About Our Speakers

Roxi Beck, Consumer Engagement Director, The Center for Food Integrity and Vice President, Look East Consulting

An active speaker, trainer, facilitator and a trusted advisor to food system thought leaders, Roxi Beck helps audiences think differently about earning trust. As consumer engagement director for The Center for Food Integrity and vice president at Look East Consulting, Beck brings 15 years’ experience working with clients across the food system, directing strategy and activities for consumer-facing food and agriculture initiatives. Whether working with registered dietitians, toxicologists, corporate executives, communication directors, restaurateurs, farmers, non-profit leaders, even consumers, Beck connects the dots on the varied pressure points that shape today’s food system, and helps organizations incorporate transparency principles and trust-growing approaches into their culture.

Beck received bachelor’s degrees in psychology and public relations from Coe College. She currently serves on the board for Iowa State University’s Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, is a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and is past-president of the National Agri-Marketing Association’s Iowa Chapter.

Jonathan Eisen, Senior Vice President, Government Relations International Foodservice Distributors Association

Jonathan Eisen is Senior Vice President, Government Relations at the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) in McLean, Virginia heading the association’s government relations efforts on behalf of the foodservice distribution industry. He serves as the lead lobbyist for the association representing the industry before legislators and regulators on a variety of issues including workplace, tax, transportation, food safety and healthcare. Eisen also serves at Treasurer of IFDAPAC. He joined the Government Relations Department of IFDA’s predecessor group, Food Distributors International in 1994. Prior to joining FDI, he worked for a private lobbying firm in Washington.Jon is a graduate of Emory University, and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two sons.

Angela Fernandez, Vice President of Initiatives, GS1 US

Angela Fernandez is the Vice President of Initiatives at GS1 US and is responsible for driving broader adoption of GS1 Standards, the most widely used supply chain standards in the world, to help industry achieve their goals for improved product traceability, product information transparency, and data quality.

Since joining GS1 US more than 15 years ago, Ms. Fernandez has collaborated with industry stakeholders—manufacturers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, healthcare providers, government agencies, trade associations and solution providers—to identify how the use of GS1 Standards can improve supply chain business processes and ecommerce operations as well as address regulatory requirements to deliver safe products to patients and consumers.

She is a frequent guest speaker at industry events, including the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Edge and the National Restaurant Association Show. She has been a traceability and recall resource for media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Food Logistics and Packaging Digest magazines. Mrs. Fernandez earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Drexel University.

Mathew George, Manager – Commodities Harris Freeman Group

Mathew George has been with the Harris Freeman Group since 2009. Using his experience and knowledge of agricultural principles in combination with econometric techniques for understanding soft-commodity markets, he has been involved in a wide range of activities including purchasing, vendor development, supplier evaluation and market analysis of various spices. He has also been actively engaged in the agronomical support and implementation of the Harris Sustainable Pepper Initiative, a spice farming program involving over a thousand farmers in Vietnam.

An agronomist with in-depth exposure to tropical agri-business management systems, he has more than 20 years’ work experience, of which 16 years is in the spice industry. Prior to joining the Harris Freeman Group, he has worked at other multi-national spice companies. Furthermore, his experience in the Indian retail industry, heading fruits and vegetables procurement, as well as involvement in a project of the European Union on horticulture development in India, in charge of market development, adds to his expertise in the different commodity markets.
A graduate in agriculture and a post-graduate in management from the Indian Institute of Forest Management. Mathew also holds a Masters in Marketing Management.

Adrienne Gifford, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Manager, Olam Spices & Olam Tomatoes

Adrienne is a sustainability professional with a relentless drive to create positive impact. Adrienne joined Olam in early 2017 and is responsible for leading the development and implementation of the Spices and Tomatoes global sustainability strategy. In this role she collaborates closely with agricultural operations, manufacturing, human resources, and Olam customers to drive environmental, social, and economic sustainability initiatives in 14 sourcing and processing countries.

