Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion
Climate Change regenerative

November 13, 2023

San Francisco

Sorted by first name. Tap on names, images, or social media links to see more infomation.

Arno Hesse is dedicated to financing a sustainable and equitable future with thriving food systems and regenerative technologies. He co-founded the community capital services Credibles and Investibule. As a co-leader and investor with Slow Money Northern California, Arno has led multiple investments in food businesses, with a focus on climate change and social justice. Previously, he was Executive Vice President for Retail Markets at MUFG Union Bank.

Carlotta Mast leads the strategy, growth and impact for New Hope Network, the leading events and information services company for the natural & organic products industry, which includes Natural Products Expos, NBJ Summit, Nutrition Capital Network, Esca Bona, Natural Foods Merchandiser,, Nutrition Business Journal, NEXT Forecast, SupplySide, Natural Products Insider, and Vitafoods.
Carlotta serves on the board of Naturally Boulder. She is a co-founder of the J.E.D.I Collaborative and serves on the board of the Climate Collaborative.
In 2013, Carlotta co-founded the paleo snack company Wholly Bites, sold to 1908 Brands in 2016.

Market Leader, SVP of Content

Christina Dorr Drake is a co-founder and the CEO of Willa's, which is on a mission to create a plant-based milk that tastes as good as it is for people and the planet. She launched Willa’s in 2021 with her sister, Elena Dorr Zienda, and husband, Rusty Drake. Previously, Christina spent over twenty years working in innovation, brand and marketing strategy leading brands including Panera, Coca-Cola, Target and American Express. She frequently speaks at events, including SXSW on the critical topics of climate change and building mission-driven businesses.

Colleen is a lifelong advocate of improving health of people and our planet through better food. She has worked on the market level and in public policy at the local, state, and federal level. Colleen's goal is to leverage the power or consumer demand to rapidly clean our food system and planet.

She launched the idea of Purity Verification of agricultural toxins (pesticides, heavy metals) in her company ZEGO (B Corp and Woman Owned) in 2019 both to provide transparently clean food to consumers and to educate them on how to demand Purity Verification from other brands.

Colleen is also working on a project to build out a regional gluten-free organic, specialty grain processing facility in Montana.

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 is the co-creator of the Mission Driven Finance Regenerative Harvest Fund. He leads the Fund’s business development, structured finance, and impact due diligence. He and his team create opportunities that match risk with return and reconnect impact investors to the entrepreneur's performance.

David’s work is focused on an industry-wide commitment to agroecological social, environmental, and climate impact investing and asset management.

David Mancera is a Monterey County native and deeply connected with the agriculture sector, rooted in his early experiences as a child laborer in the fields. His foundational years in agriculture propelled him to earn a bachelor's degree in Agriculture Business from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, fostering a career that began in sales and marketing and evolved across various facets of the industry. David's trajectory in produce sales at FoodSource Inc. not only broadened his professional network but laid the groundwork for advanced studies, culminating in a Masters in Agriculture and Resource Economics from UC Davis. He currently serves as a Director of Kitchen Table Advisors, where he uses his extensive knowledge and passion to empower small farmers. David also dedicates his time to educating future generations in sustainable agriculture practices.

Dianna Tremblay is the Chief Program Officer at ICA, responsible for scaling the impact of the ICA's programs and cultivating the support and capital ecosystem necessary for entrepreneurs to scale their businesses.  

With expertise in program design and implementation, small business support, accessing capital, and ecosystem building, Dianna strives to use these skills to increase equitable access to capital, coaching, and networks for entrepreneurs of color.  Dianna also currently serves on the board of Naturally Bay Area.

Prior to joining ICA, Dianna's worked in sales, corporate relationship management, and business development roles. Dianna received an MBA at Mills College and a Bachelor’s from California State University, East Bay.

Chief Program Officer

G's was sprouted from a love for farming, foraging and fermenting.

G'Day my name is Donna, an Australian native who moved to Napa Valley in 2013 to live on the land and immerse myself in farming and winemaking. Farming opened my eyes to what it means to care for the land and winemaking piqued my interest into the nutritious aspects of fermentation.

