Marco continues the generational family tradition and experience in packaging and automation technology. Marco founded Nexxt recognizing the value to the agri-business industry of innovative solutions and trends. Marco works as a solution provider, interpreting trends and striving to find the right balance between capital investments, packaging costs, and solutions that are both useful and appealing to the consumer.
As Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at Grimmway Farms, Dana Brennan oversees the development and implementation of policies involving local, state and government affairs. Additionally, Brennan oversaw Grimmway’s inaugural Environmental, Social and Governance in 2021 and continues to be responsible for subsequent ESG reports. She also serves as a strategic advisor to the executive team and acts as the official spokesperson for Grimmway’s global operations. Previously serving as the Chief of Staff for California’s 16th State Senate District, Brennan brings extensive knowledge of political processes and more than a decade’s worth of experience cultivating partnerships across community, government and business sectors.
Brennan was recognized as a Rising Star by The Bakersfield Californian in 2009 and selected as one of the “Top 20 Under 40 People to Watch” by Bakersfield Life Magazine in 2014. She was born and raised in Bakersfield and holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Eastern University from St. Davids, PA. She lives in Bakersfield with her husband and two children.
Dan is Director of Business Development, Oneonta/Starr Ranch. Born and raised in the Yakima Valley in Washington, Dan Davis is the director of business development at Starr Ranch Growers. Despite never intending to work in ag, his winding career led him first through warehousing and packing as the general manager of a large apple and cherry packer before moving to the sales/marketing side of the business after 10 years at the warehouse level. After that, he coordinated dual hemisphere organic programs before coming to Starr Ranch, where his role has evolved as director of business development to include all customer-facing relations, as well as working with the family of packers to deliver on the programs they construct. He has more than two decades of experience in the industry, which has put him in a role where he can channel his passion on behalf of the grower base to deliver their product to retail.
David Frabotta is an award-winning multimedia journalist with 20+ years of B2B publishing and brand management experience. He’s worked in agriculture of more than 10 years focused on the global crop input industries and precision agriculture, including the impact of site-specific farming on sustainability and profitability. He manages Trust in Food’s climate-smart Ag interactive programing, working with USDA-NRCS, ACAM partners, and other thought leaders to deliver content to help producers identify and embrace opportunities in climate-positive agricultural practices for the betterment of people, planet, and profit.
Tracy E. Gilmore
Director of Sales & Marketing for Schur Star Systems Inc. Schur has been in operation since 1846 and is the oldest family-owned packaging business in the world, celebrating 175 years of packaging innovation. Tradition and innovation have been a continuous thread in Schur’s DNA, and the combination of the two have been crucial in our journey to become the leader of the pack. Your challenge is our starting point. We always start with you and your product! You bring the challenge, and we’ll bring nearly two centuries of ingenuity, the latest technology, innovation and a commitment to creating sustainable value for business, in areas of Flexible Packaging, Carton Packaging, Roll Stock, Machinery, Automation, Marking, Labels and Software. Schur is an international team of 12 companies with operation in six countries and a global market presence serving customers all across the world. Our approach is “Partnerships”, this is not a unique concept, but becoming “joined at the hip” ensures for better collaboration, focusing on the strengths each company brings to the table, allows for endless possibilities. Tracy has served in the packaging industry for 36 years, helping companies reach their potential in the areas of Development, Innovation, Profitability and Sustainability. Tracy is a graduate of the University of Kansas, with a degree in Business with a focus on Marketing.
Your 2022 Men’s Collegiate Basketball - National Champions… “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk”
As Global Portfolio Manager for Certis Biologicals, Rob Gibson supports the company’s leading full-line biological-based portfolio in ensuring that growers and supply channel partners domestically and globally have the biological solution they need available when they need it.
Products under Rob’s management are manufactured globally and exported to more than 55 countries, meeting the increasing demand for biological solutions to protect the crops that feed the world. His commercial experience in the global agriculture industry combined with his in-depth technical knowledge are key in managing the market’s largest portfolio of bio-based solutions.
His expertise spans across several segments of the agri-business sector, including education and input manufacturing and marketing. Before joining Certis, Rob served as the Associate Director of Business Development for Virginia Tech, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute where he supported College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty with opportunities to license research technologies for start-up potential. Prior, he worked in various capacities at Novozymes Biologicals, including as Regional Strategic Alliance Manager for BioAg Commercial where he led the Asia-Pacific region. Rob also held the roles of R&D Support Specialist, Laboratory Manager and Research Scientist at Novozymes.
With more than 20 years of in-depth brand management experience at a diverse range of CPG companies, Patrick Haughton joined AgBiome in 2021 as vice president of brand and business development for the food value chain. In this role, Patrick leads building awareness of and driving demand for AgBiome's products among food brands, grocery retailers and consumers. After spending over four years in the US Army, Patrick began his career in brand management with Procter & Gamble. His career continued upward in numerous positions at The Hershey Company where he then went on to work with the Beech-Nut Nutrition Company as director of brand management before joining the AgBiome team.