She draws upon 15-years of experience in the public, private, and international development sectors including 10 years of management consulting experience. For the last 7 years she has led assessments of numerous sustainable agriculture and economic empowerment initiatives for organizations including: USAID’s Feed-the-Future agriculture value chains in Zambia, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Yieldwise Initiative aimed at reducing post-harvest loss in Nigeria’s tomato value chain, and Chevron’s $95M corporate social enterprise in Nigeria working with thousands of smallholder aquaculture, cassava, and oil palm smallholders in The Niger Delta.

Adrienne holds an M.A. in Social Enterprise with concentrations in International Development and Impact Investing from the American University School of International Service and a B.S. in International Finance from the Kogod School of Business.

She is an avid equestrian (dressage), a foodie, and enjoys Latin dance, cooking, time in nature, and reading.

Andrew Kennedy, Global Food Traceability Center, Interim Director Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

Andrew Kennedy is a leading voice in the world of food traceability, sustainability and food safety. He has developed supplier transparency and traceability solutions for leading restaurant operators, retailers, produce, seafood and prepared food companies using cloud and blockchain technology.

In 2006, Mr. Kennedy co-founded FoodLogiQ – one of the leading food safety and traceability technology platforms in the world. Since then, he has worked with food producers on four continents and stepped in as the Interim Director of the Global Food Traceability Center at IFT when the former director left to lead Walmart’s Blockchain Food Traceability Program.

For the Produce Marketing Association, Mr. Kennedy has served as a board member and chair of the Science and Technology committee. He has co-chaired several national and global food traceability technology standards initiatives and recently led a global seafood traceability pilot for the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability.

Prior to FoodLogiQ, Mr. Kennedy served in leadership roles in a medical device manufacturing company and worked as a technology consultant with Accenture and Clarkston Consulting. He lives in Durham, North Carolina and holds an MBA from Duke University and a BA in Economics from Lafayette College.

Larry Lichter, Vice President, Global Quality & Food Safety McCormick & Co., Inc.

Larry Lichter has over 31 years of food industry experience with more than 29 of those years at McCormick. Larry has held significant roles in the Quality Assurance, Supply Chain and Commercial functions. In his current role as Vice President of Global Quality and Food Safety for McCormick, Mr. Lichter leads the global efforts to assure food safety excellence, quality systems performance, quality/business partnership and technology development. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the American Spice Trade Association and is very active with charities supporting the homeless population of Baltimore.

Larry graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelors in Biology and previously served 6 years on the Board of Directors of the Supply Chain Council.

McCormick brings the joy of flavor to life as a global leader in flavor with more than $4.8 billion in annual sales. McCormick manufactures, markets and distributes spices, condiments, flavors, seasoning mixes, and many other flavorful products to the entire food industry in more than 140 countries and territories.

Mike Liu, Chairman and CEO BCFoods

Mike Liu founded BCFoods (www.bcfoods.com) in 2007 and lead BCFoods to become one of the leading global food ingredients suppliers with manufacturing in China, operations and a research and development center in Chicago, global ingredients partners, worldwide distribution platforms, and 3PL services.

Also, as the founding president of the China Spice Association (CSA) in 2017, Mike works with CSA colleagues on China national food ingredients standards and with international professional associations to host the China Spice Conference.

Mike 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 University of California, Davis, USA from 1998-2000.

Mike is married and has one daughter.

Kannappan Manickam, CIO, NSF International

Kannappan – or Ken – is the acting CIO of NSF International. He is also the Global Managing Director for TraQtion LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NSF International.

With over 15 years in the industry, he has been a strategic technology advisor for some of the world’s largest brands, ensuring that they can leverage accurate, secure product, supplier and audit data to simplify quality and compliance across the supply chain. Ken holds a MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and a Masters of Information Systems (MSIS) from the Eastern Michigan University.

