Meet some of the experts who will share exciting & valuable insights at the 2024 ASTA Annual Meeting & Exhibits. This list will be updated regularly.


Burçay Aslan

MSc. Agr. Engineer, Naturnorm

Burçay Aslan is an MSc. Agriculture Engineer at Naturnorm, responsible for spice commodities’ sales and marketing. Before joining Naturnorm, he spent ten years in various positions responsible for sales and marketing in the herbs and spices sector.

He graduated from CIHEAM – Mediterranean Institute located in Bari, Italy.

Anirban Basu, MPP, MA, JD, Ph.D.

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Sage Policy Group, Inc.

Anirban Basu is Chairman & CEO of Sage Policy Group, Inc., an economic and policy consulting firm in Baltimore, Maryland. The firm provides strategic analytical services to energy suppliers, law firms, medical systems, government agencies, and real estate developers.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan appointed him Chair of the Maryland Economic Development Commission (2014-2021). He serves as Chairman of the Baltimore County Economic Advisory Committee and as the chief economist function for Associated Builders and Contractors, the Construction Financial Management Association, the Modular Building Institute, and the Maryland Bankers Association. Dr. Basu earned his B.S. in Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He earned his Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and his Master’s in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park. He acquired his Juris Doctor at the University of Maryland School of Law. He completed his doctoral work at UMBC with a concentration in health economics.

Sanjeev Bisht


Sanjeev Bisht is the Vice President of the Value Added Products in the Agri Business Division of ITC Limited. In his role, Bisht drives organizational change through customer centric value chain, capability development, team building, and data driven supply chain processes for Spices, Coffee, Aqua, Bulk Staples and Processed Fruit businesses. Bisct was instrumental in setting up the Spices business for ITC from its inception and has since been pivotal in driving its growth. He has also been a key architect in setting up the backward integration program for the business and expanded the reach of the business to key major customers. 

Bisht is additionally part of ITC Agri Business Division Leadership Team and is currently Chairman of All India Spice Export Forum (AISEF). He joined ITC in 2001 as Management Trainee after completing his Masters in Agri-Business Management from MANAGE, and pursued multiple management programs at IIM Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, and Cornell University.

Bhavik Desai

Business Head, Jayanti

Mr. Bhavik Desai is the business head of Jayanti. He is a young and enthusiastic go-getter passionate about herbs and spices and has traveled extensively to gain domain and product knowledge. An astute trader at heart, he owes his excellent trading instincts to his family. 

He has spent considerable time at Jayanti’s processing units in India and Turkey, understanding product technicalities, and also completed a brief stint at Jayanti’s office in Switzerland as Regional Head. Desai has participated in many knowledge-sharing sessions and has been a speaker at the International Spice Conference, the European Spice Association, and the Sustainable Spice Initiative. He is a commerce graduate and holds a diploma in International Trade and Foreign Exchange.

Karen Everstine

Technical Director, HorizonScan

Karen Everstine is the Technical Director with FoodChain ID – Food Safety Solutions, where she provides content expertise for food safety data tools, leads food fraud prevention consulting activities, and creates training materials and educational content.

Karen completed MPH and PhD degrees in Public Health at the University of Minnesota where she received a Department of Homeland Security Career Development Grant, and was integral to the development and successful launch of the Food Fraud Database at the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). She previously served as Chair of the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) Food Fraud Professional Development Group and as a member of food authenticity expert panels at USP and AOAC International. Karen has additionally published articles and co-edited a book on food fraud risk mitigation that was published in 2021.

Roberto Fanni

Director of the Supply Chain (QA) and the Direct Farmer Sourcing (DFS), Jayanti Herbs & Spice

Roberto Fanni is Vice Chairman of the Technical Committee of the ESA (European Spice Association) and Chairman of the Technical Committee of the KNSV (Royal Dutch Spice Association) from 2019. Roberto works for Jayanti Herbs & Spice as Director of the Supply Chain (QA) and the Direct Farmer Sourcing (DFS).

