Our Naturally Bay Area Board Members comprise a wide breadth of companies that represent various industries that are part of and support the natural products industry.
Their passion, insights and decades of experience foster our thriving community in Northern California. We thank them for their commitment and support and we hope you have the opportunity to get acquainted with each of them at one of our upcoming events.
to all our team members
Alyssa is the CFO of Propeller Industries with experience in the consumer goods, e-commerce, and technology space. Alyssa has over a decade of financial planning & analysis experience and was the founder of a furniture e-commerce business. As a founder, Alyssa understands the entrepreneurial journey and enjoys supporting clients through their financial strategy to achieve their end goal.
Alyssa started her career at Yahoo! as a Financial Analyst before joining Ghirardelli Chocolate in 2009. At Ghirardelli, she managed the company-wide budget and forecast process, monthly financial reviews, trade spend analysis, cost accounting, customer and product P&Ls, and investment analyses. In between the first and second year of her MBA, she worked at Apple in the Corporate FP&A department. After business school, she transitioned into a general management role as Director of E-Commerce at Ghirardelli where she had full P&L responsibility of the business unit. There she managed direct-to-consumer SKU development, marketing, customer service, and in-house fulfillment, and led the relaunch of the website platform and order/inventory management systems. After Ghirardelli, she left to launch her own startup in the furniture e-commerce space with a zero inventory model.
Alyssa holds an MBA from Stanford, successfully passed the CMA exams, and has dual degrees in Finance and Economics from Santa Clara University.
Alyssa is a Seattle native but lives in the Bay Area. She loves adventure, is certified as a rescue scuba diver, and has backpacked or traveled through more than 50 countries. On weekends, you can find her exploring Marin with her husband and her son.
Purely Righteous Brands
An experienced CPG Executive with a love for building brands and a drive to positively impact communities through natural & organic mission-driven businesses that inspire a shift forward in the food system and the world around us.
Pete currently sits as Chair of the Naturally Bay Area board and brings 20+ years of Consumer Packaged Goods experience to his role at Purely Righteous Brands. Having worked and learned at small and large companies like Kellogg’s, Foster Farms, Del Monte, Zola, and the E. & J. Gallo Winery – he has led & developed iconic food & beverage brands including Kashi, Morningstar Farms, Gardenburger, Eggo, Foster Farms Fresh Chicken, and most recently his own husband-wife startup, Soñar! Organic Grain Free Tortilla Chips.
When Pete isn’t working or talking natural products, you can find him riding one of his bikes or teaming up with his wife to chase after their daughters on the soccer field or around the house in Oakland, CA.
ASPECT CONSUMER PARTNERSIan Malone is a Director and a founding member of Aspect Consumer Partners. He has over 18 years of finance, investment banking, M&A and operational experience in consumer products, food & beverage, real estate and technology. Ian specializes in advising growing consumer products companies on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and other important strategic matters, with a particular emphasis on companies in the food, beverage, wine, beauty and personal care sectors.Prior to co-founding Aspect Consumer Partners, Ian was a Senior Vice President with Global Wine Partners, where he led execution on a number of M&A transactions in the wine and craft beer industries. Previously, he was a Managing Director at Premier Pacific Vineyards, one of the largest developers of premium vineyards, where he worked in corporate strategy, finance and portfolio management. Ian began his investment banking career at UBS Investment Bank advising companies in the Technology sector on M&A and corporate finance.Ian received his Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College, and also attended Oxford University (St. Catherine’s College).
THE BURBANK GROUP AT MORGAN STANLEY
Willis Davis is a partner at the Burbank Group at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, a team focused on financial planning and the management of permanent capital for the founders of food, beverage, and consumer products companies and private equity and investment banking professionals. Willis and the Burbank Group manage over $2.0 billion and have been recognized by the Financial Times as one of the Top 400 Advisory teams in the United States every year from 2013 to 2020. Willis holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation (CFA) and graduated summa cum laude from Hampden-Sydney College. Prior to joining the Burbank Group, Willis worked for Morgan Stanley in New York and Washington DC where he advised high net worth families and institutions.
Willis enjoys running, reading and fly fishing and is actively involved with the San Francisco Riptide youth lacrosse program. Originally from Virginia, Willis currently resides in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.
