ORGANIC AND NON-GMO FORUM
Philippe de Laperouse
Managing Director, HighQuest Partners
Philippe de Lapérouse is Managing Director at HighQuest Partners. He has more than 20 years experience in senior leadership positions with global companies in the agro-industrial and value-added food chain and in private equity investing. Previously, as director of business development for Bunge North America Inc., he was responsible for the company’s efforts to expand its industrial operations into Mexico and the Caribbean Basin, biotech and e-commerce initiatives, and public relations/corporate communications (before and after Bunge’s successful IPO in 2001). Mr. de Lapérouse is a director of Sodrugestvo, the largest independent soybean crusher in Europe with its head office and main production facility in the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. Mr. de Lapérouse received an MBA from The Darden School of Business at The University of Virginia and a BA from Trinity College.
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.
Founder & CEO, Mercaris
Kellee James is Founder & CEO of Mercaris, a market data service and trading platform for organic, non-GMO and other IP agricultural commodities. Prior to Mercaris, Kellee spent five years at the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the first electronic trading platform for spot, futures and options contracts on carbon, and other environmental products. In 2009, she was appointed by President Obama as a White House Fellow. Kellee was named by Black Enterprise Magazine and Crain's Chicago Business Magazine as a '40 under 40' rising leader. Ms. James is an Aspen Institute Catto Fellow and has also served on the board of Net Impact, a membership organization of more than 12,000 MBA professionals committed to sustainability. Kellee received her MBA and MA in International Development from American University and a BA in Spanish from the University of Kentucky.
Director, Soybean Sales, SunOpta – Raw Materials Sourcing & Supply
For nearly 20 years, Kate Leavitt has been promoting and selling organic and natural food products. Kate Leavitt joined the SunOpta team in 1999. She now serves as the Director of Soybean Sales of the SunOpta Raw Materials Sourcing and Supply segment (formerly Sunrich, Inc). Sunrich was originally established in 1978 as the Minnesota Waxy Corn Growers Association by over 300 grower members/shareholders. In 1999, Sunrich was acquired by SunOpta.
SunOpta is a vertically-integrated food company focused on the natural and organic food sector. It is publicly traded on NASDAQ under STKL and on the Toronto Stock Exchange under SOY. Currently with over $1.2 Billion in sales, 22 production facilities and 1400 employees, SunOpta has experienced great growth in this dynamic segment of the food industry. In her tenure at SunOpta, in additional to key sales and marketing, Ms. Leavitt has also coordinated the significant international marketing efforts of for the specialty grain and value-added ingredient products.
Ms. Leavitt also sits on several committees and boards and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) and The Minnesota AgriGrowth Council.
Ms. Leavitt graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota, earning degrees in both Japanese and Mathematics. Raised and currently residing in Eagan, Minnesota, USA she has also lived in Japan, and traveled extensively in Europe and SE Asia. Personally she is married, the mother of two elementary-school aged sons, is an active member of a bookclub and enjoys figure skating and scrapbooking.
SunOpta operates high-growth ethical businesses that foster the health and well-being of their communities and promotes environmental responsibility. SunOpta focuses on a healthy products portfolio and on integrated business models in the natural, organic, and specialty food markets.
Senior Crops and Livestock Specialist, 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.
Founder, Rokala Public Affairs
Mark Rokala’s work focuses on facilitating businesses interface with the U.S. government helping them to achieve their desired goals. He has found creative ways to utilize current government programs and he has worked to change the scope of existing programs to help his client’s reach their business goals.
Mark has spent the past twenty years in Washington D.C., working as a congressional staffer on Capitol Hill and as a lobbyist developing and implementing legislative strategies for trade associations, non-profits and companies. Over that time, he has developed and maintains a very strong network within the food policy and regulatory arena. He grew up on a dairy and hog farm near Dassel, Minnesota and is currently working with neighboring organic farmers to start the farm’s transition to organic production.
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.
CEO, Maracujá Solutions
As CEO of Maracujá Solutions, Lisa Spicka uses her diverse background to help clients identify practical sustainability-based solutions which reduce supply chain risk, create supplier loyalty, improve brand reputation, and increase product quality.
Lisa has worked extensively in the United States and Latin America since 1997 in the food and agriculture industry. She has held operations, project, procurement, and sustainability leadership roles for a spectrum of companies, ranging from non-profits to multi-billion dollar brands. In her roles, Lisa has led domestic and global initiatives that focus on supply chain integrity, food safety, organic certification, and sustainability management.
She holds a Spanish degree from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and graduated cum laude from Thunderbird School of Global Management, with a Global MBA in sustainable supply chain management.
Supervisor of Technical Support, EnviroLogix Inc.
Jamie Welch is the Supervisor of Technical Support at EnviroLogix Inc. In this role, he leads a global team that supports the technologies developed and manufactured by EnviroLogix. Jamie is a key contributor to new product design, validation, and market introduction. Jamie specializes in creating customized sampling plans for customers and has delivered multiple webinars, conference presentations and hands-on classroom lectures on GMO detection and sampling statistics. He has also been published as a contributing author in several scientific papers on mycotoxin and GMO testing systems. He began his employment at EnviroLogix 13 years ago as a scientist, creating ELISA and lateral flow assays for GMO detection. Jamie earned a B.S. in microbiology from the University of New Hampshire in 1996.