DVR Rajiv Mohan, Vice President Agri Business Division ITC Limited

DVR Rajiv Mohan is the Vice President for Value Added Agri Products in the Agri Business Division of ITC Limited, one of India’s largest and integrated agri-to-consumer enterprises. Rajiv is an MBA with over 30 years’ experience in various facets of agri business – crop development, sourcing & supply chain, business development, exports and brand management.

Joining the organization in 1988 in the leaf tobacco business, he had successful stints in various operations and thereafter he took over as General Manager of exports in 2002, and was instrumental in significantly enhancing the global presence of ITC through an aggressive market expansion and customer acquisition strategy. This led to a significant increase in export business with a footprint in all continents covering major international customers.
From 2004 to 2011, he was also instrumental in developing the spices business with a specific focus on evolving a customized supply chain and differentiated products and services, resulting in rapid scale up of the business in domestic and export markets. He was also vested with the responsibility of building the supply chain vertical for the leaf tobacco business.

Subsequently, he led the commodities portfolio including wheat, rice, coffee and fruit pulp, with thrust on market expansion and putting in place multiple business models for enhanced profitability. Currently he is focusing on spices, coffee, fruits and vegetables and marine products with a thrust on value added products for enhancing exports and domestic market share with customized, food-safe and differentiated offers, including branded products.

Rajiv has travelled extensively and is interested in reading, sports and international cuisines.

Ben Nemtin,  Co-founder, The Buried Life Foundation

Ben Nemtin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of What Do You Want To Do Before You Die? and the star of the MTV show The Buried Life. As the co-founder of The Buried Life movement, Ben’s message of radical possibility has been featured by major media outlets including The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, Inc., ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC News. Oprah called Ben’s life work “truly inspiring.” An acclaimed keynote speaker, Nemtin has presented his ‘5 Steps to Make the Impossible Possible’ to business conferences and corporate leadership teams around the world, including Amazon, Microsoft, Nationwide, Harvard, Viacom, Verizon, Levi’s, and more.

In a pit of depression, Ben and his three best friends decided to create the world’s greatest bucket list to make them feel alive. They bought a rickety old bus and criss-crossed North America, achieving the unthinkable. And most importantly, every time they accomplished a dream, they helped a complete stranger cross something off their bucket list. From playing basketball with President Obama to streaking a professional soccer field, from raising over $400,000 for charity to placing a record-breaking $250,000 bet on roulette—Ben’s bucket list quest has inspired millions to chase their dreams and realize that impossible is possible.

Giridhar Rao, Director of Griffith Sustainably Sourced and Director of Purchasing, Griffith India- Griffith Foods

Giridhar Rao is Director of Griffith Sustainably Sourced and the Director of Purchasing at Griffith India-Griffith Foods.

Giridhar is the Director of Griffith Sustainably Sourced and the Director of Purchasing at Griffith India. He has more than 22 years of experience in sourcing agricultural commodities such as spices, and is responsible for vertical integration of Griffith’s supply chain.

 

Whitney Sayia-Reid, Partner, A.A. Sayia & Co., Inc.

Whitney Sayia-Reid has been a partner with A.A. Sayia & Co., Inc. since 2006. She travels to the far-flung corners of the world, maintaining long-held relationships with international suppliers and developing new ones. Whitney is responsible for sourcing spices and herbs, negotiating trade agreements and communicating timely market information to her customers.

Whitney has served as Chair of ASTA’s Government Relations Committee and now serves on ASTA’s Education Committee. Before joining A.A. Sayia, she served as Assistant Vice President in the Mergers & Acquisitions division of Goldman Sachs.

Whitney graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.

Susan Rojas, Product Line Manager Sensient Natural Ingredients

Susan Rojas has served as Product Line Manager for Sensient Natural Ingredients, headquartered in Turlock California, for the past 7 years. Previous to this role, Sue was a Plant Controller, where she was responsible for cost analysis and reporting of dehydrated vegetable product lines. In her current role, Sue is responsible for developing onion, garlic, chili and vegetable pricing for Sensient’s customers, evaluating inventory availability, communicating crop and cost information to customers and performing global market research.