PURE CULTURE BEAUTY
Joy is a CEO, board member and advisor with over 25 years driving sales and profit growth through innovative brand building, global expansions, and digital transformation. She is known for both scaling businesses for accelerated growth and turning around troubled businesses in complex and demanding situations in small companies and large corporations. Joy transforms the retail and marketing landscape to online and digital, with extensive experience in brick and mortar retail across all channels. Her international expertise includes North America, Asia and European markets.
Most recently, Joy served as the Board Chairman and CEO of H2O+ Beauty, a leading brand in the premium skincare category. Joy turned around this global company that had lost relevance, made sweeping strategic shifts to its business model, revitalized its branding and launched entirely new, performance-based product line. She transformed its marketing strategy to online and digital. Additionally, Joy shifted retail strategy from relying only on branded stand-alone retail outlets to include online and prominent beauty distribution through Ulta, Amazon, Dermstore, Sephora Asia, and TMall. This resulted in reversing the declining business to +25% sales growth and +30% margin improvement.
Previously, Joy served as CEO and Board Director of Yes To, Inc., overseeing the global expansion and accelerated growth of its natural skin and bodycare portfolio. Amid the economic downturn, she scaled the start-up, catapulting the brand to the #2 ranking in the natural personal care category. She expanded the distribution of Yes To products globally and broadened the company branding to Yes To from the limited Yes To Carrots. Under Joy’s leadership, the business successfully grew +450% in revenue growth and the company valuation increased by 5x. During this time, the Yes To brand also won nearly 70 product and business awards including the top 100 fastest growing company. She launched the brand into mainstream channels, including WalMart, Target, Kroger, CVS, Ahold, Amazon, Sephora.
Before joining Yes To, Joy spent 17 years at the Clorox Company, serving as Vice President and General Manager of the laundry business, overseeing P&L for a $1B+ division, handling the company’s most valuable brand equity, Clorox, and managing a large multi-functional organization. At Clorox, she turned around the Laundry business to +4% growth, a +10% profit improvement in a mature, declining category, and securing Clorox’s market position as #1 brand in segment. During her tenure at Clorox, Joy also held other senior leadership roles including VP Marketing and VP Sales. In addition to her CEO roles, Joy finds time to support the community. From her immigrant upbringing, she values the importance of education to her own career. She has served as a board member on Junior Achievement, and most recently on Girls Inc, an organization whose mission is to help underprivileged girls to reach college. She is active on the Harvard Business School’s Advisory Council. Joy’s strong strategic and transformational skills have also led her to serve as a board member and advisor for tech and health and wellness businesses like Mezzetta and Visolis. She is frequently a judge for global startup competitions at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. She is an invited keynote speaker at many conferences and has been a content contributor to ENTREPRENEUR magazine. She was awarded Most Admired CEO and named Most Influential Woman Forever Honor Roll in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was honored with Stevie Awards for Women in Business in both the Executive of the Year and Mentor of the Year categories, as well as Executive of the Year from Best in Biz awards. Joy received her BS from the University of California, Berkeley and a MBA from Harvard University.
Shannon Toyos carries more than 18 years of innovation, brand and business building experience. Currently, she is the Chief Marketing Officer at Kite Hill. Shannon has a deep passion for driving awareness that the plant-based company crafts delicious artisan chef-inspired foods that enable consumers to feel good about what they eat while making a positive impact on the environment one bite at a time.
Prior to joining Kite Hill, Shannon was Vice President of Marketing for The J.M. Smucker Company where she led the business operations, marketing strategy and the innovation agenda for the on-trend pet ~$3 billion business unit. During her tenure, she launched many platforms including one of the largest new brand entries in the history of the pet snacks category “Milo’s Kitchen.” Additionally, she was part of the core team to develop the growth strategy to expand into the pet premium space that resulted in a ~$1 billion increase within the brand’s portfolio through focused M&A.
Dianna Tremblay is the Chief Program Officer at ICA. She is 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. Leading ICA’s program work, Dianna continues to explore, test, and build programs that ultimately prepare companies to become more resilient and investment-ready.
Prior to joining ICA, Dianna’s professional experience included sales, corporate relationship management, and business development roles in e-commerce and textbook publishing. Dianna received a MBA from the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College and a Bachelor’s in English from California State University, East Bay.
Larisa is an audit partner with a focus in the manufacturing and distribution industry, including consumer products and food and beverage, as well as the technology industry. With over 20 years of experience, she has served middle-market privately held companies in a variety of industries. Her experience has been developed through her work domestically and internationally, with years of accounting experience in Israel.
