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FOOD FUNDED 2022 Regeneration: Speakers
Meet experienced leading practitioners at the intersection of food, investment, and impact
Tom McDougall is the Founder and CEO of 4P Foods, a food hub based in the Mid-Atlantic, working with over 600 small food producers. As an advocate for equitable and regenerative food systems, Tom is recognized as one of the leaders in the National Food Hub network. In 2019, he helped Co-Found the Eastern Food Hub Collaborative, a network of mission aligned food hubs up and down the Eastern Seaboard, for the sole purpose of regional collaboration and a more cohesive, decentralized food supply chain.
Tom is a fierce supporter of regional infrastructure that is scale-appropriate for small and mid-scale producers, in addition to being a vocal supporter of long term policy change needed to shift support towards local and regional food systems.
I have been involved in digital media, marketing, and social impact for over 25 years. I have gotten into GOOD TROUBLE in San Francisco and throughout California to address major societal issues. I founded and served as chair of the Bayview.coop steering committee. We built a website where people could go to buy and sell healthy food. From farmers and distributors direct to consumers, our website drives traffic and informs the public about alternative food sources.
Laina has over three decades of experience in the tech industry and social impact space as consultant, entrepreneur, investor, mentor and educator. She has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for organisations of all sizes, and is co-founder of an angel investment network for women-led community based enterprises called Angels of Impact.
Laina is also the co-author of a book “Sustainable Impact: How women are key to ending poverty” (2017).
Founder and CEO Michelle Huff created The Bare Beans Company in 2018 with a vision to bring value back to her family's farm. Michelle has been in the fresh produce industry for over 17 years and saw an increasing demand for value-added products. Beans were a natural fit since her husband had been raising them for years. "I had to analyze what I liked about beans, what I didn't like about beans, and how I could make them better." Bare Beans was created out of this.
Michelle is a Minnesota native with family roots in North Dakota. She is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and is proud of her Indigenous ancestry. She moved to Idaho in 2003 and married her husband Robert who is a 4th generation farmer. They have two sons who are actively involved in the farm and the Bare Beans Business.
Pooja is the Director of Strategy at Diaspora Co., helping define and execute on ways to grow the business sustainably. Pooja joined Diaspora as an intern while completing her MBA at UC Berkeley Haas.
Before starting her MBA, Pooja worked as a consultant at the BCG and in corporate development at Indigo Ag. Her favorite Diaspora spice is the Sirārakhong Hāthei chilli powder (though it's hard to choose!).
Celebrity Chef and Food Network’s Chopped Champion Rashad Armstead has over fifteen years of experience in the food service industry. With humbling beginnings as a dishwasher, he is driven by passion, the innate feeling to change the world, and love of food. Chef Rashad worked his way to become a Sous-Chef and then Executive Chef in many different food service companies. While working for a private chef company, Chef Rashad had an opportunity to create his own catering business and with just $980, he obtained his first client, a UC Berkeley Sorority, who signed a six-month contract . With-in 30 days Chef received three more UC Berkeley fraternities to sign another long-term contract, this was beginning of Artistic Taste 7. Chef Rashad continued to build long lasting relationships with tech companies, co-working spaces, and Bay Area locals. Fun Fact, Chef Rashad is the great-grandson to Chef Sarah Rawls, one of the first black woman to cook on television and was a restaurateur with nine restaurants in California, three cookbooks, and a host of awards. Sarah is a big inspiration to Chef Rashad, and he continues her Legacy with his own unique style.
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.
Full Belly Farm is a 400-acre certified organic farm located in the beautiful Capay Valley of Northern California. Full Belly has been farmed using organic practices since 1985 and is certified by California Certified Organic Farmers.
Full Belly is home to many outreach activities, including educational tours, school group visits, and the much-acclaimed annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival. Through such programs to the general public, Full Belly seeks to create awareness of farm realities and to stress the importance of farms in the fabric of our society.
Full Belly Farm, Real Organic Project
Thuy Nguyen is a Forager at Good Eggs, an e-commerce grocery company based in the Bay Area. She graduated from New York University and has over 12 years of experience working within all facets of the food industry and supply chain from farmer's market manager, to wholesale coordinator, to small business owner. Throughout her years working within food companies like Hot Bread Kitchen, FarmBox, and Good Eggs, she found the most joy in discovering small emerging brands and helping them grow.
