matt believes that a company has the responsibility to it’s employees as well as the community it serves. Being raised in a house where his mother went to jail as a teenager and having experienced homelessness himself, Matt aims to make Firebrand a place where people can create a better life for themselves, their families and their community.
Michelle brings 17 years of experience helping natural and organic brands gain the market traction they need to succeed. She has played an integral role in year-over-year growth of Natural Products Expo East and Expo West, principally driving sales and specializing in relationship building and connections, as well as the mutual success of her clients and the natural products industry. Michelle manages New Hope’s international sales agents and business in Canada, South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including the long-time partnership between New Hope and BIOFACH America.
Director, Strategic & International Business
Nish is a 2nd generation tea producer and the founder of Nepal Tea Collective which directly brings certified organic teas from Nepal to the American market. His vision is to create a tech-enabled transparent tea trade that bridges the gap between the primary producers and consumers. His innovative work has been featured in major publications the New York Times and Forbes and he has been a regular speaker at various tea festivals. He is a young leader for the European Union Development Days and an active advocate for the UN Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.
Olivia Watkins is a social entrepreneur and impact investor. For the past seven years, she has financed, developed, and operated environmental and social projects across the US. She currently serves as a co-founder and President of Black Farmer Fund, a non-profit impact investing organization creating sustainable and equitable food systems by investing in black farmers and food businesses of NY. She also serves as on the board for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders.
Olivia has an MBA from North Carolina State University in Financial Management, and a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University in Environmental Biology. She was also recognized on the 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Impact list and The Grist 50.
Patrick Wyman has 29 years of experience in the natural foods industry, and 19 with Whole Foods Market. He started with the company in a store support role for the grocery department, moved through grocery leadership, and now oversees the Northern California region’s local purchasing program and local vendor partnerships. In this role Patrick helps guide vendors through the logistics of bringing a product to market including topics like packaging, distribution, financing, and compliance with company and governmental standards. He’s passionate about the environment; professionally he participates in Whole Foods Market’s Green Mission leadership team, and spends plenty of time off work hiking and skiing.
Principal Local Forager
Founder of Mocktail Club. Previous positions include working in investment banking, world bank and clean energy globally. Wharton MBA.
CEO / Founder
Perri Kramer is the Program Director at Food System 6 Accelerator. She designs and leads the programming to support entrepreneurship and provides direct strategic support to frontline innovators in the food and agriculture space. Perri has led Marketing and Operation teams, as well as product launches, in the organic food industry for over fifteen years.
Founder @ Svaa Haa Foods, puffed bean snacks made from 3 ancient beans, Modern Snacks inspired by ancient wisdom.
Advocate for diverse, nutrient- dense food sources and regenerative farming.
Raj started Young Mountain Tea with a promise. If a co-operative of Himalayan farmers would grow tea, he’d setup a company to sell it. At the time, he was on a Fulbright Fellowship, working to create sustainable livelihoods that promote regenerative practices.
He holds a MS in Environmental Studies and a BS in Electrical Engineering. He is a current Rockefeller/Acumen Food System Fellow.
Meet the former “almost” Civil Engineer turned food entrepreneur who is redefining the way people see Soul Food and advocating for representation on the shelves.
Ranjani Prabhakar provides policy and advocacy expertise on the Policy & Legislation team at Earthjustice. Her issue areas are at the intersection of climate and agriculture, and in advancing equitable climate resilience solutions. Prior to joining Earthjustice, Ranjani served on the sustainability team at the City of Chicago Mayor's Office, where she worked a community solar initiative, renewable energy challenge program, and micro-mobility pilot program.
She received her Master’s in City Planning and Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and her Bachelors from Emory University. In her free time, she moonlights as a musician and writes about sustainable food systems for her blog, Cumin Nature.
Senior Legislative Representative
Reem Assil is a Palestinian-Syrian entrepreneur based in Oakland, CA and founder of Reem’s California, nationally acclaimed bakeries and restaurants, inspired by her passion for Arab street corner bakeries and the vibrant communities they feed.
Informed by twenty years of work in the both non-profit and food industry, Reem’s current work sits at the intersection of her three passions: Arab hospitality, community-building, and social justice.
Samantha has been a marketing leader for global brands and global teams for the past 12+ years. She launched over 100 products at Apple and helped form operations at the height of the brand’s popularity.
She joined Just Date to unlock growth and boost brand awareness. Sam calls herself a ‘recovering sugar addict’ and is still surprised by how delicious a refined sugar-free diet is.
Saron Mechale is an Ethiopian social entrepreneur and founder of goTeff: a sustainable superfood and wellness brand using ancient Teff grain, the fuel of Ethiopian runners.
Saron describes herself as a Pan-African Feminist who cares deeply about using business as a tool of social transformation. Her vision is to rebrand her country’s image and fight the single narrative often told about Ethiopia and Africa at large.
Founder and CEO
Shayna Harris is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Supply Change Capital, a Chicago-based venture capital firm. Supply Change invests in early-stage food tech and culture-first brands. Shayna has executive experience at venture-backed start-ups including Farmer’s Fridge and Sourcemap, and she was a pioneer of the sustainable procurement program at Mars.
Shayna earned her MBA from MIT Sloan and a dual-BA from Boston University. She is a Fulbright Scholar, a published author, and a Forbes contributing writer.
Co-Founder and Managing Director
Forest & Flour makes delicious wholesome food that is safe for people with food allergies and sensitivities to enjoy. Each product we make is with health in mind - consciously made for humans and the planet.
Founder & CEO
Tim Richards is the Founder, Owner, and CEO of Philosopher Foods since 2013. He combined his passions for food, health, and activism into this regenerative CPG company.
Philosopher Foods makes delicious, nutritious, ethical, and ecological food that creates an economic engine for regenerative agriculture. Our line of craft nut butters and forthcoming functional snack nuts are Regenerative Organic Certified™ & Glyphosate Residue Free certified plant-based proteins.
Founder, Owner, and CEO
After graduating with her Master’s of Business from Augsburg University in 2020, Yasameen kicked this saucy side hustle into full swing. She completed the ImpactSKU Program and was a winner in the Kroger Go Fresh & Go Local program.
This summer, Maazah took first place in the MN Cup Food & Ag Division.
Host of Entrepreneur Showcase
Zack Angelini formerly led global sustainability at Timberland, a VF company. In this role, Zack developed and implemented Timberland’s product sustainability strategy, setting public-facing goals and driving internal processes for success. With Zack’s leadership, Timberland and parent company VF Corporation built new regenerative agriculture supply chains for their top volume natural materials including leather, cotton, and natural rubber.
With that experience, Zack is now consulting for major brands while also co-launching a new business to build efficiently-scaled regenerative supply chains for the food and fashion industry.