He has over 20 years of experience in the spice industry with extensive knowledge and experience in quality processes, food safety and regulatory affairs. Roberto is also a member of the Contaminants Working Group of FDE (Food Drink Europe).

Mendy Flamer

Administrator, Natural Food Certifiers

Mendy Flamer is the Administrator at Natural Food Certifiers (NFC), a third-party certification organization with a focus on organic and kosher certification. He has a deep background in the certification industry, having grown up watching his father establish and operate NFC since 1997.

After completing rabbinical school, Mendy joined NFC in 2015 as a trained inspector and reviewer. In 2019, Mendy assumed the role of Administrator at NFC, taking on the responsibility of managing the organization’s activities.

Under Mendy’s leadership, NFC has adapted to meet the evolving needs of the growing organic certification industry. He has been instrumental in streamlining certification services, simplifying complexity in certification while maintaining a strong commitment to integrity and transparency.

Anna Gore

Director of Operations, Minor Use Foundation

Prior to her current position as Director of Operations at the Minor Use Foundation, Anna Gore managed projects on pesticide MRL regulatory capacity-building and a large portfolio of global MRL activities in Latin America, Asia, and Africa for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) for seven years. Her activities at FAS focused on alignment and harmonization of regional MRL regulatory systems, underscored the importance of a science and risk-based approach to MRL regulation, and supported countries in the development of stronger plant health regulatory systems.

Anna earned her master’s degree in International Development from George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and a bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College. She previously served as Associate Director for Foundation Relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and has written extensively on the potential benefits of leveraging agricultural technologies to improve food security throughout the developing world.

Maile Gradison

Partner, Hogan Lovells LLP, and ASTA General Counsel

Maile Gradison is a Partner with Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., and serves as General Counsel for ASTA. As a “food lawyer,” she keenly understands the food industry’s issues, from product development through production, distribution, and retail sale.

Gradison has considerable experience with FDA and FSMA, including advising companies on what FSMA means for their business, helping to develop compliance strategies, and providing strategic advice on public policy issues. Her practice also focuses on enforcement and compliance matters, particularly involving recalls or following the receipt of FDA Warning Letters. She graduated with high honors from The George Washington University Law School and summa cum laude from Tulane University.

Lone Jespersen, PhD.

Principal and Founder, Cultivate SA

Lone Jespersen is a published author, speaker, and the principal and founder of Cultivate SA, a Swiss-based organization dedicated to eradicating foodborne illness. Lone has worked on improving food safety through organizational culture improvements for 18 years since her industry career began at Maple Leaf Foods in 2004.

Lone chaired the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) technical working group “A Culture of Food Safety,” chaired the International Association of Food Protection’s (IAFP) professional development group “Food Safety Culture,” and was the technical author of the BSI PAS320, “Practical Guide to Food Safety Culture.” Lone holds a Ph.D. in Culture Enabled Food Safety from the University of Guelph, Canada, and a Master in Mechanical Engineering from Syd Dansk University, Denmark, and is a visiting professor at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. Lone serves as chair of the IFPTI Board and as director of the STOP Foodborne Illness Board.

Craig M. Johnson

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Long Point Advisors

The founder and Chief Executive Officer of Long Point Advisors, Craig M. Johnson has over two decades of experience in elected office, government affairs, law, politics and business. Craig has represented numerous clients on a wide range of issues before the State Legislature, the Governor’s office, and executive branch agencies, as well as before several local governments including New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. Previously, Craig served as a member of the New York State Senate for two terms, representing the 7th Senate District (Northwest Nassau County).

