Board of Trustees
The Organic Trade Association, CEO/Executive Director
Laura Batcha is the current CEO/Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Originally joining the staff of OTA in 2008, she has served in multiple capacities. Hired as Marketing and Public Relations Director, she subsequently became Chief of Policy and External Relations, and later, OTA’s Executive Vice President and Interim Co-Executive Director. A seasoned organic professional, Laura has been directly involved in organic production and handling for over 20 years, and has more than 10 years of hands-on experience in the private sector of the organic industry. She currently serves as the Chair of OTA’s Political Action Committee. She also has been appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to serve as a representative of the organic industry on two separate Federal Advisory Committees. The first, AC21, advises USDA on issues related to coexistence of biotechnology and organic and identity-preserved agriculture. The second, APAC, is the agricultural policy advisory committee dedicated to international trade. As CEO/Executive Director of OTA, she also serves on the Board of Trustees for The Organic Center, an independent non-profit research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association.
Michael A. Berger
Elevation Franchise Ventures, Founding Partner and VP of Supply Chain
As one of the founding partners of the Elevation Burger franchise company, Michael has lead the company’s growth from a single restaurant to a chain of over 55 restaurants in seven countries and an organization of 20+ staff members. Under Michael’s supply chain leadership, Elevation Burger’s purchases of certified organic, grass-fed beef have grown into one of the largest certified organic beef purchasing programs in the United States. Michael is also responsible for developing the restaurant chain’s organic pork bacon and organic chicken programs, growing each into the largest such program of any restaurant group in the United States. Additionally, Michael has been the executive in charge of franchise development/sales and real estate development at various times in the company’s history. Michael has been featured in various forms of media and is a recognized leader in international franchise development and sustainable food supply chains. Michael currently serves on The Organic Center’s Board of Trustees and Food Tank’s Board of Directors and was recently honored as the Organic Trade Association’s “Rising Star” of 2015.
University of California, Berkeley, Associate Director for Exposure Assessment
Dr. Asa Bradman holds the Scientist Seat on the Organic Center Board of Trustees, keeping the center connected with the academic community and current scientific investigations affecting the organic community. He is an environmental health scientist and expert in exposure assessment and epidemiology focusing on occupational and environmental exposures to pregnant women and children. He co-founded the UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) and helps direct exposure and health studies as part of the CHAMACOS partnership in the Salinas Valley, California. His research focuses on pesticides, flame retardants, metals, emerging pollutants, VOCs, and other contaminants. Dr. Bradman also leads an initiative to improve environmental health in California childcare facilities and was a recipient of the IPM Innovators award from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. He participates in extensive community outreach and education and interfaces with other scientists, state and federal agencies, policy makers, and industry. He participates on several advisory bodies and was appointed by Governor Schwarzennegger, and reappointed by Governor Brown, to serve on the California Biomonitoring Scientific Guidance Panel.
Garden of Life, LLC., General Counsel and Vice President for Science and International Business
Jeff is General Counsel, Vice President for Science & International Business for Garden of Life, LLC. (GoL). GoL is the leading supplement and nutrition brand sold in the Healthy Foods Channel and is focused on Organic and Non GMO Verified protein supplements, whole food vitamins, probiotics and Green Foods. Jeff joined the company in 2007, and oversees product formulation, research and development, science, regulatory, international sales and legal departments and advises Garden of Life’s parent company, publicly traded Atrium Innovations, LLC on similar matters.
Frontier Co-op, VP of Technical Services
Dr. Ravin Donald has been with Frontier Co-op since 1999 and is currently the VP of Technical Services. He leads Frontier’s Quality, Innovation and Product Development teams. Prior to joining Frontier, Ravin spent eight years working as a scientist. His research career includes a post-doctoral fellowship at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Iowa as well as collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey. Ravin holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Northern Arizona University, and also has Bachelor’s degrees in Microbiology and Electrical Engineering.
Horizon Organic, President
Mike Ferry is President of the Horizon™ brand, responsible for managing the brand’s marketing, research and development, operations, sales and international business units. Over the course of his 18 year marketing career, Ferry has held positions of increasing responsibility at Abbott Nutrition, leading the company’s Healthy Living Nutrition Business, the Campbell Soup Company, Segway LLC and Procter & Gamble and has been responsible for driving strong business results and developing strategies that have grown the revenue, profit and market shares for a number of popular brands.
meghirshberg.com; anticancerlifestyle.org, Author, former columnist and contributing editor for Inc. Magazine, founder of the Anticancer Foundation
After a long career as a freelance magazine writer, Meg launched and now directs an evidence-based lifestyle transformation program for cancer survivors. The 12-week Anticancer Lifestyle Program (www.anticancerlifestyle.org) has been disseminated to hospitals and workplaces as a wellness program. Meg has long been active in organics. In 1982 she was an apprentice at the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden and for the next three years ran a science education garden for elementary school children. Her interest in organic growing led her to get a Master’s degree in Integrated Pest Management from Cornell Agriculture School, after which she was hired to manage a large organic vegetable operation in New Jersey. Eventually Meg moved to New Hampshire and married Gary Hirshberg, Cofounder and Chairman of Stonyfield Yogurt.
Annie's Inc., Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President of Research and Development
Bob Kaake is Chief Innovation Officer at Annie’s and leads the team responsible for helping Annie create new products and flavors. Bob has over 25 years of experience in the food industry in product development and quality. He is a Certified Food Scientist and has a B.S. in Food Science from Purdue University. He lives in San Francisco, which is a perfect place for his science brain and foodie spirit to coexist.