- Areas of expertise include accounting and financial reporting, internal controls and fraud risk assessments, agreed-upon procedures, acquisitions and consolidations
- Assists clients with audits, reviews and accounting matters such as share-based payments, revenue recognition,variable considerations, software capitalization, equity transactions, debt restructuring and recapitalization
- Provides strategic business advice to management and technical accounting support to controllers and CFOs of privately held organizations
- Performs assurance engagements and coordinates additional services for her clients, including corporate and individual tax and business advisory
- Performs various business consulting engagements such as CFO advisory and mergers and acquisition projects
- Named one of the Most Influential Women in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times in 2017
Ryan leads the consumer business group at BPM, a CPA & advisory firm based in San Francisco. He focuses on assurance work in the consumer space, and additionally provides technical accounting advisory services across industries. He also has expertise in SEC reporting, business combinations and similar complex accounting areas. Ryan has a personal interest in finance and helping clients achieve their business and financial reporting goals.
BIG ROCK GROWTH ADVISORS
Kevin Cleary is a results-driven, people leader with a successful track record at private and public companies. His focus on vision and strategy is brought to life by successfully aligning all executional elements throughout an organization. He’s an effective team builder and inspirational leader who believes strong culture is the key ingredient to long-term success.
Currently, as Principal at Big Rock Growth Advisors LLC, he helps CEOs and companies drive and manage growth, while developing healthy cultures to ensure long-term success. Much of his advisory work is in leading organizations through the strategic planning process while also helping them create highly effective C-Suite teams.
Previously, as CEO at Clif Bar & Company, Kevin was instrumental in building Clif from a small company to the leader in the healthy snack food category. With a relentless focus on strategy, execution and culture, he built a multiple bottom line organization that won awards for green business, “Great Places to Work” and sustainable agriculture.
GERBER FINANCE INC.
Andrew Hollingsworth is a globally experienced financial executive who has a passion for helping organizations achieve superior performance.
Andrew has broad experience in leading organizations in financing, strategic planning, performance measurement, valuations, mergers, acquisitions, treasury management, enhancing operational efficiency, and implementing financial and client development systems.
He has worked with a wide range of industries including financial services, consumer products, food and beverage, manufacturing, technology, non-profits (art museums, higher education) and the arts.
Andrew is the author of Danish Modern, published by Gibbs Smith in 2008.
Andrew is a co-author of The Practice of Risk Management published by Swiss Bank and Goldman Sachs, 1998
Drew is a purpose-driven leader with strategic communications, brand marketing, influencer marketing, and partnership experience with an emphasis on driving change through authentic storytelling that connects brands with consumers’ hearts and minds. He brings a unique perspective to marketing via his diverse career path including corporate, agency, nonprofit, and government organizations. Drew leads communications at Mezzetta where he focuses on planning and executing communications at the company, brand, and product levels via PR, partnerships, messaging, and storytelling, Prior to joining Mezzetta, he ran a consulting practice helping brands develop marketing and communications programs working with brands such as MasterClass, and e.l.f. Beauty. Previously, Drew led influencer marketing and communications at Clif Bar & Company, partnerships for Another Planet Entertainment, as well as entertainment marketing for The Clorox Company. He also spent 9 years in the agency world and helped start a nonprofit building playgrounds across the country. Drew serves on the Board of Directors of the Influencer Marketing Association, is a Council Member for Chico State’s Digital Marketing Program, and a Board Member of Town Business. Drew lives in Oakland, Calif. with his wife, 2 boys, and a rowdy dog named Rowdy. He continually thinks about sustainability, particularly around the evolution of food and how it affects our society. He’s also a member of a competitive BBQ team that’s won 3 world championships while living a plant-based lifestyle.