After his tenure in the State Senate, and prior to founding Long Point Advisors, Craig spent five years at Dentons, a global law firm, and its predecessor law firm, McKenna Long & Aldridge. Craig also worked at Bloomberg LP, where he was responsible for the development of Bloomberg Law’s integrated market strategies for key segments of the legal marketplace. Most recently, he served as Vice-President of Government Affairs for Altice USA, Inc., the fourth largest cable company in the United States, where he oversaw the lobbying and advocacy efforts throughout the company’s 21-state footprint. Craig graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College in 1993 with a B.A. in History. He received his J.D., cum laude, from St. John’s University School of Law in 1996, where he was an editor on the Law Review.

Dan R. Kastor

Senior Director, Product Integrity and Risk Management, McCormick & Company, Inc.

Dan Kastor is the Senior Director, Product Integrity and Risk Management for McCormick & Company, Inc. In this role, he leads the Center of Excellence, supporting Food Integrity and the related functional strategy and priorities, including pesticide and contaminant issue management. Prior to his current assignment, he held positions as Director of Global Regulatory Affairs, Director of Global Food Safety and Director of Quality, Asia-Pacific.

Dan has been with McCormick for 16 years and came to McCormick following 17 years of factory and headquarters Quality leadership with Nestle S.A.

Shannen Kelly

Senior Manager, ASTA Regulatory and Scientific Affairs

Shannen Kelly guides members on complex regulatory and scientific issues affecting the spice industry. She began working closely with ASTA’s staff and member companies on various scientific initiatives in 2020 before formally joining the ASTA team in 2022, where she serves as ASTA’s Senior Manager of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs.

She works to execute ASTA’s regulatory and technical affairs strategy by monitoring regulatory developments and creating member resources on regulatory and technical affairs matters to assist compliance activities. Before ASTA, Shannen held several scientific roles supporting trade associations, including the International Organization of the Flavor Industry (IOFI), the International Association of Color Manufacturers (IACM), and the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA). Shannen received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Hollins University and her M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts & Sciences.

Dr. Brent Kobielush

Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs, Conagra Brands

Brent is the Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs at Conagra Brands where he champions and leads a robust regulatory and compliance culture of food safety across the enterprise. Prior to joining Conagra Foods, Brent was the Director of Food Safety at The Acheson Group (TAG) where he provided guidance and direction to a myriad of clients in regulatory and toxicological matters involving food and feed.

From 2015 to 2021, Brent was the Director U.S. Regulatory Affairs at Cargill, Inc., where he provided leadership and technical, regulatory direction to ensure that Cargill products and processes were compliant with all applicable US FDA food laws/regulations. In addition, he led the rollout of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) across ~500+ facilities globally. From 2009 to 2015, Brent was the Manager of Toxicology for General Mills where he was responsible for assuring the chemical composition of all General Mills’ products meets applicable product safety and regulatory standards.

Brent Kobielush received his B.S. from Bethel University (St. Paul, MN) in Chemistry and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (Rochester, NY) in Toxicology.

Mike Liu

Chairman and CEO, BCFoods; President, China Spice Association

Mike Liu has been the Chairman and CEO at BCFoods, since 2007. In 2017 he was elected president of the China Spice Association (CSA). Under Mike’s leadership, BCFoods has become a leading global food ingredients supplier with manufacturers in China, an operation and R&D center in Chicago, global ingredients partners, worldwide distribution platforms, and 3PL services.

As the founding president of CSA, he works with CSA colleagues for China’s national food ingredients standards and cooperates with international professional associations to host the China Spice Conference. He was a professor at Shandong Agriculture University, Taian, Shandong, China, from 1985-1996, a visiting scholar at Texas Tech University from 1996-1998, and a Research Scientist at the University of California, Davis, from 1998-2000.   

Soumen Mahanty

Director, PT. Mahalaya Agri Corp.

Soumen Mahanty has been the director of PT. Mahalaya Agri Corp. in Indonesia since 2016. He works closely with planters and farmers to improve production. In this role, he analyzes qualitative and quantitative yield trends concerning climatic and geopolitical factors and educates value chain participants.

