Managing Director, HighQuest Partners
Mr. Addams, Managing Director and co-lead of HighQuest Consulting, has been involved in strategy for leading global organizations throughout his career. Prior his current role, he served as SVP and Chief Strategy Officer for Valmont Industries (NYSE:VMI) and additionally co-founded Good Earth Irrigation. Mr. Addams was part of the founding global leadership group of McKinsey & Company’s Sustainability and Resource Productivity Practice. He is a co-author of Charting our Water Future, a foundational report of the 2030 Water Resources Group. He currently serves on several Boards of Directors, including International Development Enterprises (iDE), the Middle East and North Africa Network of Water Centers (MENA-NWC), and CropMetrics. He holds a Ph.D. (Earth and Environmental Sciences) from Stanford University, a B.Sc. (Applied Physics) from Brigham Young University, and has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
Vice President for Sales and Customer Development, Where Food Comes From, Inc.
Kristina Bierschwale is currently the Vice President for Sales and Customer Development for Where Food Comes From, Inc., an independent third party verification company.
Kristina joined Where Food Comes From in 2011, bringing 20 years of experience in the meat and food processing industries. She has worked in various sectors of the U.S. food industry, including quality assurance and food safety, marketing, export sales, grocery retail procurement, category management and product development.
Kristina is the primary WFCF liaison with the Non-GMO Project and works in coordination with Where Food Comes From’s verification and review teams and its customers across the supply chain, assisting in their efforts to identify and meet the requirements of this and other third
party standards certified or verified by Where Food Comes From and its divisions.
Kristina was born and raised in the Texas Hill Country, and attended Texas A&M University where she completed her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Animal Science. She resides with her husband and three young children in Mason, TX. She is involved with her family’s small cow-calf operation and is enjoying helping her small children learn how to love and provide for the animals that God has entrusted in their care.
Farmer, PrairiErth Farm
Dave Bishop and his family run PrairiErth Farm, a 300-acre organic farm in Central Illinois. Production is highly diverse, with corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, forages, vegetables, grass-fed beef, and pork, as well as eggs and honey. They also have orchards with peaches, apples, and pears.
Dave is passionate about long-term soil building, and a strong advocate for organic production. The farm became certified organic in 2004. Prior to that, Dave farmed conventionally and saw firsthand the detrimental effects on the soil and to the farm and rural communities.
He is passionate about local food systems and advocates locally, regionally and nationally. As president of the Illinois Local Foods, Farms, and Jobs Council, Dave helped develop three pieces of legislation signed by the governor.
Dave is excited to be collaborating with area farmers, researchers, and chefs through the Grand Prairie Grain Guild, a project to encourage local infrastructure for small grains.
Technical Director, AACCI
Dr. Anne Bridges is the Technical Director at AACCI (formerly the American Association of Cereal Chemists International) and chair of the AACCI Approved Methods Technical Committee. Anne received her academic training in Australia and Canada and has worked in healthcare and consumer food products for a number of companies including 3M Company and General Mills Inc. Currently, she works as an independent consultant and splits her time between the USA and Australia/SE Asia focusing on projects in food quality and safety and in supply chain agricultural biotechnology and sustainability issues.
Senior Marketing Manager for Specialty Products, DuPont Pioneer
Morrie Bryant is Senior Marketing Manager – Specialty Products for Pioneer. In this role, Morrie is responsible for the relationships the company has with the corn processing community and the grain companies that serve these markets. Additionally, he works closely with the niche market segments of white corn, waxy corn, yellow food grade corn, and conventional corn and soybeans.
Morrie joined Pioneer in 1983 as a District Sales Manager for the company’s Microbial Genetics Division (MGD). Morrie later held the positions of Product Manager – Biologicals and Regional Sales Manager for MGD, then Regional Manager for Pioneer’s Nutrition and Industry Markets group. In 1997 Morrie joined Pioneer’s North American Seed Sales Division as Account Manager for Food Corn and Dry Milling. He later held positions as Key Account Manager and Business Manager – Corn Processing.
CEO, The Food Group
Mark has spent more than 30 years in the food industry as a marketing executive, food innovator, and trusted adviser to some of the nation’s leading food manufacturers, brands, agricultural/seafood boards and associations.