I began fermenting ginger for my own gut health, combining foraged and seasonal ingredients. Blown away by the enlivening aromatics and flavors, I realized I was crafting something I couldn't buy, tasty and clean beverages fermented with real ingredients and no added sugar or sweeteners. Having found a solution to overly sweet ginger-based beverages I swiftly rolled up my sleeves!

Elisha is a versatile transactional lawyer with experience in a broad array of commercial matters, and has a particular interest in Food and Beverage Law. She is adept at project management and in implementation of data and work flow management systems on behalf of the firm's clients.  A Bay Area native, Elisha is deeply involved in the community, regularly working with the Asian American Bar Association.  She is named as a Rising Star by Northern California Super Lawyers.

Elliot Begoun is a 30-year industry veteran, author, podcast host, founder of TIG Brands, and champion of Tardigrades. TIG Brands supports a community of entrepreneurs interested in building nimble, capital-efficient, resilient brands that become Tardigrades, not Unicorns. Learn more about TIG Brands’ programs here and catch Elliot at FoodBytes, the Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute, and the Natural Products Business School. Tune into the TIG Talks podcast and find Elliot’s articles in publications such as The Huffington Post, SmartBrief, and New Hope.

Founder, Brand Champion

Lil Bucks is America’s Buckwheat Brand, making crunchy super-seed toppers and Clusterbucks granola bites from sprouted buckwheat sourced from American regenerative organic farms. The brand’s mission is to make America fall in love with buckwheat, a gluten free and grain free nutritional powerhouse, to give American farmers a profitable opportunity to grow this sustainable cover crop.

Esther is the CEO of Cienega Capital, a regenerative investment firm utilizing an integrated capital approach to systemic change in the areas of soil health, regenerative agriculture, and local food systems.

Cienega Capital is also part of the #NoRegrets Initiative, a regenerative asset strategy focused on the health of agricultural soils and agricultural communities of North America.

Investment and Program Manager

- Former college football and track & field athlete
- Certified personal trainer & registered dietitian
- Self-taught robotics and software engineer
- Brain tumor survivor
- Born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands

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.

Organic farming in the San Joaquin Valley since 2012.

Javier Cruz Martinez


Cruz Martinez Farm

Jovani Prince is a self-taught baker and entrepreneur with a deep passion for healthy food alternatives and believes that food can be both good for you & delicious at the same time!

Julie Menter is focused on mobilizing capital toward alternative ownership enterprises through investor education, community building, partnerships, and more. Previously, she worked at New Media Ventures, Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting, and the Boston Consulting Group.

Program Director, Transformative Financing Structures

Katie is a Registered Dietitian and spent her career pioneering nutrition strategy for some of the biggest and most respected brands. As the first Nutritionist for Starbucks, she shaped their first Health & Wellness strategy and made foundational shifts to the menu.

When she became a mom, Katie shifted her energy to solving mealtime for parents. With Nutrition Science at their core, Square Baby is the only baby food company offering an Allergen Introduction Menu (with 8 Top Allergens, for food allergy prevention) as well as 100% Daily Nutrition meal plans, customized to your baby, made fresh and delivered frozen to your doorstep.

I founded Goddess Mousse with a mission to transform the way people think about indulgence, from an occasional, unhealthy treat to a daily ritual of physical and emotional nourishment by creating vegan desserts that taste like their dairy equivalents.

Kyle is the CEO and co-founder of Wildway. Wildway is on a mission to build a food system that goes beyond sustainable, connecting climate health to human health through resilient, equitable, and regenerative business.

Lara is a founder in the OSC Venture FundJ.E.D.I Collaborative and the Climate Collaborative, projects of OSC (One Step Closer) and SFTA.

Lara was the CEO of LightFull Foods, VP Retail Sales & Marketing at Numi Organic Tea, and VP of Marketing at the Balance Bar Company, where she helped drive sales growth from $10M to $110M and sell it to Kraft Foods.

Lara has spoken on food trends, sustainability, and innovation at Natural Products Expo West, So Cap, SXSW Eco, Zero Waste Summit, SFTA, Bioneers, Net Impact, the Brower Center, and Esca Bona.