He also examines the use of pesticides in different plantation crops, working with channel partners to identify chemical overload in Indonesian spices. Since 2014, Soumen has also been a Director at Magri Business Pte Ltd in Singapore. His prior experience included directing trading and sourcing black pepper and cashew kernels from Southeast Asia for Cornhouse Pte Ltd., Singapore. He holds an MBA in Agribusiness from the College of Agribusiness Management, G.B.Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, India, and a B.SC. in Agriculture from Agra University, India.

Robert Marriott, J.D., M.A.

Director, Regulatory Affairs, American Herbal Products Association

Robert Marriott is Director of Regulatory Affairs for the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), where his duties include monitoring, evaluating and reporting to AHPA members on legislation and regulations that could impact the herbal products and dietary supplements industries and preparing comments in response to administrative proceedings. He also serves as liaison to AHPA’s Standards Committee, coordinating the development and revision of self-regulatory standards for the herbal products community.

Robert serves as an Associate Editor on the Journal of Dietary Supplements. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication Science and a Juris Doctor, both earned at Pennsylvania State University where his studies focused on administrative and regulatory law and on persuasive message design. He is published on issues of scientific evidence and public persuasion campaigns related to the food and drug product sectors and previously worked with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Jayakrishnan Nair

Spice Commodity Director, McCormick Global Ingredients Limited

Jayakrishnan Nair is the buyer of Black & white pepper with MGIL. He brings with him over 30 years of experience in managing various commodities, including nearly 10 years in the spices value chain. In addition to his passion in dealing with commodities, he has been actively involved in setting up of backward integration processes and analytics.

Before joining MGIL, Mr. Jayakrishnan was heading the procurement for McCormick’s India rice business. He has also worked with the joint venture operation of McCormick in India operating by the name AVT McCormick and during this tenure he managed the portfolio as a Key Accounts Manager, overseeing major accounts and their respective responsibilities ranging from business volumes to profitability

Mr. Jayakrishnan holds a Post Graduation in Business Management from a prestigious business school in India – Indian Institute of Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Computer Science from the University of Bombay.

Prakash Namboodiri

Commercial Director- Strategy and Growth, AB Mauri India PVT LTD.

Prakash Namboodiri is an astute professional with nearly 25 years of experience in sales management, business development, procurement, commercial, strategic management, supply chain, logistics and client relationship management in varied industries.

An MBA holder in Sales & Marketing with Masters in Tourism and Graduate in Hospitality Management, Prakash is currently based out of Cochin, working with A.B. Mauri India Pvt Ltd. (formerly Cochin Spices), a subsidiary of Associated British Foods Plc as Commercial Director- Strategy & Growth. He has recently also finished Advanced Strategic Management Program from IIM (one of the most premium management institutes in India) with top honors.  

Vinayak (Vini) Narain

Senior Vice President Dehydrated Vegetables, ofi (Olam Food Ingredients)

Vini is the Senior Vice President for dehydrated vegetables at ofi. Vini manages ofi’s onion, garlic, herbs and purees business. He is responsible for building and executing the global product and business strategy fostering value innovation, delivering product line differentiation, and driving new business and market development.

Vini is a change catalyst and 25-plus years spice industry expert with an extensive background in transforming organizations at global scale by leading cross-functional teams to deliver revenue, margin, and EBITDA growth through collaboration, innovation and inspiration. He has worked across multiple continents, in different roles ranging from Supply chain management, Sales and business development to product and overall business management in the chemicals and Spices industries in Indonesia, India, Europe and the USA.

Vini received an MBA from University of Mumbai, India. An avid motorhead and Indian Mughlai cuisine enthusiast, Vini lives with his family in Fresno, CA, and enjoys hiking, traveling, and photography.