Grace Ventura founded Grace’s Goodness Organics and is always on a mission to support others in excellent self-care, changing lives for the better. She has been a Health Coach, Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher, and Mom of 6 for over 35 years.
Her women-run company is devoted to helping people be nourished anytime, anywhere, with delicious products made from organic, simple, plant-based, functional ingredients. You just add hot water to Grace’s Goodness on-the-go veggies broths with wellness benefits and be nourished!
Gagan has gained industry-wide recognition as the Founder and Chief Creative Director of the award-winning boutique creative agency We Are Guru which serves some of the world’s most impactful purpose-driven movements, brands and organizations. Guru has spent over a decade catalyzing over 100 of the most conscious brands in Natural Products to help them crystalize and communicate their purpose to the world.
Creative Director & CEO
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.
Chef Kami is the Executive Chef at Hella Nuts The Plant-Based Eatery. Providing flavorful relatable PlantBased eats to the Black & Brown Community.
In 2018, mother-daughter plant-based duo, Chef Kami and Chef Mieko started their plant-based journey. After realizing that available supermarket vegan food was just vegan junk food, they knew there needed to be a better option. No chemicals, no fillers—just natural ingredients. So they started Hella Nuts™
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
Jazmine’s mission is to bring more knowledge, clarity, and harmony to the world and works at the intersection of social &
environmental impact. She's the Program Manager & Director of Institutional Giving at the J.E.D.I Collaborative, a non-profit working to increase justice, equity, diversity & inclusion natural products industry.
She's a consultant at LIFT Economy and is co-leading a global tree growing campaign centering frontline communities. Jazmine also helps people think systemically and embrace design science to bring forth regenerative solutions for society & the earth's ecosystems at the Buckminster Fuller Institute.
Program Manager & Director of Institutional Giving
Lara is a founder in the J.E.D.I Collaborative and the Climate Collaborative, projects of OSC 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
As an entrepreneur and mycologist, I have found my calling by creating healthy mushroom based food products for my community. Through innovative product design, with an emphasis on sustainability and wholesomeness, I strive to find meaning in life and leave our world a better place through the synergy of fungi and nutrition.
Bronwen has spent the past 12 years building mission-driven companies in the food and agriculture space, first at the vertically integrated retail and restaurant group Belcampo and for the past 5 years with Just Fare. She is excited to use her experience to continue to grow the impact-driven company and believes in the vast opportunity they have to serve a diverse customer base. Making real change for people, planet and community (and 2 toddlers) gets her out of bed in the morning.
CEO & Co-Founder
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
Darren Preston was born in Brooklyn, NY. His main passions are animals and entrepreneurship. These were key pillars in what would later lead to the creation of Malibu's Burgers, a vegan burger joint that started as a food truck in 2019 and has since grown to a brick and mortar in Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA.
Chief Executive Officer
Lauren's background in nonprofit development made her eager to activate more capital for social change, leading her to co-found Mission Driven Finance, an impact investment firm and Certified B Corporation that actively develops impact investment strategies to close financial gaps that will close opportunity gaps.
As Chief Community Officer, she leads the design of community-driven strategy, providing a frame for both internal culture & partner relationships.
Chief Community Officer
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
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.
A native of Singapore, Nona first started her career as a management consultant in London before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area where she started the first online meal delivery business and created the first food-based detox program. While running her business, Nona was also a competitive fencer for many years, representing Singapore.
In 2014 she pivoted and launched her eponymous brand. where Nona’s Singaporean food heritage drives the brand’s obsession with authentic flavor and serves as the platform for its continual exploration of the delicious street food found throughout Asia. She is the first Asian American Vice Chair of the Specialty Food Association, and also a founding member of (included).
CEO & Founder
Born in Vietnam, doesn't eat rice.
Raised in Finland, doesn't eat potatoes.
Based in Silicon Valley, and doesn't eat burritos.
She lives on noodles.
Founder & CEO of Noodelist - A taste of instant happiness
Before starting Noodelist, she was Senior Advisor at Business Finland. Fostering collaboration between Finland and the U.S. and helped Finnish companies to enter into the U.S. market.