Prior to her position with Sensient, Sue practiced ten years as a C.P.A. in Turlock, San Francisco, and Portland Oregon and ten years as Accounting Manager with a food processor in California’s Central Valley. Sue has over 25 years of experience in California agriculture and international business.

Ms. Rojas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Economics from George Fox College and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Accounting from Portland State University.

Hipolito Sanchez III, R&D Manager TH Foods, Inc.

In 2015 Hipolito Joined TH Foods as leader of the research and development team with responsibility for the product enhancement, crafting new products, and bringing them to life. He guides the talented engineers, scientists, and cross-functional team members in launching highly creative and successful new Crunchmaster® crackers and snacks in addition to other snacks and nut-based products.

Growing-up on a farm in northern Missouri sparked Hipolito’s passion for the food industry, farm to table. His technical journey began with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Later in his career, earning an MBA from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business further developed his leadership.

Prior to joining TH Foods Hipolito gained product and process development experience launching successful major branded products, creation of key ingredients, and leading teams at both major CPGs and smaller nimble companies.

As a leader at TH Foods, Inc. Hipolito is growth focused and partners with Sales and Marketing to create clean label and transparent new products.

Peter Sayia, Partner A.A. Sayia & Co., Inc.

Peter Sayia has been a partner with A.A. Sayia & Co., Inc. since 2008. Prior to joining the family business Peter spent 7 years as a fixed income trader with JP Morgan. As a Vice President he was based first in New York, then overseas in London and Hong Kong covering global debt markets. At A.A. Sayia Peter is responsible for sourcing all varieties of seeds and red peppers working with suppliers from Europe to Asia.

Peter has served on ASTA’s Annual Program Planning Committee, Arbitration Board and Government Relations Committee.

Peter graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

Kai Stark, Director of Purchasing Frontier Co-op

Currently Director of Purchasing at Frontier Co-op, Kai has spent the past 18 years sourcing organic spices, vanilla, herbs and teas. He has worked with cooperatives and marginalized farmers around the world to help bring their products to market, including the first Fair Trade Certified spices to be sold in the United States. He is passionate about developing long term, sustainable partnerships that benefit producers at origin and Frontier Co-op’s member owners alike.

Kai received his BA from the University of Northern Iowa and his MBA from the University of Iowa. When not overseas riding jeeps, motorcycles or dugout canoes in search of commodities, Kai enjoys backpacking, skiing and spending time with his wife and two sons.

Darci Vetter, former Deputy US Trade Representative (USTR) for Agriculture and Under Secretary at US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Edelman’s

Ambassador Darci Vetter, former Deputy US Trade Representative (USTR) for Agriculture and Under Secretary at US Department of Agriculture (USDA), leads Edelman’s Washington, DC Public Affairs practice. Darci brings deep international, trade, agriculture and food experience following a 17-year career in the federal government, and is spearheading the growth of Edelman’s global Agriculture, Food and Trade business. In her role, Darci works closely with Edelman’s clients to help develop strategies that best navigate the changing trade policy landscape – and specifically, the US trade war’s impact on market access and competition. She also serves as vice chair for Agriculture, Food, and Trade for Edelman.

From 2014-2017, Darci served as President Obama’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator. While in office, Darci was responsible for multilateral trade negotiations on agriculture, including the Trans Pacific Partnership agricultural package, and bilateral deals reached with Japan, China, Brazil and other countries. Darci also served as Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the USDA, as well as directed USDA’s export assistance programs and coordinated USDA’s role in international food aid and trade capacity building. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Darci served as an International Trade Advisor on the Senate Finance Committee.

Darci is a member of the board of directors of the Neogen Corporation and the Farm Foundation, and a Member of the CME Group Agricultural Markets Advisory Council. She grew up in Nebraska on her family’s organic farm and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two children.