Eric Munguia Saldaña
As CEO and an integral member to the Sabor Mexicano team from day one, Eric Munguia Saldaña embodies the company’s core values of local community, environment, quality and sustainability. In 2011, he first began selling their homemade salsas and chips at farmers markets which lead eventually into placement at the local Whole Foods Markets. Presently, Sabor Mexicano’s products are sold nationally in an impressive list of grocers nationwide. Taking pride in each ingredient of every recipe, Eric has been there every step of the way dedicated to offering the highest quality and most authentic flavors in every product developed and sold. Eric applies his comprehensive knowledge, attention to detail and deep connection to the Sabor Mexicano mission to make farm-to-table foods accessible to communities all over the world, to every partnership and relationship he helps to build on behalf of the brand. After 10 years at Sabor Mexicano, seeking a new challenge, Eric has joined the Buffalo Market team. The leading distributor of major food and beverage brands who are focused on improving the world. Buffalo Market is mission driven to make organic affordable and accessible in cities and food deserts. Buffalo Market is scaling a food movement built on quality, health for humans and for the planet.
BRAUNHAGEY & BORDEN LLP
Dan Harris is a partner and head of the Corporate Practice Group at BraunHagey & Borden. Dan works closely with a wide range of innovative food system technology, CPG, software, hardware, and marketplace-based companies throughout their life cycles, advising on general corporate and commercial matters, equity and debt financings and mergers and acquisitions. Dan’s core practice also involves representing a number of leading investors in the CPG and technology sectors. Dan focuses on providing his clients commercially-grounded advice geared towards achieving their ultimate business goals and has represented companies and institutional investors in transactions totaling more than $3 billion over the past two years alone.
Dan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family. He enjoys exploring the world with his family and embraces his role as culinary guide on their trips. When in the Bay Area, you may find Dan reliving his days of playing competitive sports, perusing local farmers’ markets or cooking with his daughter and son. Dan is also a self-proclaimed oenophile.
SCS GLOBAL SERVICES
Nicole Muñoz is the Vice President of SCS Global Services’s Environmental Certification Services division and serves on the Executive Leadership Team for the company. In her role, she supervises one of the three major global divisions of the company focusing on environmental and sustainability performance metrics spanning a broad range of industries, from green building, textile & apparel, electronics, and jewelry. She has 20 years of professional experience in the environmental field from environmental testing, regulatory and voluntary audits and technical standards development.
B.S. Biological Sciences, Environmental Toxicology (University of California, Riverside)
Janal is the VP of Operations at Guayaki. She is an experienced operations professional with a demonstrated history of working in the Food & Beverage industry. She is skilled in a broad spectrum of operations: Supply Chain Management, Cross Functional Team Leadership, Customer Service, and Project Management. Dedicated to building high performing teams and developing potential.
Abby Pledger serves as Senior Director of Enterprise Strategy for Clif Bar. In this role Abby partners with the executive leadership team to develop and drive corporate strategy across all five of Clif Bar’s Aspirations – Business, Brand, People, Community and Planet by creating cohesive and integrated plans, managing for performance, and leading enterprise initiatives. Previously, Abby held a leadership role in business transformation/process improvement for Clif.
Prior to Clif Bar, Abby tested the waters as an entrepreneur by founding Goodness To Be. A company designed to unite and inspire women to be fit and healthy while building a network of support and community in the San Francisco Bay Area.
With a passion for leading organizations through points of transformation, Abby has served as a management consultant, both internal and external, with a focus on organizational development, strategic planning, change management and operational excellence. She has worked in many industries ranging from CPG to financial services to retail to technology at major Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Landor Associates.
Abby calls Marin County home and as a nationally ranked US Masters swimmer and open water marathon swimmer can often be found in our local waters training and racing. She is a mom of two and loves adventures big and small with her teenage kids and husband. She is an alum of the University of Washington, earning a BA and a MBA with a focus on marketing and organizational development.
Bank of America
Claudio Cipollina is a Senior Vice President and Market Executive for our Bay Area Market here at Bank of America. In this capacity, his responsibilities include leading a team of specialists focused on understanding each client’s unique needs to deliver strategic financial guidance and solutions. Claudio’s mission is to help local companies thrive by achieving their business goals, no matter how simple or complex.
Bringing more than 30 years of experience to his role, Claudio started his banking career in 1989 at Eureka Bank where he served in various roles before joining the Bank of America Team in 2003, serving as a Relationship Manager, Market Manager, and eventual Market Executive for the greater San Francisco Bay Area. During his banking career, Claudio has served many mid-sized companies throughout the greater Bay Area to support their commercial banking needs.