He has assisted in elevating Norwegian Salmon to a world-renowned brand as well as making Oreo ingredients the number-one branded ingredient in food products today. In addition, he consulted for industry groups, such as the Florida Department of Citrus and Gulf Seafood, counseling each through their most challenging times in history.
Director, Quality Assurance International (QAI, Inc.), a subsidiary of NSF International
Tracy Favre is a former organic inspector, with over 25 years of experience in natural resource management, first as an environmental engineer followed by various positions in sustainable agriculture. She served on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) from 2012-2016, and as its chair in 2016. The NOSB advises the Secretary of Agriculture on the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). She and her husband own and manage a small, diversified family farm.
Tracy earned her Master of Science in sustainable development (emphasis in agriculture) from the University of London/Imperial College London and a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Texas A&M University. She has received HACCP Manager training through NSF International and NOP standards, livestock, and inspection training through the International Organic Inspector’s Association.
Peter Golbitz is president of Agromeris, an advisory firm that focuses on the unique needs of the specialty food and agricultural marketplace. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Mr. Golbitz works closely with leading businesses and organizations on market and business development projects.
Prior to founding Agromeris, Peter Golbitz was the Director of International Business Development at SunOpta, a leading U.S. food processor. Mr. Golbitz was also the founder and president of Soyatech, a consulting and publishing company that produces the annual Soya & Oilseed Bluebook. Mr. Golbitz is on the board of directors of the World Soy Foundation, the Sustainable Food Trade Association, and sits on technical committees of the Organic Trade Association.
Managing Director, AMERRA Capital Management
Robert manages the investment process related to private equity opportunities within the firm. He joined AMERRA in 2015 with a strong foundation in executive leadership, risk management, domestic and international logistics, and business development within the feed and grain industry.
His background is built over 18+ years in a variety of strategic and functional leadership roles, first with Cargill Animal Nutrition and then J. D. Heiskell & Co. Raised on a grain and beef cattle farm in Indiana, he holds a BS in animal science from Oklahoma State University and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Robert is a graduate of the California Ag Leadership Program (Class 36) and past director of the National Grain and Feed Association.
Director of Advocacy, Organic Seed Alliance
Kristina (Kiki) Hubbard is the director of advocacy and communications for Organic Seed Alliance. She has worked in policy advocacy for 15 years in the areas of antitrust, biotechnology, intellectual property, and organic regulation. She currently leads efforts to promote policies and actions that support the advancement of organic seed, including managing OSA’s State of Organic Seed project. She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her husband and son.
Chief Executive, Pipeline Foods, LLC
Eric Jackson of Pipeline Foods, LLC, is a developer of sustainable supply chains in agriculture. Pipeline is a partnership between professional management and institutional capital with a mandate to address underdeveloped value chains, particularly Organic and Non-GMO grains, oilseeds, food and feed ingredients.
Founder and CEO, Mercaris
Kellee James is CEO of Mercaris, a market data service & trading platform for organic, non-GMO and other IP agricultural commodities. In 2009, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow where she advised members of the administration on environmental markets. Kellee received her MBA and MA in International Development from American University and completed a BA in Spanish from the University of Kentucky.
Principal, Karlin Strategic Consulting LLC
Marni advises clients on food and agriculture policy, particularly in the organic and natural space. Marni has over fifteen years of experience in law, policy, and nonprofit management. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel for the Organic Trade Association, where she developed and implemented government affairs strategies in the interest of Organic Trade Association’s mission and its members, and engaged Congress and federal and state agencies to further those policy goals. She also served as the North American representative on the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and was a member of Food Policy Action’s Vote Advisory Council. Before working in the organic sector, Marni was counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and an attorney in private practice in Washington, DC. She also served as Managing Director of The Cookbook Project, a nonprofit engaged in expanding food literacy through education and training. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Marni graduated from The George Washington University with a degree in International Affairs and received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. Besides her professional skills, she has a passion for sustainable and organic food and received a Culinary Arts diploma from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France.
President and Founder, Advanced Economic Solutions (AES)
Bill Lapp is president and founder of Advanced Economic Solutions. Lapp has over 25 years of experience in analyzing and forecasting economic conditions and commodity markets and has a wealth of experience in providing comprehensive economic analysis of grain, livestock, and dairy markets. He has been a featured speaker at numerous national forums, including the restaurant industry’s semi-annual Supply Chain Management conference and the USDA Annual Outlook Conference. AES is dedicated to providing high quality economic and commodity analysis to agribusiness and food companies. In addition, AES forecasts and analysis for procurement, investment and risk management decisions. Clients include restaurants, food manufacturers, grain merchandisers, livestock producers, investment firms and biofuel-related firms.
