FOOD FUNDED 2020 Entrepreneur Lab
Meet experienced leading practitioners at the intersection of food, investment, and impact
Lara is a founder in the Climate Collaborative, a project of OSC2 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
Christine is an activist entrepreneur, currently leading Product for Conversational Safety at Twitter. Until June 2020, Christine was co-founder and CEO of PastureMap, an ag software platform used on 6 million+ acres globally. She is an Entrepreneur in Residence of Food System 6, advising regenerative meat companies. With Kinship Foods, a regenerative dumpling brand, she has offered Dumplings For Black Farmers fundraisers to build Asian-American solidarity with Black-led farms. Christine is a board member of Kitchen Table Advisors, a nonprofit serving 80% BIPOC and women regenerative farmers, and a voting member for the board of Greenpeace. Christine has an MBA, an MS in Earth Systems, and a BA in Political Science from Stanford.
Kinship Foods, formerly PastureMap
Former CEO of REBBL, introduced Killing It: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Keeping Your Head Without Losing Your Heart in 2017. She was CEO of Clif Bar and co-founder/CEO of Plum.
She is currently the co-founder of the JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) Collaborative and co-founder and board chair of the Women on Boards Project for the natural and consumer products industries.
Kat Taylor works in service of restoring social justice and environmental well-being to build a more equitable and inclusive world.
She is a Founding Director of TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation (TKREF), dedicated to inspiring a sustainable food system through ranching best practices, training, educational tours, scientific research, and school food and garden programs.
Kat co-founded and chairs the Board of Beneficial State Bank.
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 and has worked with Whipstitch co-founder Mike Burgmaier since 2008 at a previous investment bank that Nick also co-founded. Previously Nick was in the Investment Banking Group at First Albany (now Jeffries), at Allmerica Financial Corp, and at 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 (just ask him).
Erin is the Director of the Climate Collaborative, responsible for management and execution of the Collaborative’s work, including all programming, communications, and outreach.
Erin has a range of corporate campaigning and sustainability experience. She previously worked for CDP, managing corporate engagement for the We Mean Business coalition’s commitments campaign. In that role, Erin worked with hundreds of the world’s largest companies, industry groups and investors, supporting them in making leadership commitments on climate change.
Dianna Tremblay is responsible for ICA's programs 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. She explores, tests, and builds programs that ultimately prepare companies to become more resilient and investment-ready.
Dianna's professional experience included sales, corporate relationship management, and business development roles in e-commerce and textbook publishing. Dianna received a MBA from Mills College and a Bachelor’s in English from California State University, East Bay.
Director of Programs
Miyoko Schinner is the fearless CEO/founder of Miyoko’s, a food brand combining culinary traditions with food technology to revolutionize dairy by making cheese and butter without cows. She has successfully scaled the production of fermented cheese and cultured butter made from plants and replaced animal-dairy products on the shelves of more than 15,000 retailers. Pioneering the plant-based cheese revolution, Schinner is a passionate culinarian, former restaurateur, best-selling cookbook author, co-host of the national television cooking show Vegan Mashup, and a founding board member of the Plant Based Foods Association. Schinner also co-founded a farmed animal sanctuary in California that provides a home to over 70 farm animals.
Founder & CEO
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.
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
Ryan Pintado-Vertner is the Founder & Principal at Smoketown, an empathy-led team of experienced operators and specialized skill players who help mission-driven businesses maximize their ROI against marketing, sales and social & environmental impact.
Ryan is a lifelong activist, fifth generation innovator and 13-year veteran of the CPG industry, in addition to holding an MBA from the University of California's Haas School of Business.
Beyond Smoketown, he is on the Executive Board of Flock (a new regenerative food and agriculture fund and accelerator) and Naturally Chicago (a network of natural product companies in Chicagoland).
Founder & Principal
Angie Mertens is a board member of Slow Money Northern California and part of the FOOD FUNDED production team. Her expertise is in program design and implementation, training early stage companies, investors and corporates to scale their social impact, and ecosystem building. Angie uses her skills to develop leaders to deliver innovative approaches to increase social impact in a way that it is profitable, sustainable, and scalable.
Angie has been spearheading ONE WORLD Training as the Program Director since 2015, where she is convening and educating social entrepreneurs, investors and corporates in the Bay Area. She has produced numerous ecosystem events and enterprise showcases in collaboration with organizations such as Social Venture Circle, toniic, Spero Ventures, Nia Impact Capital and others. Angie is a lifelong health-focussed eater, passionate cook and can be found exploring Bay Area’s farmer’s markets.
Founder & CEO
Nina F. Ichikawa is the Executive Director for the Berkeley Food Institute. She joined the Institute in 2015 as its inaugural Policy Director, creating a policy education and engagement program for UC Berkeley’s students, staff, faculty and the general public.
She previously served in the office of US Senator Daniel K. Inouye and with the USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative. In 2011, she was named a Food and Community Fellow by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. She was the founding Food and Agriculture editor for Hyphen magazine, and her writings on our changing food system have been published widely.
Nina F. Ichikawa
Sana Javeri Kadri is the founder of Diaspora Co., a direct trade spice company working towards a radically equitable, sustainable, and more delicious spice supply chain.
Born and raised in Mumbai, India amidst a big family of idealists and architects, she has over a decade of experience in every facet of the food industry and supply chain from farm worker, to line cook, to marketing consultant. She currently lives between Mumbai, India and Oakland, California.
Sana Javeri Kadri
Lotus Foods is one of the most innovative organic and fair trade specialty rice brands, pioneering the preservation of rice biodiversity and more ecological methods of rice production that save water, reduce greenhouse gasses and minimize work for women. As Co-Founder/Co-CEO, Caryl leads Lotus Foods’ strategic mission and vision to change how rice is grown around the world.
Lotus Foods has received the Biodiversity Award for Leadership from the Union for Ethical Bio Trade; Specialty Foods Leadership Award for Vision and Citizenship; Whole Foods Market Supplier of the Year Award for Environmental Stewardship. Caryl holds a MPA from the University of Hartford.
Acclaimed for her inventive take on modern soul food, as well as comfort classics, Tanya Holland is the Executive Chef/Owner of the internationally renowned and beloved Brown Sugar Kitchen restaurant, located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The author of The Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook and New Soul Cooking, Holland competed on the 15th season of Top Chef on Bravo, was the host and soul food expert on Food Network’s Melting Pot, and appears on the new HBO Max show Selena + Chef featuring Selena Gomez (Holland appears on the episode running on August 27, 2020). She is a frequent contributing writer and chef to the James Beard Foundation, and Brown Sugar Kitchen has received multiple Michelin Bib Gourmand awards. She frequently leads the conversation on inclusion and equity in the hospitality industry.
Chef & Restaurateur
Allison Kelly is deeply committed to fighting economic inequality through innovation and out-of-the box partnerships at a community-based CDFI, ICA where she has been serving in the role of CEO since June 2019.
Prior to ICA, Kelly was the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at CDC Small Business Finance, a leading U.S lender focused on supporting entrepreneurs in undertapped communities. Kelly has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and for-profit worlds, having worked in the financial- and healthcare-service industries.