Co-Founder & Exec Director

Lisa Curtis is the Founder & CEO of Kuli Kuli, the leading brand pioneering the sustainably sourced superfood moringa. Moringa is a protein-rich leafy green, more nutritious than kale, with anti-inflammatory benefits rivaling turmeric.

Kuli Kuli’s moringa powders, bars and wellness shots are sustainably sourced from African women and other small farmers around the world and sold in 11,000 U.S. stores.

I'm Margarita Womack, founder/CEO of MasPanadas. As a Colombian immigrant and mother of three, I wanted to create a company that offered delicious and healthy international food options for busy working mothers like myself. Through MasPanadas, I'm building a legacy of dedication, resilience, and community empowerment by not only providing great food but also creating job opportunities, resources and education for minority women.

Mayo Ryan, co-founder of The Sitos Group, has extensive leadership experience in agribusiness, specializing in pistachio, wine grape, and cotton farming. With a background that includes management roles at North State Hulling Cooperative and California Olive Ranch, Mayo is dedicated to regenerative agriculture. He holds a BS in Political Science, an MBA in Agribusiness, and is a California Ag Leadership graduate. His expertise in biochar and carbon removal contributes significantly to The Sitos Group's focus on CDR, biochar application, and regeneration.

Merril Gilbert is a provocative thought leader in the future of food and cannabis consumable innovations. A visionary connector enthusiastic about change, Merril believes in using available resources to lead healthier and more resilient lives. As co-founder and CEO of Curious Futures, Merril provides strategic guidance to innovators, disruptors, and refiners.

Co-Founder & CEO, Board Member

Pepitos Paletas is a minority woman-owned co-op combining the tradition of the Mexican paleta with modern fresh made-to-order and delivery to reinvent the frozen dessert experience and seeking capital partners to scale.

Nick McCoy is a Co-Founder and Managing Director with Whipstitch Capital, the largest independent investment bank in
the U.S. solely focused on the better-for-you consumer sector. Nick has over 20 years of investment banking experience. Previously Nick was at First Albany (now Jeffries), Allmerica Financial Corp, and Wheelabrator Technologies.

Personally, Nick is an avid road cyclist and thinks it’s ok to cross country ski in below-zero temperatures. He’s a health-focused foodie, cooks frequently and has an extensive knowledge of wine and whiskey. Nick is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has
an MBA from Wake Forest University and an undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire.

Olton Rensch is a successful entrepreneur and founder of Tallio's Coffee, a renowned coffee business known for its exceptional quality and customer service. With a strong passion for creating unique and memorable coffee, tea, and Ginger Brew experiences, Olton has built a reputation for delivering excellence in the industry. His commitment to quality and his drive for innovation continue to propel Tallio's Coffee to new heights.

Orleatha Smith, co-founder of Sip Herbals and successful wellness startups, is a forward-thinking businesswoman with a diverse portfolio. With a Master's Degree in Education and a biology teaching credential, she combines her passion for inclusive science-based wellness with her entrepreneurial skills. With over a decade in the wellness community, Orleatha is known for scaling businesses that bridge the natural and digital worlds. Alongside her co-founder Kelly, she leads Sip Herbals, an herbal tea company showcasing nature's healing properties. Orleatha's background as a holistic lifestyle coach, SAAS developer, and educator has garnered her media recognition and features in prominent publications.

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

Pauline Ang, former Creative Director for top food & beverage companies, boasts 15+ years in branding and design. Inspired by the milk tea her mom use to make during her childhood and striving for authenticity + sustainability, she founded Twrl Milk Tea, the first canned cafe style plant-based milk tea and boba toppings.

A UC Berkeley alum and an MFA in fine arts, her Hawaiian roots and travels fuel Twrl's innovative flavors.

Raphaelle is an entrepreneur and designer.

She spent most of her career developing digital tools to shift health behaviors.

Now focused on the interaction of food and climate and the role of individuals in our collective shift, Raphaelle leads a team of chefs, strategists, and researchers dedicated to a more just, resilient, and net-positive future of food.

Our work is to identify, create, validate, and operationalize new businesses that can have impact at scale in shifting supply chains and eating habits.