Outside of leading the brand awareness of AgBiome and its crop-protecting products, Patrick is a co-founder of Brighterside Farms, an executive mentor with the American Marketing Association New York Capital Region Chapter, and volunteers as an alpine patroller with the National Ski Patrol. He received his undergraduate degrees in biology and history at Bucknell and his MBA from University of Rochester – Simon Business School.
Mr. Higgins is the President, General Manager and co-owner of Hort Americas, LLC (HortAmericas.com) a wholesale supply company servicing all aspects of the commercial horticultural industries. Over the past years Hort Americas has had a special focus on horticultural lighting, hydroponics substrate and nutrient management making them one of the leading resources for commercial greenhouse and vertically farmed vegetable, ornamentals and soft fruit growers as well as other niche agriculture and horticulture crops in North America.
He is also owner of UrbanAgNews.com (online education content provider) and was a founding partner of the Foundation for the Development of Controlled Environment Agriculture and the International Congress on Controlled Environment Agriculture in Panama. With over 20 years of industry experience, Chris is dedicated to the commercial horticulture industry and is inspired by the current opportunities for continued innovation in the field of controlled environment agriculture.
M. Scott Howarth, PhD
Scott Howarth has a passion in seeing new products come to life providing viable solutions that help customers achieve their commercial goals. He has a PhD in Agricultural Engineering from Texas A&M. Scott joined Sinclair in 2000 and became Director of Research and Development in 2004. Scott holds numerous patents and has led development on a number of Sinclair key products including a non-destructive produce firmness tester, laser-based print-on-demand system and compostable label materials for fresh produce labels. Scott’s global focus at Sinclair has enabled him to collaborate and to introduce technologies unlocking ideas and providing solutions that serve the fresh produce industry.
Amanda is the Managing Director at Healthy Family Project. Amanda’s marketing, public relations and community outreach experience spans 20 years. She is the mom of two girls, a boxer dog and an African tortoises. You can hear her as the host of the Healthy Family Project podcast, find her cooking alongside her girls in videos on our Instagram feed or spot her out volunteering with her family. When not in the office, Amanda can be found with her family on the tennis courts or at the dance studio.
Kevin Kelly has been the chief executive officer of Emerald Packaging, Inc. since 2002. During that period the company has quadrupled in size through diversification and innovation becoming one of the largest flexible packaging company’s west of the Rockies. He also founded ePac, the industry’s leading manufacturer of digitally printed packaging. Kevin has helped champion sustainable packaging options in the industry, a commitment recognized by the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) with three awards in the Sustainable category since 2013. He sits on the boards of the Western Plastics Association, the industry’s trade and lobbying group along the coast, and the Flexible Packaging Association. He has helped write legislation in California regarding the use of the term “biodegradable” in packaging, resin pellet containment, and store take-back programs.
Kevin began his professional career as a journalist with BusinessWeek Magazine. During a 10-year career he covered the airline and manufacturing industries and the economy. He has written about running a business for national magazines and was a commentator on CNN after leaving journalism. Kevin continues to write through his blog Musings of a CEO.
He has a bachelors degree in Political Science and Government from Santa Clara University and master’s degree from the London School of Economics. He is married with three children.
Cristiane Lourenço is Global Sustainability Director for Vegetable Seeds at Bayer's Crop Science division. In this position, she is responsible for leading Bayer's sustainability objectives within the Vegetables by Bayer platform, establishing strategies across all business segments of the Seminis and De Ruiter brands.
In addition, Cristiane serves as a member of The Sustainability Council at the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) supporting the industry to incorporate sustainable practices into their businesses by sharing and adopting sustainable business models, strategies, methods, and information across the industry’s supply chain. Prior to joining Bayer, she has worked with Sustainability and Innovation for Unilever and in the renewable energy sector. The executive has a solid experience in this area, having already lead strategies globally and in regions/countries such as India, USA, Europe and Latin America. Cristiane Lourenço is graduated in Public Relations at the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) and specialist in Sustainable Business at the University of Cambridge.
Mr. Mark Masten serves as the CEO of Joolies and Desert Valley Date based in Santa Monica, CA. Joolies is a newly founded organic medjool date company selling and marketing dates from the Kohl family farm (La Quinta Date Growers) located in the Coachella Valley of Southern California. Mr. Masten has over 20 years of experience in development for health food and beverage brands in the United States and internationally. Prior to his position at Joolies, Mr. Masten was employed at well know companies such as Popchips, POM Wonderful and Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds. Mr. Masten has been recognized among the top business leaders in The Wonderful Company for setting strategy and launching the Wonderful Pistachio brand in North America and globally using an integrated sales and marketing campaign and gained California Pistachio Industry recognition for providing record returns for growers 9 straight years. He possesses key insight on sales and marketing issues. Mr. Masten has broad experience with top leaders in the health food and beverages industry in the US and globally.