Farm Policy Director, Organic Trade Association (OTA)
Nathaniel provides staff support to OTA's Farmer Advisory Council, on-the-ground outreach to OTA's organic farmer membership community, and analysis of policy issues that affect organic crop and livestock producers. He interacts directly with government officials and the organic supply chain on behalf of the grower segment of OTA’s membership. Prior to his current position, Nathaniel served as Certification Coordinator for Washington State Dept. of Agriculture's organic certification program where he managed WSDA's material review program and gained certification experience in all scopes of organic production. Nathaniel’s responsibilities at WSDA also included coordination of their periodic residue sampling program. Nathaniel holds a Bachelor’s of Science from The Evergreen State College with a focus in agricultural science and organic chemistry.
Executive Director, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)
John Mesko is the executive director of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), a nonprofit that provides education, resources, and practical advice to help farmers grow organically. MOSES also puts on the largest annual conference about organic and sustainable farming each February in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
John has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s in farm management from Purdue University. His unique career has covered all facets of agriculture, from his early days in fertilizer sales and biotechnology research to his current focus on organic and sustainable farming. In each role, he has worked to promote a better understanding and appreciation of how food is produced.
John teaches a college-level environmental science class and regularly speaks about sustainable, farming, and the future of agriculture. He and his family have a grass-fed beef operation in east central Minnesota.
Senior Program Director, Sustainable Food Lab
Elizabeth leads strategy and implementation on behalf of the Food Lab’s efforts to support food and beverage companies achieve their sustainable sourcing goals in professionalized agriculture systems. Having spent the early part of her life on her family’s dairy farm in Vermont, and then later on a large organic vegetable operation, Elizabeth carries farming and food systems close to her heart and believes that farmers are integral to the stewardship of our working lands. She has worked on behalf of businesses, Trust for Public Land, Donella Meadows Institute, and US Senator Patrick Leahy. Her advanced degrees are in Community Development and Applied Economics from the University of Vermont.
Farmer, Raile Farms
With a 37 year career in agriculture, Tim Raile has deep roots in Northwest Kansas. He attended Kansas State University before returning as 4th generation operator. While the number of acres has grown from the original homestead, Tim remains committed to the principles his father and grandfathers instilled; faith, stewardship, sustainability, and progress. Tim has been honored with awards for yield and soil conservation, attesting to his commitment to strive for excellence. He is dedicated to his family and along with wife Robyn, is active in the community. He serves on the church board and has held the office of county commissioner. The couple considers a highlight of their career is having son Michael and wife Ashley return, becoming 5th generation operators. Tim is proud of daughter Jessica, and husband Geiler, are active in business development and the future of the farm. With three grandchildren, Cole, Rhen, and Brooks there is potential for a 6th generation legacy.
Senior Vice President, SunOpta
Mr. Ruelle has over 20 years of progressive food industry senior leadership experience with a focus on building foundational structures to
achieve aggressive revenue and profitably growth objectives. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of the Global
Ingredients platform for SunOpta, Inc. Prior to joining SunOpta, Mr. Ruelle was Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer of Restaurant Technologies, Inc. where he managed over 30 greenfield start-ups. Earlier in his career he held various financial and operational roles with
LaserMaster Technologies and was a Certified Public Account with Larson Allen, LLP. Mr. Ruelle has a Bachelor of Science degree from St. John's University.
John A. Schillinger, Ph.D.
President, Schillinger Genetics
Dr. Schillinger began his career teaching plant breeding courses and conducting soybean research at Michigan State University and the University of Maryland. While working for Asgrow Seed, Dr. Schillinger developed the soybean variety A3127, which was named “Product of the Decade” by US AgriMarketing.
In 1999, John started Schillinger Genetics, the premier non-GMO soybean seed company in the industry today. Dedicated research effort in variety development enables Schillinger Genetics to offer the largest and most unique product line of non-GMO varieties in the industry through its eMerge Genetics brand. With increased quantity and quality of protein for food and feed applications, these varieties produce outstanding and novel results in feeding trials with aqua species, poultry, and turkeys. Schillinger Genetics currently works to advance high oleic technology in order to bring it to market.