MBA in Luxury Brand Management
CEO & Founder
Ahmed Rahim is the Co-Founder, CVO, Chief Alchemist and Board chair behind Numi Organic Tea, one of the largest premium, organic, Fair Trade Certified tea companies in North America. He chairs Numi Foundation board, working with their farming communities around the world, bringing clean water to their community.
Ahmed co-founded OSC2, One Step Closer to an Organic Sustainable Community, a national community of sustainable natural products CEO’s and business leaders, working in collaborative and innovative ways toward positive change for our food industry, planet and people. He is an advisor and board member to entrepreneurs running sustainable businesses with emerging innovative products in the CPG marketplace, and is in service to those focused on caring for their community and creating positive change for our planet.
Founder & CVO
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
Adrian is a Co-Founder and a Managing Director of Provenance Capital Group where he helps develop blended capital structures that catalyze resilient biological systems and businesses.
Before Provenance, Adrian co-founded the boutique consulting firm Hyphae Partners where he helped companies finance and build regenerative business models. Additionally, he worked at Patagonia within its Venture Capital arm Tin Shed Ventures, helping author a standard for Regenerative Organic Agriculture and exploring Regenerative Organic Land Funds.
Linley Dixon owns a 5-acre organic vegetable farm in Durango, Colorado. Her farm specializes in fostering soil health to grow nutritious tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, greens and herbs.
She holds a Masters in Plant and Soil Science, a Ph D in Plant Pathology, and did her postdoctoral research at the USDA’s Fungal Systematics Laboratory in Beltsville, MD.
Linley ran the pilot program for the Real Organic Project certification program and is now the Co-Director of the Real Organic Project.
James serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Something Better Foods, Inc and has over 15 years of experience in the finance industry. He has held several senior level positions in both the public and private sectors and his experience spans a range of activities including budget cycle management, financial planning and analysis, and financial reporting.
James has a BS in Economics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and an MBA with Finance concentration from Loyola University, Maryland.
Chief Financial Officer
Frustrated by the absence of Fresh whole plant-based foods in my environment, I decided to be the change, and now we are changing the game! Tha MF'n Vegan is a Smack’n Nourishing Plant-based Food and Meat Alternative company.
We specialize in making the healthy look and taste delicious, by taking traditional unhealthy foods and putting a nutritional spin on them. We are food allergy-friendly (Soy-Free, Nut-Free, & have Gluten-Free options). You don’t have to compromise taste for national value and vice versa!
I have been working for over 15 years in the restaurant and catering business. From Senegal my home town to Argentina, Brazil and the US, I managed different restaurant from fine to casual dinning.
After culinary school, I led many different teams in several restaurants in Argentina, Brazil, and the United States.
I proudly lead a kitchen team in charge of cooking for Athletes during the 2014 Soccer World cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
As a successful Chef, Oumar takes the initiative to start my own concept highlighting my cooking experience and travel history. This called The Damel, a where I am connecting global flavors with the local community.
Executive Chef & Founder
Angie is the Head of Programs and Member Services at the Upcycled Food Association where she supports businesses in elevating food to its highest and best use. She has +10 years of experience in the CPG industry designing environmental and social impact programs, having worked with mission-driven companies like Prather Ranch, Numi Organic Tea, and Imperfect Foods.
Previously, Angie led the CPG team at Fair Trade USA where she spearheaded the first fair trade certification in the US dairy industry.
Head of Programs & Member Services
Juan is a serial entrepreneur. He is Currently, Juan is the CEO & Co-founder of his 4th company – Waku – a beverage brand of prebiotic herbal teas that support a healthy gut. Waku uses only ethically sourced ingredients from the Andes mountains of Ecuador and supports the livelihoods of dozens of Ecuadorian small holder farmers.
Juan is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a bass guitar player, and holds a MBA from Babson College.
Cofounder & CEO
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.
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
Colleen is a lifelong advocate of improving health of people and our planet through better food through the market and public policy at the local, state, and federal level. She launched the idea of Purity Verification of agricultural toxins (pesticides, heavy metals) in her company ZEGO in 2019 both to provide transparently clean food to consumers and to educate them on how to demand Purity Verification from other brands. ZEGO is certified as a B Corp and Woman Owned. Her goal is to leverage the power or consumer demand to rapidly clean our food system and planet in ten years.