To help create a more sustainable future for the companies and communities he serves, Claudio volunteers with several not-for-profit organizations focused on education, growth and safe spaces of transition for our younger generations. Most notably working with the Salesian Boys & Girls Club of Northern California, Novato Little League Youth Baseball, Italian Heritage Board of North Beach, and the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club where is his also a member. He has also served as a peer mentor for teammates across Bank of America looking to gain more knowledge and a better understanding into Business Banking.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Claudio attended college at the University of San Francisco where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He is now currently residing in Marin County with his wife and sons.
Lisa Curtis is the Founder & CEO of Kuli Kuli, the leading brand pioneering the superfood moringa in the US market. Moringa is a leafy green more nutritious than kale that provides anti-inflammatory benefits rivaling those of turmeric. Kuli Kuli’s bars, powder and shots are with moringa sourced directly from women’s cooperatives and small family farmers around the world. Lisa has grown Kuli Kuli from a Peace Corps dream into a multi-million dollar social enterprise that sells delicious moringa products in over 7,000 stores. Lisa and Kuli Kuli have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and hundreds of other publications. Prior to Kuli Kuli, Lisa served as the Communications Director at Mosaic where she managed a team of six to grow the company from zero to over $5M invested in solar. Previously, Lisa wrote political briefings for President Obama in the White House, served as a United Nations Environment Programme Youth Advisor and worked at an impact investment firm in India. She is a regular contributor to Forbes and, in her youth, was recognized as Forbes 30 Under 30.
The Intertwine Group
Elliot Begoun is a 30-year industry veteran, author, podcast host, founder of TIG Brands, and a 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.
Lara Jackle Dickinson is Executive Director and Co-Founder of OSC (One Step Closer to an Organic Sustainable Community), a group of CEOs working together toward regenerative food and agriculture solutions. In this capacity, she co-founded and launched the Compostable Packaging Collaborative, the Climate Collaborative and Climate Day for the Natural Foods industry. She also runs Pluot Consulting where she deploys her 20 plus years of natural foods experience to work on executive level marketing, sales, and strategic planning with some of the most mission driven food companies in the world. Lara was the CEO of LightFull Foods, VP Marketing & Retail sales at Numi Organic Tea, and VP of Marketing at the Balance Bar Company before it’s acquisition by a major CPG company. Lara received an MBA from Cornell, a BS in Finance from the University of Southern California and completed graduate work at Oxford. She lives in Piedmont, CA with her husband, three young children and 8 chickens.
New Hope Network
Carlotta Mast is the Senior Vice President of Content and Insights for Informa’s Global Health & Nutrition Network, which includes the New Hope Network in Boulder, Co. She is also the current board president for Naturally Boulder and sits on the boards of the Climate Collaborative, whose mission is to leverage the power of the natural products industry to reverse global warming, and of the Supplement Online Wellness Library (OWL), an industry-wide, self-regulatory initiative designed to create a rich and more complete picture of the dietary supplement marketplace for regulators, retailers and industry. Carlotta is a frequent speaker at natural products industry events and conferences and has been interviewed about natural products trends and market performance by The New York Times, NPR, ABC News, Business Week and numerous other media outlets. In 2013, Carlotta co-founded a paleo snack company called Wholly Bites, which hit the market well before Whole Foods Market and other retailers began adding paleo sections to their stores. Wholly Bites was sold in 2016 and is now marketed under the Thrive Tribe brand.
Michelle Ferguson is VP of Marketing at Miyoko’s Creamery. She is former executive vice president of Food and Innovation for Clif Bar & Company, a family- and employee-owned company crafting energy food with organic and sustainable ingredients to feed and inspire adventure. Guided by the company’s five bottom lines – Sustaining our People, our Business, our Brands, our Community and the Planet – Michelle sets innovation strategy and leads new product development for all CLIF brands. Michelle draws inspiration as a foodie, an athlete and a mom to help craft trailblazing new products such as CLIF® Nut Butter Filled and CLIF® Whey Protein. Michelle joined Clif Bar & Company in 1999 as director of consumer research. In 2003, she was promoted to vice president of brand marketing, then to senior vice president in 2006. In 2009, she was promoted to executive vice president of marketing. Under her direction, Clif Bar grew to be a recognized leader in grassroots marketing programs that engage consumers and address important environmental issues. Prior to Clif Bar, Michelle directed research at Gatorade and served as managing director at M.B.L. Taiwan. Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in international agricultural development from the University of California, Davis and a master’s in agricultural economics from Cornell University. She lives in Kensington, California, with her husband and two children.