Renata's career has been focused in philanthropy, community relations and the impact ecosystem - both from the investment and entrepreneurship side. In addition to her current role with FOOD FUNDED, she serves as a Program Specialist at ONE WORLD Training & Investments. She has directed community programs at Social Venture Circle and Investors' Circle, and for more than 20 years served in various leadership roles at The Hitachi Foundation, focused on using the tools of business to advance economic opportunities for under-represented communities.

Renata's work has been rooted in uniting seemingly disparate communities for the broader good, recognizing the power of collaborative approaches and the notion that the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Event Producer. Board member.

Ron Silberstein co-founded Admiral Maltings in June 2017. Admiral Maltings produces freshly kilned malt using traditional floor-malting methods and sustainably grown (organic or no-till), California sourced grain.

Prior to Admiral Maltings, Ron opened ThirstyBear Organic Brewery In 1996 as its founding brew-master. During his almost three-decade stint operating ThirstyBear, Ron co-created the San Francisco Brewers Guild and sat on its board of directors for many years.

Before his career in brewing and malting, Ron was a practicing immigration attorney in San Francisco.

An ecological problem solver fermenting solutions for human and planetary health.

Sadie Scheffer is an artist, an MIT drop out, and an accidental baker who learned the art of gluten-free baking to impress her college crush. Today she is the CEO of Bread SRSLY, makers of certified gluten-free sourdough bread in Oakland, CA.

Shibani Baluja is the founder of lil’gourmets, a fresh, veggie-rich, globally-inspired baby food company. Shibani spent 11 years at Kraft Foods, most recently as a Director on their Mergers & Acquisitions team with key accomplishments of co-leading the PMO for the Kraft-Heinz merger, helping structure the split of Kraft and Mondelez, and executing an innovative JV between Kraft and a PE firm. She holds her BA in Economics and MBA in Finance & Strategy from the University of Michigan.

As the Founder and Nutritionist driving our brand, My dedication to creating convenient and nutritious plant-based, gluten-free meals stems from my extensive experience as a clinical and school dietitian spanning over a decade.

I firmly believe that one's diet profoundly influences one’s mental and physical well-being, and I channel both my passion and expertise into creating these healthy meal options for people with busy lifestyles and or dietary restrictions.

Stephanie Louie is the Founder and Chief Strategist for One10 North, a branding and marketing agency based in San Francisco.

With 20+ years of experience in brand and marketing strategy, consumer research and innovation, Stephanie founded One10 North to ensure that every brand has the chance to succeed. Stephanie is a firm believer in developing strategies that are based on key consumer insights and leverages them to build businesses, brands and products that meet the needs of today’s consumer.

Founder & Chief Strategist

Susan Hartman is an avid athlete who was in search of a clean label drink she could enjoy after yoga or a surf session to hydrate and recover.  With a background in natural products and innovation (Unilever, Campbell’s, eos) she combined purpose with passion to build a regenerative organic brand on a mission to help people feel better and live well through plant-powered modern remedies.  Susan has a BA from Gettysburg College and an MBA from Cornell University.

Vegan Mob is a restaurant and Food Truck that serves Vegan BBQ and Vegan Soul Food/Soul Fusion. Soul Fusion is the fusion of traditional African American dishes mixed with soul food from other ethnic backgrounds.

Our mission here at Vegan Mob is to provide nutritious and healthy food with plant-based ingredients. Our passion is to help surrounding communities by empowering them with food they love and enjoy, while also supporting a healthy life-style.

Toriano Gordon


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.

Youngwon launched the award-winning Asian-inspired brand Dokkaebier in 2020 to bring innovation and much-needed diversity to the craft beer scene. With 15 years of experience in the food and beverage industries in South Korea and the U.S., Youngwon has launched and distributed craft beer, spirits, and wine, including Agwa de Bolivia, Bernini, Champagne Armand de Brignac, Patron, and Stolichnaya, and more.

The Cookie Dip Company provides premium accessories for your cookies (aka, dip for your cookies). With a variety of tantalizing flavors, you'll never eat cookies the same again. It's the snack you never knew you needed. Instead of chips and dip, try Cookies & Dip... The sweet alternative.

FOOD FUNDED Fall 2023 Content Partners

Cienega Capital - Investing in Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion
the good bean
Whole Foods Market

FOOD FUNDED 2023 Sponsoring Partners

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