Thank you for joining us this year! GOPEX 2024 is just around the corner! Save the date:

January 22-24, 2024
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Hollywood, FL


Paul Rice

Paul Rice is the Founder & CEO of Fair Trade USA, the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Since launching the Fair Trade Certified™ label in 1998, Paul has helped establish Fair Trade as one of the fastest-growing segments of the food and apparel industries. To date, Fair Trade USA has partnered with over 1,400 leading companies, including Green Mountain, Nespresso, Whole Foods, Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, Kroger, Chobani and Target. Fair Trade USA now certifies coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, coconut, fresh produce, dairy and fish. Recently, through groundbreaking partnerships with Patagonia, Athleta, Williams-Sonoma and J. Crew, Fair Trade has begun certifying apparel and home goods, improving the lives of factory workers. In 2021 consumer recognition of the Fair Trade Certified label hit 66%. To date, Fair Trade USA and its partners have generated $966 million in additional income for farmers and workers in 62 countries, allowing them to care for the environment and steadily improve their livelihoods.

Prior to founding Fair Trade USA, Paul worked for 11 years as a rural development specialist in the mountains of Nicaragua, where he founded and led the country's first Fair Trade, organic export cooperative. Paul's rich, first-hand experience over the last 30 years in the fields of sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, grassroots economic development, global supply chain transparency and consumer activation is unique in the certification world. He is now a leading advocate of “impact sourcing” as a core strategy for both poverty alleviation and sustainable business.

Daniella Velazquez de Leon

Daniella Velazquez de León is the general manager of Organics Unlimited, a San Diego-based grower and distributor of organic tropical fruit from Mexico and Ecuador. She is involved with a wide range of responsibilities at the company’s San Diego, California headquarters located in Otay Mesa, along the U.S.-Mexico border. As a fourth-generation family member committed to organic farming, her and her family’s organic banana growing roots run deep into Colima, Mexico’s famed fertile soil.

Velazquez de León’s parents founded Organics Unlimited in 2000. Prior to joining Organics Unlimited in 2018, she worked in a number of roles for a national ad tech company that specialized in social media operations for client campaigns on Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat. A San Diego native and graduate from the University of San Diego, she continues to pursue opportunities to innovate and help guide Organics Unlimited as it prepares for the future.


Velazquez de León’s excitement for carrying on her family’s organic banana legacy in the global marketplace has allowed her to learn all the ins and outs of everything from logistics to accounting and sales to marketing. The company’s future is very bright as millennials have fully embraced healthy, organic produce as part of their daily lives and seek to support brands that are environmentally and socially responsible – both aspects are Organics Unlimited strengths.

David Posner

David Posner was already teaching organic gardening while growing and selling organic produce in the Santa Cruz, California area in the early 1970’s. At first David sold his organic produce to natural food stores and co-ops.  Before the end of 1973 David had developed a delivery route up and down the state of California, with the proceeds going to support the alternative high school where he was teaching.

As David started delivering organically grown fruits and vegetables from growers across California to health food stores, co-ops, and eventually distributors in Northern, Central, and Southern California he told everyone he met about the benefits of growing produce without the use of synthetically compounded chemicals, focusing on live soil and a live environment in the orchards and fields where the fruits and vegetables are grown. It wasn’t long before his passion for safe and sustainable organic farming earned him the nickname, “David Gardener.”

David founded Awe Sum Organics in 1985 after he had a vision to be able to supply his ever-growing network of customers (retailers and distributors) with organic fruit year round so that retail shelves and displays across the U.S. and Canada could be stocked throughout the year with as many options of high quality organically grown fruit as possible. He took on the challenge and looked southward to create supply to fill in the gaps of what his local growers on the west coast could provide. David was one of the first people in organics to work with farmers in Mexico, South America, and New Zealand to grow organically certified fruit for the U.S. and Canadian markets and to ship it into both the East and West Coasts of the U.S. and Canada. David’s long-standing relationships with many of his initial growers across the globe are still going strong—after all these years.