Executive Director, Oregon Tilth
Chris Schreiner has 20 years work experience in the organic sector. Since 1998, he has worked for Oregon Tilth. As Farm Program Coordinator, Chris coordinated the organic certification process for over 400 farms. As Quality Control Director, his responsibilities included policy analysis and managing accreditation with the USDA National Organic Program. Chris has been Oregon Tilth’s Executive Director since 2009. He has developed formal partnerships with traditional agricultural service providers, including Oregon State University and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, to expand access to expertise and resources for organic producers. In 2014, Chris served on the Oregon Governor’s Task Force on Genetically Engineered Agriculture. Chris is currently the co-chair of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's Research, Education and Extension Committee.
Agriculture Director, DanoneWave
Ryan Sirolli is the Senior Director of Agriculture for DanoneWave (DW.) In his current role, Ryan oversees agricultural sustainability and upstream sourcing of feed and forage inputs in partnership with DW’s dairy producer suppliers. Partnerships are a key element of success, with a focus on the creation of alternative economic models leading to fair and stable returns for growers and dairy producers. Additional emphasis is directed towards soil health initiatives focused on no-till or minimum till farming practices with diverse crop rotations to enhanced biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and water resiliency. Ryan has extensive experience working across the dairy value chain in the United States from producers to consumers. Ryan currently resides on a small hobby farm with his wife and two daughters in Minnesota.
Livestock and Grazing Specialist, Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota
Kent and his wife Linda own and operate an award-winning grass-based livestock farm in west-central Minnesota. Kent has been involved in planned grazing and pasture-based livestock systems for over 25 years. For the past 10 years, he has worked with cover crops and seeded annuals to integrate livestock into cropping systems and improve soil health. He has given numerous presentations and served as a college instructor on organic transitions, forages, cover crops, fencing, grazing, livestock management and soil health. Kent currently serves as the Livestock and Grazing Specialist for the Sustainable Farming Association, coordinator for Minnesota Dairy Initiatives on grazing, cover crops, soil health and organic transitions, and as a Master Grazier for Dairy Grazing Apprenticeships.
Director of Licensing, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council
With roots in the Arkansas River Valley farming rice, soybean and corn, Bryan Stobaugh embraced educational, regulatory, and agronomic roles preparing him to serve as Missouri Soybean’s director of licensing. Stobaugh earned a degree in plant breeding and genetics from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, but pesticide regulatory and general agronomy work contributed to Stobaugh’s understanding of emerging technologies. Stobaugh oversees the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council’s (MSMC) soybean portfolio. He manages trait/germplasm associated with MSMC’s funded research, working closely with the University of Missouri (MU). Stobaugh is largely focused on high oleic technology, including the high oleic soybean patents registered by Curators of the University of Missouri and the USDA, where MSMC is the exclusive licensee.
Purchasing & Crop Production VP, Healthy Food Ingredients (HFI)
Chris leads the Healthy Food Ingredients (HFI) Crop Production and Logistics teams. HFI is a growing family of global specialty ingredient brands, which includes SK Food International, Heso/Dakota Organic Products, Suntava and Heartland Flax.
Mark J. Zavodnyik
Project Manager, HighQuest Partners
Mr. Zavodnyik is a Project Manager at HighQuest Partners.
Prior to joining HighQuest, Mark was the lead Tropical Oils Trader at AAK USA where he was responsible for all palm, palm kernel, and coconut oil sourcing, trading, and risk management for AAK facilities in the United States. As part of this role, Mr. Zavodnyik was responsible for the due diligence analysis of the raw material sourcing & risk management function of potential acquisition targets.
Mr. Zavodnyik has spoken at a number of industry conferences providing an overview of the supply/demand factors impacting tropical oil markets, as well as the efforts the industry has undertaken to make palm oil more environmentally sustainable.
Prior to joining AAK, Mark was a Senior Associate with KMPG LLP's regulatory advisory practice, consulting investment advisers, hedge funds and other financial firms on a variety of issues impacting the financial regulatory landscape. Mr. Zavodnyik received his BA degree from the University of Notre Dame.