Nate Offenberg

CEO, Pacific Farms

Nate has been in the garlic and onion industry nearly all his life.  Growing up in Gilroy, California, Nate’s father Garry was a director at Gilroy Foods when it was a division of McCormick. In 1998, Garry was a founding member of Pacific Farms, one of the pioneers in the Chinese garlic trade and the first to market in the USA with Pacific Farms Gold Garlic®- the first commercially available premium Chinese dehydrated garlic, which is still a market leader today.

Nate started at Pacific Farms in 2000 while simultaneously attending the University of California, Berkeley, pursuing a degree in International Business. After university, Nate enjoyed a successful career in CPG manufacturing but his heart was always in the food industry. In 2012, Nate returned to Pacific Farms, successfully transitioning ownership from his father and other partners. Since 2012, Pacific Farms has rapidly grown to become one of the industry leaders in supply of minimally processed vegetable ingredients to food manufacturers. Nate is most proud of the team he has built and the relationships that Pacific Farms has maintained for multiple decades.  

Tom Overby

President, Nedspice U.S.

Tom Overby is President of Nedspice U.S., an affiliated company of Nedspice Group, headquartered in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tom has been in the spice industry for over 40 years, starting his career with the RT French Company upon graduation from Missouri State University in 1977.

Tom has held increasingly responsible positions in manufacturing, planning, purchasing, sales/marketing, and joint venture operations and has traveled extensively to source markets during his career. Tom served on the ASTA Board of Directors for six years and was ASTA President from 2000-2002. 

Giridhar Rao

Vice President-Operations, Terova, a Subsidiary of Griffith Foods

Giridhar Rao is Vice President – Operations at Terova ™, a subsidiary of Griffith Foods. He has led a multinational team responsible for sourcing traceable spices, herbs, and oleoresins from their origins since 2010. Rao has over 35 years of experience managing and sourcing spices, herbs, and other agricultural commodities, and previously worked for VKL, a leading Spices Exporter, as Vice President (Procurement) for 11 years.

Rao has dedicated a large part of his career to implementing strategies for reducing the usage of pesticides in the production of spices & Herbs and is a pioneer in promoting integrated pest management in spice cultivation with the objective of meeting US and EU regulations. In recent years, he has focused on Climate Change Action in Spices and herbs and has promoted Sustainable Sourcing, Regenerative Agriculture, and GHG emission reduction strategies in the supply chain. Rao holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Rural Management. In June 2016, he was a Panel Member at the United Nations SDG business forum moderated by Brian Griffith, Chairman of Griffith Foods, in New York.

Gary Ridgewell

Quality & Regulatory Director, Nedspice

Gary Ridgewell serves as the Quality & Regulatory Director for Nedspice, a leading operator in the global sourcing, processing, and distribution of spices, herbs, and dehydrated vegetables. Nedspice is headquartered in the Netherlands with processing facilities in India and Vietnam and a globally reaching sales and distribution network.

With over 23 years in the industry, Gary’s technical experience spans all areas of quality, safety, and the authenticity of ingredients, most notably in the production and processing of Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings.

Gary’s career includes operating within key industry associations and committees. He has made significant contributions as a member of the Seasoning and Spice Association (SSA UK) ’s Executive Board and Technical Committee, the Food Industry Intelligence Network (FiiN) ’s Technical Steering Group, and the Gluten Free Industry Association (GFIA) ’s Technical and Executive Committees. Gary is also currently active in a variety of technical committees within the European Spice Association (ESA) & the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA).

His extensive travels conducting food safety and integrity audits and farm-level investigations following industry incidents have given him a broad understanding of the vulnerabilities and complexities within global ingredient supply chains.

Jacob Rudman

Senior Manager, Tridge

Jacob Rudman is the Senior Manager of Platform Solutions for North America with Tridge, where he leads the expansion and business development of partnerships with agri-businesses and the organizations that support those businesses who have import/export goals.

Tridge is a trusted provider of reliable data, information, insights, analytics, and networks for the global agri-food supply chain; empowering an equitable, resilient and sustainable future for generations to come.