Wendy Rienhardt

Most recently, Wendy was the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH). At PBH, she guided the Foundation’s efforts with hundreds of public and private partners to advance fruit and vegetable consumption for happier, healthier lives. Under her leadership and through a two-year transformation, the organization launched the Have A Plant® Movement in 2019, which today, inspires millions of consumers to eat and enjoy more fruits and vegetables each and every day. Prior to joining PBH, Wendy was the Global Lead for Food, Nutrition and Health Partnerships at the Monsanto Company (now Bayer Crop Science). While at Monsanto, her efforts focused on connecting the food, nutrition, culinary and agriculture communities for greater understanding, collaboration, and innovation.Prior to Monsanto, Wendy served as Senior Director of Health and Wellness at the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and IFIC Foundation in Washington, DC. While at IFIC, she directed food and nutrition communication strategies, including consumer research, opinion leader and media outreach, as well as publications and partnerships, for multiple food, agriculture, and nutrition issues. Wendy earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Nutrition and Exercise Science from the University of Missouri, Columbia and James Madison University, respectively. She completed her dietetic internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital — an affiliate of the Yale University School of Medicine.

Martha Montoya

With over 30 years of worldwide Food/Agricultural and Supply Chain experience, Martha's career in the agricultural industry started while sourcing ingredients from the Americas to New Zealand, Australia and Asia.  This provided her with the knowledge of the product from the source to delivery and ultimately becoming a leader in the industry, traveling while delivering projects beneficial for the supplier and customers on 4 continents.  Dealing with both small and industrial size farms, government entities and sophisticated buyers in Europe, Russia and the United States, she has set up production lines across many crops and commodities leading also social impact programs such as government finance programs for women farmers in Mexico; and bank low interest credit program in California for small organic farmers. Martha has a combined upbringing of coffee farm owners and school and university owners for working and rural families. Formal education in Chemistry and Biology at LaSalle University and Javeriana University,  and post-graduate courses at the University of Chicago, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, the Stanford University Entrepreneurial and Scalability program, and the UC Davis Institute for Food, Ag & Health Entrepreneurship. Today she leads Agtools, a Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence award winner, a SaaS and enterprise firm that delivers global food & agricultural financial and market intelligence data. Agtools offers trusted official data from around the world, in real-time data for farmers and buyers to manage market volatility, increase profitability, and reduce the world’s food waste and CO2, and SO2 footprint.

Liz Della Croce

Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl®, a healthy food and travel blog. Since 2010, Liz has grown a loyal following of health-conscious readers from all over the world. Focusing on seasonal ingredients and whole foods, her collection of recipes is inspired by ethnic flavors from around the globe and the Lebanese dishes of her childhood.

Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments on her local NBC affiliate station.  Liz appeared on the cover of Woman’s World and has been featured in various national publications including Good Housekeeping Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, Shape Magazine, Food Network blog, Fitness Magazine, The Cooking Channel, TODAY Food and more.

Through healthy eating and regular exercise, Liz achieved long term weight loss success and has a passion for helping others reach similar goals. In 2013, Liz launched Healthy Habits, a feature on The Lemon Bowl where her loyal readers and growing audience can find practical advice, resources and information on creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Liz graduated from Boston University with a degree in Hospitality Administration and a minor in Marketing Management.  She and her husband reside in Grand Rapids, MI along with their two boys.

Connect with Liz directly on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or via email:

Lisa Coleman

Lisa Coleman, MS, RD, LDN is the Director of Healthy Living for Giant Food, an Ahold Delhaize brand that operates 164 supermarkets in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. Lisa is responsible for Giant’s health strategy including health-focused merchandising, community education and outreach and Nutrition Incentive solutions that promote food access, nutrition equity and community well-being. In her role, Lisa partners with key stakeholders, including NPOs, government offices and trade organizations, to drive innovative health programming for customers and associates. As the leader of Giant's Healthy Living Team of credentialed nutrition professionals, she helps guide an inclusive, all-foods-fit approach to educating and inspiring the community Giant serves through classes, nutrition store tours, workplace wellness programs, cook-alongs and social media engagement which includes their bi-weekly podcast, Healthy Living by Giant. Born and raised in Baltimore, Lisa received a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences - Nutrition from Illinois State University. As a mom of four young adults, Lisa is a self-described Enneagram enthusiast who loves weekend getaways to the beach.

