Carter Williams is CEO and Managing Partner of iSelect Funds, an early-stage venture firm investing in companies addressing critical global issues. Carter has spent his entire career working on innovation as an engineer at McDonnell Douglas, then at Boeing managing R&D and starting Boeing Ventures. After Boeing, he was President of Gridlogix, which was later bought by Johnson Controls. Prior to leading iSelect, Carter served as Senior Managing Director at Progress Partners, an energy and technology investment banking firm, and was a Managing Partner at Open Innovation Ventures and a Director at Clayton Capital Partners. Carter is the past President and Founder of the MIT Corporate Venturing Consortium and Co-founder of the MIT Entrepreneurship Society. He has an M.B.A. from the MIT Sloan School and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Renée Vassilos is The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Agriculture Innovation. She manages TNC’s investments in innovative companies that will help scale regenerative agriculture production practices. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Renée spent nearly a decade at John Deere, including several years in Beijing, building global market product strategies, design and manufacture equipment, and marketing and sales. Post-Deere, Renée led her consulting firm, Banyan Innovation Group, advising growth-stage agriculture technology start-ups and investors. Renée has a BS and MS in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and University of California, Davis respectively.
Drew Slattery is the Human Dimensions of Change Lead for Farm Journal’s Trust In Food. He specializes in applying human dimensions theory to drive behavior change to empower agricultural producers in the U.S. to continuously improve their operations’ environmental, financial and social outcomes. His portfolio overlaps the research, strategy, and activation practices of Trust In Food.
Nate Birt is Vice President of Farm Journal’s Trust In Food. He leads the day-to-day operations of America’s Conservation Ag Movement, a national public-private partnership that empowers collaborators to leverage Farm Journal’s networks to accelerate adoption of regenerative practices, products and technologies. Nate is the author of “Frozen, But Not Forgotten: An Adoptive Dad’s Step-by-Step Guide to Embryo Adoption,” and has appeared as a guest on The Eric Metaxas Show. He holds a master’s degree in journalism and bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Missouri.
Sasha Gennet, Ph.D., leads The Nature Conservancy’s Sustainable Grazing Lands strategy in North America, a role that relies heavily on her 20+ years of experience in natural resource management, research, planning and policy. Sasha leads an interdisciplinary team of science, conservation, policy, and communications experts to achieve widespread adoption of conservation management practices on U.S. grazing lands, as well as protection and conservation of working lands.
Serena Lomonico is a Fisheries Research Associate with The Nature Conservancy’s California Oceans Program. Serena holds a master’s in Environmental Science and Management from UC Santa Barbara. At UC’s Bren School, Serena focused largely on international fisheries management. Serena holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from UCLA, and has previously worked as a Science Crew member with the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program and a consultant with the Galapagos National Park.
Joseph Opoku Gakpo
Joseph Opoku Gakpo is a broadcast and online journalist with the Multimedia Group Limited in Ghana, working with Joy FM, Joy News TV, and www.myjoyonline.com. He works on the Environment Desk, producing documentaries, news reports, and feature articles on agriculture, the environment, and rural development. He has a master’s degree in communications studies from the University of Ghana, and is a member of the Ghana Association of Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA). He was awarded the 2015 GJA prize for Best Journalist in Poverty Alleviation Reporting for “Poor Millionaires,” his story about cocoa farmers. His main interest is telling the story of how farmers and rural residents struggle to survive, with the objective of bringing development to their communities. He is a 2016 Cornell Alliance for Science Global Leadership Fellow.
Richard Owen has been a part of the Produce Marketing Association since 2009, when he joined as Director of Global Business Development and has served as Vice President of Global Membership and Engagement for the past three years. Prior to his time at PMA, Owen’s career included time as the Director of Agricultural Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative where his portfolio included Russia, Eastern Europe, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Israel. Richard was also head of the Airline Passenger Experience Association, Montana Grain Growers Association, and National Association of Wheat Growers Foundation.
Having grown up surrounded by farms in upstate NY, Khala Hurd is still amazed there was no education about agriculture or the local farming community. Khala addresses these concerns by being a child educator while also writing research-driven materials into the unique dietary needs of Americans as our Western diets continue to impact our health. Khala graduated with a B.S. in Communication from Cornell University.