Stephanie is currently the Sustainability Coordinator at Jimbo’s. Her experience as a K-6 educator for 7 years and strong passion for sustainability led to her current role as Jimbo’s first sustainability coordinator. Since joining Jimbo’s in 2018, she pushed for real, sustainable change from her earliest days at Jimbo’s as a part time cashier, eventually joining the marketing team full time and stepped into her current role late 2020. She approaches Jimbo’s sustainability goals by creating a culture of sustainability: mobilizing and educating staff, engaging with local organizations & consumers to expand Jimbo’s impact outside our four walls.
Aidan is the CEO and a co-founder of Hazel Technologies, he holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University, where his doctoral work focused techniques to design and synthesize highly efficient catalysts for transformations of renewables. He developed an interest in applying his chemistry knowledge to agriscience, co-founding Hazel Technologies before completing his Ph.D. Aidan is one of the inventors of the Hazel® technology platform and a co-author on 20+ papers, patents, and filings. Under Aidan’s leadership, Hazel Technologies has received numerous awards and accolades.
Viraj Puri co-founded Gotham Greens, a pioneer in indoor agriculture and a leading fresh food company. A Certified B Corporation™, Gotham Greens farms with the future in mind, delivering long-lasting and delicious leafy greens, herbs, salad dressings, dips and cooking sauces all year round to retail, restaurant and foodservice customers. Over the past decade under Viraj’s leadership, Gotham Greens has grown to be one of the largest and most commercially successful indoor farming companies in the world with 400 employees and nine high-tech greenhouse facilities across six U.S. states. Prior to Gotham Greens, Viraj led start-up enterprises in the United States, India and Malawi focused on sustainable agriculture, green building, renewable energy and environmental design. He has been awarded fellowships from TED, Wild Gift and the Environmental Leadership Program. In addition, Viraj was recognized as Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® New York in 2021, one of the “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2020” by Goldman Sachs and Crain’s NY Business “40 under 40.” His work has been published in several books and journals, including “Innovation on Tap,” “100% Renewable: Energy Autonomy in Action” and the UN Academic Journal. He serves on various boards and committees, including the Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production Federal Advisory Committee for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Viraj is a LEED® Accredited Professional and earned a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University.
Neil Z. Stern
Neil Z. Stern is the Chief Executive Officer of Good Food Holdings, which operates premium and natural & organic supermarkets spanning from Seattle to San Diego under five grocery banners: Bristol Farms, Lazy Acres Natural Market, Metropolitan Market, New Seasons Market, and New Leaf Community Markets.
Prior to joining Good Food Holdings, Neil was a senior partner at McMillanDoolittle specializing in the area of strategic planning and the development of new retail concepts. During his 35+ year career, Neil has developed strategies and new concepts for a diverse variety of world class clients across the retail industry.
Neil is also recognized as a key thought leader in the retail arena, serving as editor of Retail Innovations, an annual global overview on the retail trends and is a regular contributor to publications such as Forbes. Neil is the author of two books, Winning At Retail and Greentailing and Other Revolutions in Retailing.
Luis Yepiz is Chief Procurement Officer at The Farmlink Project. Over his career in Food Recovery and Distribution, Luis has facilitated the delivery of over three hundred million pounds of Fruits and Vegetables across the continental US. Covering hundreds of food banks, pantries, and community feeding programs. Luis is an award-winning Poet and Operatic Tenor.
Jennifer Strailey is the editorial director, produce for Farm Journal/The Packer. Prior to joining The Packer, she was editor in chief of Winsight Grocery Business. Strailey brings two decades of experience covering the competitive grocery, produce, natural products and specialty food and beverage landscape. In previous roles her focus has been to provide retail decision-makers with the insight, market intelligence, trends analysis, news and strategic merchandising concepts that drive sales. Strailey began her journalism career at The Gourmet Retailer, where she was an associate editor and has been a longtime freelancer for a variety of trade media outlets. Additionally, she has more than a decade of experience in the wine industry, both as a reporter and public relations account executive.
Amy Tranzillo, Global Head of Marketing for AgroFresh. Agrofresh is an AgTech innovator and global leader with a mission to reduce food waste by providing a range of science-based solutions, digital technologies and plant-based coatings to growers, packers and retailers to enhance the quality and extend the shelf life of fresh produce. The AgroFresh organization has 40 years of post-harvest experience across a broad range of crops, including revolutionizing the apple industry with the SmartFresh™ Quality System. Amy Tranzillo is a global marketing leader with more than 20 years of experience in Food & Agribusiness. Prior to joining AgroFresh, she held senior management roles in marketing, customer insights, and communications at Zoetis and Elanco, two of the largest Animal Health companies in the world. In addition, she has worked in the non-profit sector with GALVmed, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partner organization to bring livestock health technology to small-hold farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Amy is passionate about understanding customer needs and bringing innovative technologies that enhance the livelihood of the agricultural community and lead to a safe and sustainable global food supply. Amy holds a B.S. in Animal Science and Agriculture Business from the University of Delaware.