Tom Stenzel

After almost 30 years as President and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, Tom achieved a longtime goal for the fresh produce industry by helping launch the International Fresh Produce Association, a new association formed by the combination of United Fresh and the Produce Marketing Association.  He served as Co-CEO of IFPA through March 2022, before forming his own consulting business The Stenzel Group. Tom led United’s work in shaping legislative and regulatory policies; providing scientific and technical leadership in food safety and nutrition; and developing educational programs for its members.  Under his leadership, the association was widely respected for its work in government affairs, agricultural policy, food safety and nutrition, leadership development, and industry education.  He launched the United Fresh Start Foundation, a philanthropic arm committed to increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and was a founding partner of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign.  The campaign has donated salad bars to more than 6,000 schools across the country. Today, Tom is a frequent speaker on industry issues, and works with industry leading companies and associations in strategic management, government relations, customer development and adoption of new technologies. 

Jose Covarrubias

 Jose is the General Manager of Wholesum Farms Arizona, a leading grower and shipper of organic and Fair Trade Certified fresh vegetables. He oversees operations at Wholesum’s high-tech greenhouse production site in Amado, AZ, growing 24 acres of organic tomatoes. In his 14 years at Wholesum, Jose has played an integral role in many of Wholesum’s milestone moments including the company’s transition to organic production and decision to construct Wholesum Farms Arizona as a 100% organic production site.  He also played a role in opening access for importing tomato plants from Mexico into the US, a 5-year long endeavor. As farm leader, he has overseen two expansion projects and implemented the Fair Trade program at the farm, making Wholesum Farms Arizona the first Fair Trade Certified farm in the US. Jose studied Electrical Electronics at Universidad del Valle de Mexico and Logistics, Materials and Supply Chain Management at Cochise College. He currently serves the industry as a member of the International Fresh Produce Association’s Organic Committee and participates in the seventh class of Western Grower’s Future Volunteer Leaders bringing expertise on a variety of topics from high-tech agriculture, organic production, food safety and agricultural labor.

Karen Falbo

With over 25 years’ experience in the holistic field of nutrition, and 20 years employment at Natural Grocers, Karen Falbo is the Director of Nutrition Education. She and her team are responsible for producing all nutrition content for the company and the store level Nutritional Health Coach position. Karen is extremely passionate about the power of food as medicine, she is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, and also oversees recipe development for Natural Grocers. She has a strong interest in educating the public on supporting sustainable food systems and served on the Colorado Food System Advisory Council (COFSAC) from 2010-2017. Additionally, Karen is a certified fitness instructor & Hatha Yoga teacher and the author of a self-published whole foods cookbook titled Vital Abundance Cooking.

Auna Lundberg

Auna Lundberg currently serves as the Marketing Manager for Stemilt. In her role she helps to manage projects around Stemilt’s brand, tradeshows & events, advertising, and social media strategies. Having grown up on a small family farm, she brings knowledge and background of the tree fruit industry and a curiosity for learning. Auna studied at the University of Puget Sound, and in her free time is a competitive bowler in WA state.

Kevin Miller

Kevin Miller, Chief Marketing Officer of The Fresh Market, was named as one of the 30 Most Influential Marketers on LinkedIn in 2022 and received the 2021 CMO Innovator of the Year Award from the Millennium Alliance. With a 35-year proven record of leading marketing, advertising, and media organizations for Fortune 100 companies, Kevin is known for his ability to analyze data, create innovative solutions and build high performing teams that deliver superior results. Kevin assumed The Fresh Market CMO position in May 2020. In just over two years, he has helped lead The Fresh Market to eight straight quarters of comparable sales growth despite significant economic, supply chain and inflationary headwinds. During this period, The Fresh Market was voted “The #1 Best Supermarket in America” by the USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards for two consecutive years 2022 and 2021, was recognized as the “2022 Southeast Innovator of the Year” by Winsight Grocery Business and ranked as one of the “Top 5 Most Trusted Gourmet Grocery Brands in America” by Newsweek.