Linsky Consulting, Owner
Todd Linsky, a veteran of over 28 years in the organic produce industry, started his career as a produce manager in a small natural foods store. He moved as a retailer to a pioneering Southern California multi-chain store in charge of all their produce departments. Todd continued to hone his skills. Working nights on the Los Angeles produce market as an organic buyer at S&S Produce, he started the next phase of his journey moving him eventually to its sister company, Ocean Organic, the first grower/shipper in the industry. In 1989 Todd was asked to represent one of those growers, and the Cal Organic sales company started. What began as a few hundred acres grew to almost forty thousand by 2014. Todd was elevated to the position of Vice President of Organic Sales under the ownership change to Grimmway Farms. In the spring of 2015 Todd left to fulfill his dream of starting his own company, Todd Linsky Consulting (TLC), to more effectively serve the comprehensive needs of businesses worldwide. His company’s goal is to help build brands and increase supplies while maintaining the integrity of the natural products industry.
UCSC’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Research Associate - Organic Agriculture Policy Studies
Since 1983, Mark Lipson has been a member of the Molino Creek Farming Collective in California, and at one time or another, has performed all the various roles of farm operations and management. In the mid-1980s he established the statewide office of California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and became CCOF’s first paid employee. While there, he led the development of many of the foundational aspects of organic certification systems. He also played a key role in the passage and implementation of the California Organic Foods Act of 1990 and the national Organic Foods Production Act. He was chairman of the California Organic Food Advisory Board from 1991 to 1997. He joined the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) in1995, and served as Policy Program Director and Senior Policy Analyst until 2010. Lipson joined USDA from 2010 – 2014 as Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Policy Advisor. His responsibilities included cross-agency coordination of organic farming policy issues and assisting with the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative. Lipson was the recipient of The Organic Trade Association’s Organic Leadership Award for Achievement in Growing Organic Agriculture in 2011. He is currently a Research Associate in Organic Agriculture Policy Studies at University of California Santa Cruz.
Lundberg Family Farms, Vice President of People, Planet and Process
Jessica Lundberg is Vice President of People, Planet and Process as well as a member of the Board of Directors of Lundberg Family Farms, the United State’s leading producer of organic rice and rice products. A member of the Lundberg family’s third generation, she oversees the quality, human resources, safety and environmental initiatives at the company as well as the seed nursery, overseeing the maintenance, purity and development of proprietary rice varieties such as Wehani®, Black Japonica and California Arborio.
Florida Organic Growers, Executive Director
Marty first started growing organically in 1972. His passion led to forming a co-op that same year. Since then, Marty has been named as one of the top 25 people who have greatly influenced the development of the organic industry. As an organic farmer, Marty helped start Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers (FOG) in 1989 and currently serves as the non-profit’s Executive Director. Aside from FOG’s policy work to further organic agriculture, FOG’s organic certification program, Quality Certification Services (QCS), provides services in 12 countries for more than one thousand farm and handling operations.
United Natural Foods, VP Policy and Industry Relations
Ms. Meyer is the Vice President of Policy and Industry Relations for United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI). Her role is to help strengthen and promote healthy, sustainable and organic food production and consumption through education and advocacy. She is also the Executive Director for the UNFI Foundation. Melody serves on the Board of Directors for the Organic Trade Association and serves on the Organic Advisory Committee for the CA Department of Food and Agriculture.
Organic Valley / CROPP Cooperative, Farm Resources Manager
Logan Peterman manages the Farm Resources Department at Organic Valley Headquarters in La Farge, WI. With a background in Ecology and Organic vegetable production he has strong experience in the biological and scientific constraints associated with organic production and research. In his position at the cooperative he advises CROPP staff and management on research proposals, solicitations, and technical issues confronting farmers throughout the US. He works closely with a staff of veterinarians and agronomic specialists to bring independent services and advice to farmer/members across the country. He brings his experience implementing and analyzing ecological data to bear on the development of new programs and projects, and advises the Farmers Advocating for Organic committee with the review of submitted agronomic grant proposals.
Pluot Consulting, Partner and Co-founder
Susan is currently a Partner and co-founder at Pluot Consulting, which is focused on helping natural and organic companies grow profitably and sustainably. Prior to this, Susan was with Jamba Juice as SVP and Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. Shields has over 25 years of strategic leadership experience in marketing, brand and product development, innovation, and business development within the retail and CPG food industry with an emphasis on the development of better-for-you food offerings. Susan holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where she was an Austin Scholar, and she has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College. Susan is a member of the Board of Directors for The Organic Center, Traditional Medicinals, and the YMCA of the Central Bay Area.
Whole Foods Market, Vice President of Quality Standards
Margaret Wittenberg is Vice President of Global Quality Standards at Whole Foods Market, the leading natural and organic foods retailer. With over 35 years of experience in the natural and organic foods industry, Margaret joined Whole Foods Market in 1981 as one of the company’s original team members. She was a pioneer of the company’s legendary quality standards and developmental work, and, in her role as Global Vice President of Quality Standards since 1998, implemented the multi-stakeholder collaboration model that has become the company’s signature approach. Throughout the years, Margaret has served on advisory panels for many key domestic and international organizations related to seafood sustainability, farm animal welfare, agricultural genetic engineering, and sustainable and organic agriculture, including the USDA National Organic Standards Board. She is a member of the Marine Stewardship Council’s Stakeholder Council and currently serves on the board of directors for The Organic Center, the American Botanical Council, and the Whole Kids Foundation. In 2005, she was honored by the National Audubon Society with the Rachel Carson Award for her more than 30 years of work championing organic agriculture, sustainability and the environment. Margaret has also authored several books on the topics of exploring, preparing, and enjoying the spectrum of nutritious, great tasting foods, her most current being, “The Essential Good Food Guide” published in 2013 by Ten Speed Press.