Vanessa is the Founder of Cultivate Creations, a boutique marketing, strategy, and innovation consulting firm focused in driving expansive growth for emerging and established natural and organic brands. She is consummate advocate for the consumer perspective and loves smart design, breakthrough integrated marketing, and innovative ideas. Cultivate Creations has a deep appreciation for a 360 approach to everything it does, and takes the time and thought necessary to ensure that its work and ideas speak to consumers, retailers, sales organizations, trade partners, press, and internal audiences.
Jim Taschetta is the co-founder and CEO of Akai Life, LLC and a member of the Naturally Bay Area board. He is a 30-year CPG veteran with mix of large company and start-up experience. He started his career in brand management at Procter & Gamble. During his 10 years at P&G, including 7 overseas, Jim built a variety of brands and categories. While at Coca-Cola, Jim led a $2 billion-dollar portfolio of brands, including the Sprite, PowerAde and Minute Maid brands. As an SVP at Visa, Jim led the repositioning of the Visa brand and introduced a brand management system to the marketing function. Over the last several years he has focused on bringing his experience to helping small to medium sized companies scale. He was one of the first executives at the fin-tech start-up Yodlee, which went public in 2015. While at Bare Escentuals, he led product and marketing and helped position the company for a successful sale to cosmetics giant Shiseido. Most recently, he led the expansion of start-up Caveman Foods, helping them to become a leading provider of Paleo snacks. Jim received his MBA from Cornell University and lives with his wife and two children in Burlingame, CA.
Robyn Rutledge’s nearly two decade-long career in finance and investing has been concentrated in the consumer industry, with focus on food, beverage, and wellness-oriented companies. Robyn is the Founder & CEO of SBG Growth, a consumer-focused investment and advisory business. Through SBG, Robyn invests directly in consumer-facing businesses, often serving on the Board of Directors and as a regular advisor to the leadership team. Robyn also currently advises investment firms, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders on the consumer market landscape. Under the SBG umbrella, Robyn has also been serving a leadership role in CALM, an innovative startup backed by the University of California, which seeks to marry best-in-class consumer engagement, healthcare and technology. Prior to launching SBG, Robyn spent close to a decade with TSG Consumer Partners, a leading investment firm, where she was a Managing Director and Partner and subsequently an Operating Partner. Prior to TSG, Robyn was a member of the investment team at Thoma Cressey (now Thoma Bravo), and prior to that, worked in M&A at Goldman Sachs in New York. Robyn was born and raised in Canada and received a Bachelor of Commerce with First Class Honors from Queen’s University in Kingston. She subsequently earned an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where she was an Arjay Miller Scholar. Robyn is a passionate believer in life-long learning and is pleased to have been part of the The Food Business School’s formation team at the Culinary Institute of America.
Matthew has spent the last 25 years building disruptive consumer brands that have challenged established categories with products that are better for people and the planet. As founder of Freeli Foods, Matthew’s current mission is to make nutritious, convenient food accessible to all families. Previously, Matthew was CEO of Kite Hill where he led the company’s transformation from launch to becoming the gold standard in plant-based dairy products. He was an early employee and CMO of Impossible Foods, a company developing plant-based options to one day replace our global reliance on industrially raised meat. He came to Impossible Foods after founding Fork in the Road Foods, a leading sustainable meat company. Matthew started his career in strategy at Starbucks and managed several food brands at The Clorox Company after earning his MBA from Cornell’s Johnson School. He and his wife also founded the first of its kind public Mandarin immersion school in California, Yu Ming Charter School. Rated one of the top charter schools in California, Yu Ming teaches Mandarin to over 450 students free of tuition.
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Don is a strategic legal advisor and corporate counsel to emerging growth and middle-market Food & Beverage, Food Tech, and Ag Tech innovators and investors. His clients are based in the major U.S. food hubs, including the Bay Area, Boulder, Brooklyn, Austin and Los Angeles. His law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (DWT), has one of the largest food & beverage practices in the United States, with over 40 attorneys serving food venture entrepreneurs, emerging brands, larger food companies, and the private equity firms that invest in them, at every level of the food chain from “Farm to Label”. Don is a Founding Faculty Member and member of the Advisory Board of the Food Business School at the Culinary Institute of America (Napa Valley). He currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the board of Directors of KCETLink TV, the public television station in LA, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Technion Society – San Francisco Chapter.
