FOOD FUNDED 2021 JEDI Speakers
Meet experienced leading practitioners at the intersection of food, investment, and impact
Meet experienced leading practitioners at the intersection of food, investment, and impact
As the son of Asian immigrant small business owners, Anthony has been working in economic opportunity for communities of color, in particular immigrant communities. He helped channel capital to communities of color and immigrant small business owners. He learned the benefits and drawbacks of CDFI lending to small businesses through 15+ years at Opportunity Fund and California FarmLink.
On the boards of Common Future and RSF Social Finance, he has worked to connect wealth holders and community wealth builders and/or social enterprises. Anthony has most recently partnered with the collaborative CA BIPOC Farmer/Land Steward Relief Fund. His current role at Kitchen Table Advisors focuses on shifting capital to fuel the economic viability and self-determination of a multi-racial next generation of sustainable small farms and ranches.
Ashani developed his own sauce, a Caribbean fusion finishing sauce called Lion’s Breath. During this process, he immediately recognized the barriers that discourage entrepreneurs of Color from participating in the retail food product industry.
After attendeding The Art Institute of Northern Virginia, Ashani opened and ran a catering and bartending company, DeGruv Liquid Catering, executing over 8,000 Events.
Ashani is truly dedicated to serving the Black + Indigenous POC maker community.
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, newhope.com, 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
Dr. Diane Johnson is CEO/Founder of Mmapeu Consulting, aligning mission, vision and values for purpose-driven businesses, philanthropic institutions, the social sector, tech companies and market leaders. Her expertise in strategic development; cultural capacity/DEI; organizational development, institutional capacity building, leadership development, and collaboration/community engagement has been used by more than 11,750 clients.
Diane received her Ph.D. from Tufts University in Interdisciplinary Studies, a Masters in Divinity from Pacific School of Religion/The Graduate Theological Union, her M.A. in Nonprofit Management from The New School, and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She serves as Vice Chair of the Conscious Capitalism Bay Area.
CEO & Founder
Mr. Valery graduated from Columbia University’s Master of Science program in Real Estate Development. He also obtained a Master’s Degree in Policy Analysis and Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning with a concentration in International Relations, both from Cornell University. Ernst is also a Mel King Community Fellow at MITs CoLab.
Founder and CEO
Kobie is a partner at Upfront, with a core investing focus in SaaS, marketing technology, and emerging technologies. His Upfront investments include Bevy, Wave, Cordial and MetaCX. Kobie also founded and incubated Valence, a platform to unlock economic opportunity, investment and community for Black professionals; he is also on the Advisory Board for PledgeLA, an organization working to increase diversity and equity in tech.
Prior to Upfront, Kobie was an investor at Accel, helped found OpenView Venture Partners, and was an investor at Insight Venture Partners, with early investments including Exact Target and Oculus. He was also the Chief Marketing Officer at LA-based REVOLVE, a global fashion e-commerce player. Kobie graduated from Harvard College.
Kristin is founder and CEO of Nia Impact Capital, a women-led Registered Investment Advisor changing the face of finance by hiring women and people of color in sustainable and transformative investing. Kristin founded Nia Global Solutions, a gender-lens portfolio of solutions-focused companies, bringing impact investing into the public markets.
In 2010 Kristin founded Nia Community, a 100% mission-aligned impact investment fund focused on social change and environmental sustainability in Oakland, California.
Kristin was a full-time educator, teaching bilingual classes in Oakland and San Francisco. She earned her PhD in Education at University of California, Berkeley, her Masters in Research in Bilingual Education from Stanford University.
Lara is a founder in the OSC Venture Fund, J.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
Morgan Simon has close to two decades of experience making finance a tool for social justice. She has influenced over $150B and is a regularly sought out expert on impact investing. Her book, Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change has been featured by Harvard Business School and United Nations. She is a regular voice in media and an active investor as Founding Partner of Candide Group.
Candide Group works with families, foundations, athletes and cultural influencers who want their money working for justice. With over 90 investments, over half into women and people of color led organizations, her firm is a leader in supporting equity and inclusion within the impact investing community.
Priyanka Khole is on the Leadership team of the Slow Money Northern California where she is involved with Community building, outreach and events. She is passionate about healthy food, sustainable food systems and regenerative agriculture.
A tireless advocate of Slow Money investing principles, she loves to learn about emerging opportunities to support entrepreneurs building businesses focussed on strong social impact and sustainability goals.