Brian Cook

Brian Cook proudly serves as the President of Local Bounti, a pioneering company set to redefine indoor farming with an innovative method – its proprietary Stack & Flow TechnologyTM. Local Bounti has an increasing number of facilities across the US serving approximately 10,600 doors with produce that can be purchased at Albertsons, Kroger, Target, Sprouts, and Wal Mart. Brian currently serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Ventura College Ag Program, a retired Board Member for the Fresh Produce & Floral Council, and has spoken for the Produce Marketing Association and California Grocers Association. 

Joe Merenda

Joe Merenda is the President and COO of Misionero, where he focuses on business development and long-term objectives for the company while maintaining progress within the produce industry. Joe entered the produce industry over 20 years ago when he was recruited from Coca-Cola by C.H. Robinson, where he built the Fresh 1® Marketing Division into an organization that included foodservice, retail, wholesale distribution, and sales. In 2010 Joe co-founded Harbinger Group, which has served as an incubator for “fresh” ideas, primarily servicing retail and foodservice outlets. In October 2016, Harbinger Group acquired Misionero Vegetables, now operating as Misionero. His experience provides a strong vision for the future of Misionero and the industry as a whole. He has participated in incredible changes within the produce industry, including the rise of organics and supporting the growing movement towards a healthy plant-based diet in North America. 

Bob Harrington

Bob Harrington is the President of Specialty Produce. Bob began his entrepreneurial career in 1977 when he opened La Jolla Produce, a small retail outlet in La Jolla, California specializing in locally grown fruits and vegetables.  Bob established Specialty Produce with his two brothers in 1989, tapping into San Diego’s culinary scene. Harnessing forward-thinking technology, media, and logistics, Specialty Produce brings opportunity into the food industry.  

Leah Halverson

Leah Halverson is a 4th generation potato farmer from North Dakota. With a lifetime of experience in the potato business with her family and Black Gold Farms, Leah deeply understands how it all works from crop production up to the consumer point of sale.  In 2019, Leah started Ten Acre Marketing, a marketing and communications agency that focuses on farming and food.

Allison Myers

Allison Myers is a Regional Merchandising Director for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, working with retailers and wholesale grocers east of the Rockies on promotions to increase awareness and grow sales of Chilean fruits year-round.  She also covers the South Central Region as a merchandiser for the Northwest Cherry Growers.  Prior to her merchandising role, Allison worked at The Packer in a variety of sales positions for almost 30 years.  A Kansas City native and journalism graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Allison has 2 married children and lives with her husband in Overland Park, Kansas.    

Amy Petersen

Amy Petersen is the Digital Marketing Manager at Coborn’s Inc, a grocery retailer based in central Minnesota. She is responsible for creating and executing a wide range of digitally centric projects and marketing programs. She oversees the development of interactive content related to marketing promotions such as websites, landing pages, targeted emails, paid ads, social media and more to drive traffic to company’s digital channels. Prior to her role as a Digital Marketing Manager, Amy served as a Registered Dietitian, Health & Nutrition Manager and Social Media Strategist for Coborn’s Inc.  As a trusted, nutrition expert, Amy has extensive experience in retail health, wellness, and nutrition. Health and well-being are top of mind for Amy, and she strives to build creative strategies that drive sales of better-for-you foods to create healthier communities.     

Patrice Molnar

Patrice Molnar is the Director of Communications and Public Relations for The Fresh Market, Inc., a specialty retailer grocer with 159 stores located across 22 states. In addition to leading the consumer-facing marketing communications efforts for the retailer, Patrice leads the social media influencer strategy and corporate communications for the Greensboro, North Carolina based company. Patrice is an experienced marketer and PR leader, with a strong consumer packaged goods background. She has created and executed senior public relations and marketing strategies for new product launches and brand awareness campaigns that have received more than 80 industry awards, including the Grand Effie, Silver Anvil, Cannes Lions, SABRE, Clio, PR Week Awards and PR News Platinum PR Award. During her time as a corporate communications leader, she has served as corporate spokesperson, executive steering committee member for corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and managed issues/crisis management communications and media efforts.  She has led several corporate change management communications strategies for major organizational changes, including acquisitions, restructuring, and downsizing.