Dan Kurzrock is the co-founder and “Chief Grain Officer” of ReGrained. ReGrained is an ingredient company and packaged foods innovator that rescues and upcycles of high-protein high-fiber grain generated by the brewing industry into SuperGrain+ flour. SuperGrain+ is versatile ingredient that produces delicious, nutritious, and highly functional foods from savory to sweet applications. Dan created ReGrained out of his hobby for homebrewing beer, where he first discovered that so-called “spent” grain could be given a delicious second life as food. He is now obsessed with better aligning the food we eat with the planet we love through Edible Upcycling.
WHITE ROAD INVESTMENTS / CLIF BAR & COMPANY
Jenn is both a principal at White Road Investments, a venture capital firm, and a manager of corporate development at Clif Bar & Company. Founded by the co-founders of Clif Bar, White Road invests in and partners with mission-driven entrepreneurs building sustainable ventures in the natural/organic food and beverage, and outdoor industries. Prior to these roles, she was a management consultant working with foundations and non-profits on environmental grant-making strategies and start-up operations, and an investment banker at JPMorgan. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she lives in San Francisco with her husband and young son, and together, they are always planning their next international adventure or local Bay Area hike.
FORTIS SOLUTIONS GROUP
As an Account Executive with Fortis Solutions Group, Laurie is passionate about supporting her customers in identifying optimal packaging solutions for their products. She has clients in the food, beverage, personal care, nutraceutical, and cannabis industries.
Having previously worked as a Nutrition Specialist with Abbott, supporting the Pediatric Hospitals in the Bay Area, it became incredibly clear to Laurie how important nutrition is to development of our brains and bodies. Being vested in understanding the science behind how nutrition impacts our health and well-being logically lead her to the natural products space.
Laurie has a MS in Industrial and Organization Behavior from San Jose State University. She lives in Aptos with her family and three dogs. Want to see her smile? Ask her about tennis, her Airstream, or fly fishing.
Mary Tarczynski has 25+ years of experience leading cross-functional teams to build equity and drive sales for CPG brands including Coca-Cola, Kraft, Clorox and Campbell’s. She left corporate marketing to spend four years in emerging ad tech; then in 2016 co-founded Parabolic, a shopper marketing agency offering “ideas with trajectory” – integrated strategies, concepts and activations to help established and emerging natural brands sell in and sell through at retail.
Mary is an advocate for diversity in leadership and serves as Co-Chair for the Network of Executive Women Northern California Region and as an Executive in Residence at Plug & Play Tech Center, advising consumer brands and ad tech startups.
She and her husband live in Rockridge (Oakland) and are the parents of a Brown University graduate, UCLA student and high school senior. When not working, volunteering or traveling for fun, Mary can be found running or hiking on Bay Area trails.
Jen Berliner is the General Manager of Moonshot, a new line of climate-friendly crackers made with regeneratively grown ingredients. She’s passionate about creating behavior change that makes people and the planet healthier.
Prior to Moonshot, Berliner was the CEO of Medlie, a leading fresh vegetable snacking platform incubated by Sonoma Brands. Berliner joined Medlie (formerly ZÜPA NOMA) in late 2016 from PepsiCo, bringing strong experience in growth strategy, insights-driven innovation, and channel and customer specific marketing programs. During her time at PepsiCo, she grew Mug Root Beer, Manzanita Sol, and SoBe; commercialized multiple “better for you” Foodservice innovations, and led Shopper Marketing at top retailers for three of PepsiCo’s $1.5B+ food & beverage portfolios.
Before joining PepsiCo, Berliner developed integrated marketing campaigns at GMMB, a communications strategy firm in Washington, D.C. She has also consulted for Google Food, where she led qualitative research into employee eating habits and provided recommendations implemented at the corporate level to improve food choices. Berliner earned a B.A. in Political Science and French from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.
John has nearly 17 years of investment experience, with a focus on private equity and venture capital. He has been an active investor in food and food-related businesses ranging from restaurants to CPG companies. He is currently affiliated with Altamont Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused on making investments in middle market companies. Prior to Altamont, John was a portfolio manager with Hall Capital. He was also an investment professional with Hamilton Lane and a member of the investment research group at Cambridge Associates. John is a graduate of Colby College as well as the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He and his wife live in San Francisco with their dog, Jane.