Lois Rossi

Consultant/Owner, Rossi Regulatory Consulting Group

After reaching 30 years with the Office of Pesticide Programs at EPA in September 2014, Lois formed the Rossi Regulatory Consulting Group in October 2014. She consults on various pesticide regulatory issues, including with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the area of vector control products on a project to increase the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) capacity and many maximum residue limits (MRL)-related issues.

Other projects have involved establishing import tolerances for various commodities and MRL harmonization issues and working on pesticides undergoing registration review in the US and other countries. While at EPA, she was the Director of the Registration Division in the Office of Pesticide Programs for 11 years. She additionally served as the U.S. delegate to the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR) from 2004 to 2014. She was the head of the U.S. delegation to the Working Group on Pesticides and the Registration Steering Group for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Ms. Rossi has a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, and a Masters of Science in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from Georgetown University.

Tamás Sarkadi

Group Head of Sustainability/CEE Business Development, Sabater

Tamás serves as the Chair of the Sustainable Spices Initiative (SSI), the foremost sustainability platform driving the transformation of the spice industry. His expertise lies in navigating the intricacies of global spice and soft commodity supply chains, addressing the complexities and opportunities they present for sustainability, strategic sourcing, M&A, and supplier & business development.

Tamás completed an Executive Education in Circular Economy and Sustainability Strategies at Cambridge Judge Business School, and holds an Executive MBA from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. Passionate about creating positive impact and value across the spice industry and beyond, Tamás actively contributes as the Sustainability Committee Chair at ASTA. He also serves as the Communication Committee Chair at the SSI, where he champions collaboration, engagement, and advocacy within the spice community and the broader public.

Aaron Saunders

CEO, Drumfire Public Affairs

Aaron Saunders has the rare distinction of serving as senior staff for both a Republican and a Democrat. This experience has allowed him to maintain meaningful relationships with contacts from across the political spectrum, both on and off Capitol Hill. During his five years with Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Aaron was the national on-the-record spokesperson, including during Senator Stevens’ time as Chairman of the Senate Commerce and Appropriations Committees. After five years at Drumfire Public Affairs, he rose to Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, managing the firm’s day-to-day operations.

Aaron has extensive experience communicating complex issues and gaining regulatory and legislative support for products and technologies that upset the status quo and draw intense scrutiny. Today, he performs a variety of public affairs functions for his firm’s diverse group of clients, including strategic planning and counsel, crisis training and management, media engagement, media training, and coalition building.

Fletcher Sayia

Partner, A.A. Sayia & Co.

Fletcher Sayia has been a partner with A.A. Sayia & Co., Inc. since 2012. Before joining the family business, he was a broker with CH Robinson. At A.A. Sayia & Co., Fletcher is primarily responsible for sourcing black and white pepper, and other commodities include turmeric, cloves, and nutmeg.

Suvan Sharma

CEO, Jain Farm Fresh

Suvan Sharma is the CEO at Jain Farm Fresh. Besides food business responsibilities, Suvan takes a keen interest in nurturing talent, future leaders’ development and growth, strategic initiatives of the food business, and long-term vision. Suvan Sharma has been with Jain Farm Fresh for over 28 years and has lived and worked in different countries.

He has played an active role in organic and inorganic growth, mergers, and acquisitions of the company’s food business. Suvan Sharma has a Bachelor’s in Commerce and a Master’s in Business Administration.

Laura Shumow

Executive Director, American Spice Trade Association

Laura Shumow has been the Executive Director of the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) since 2018. In this role, she oversees ASTA’s professional staff and works with the ASTA Board of Directors to set the association’s strategic direction and execute the organization’s goals.