Nyasha Mudukuti is a science communication and network associate with the Cornell Alliance for Science, where she was a 2019 Global Leadership Fellow. She is a Mastercard Foundation scholar from Michigan State University, where she majored in plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology. She is also a BSc honors graduate in biotechnology from Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe. Nyasha served as the 2016 AGCO Africa Ambassador, advocating for agricultural reforms across the African continent. More recently, she was a speaker at the 2019 Oxford Farming Conference. She also participated in the World Food Prize’s Borlaug Dialogue in both 2014 and 2018.
Jack A. Bobo
Jack Bobo is the CEO of Futurity, a food foresight company that helps brands get ahead of trends so they don’t get run over by them. Futurity leverages insights in food technology, consumer attitudes and consumer trends to deliver meaningful results for their clients. Jack is a regular speaker on global trends in agriculture, consumer perceptions of risk, science communication and the art of networking.
Previously, Jack was Chief Communications Officer for Intrexon, a synthetic biology company developing revolutionary solutions in food, energy and health. In 2015, he was named by Scientific American one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology today. Prior to his career at Intrexon, he served at the U.S. Department of State as a senior advisor on global food policy, biotechnology and agricultural trade. He received a J.D., an M.S. in Environmental Science, a B.A. in psychology and chemistry and a B.S. in biology from Indiana University.
Michael Doane is the Global Managing Director for Sustainable Food and Water for The Nature Conservancy. Michael started farming at a young age and is a partner in his family’s cattle and row crop farming operation located in Kansas. He combines his passion for agriculture with his love for nature in leading one of The Nature Conservancy’s top global priorities to provide food and water sustainably.
Joan Conrow has 35 years of experience as a journalist and editor and runs her own communications consulting service. She specializes in environmental issues, biotechnology, and agriculture, and is especially interested in how these highly charged topics are playing out globally. Her clients include the Cornell Alliance for Science. Joan has written countless newspaper and magazine articles, scripted and produced documentaries, contributed to academic publications, and authored travel guides. She holds a BA in history and journalism, and is certified in beekeeping, mediation, and facilitation. She lived and reported in Hawaii for nearly three decades before relocating to the high desert of New Mexico. Joan resides in Santa Fe, NM, with her two rescue dogs.
Dr. Sarah Evanega earned her PhD in plant biology and science communications from Cornell University and serves as the Director for the Cornell Alliance for Science—a global communications effort that promotes evidence-based decision-making in agriculture. She teaches courses on agricultural biotechnology at the graduate and undergraduate level. In addition, she serves as Senior Associate Director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and holds an adjunct appointment in the Section of Plant Breeding & Genetics in the integrated School of Plant Sciences at Cornell. Sarah was instrumental in launching the CALS initiative, AWARE (Advancing Women in Agriculture through Research and Education),which promotes women in agriculture. She enjoys life in the Finger Lakes with her husband and three young children.
Tim Sprinkle is a writer and editor based in Denver, Colorado. whose work has appeared in Wired, The Atlantic, Entrepreneur and many other national publications. He is also the author of “Screw the Valley: A Coast-to-Coast Tour of America’s New Tech Startup Landscape.”
Susan M. Leaman
Susan Leaman, Vice President of iDecisionSciences, LLC has worked as a consultant to the fresh produce industry since 2006. Susan works with companies and associations to develop solutions that address produce-related food safety issues. In her personal life, she is passionate about nutrition and healthy eating, enjoys gardening and tennis, and (along with her husband aka the household chef) enjoys hosting friends and family in sharing good food and wine. As a mother to two school-aged children, she is embroiled in a daily struggle to get her children to more eat fruits and veggies instead of sugary snacks. Susan holds a master’s degree in toxicology from the University of Washington’s School of Public Health.
Diane R. Wetherington is CEO of iDecisionSciences, LLC, and a provider of specialty crop consulting services, and iFoodDS, Inc., a software solutions provider for the food industry. Helping the food industry supply consumers with healthy, safe food in a cost-effective, environmentally-sustainable manner is what drives Diane in her work. She believes data and data analytics are key to better understanding and improving both food growing and processing. She is an avid runner and enjoys eating as much local food as possible while traveling. Diane previously held leadership positions with AT&T and MasterCard, where she worked in developing technological solutions for their customers. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in economics both from the University of Pennsylvania.