NMV | World Food Programme
Trevor Parham is the Founder of Oakstop; a Black owned and operated business that uses commercial real estate as a platform for economic development by providing workspace and meeting/event space for entrepreneurs and communities of color. Through Oakstop, Trevor created Oakstop Ventures, which invests in diverse founders excelling at the intersection of technology, community, and culture.
Trevor also co-founded the Oakland Black Business Fund, a grantmaking initiative that empowers Oakland's Black businesses with capital, technical assistance, and growth strategy.
Founder & Managing Partner
FOOD FUNDED 2021 JEDI Finalists
Aruna Lee grew up in a Buddhist monastery in South Korea where home-grown vegetables were at the heart of every meal. In 2014, she launched Volcano Kimchi in San Francisco and has since dedicated herself to the art of fermentation to craft high-quality kimchi and sauces.
Sourcing from local organic growers, Aruna puts a local flare on traditions to create products that are uniquely Volcano Kimchi.
Bakari is passionate about the mission of Uhuru Foods & Pies. In fact, at the Uhuru Pies booth at a local farmers market he encourages customers to volunteer in contributing to the mission. He believes African people have contributed to building economic stability for others.
“Today, we must build an independent African economy to feed, clothe, and house ourselves once again.” You can find Bakari in the bakery, at the market, delivering Uhuru Pies or organizing for Uhuru (Freedom).
Karen M. Blackwell is the Founder and CEO of Kanda™ Chocolates - a benefit corporation focused on social and environmental justice.
Kanda™ Chocolates elevates Ghanaian chocolate while maintaining a commitment to social responsibility through the growing and processing of chocolate in Ghana, contributing to the export of finished chocolate, impacting jobs, purchasing fair-trade cocoa and by donating 10% of proceeds to charitable organizations.
Prior to creating Kanda™ Chocolates, Karen was the Director of Strategic Solutions for the Americas Region within the Diabetes Group for Medtronic plc.
CEO & Founder
Karter’s love for art, food and hospitality has led to working with celebrated chefs, designers and creatives throughout the US and Asia. He’s been the mastermind at the helm of several successful brands including Elder’s Mill in Chicago, Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco, HHnL Design Group in Taipei, Uno Lai Design in Shanghai, Hillbilly Tea in his hometown of Louisville Kentucky. His latest concept is Soul Slice, a contemporary expression of soul food on a biscuit crust pizza.
Maria Palacio, Co-Founder/ CEO of Progeny Coffee, is a fifth-generation Colombian coffee farmer who was born and raised in a famous coffee region in Colombia. After several years working in the design field in New York City, Maria returned to coffee in 2016 after seeing her friends and family in Colombia struggle to maintain a viable living through their coffee farms. Maria’s passion for uplifting others helped her to overcome small business obstacles and build a flourishing business as a distribution platform with the mission of empowering coffee farmers and lifting them out of poverty and helping their communities.
Maria has been recognized on Forbes Next 1000 list, 100 Female Founder of 2020 by Inc Magazine, Mujeres Imparables by Telemundo, 12 under 35 Breakout Talent to Watch by SFA, and the latest book "The New Latina - 100 Millennials shaping the World".
CEO - Co-Founder
The Damel is a new Quick Service Restaurant concept inspired by the Afro-Brazilian cuisine and culture. Our flavorsome dining experience embodies a wide range of West African culinary traditions that meet contemporary South American cuisine. This concept was developed by our founder, a native of Senegal and after his over 10 years of experience working for hotels and restaurants in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. The Damel’s establishments aim to meet the demand for a dining experience that explores what the African and South American continents have to offer.
The concept is design to be scaled to different places in the world where food and beverages are considered to be strategic touristic markets.
Executive Chef and President
Suma is an entrepreneur, organizer and activist committed to centering innovation around justice to solve systemic problems. She is a 3x Ag Tech + Climate Tech founder, is active in inclusive tech communities, has been awarded the White House Champion of Change for her API queer advocacy work, and teaches Future of Food: Entrepreneurship as Activism at the NYC School of Visual Arts.
Suma was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali and is a graduate of The Wharton School (MBA).
Toyin Kolawole is the Founder of Iya Foods located in Illinois,
USA. Born in Nigeria, Toyin grew up working at her family’s entrepreneurial small businesses including a fast-food eatery.
Toyin has developed a very strong, and diverse set of business skills and competencies working across the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa. Toyin obtained her MBA from Kellogg, Northwestern University and a Certificate in Nutrition & Healthy Living from Cornell University. Prior to Iya Foods, Toyin worked at Bain and Company.