Her key focus areas are domestic and international regulatory advocacy, issue management, and navigating challenges related to the supply chains of food ingredients sourced from origin countries. Prior to joining ASTA, she previously led the Scientific and Regulatory affairs function at the National Confectioners Association and oversaw the Chocolate Council, a decision-making body that handles issues specific to the cocoa and chocolate industry. Laura received her Master’s in Health Sciences from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Bachelor’s in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin. She is an active member of professional societies, including the Institute of Food Technologists and the Food and Beverage Issue Alliance.

Eric Snodgrass

Sr. Science Fellow and Principal Atmospheric Scientist, Nutrien Ag Solutions

Eric Snodgrass is a Sr. Science Fellow and Principal Atmospheric Scientist for Nutrien Ag Solutions, where he develops predictive, analytical software solutions to manage weather risk for global production agriculture. He provides frequent weather updates focusing on how high-impact weather events influence global agriculture productivity.

His current research uses machine learning to understand better field-level weather impacts on US yields and increase confidence in long-range weather prediction. Snodgrass is a co-founder of Global Weather and Climate Logistic, LLC and Agrible, Inc, both acquired by Nutrien Ag Solutions in 2018. From 2006-2019, Eric was the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he taught over 20,000 students across a wide range of course work in Atmospheric Science.

Seif Shazly

Deputy CEO, Giza Seeds & Herbs

Seif Shazly is the Deputy CEO of Giza Seeds & Herbs. He oversees commercial, supply chain, and growth. He has 10+ years of experience in business transformations, and with Mostafa Bedair, Giza’s CEO, he has successfully doubled Giza’s business in the last five years.

Before Giza, Shazly was a consulting manager at Bain & Company, focusing on private equity projects and post-merger integrations in Europe and the Middle East.

Joseph Starr

Global Food Safety and Quality Assurance Associate Principal Scientist, PepsiCo

Joseph Starr is a Global Food Safety and Quality Assurance Associate Principal Scientist at PepsiCo, where he has worked for seven years. His experience includes roles in Scientific and Regulatory Affairs assessing compliance and risk of chemical residues and horizon scanning for emerging risks.

In his current role, he manages global programs governing the hazard analysis process for ingredients supplied to PepsiCo. He is a subject matter expert for assessing and mitigating chemical contaminant risks to the ingredient and product portfolio. In addition, he leads global cross-category working groups focused on developing and deploying tools and processes to strengthen PepsiCo’s Food Safety programs and standards. Joseph received a Master’s in Analytical Chemistry from SUNY Oswego.

Hoang Thi Liên

Chairperson, Vietnam Pepper and Spice Association

Mrs. Hoang Thi Lien has a passion for working in international organizations related to international trade, business, and economic integration. Before assuming the position of chairperson of the Vietnam Pepper and Spice Association, she held key positions in various international organizations involving Vietnam, such as Director of APEC & International Economic Cooperation Division, Director of ASEAN Division, First Secretary of the Viet Nam Embassy to Malaysia, and Executive Director of the International Pepper Community.

With the current pivotal role of the Vietnam pepper and spice Industry, she aims to drive the production and business of Vietnam’s pepper and spices for sustainable development.

Felipe Villela

Business Development Manager, The Landbanking Group

Felipe Villela is a Brazilian Impact Entrepreneur, Business Development Manager at The Landbanking Group, UNEP Adviser, Forbes Under30, Board Member at Unilever Brand Mãe Terra & Climate Bonds Initiative, TEDxSpeaker, MIT Solver, LinkedIn Influencer and ex-Founder of reNature.

Frank Yiannas

Owner, Smarter FY Solutions

Frank Yiannas is a renowned food safety leader and executive, food system futurist, author, professor, past president of the International Association of Food Protection, and advocate for consumers. Most recently, he served under two different administrations as the Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response at FDA, a position he held from 2018 to 2023 after spending 30 years in leadership roles with two industry giants: Walmart and the Walt Disney Company.

Throughout his career, Frank has been recognized for his role in strengthening food safety standards in new and innovative ways, as well as building effective food safety management systems based on modern, science-based, and tech-enabled prevention principles.

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