advisory board

Fabrice Branrot retired as a Vice Chairman after 34 years with JPMorgan, working in the firm’s Investment Bank and Private Bank in London, New York and Chicago offices. Fabrice specialized in helping families plan their financial portfolios and operating businesses. Fabrice serves on the philanthropic council for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Medicine. He is a keen cook and has a passion for optimizing people’s healthspan and quality of life. He lives with his family in Chicago. Fabrice has a BA and MA in Modern History from Oxford University.

Lesley Butler, The Growth Project. Lesley Butler is Founder of The Growth Project, a brand strategy firm focused on helping emerging brands chart a consumer-led path to growth.

Lesley brings nearly 15 years of experience in the Food & Beverage industry having held marketing, innovation and strategy leadership positions across Pepsico, Bain & Company, and Kraft Foods. Most recently, Lesley led M&A and New Business Model innovation for Pepsico’s $5B Nutrition business. Previously, Lesley oversaw innovation for the Quaker portfolio where she launched over 30 products generating over $200MM in annual revenue. As General Manager of Quaker’s Ready-to-Eat Cereal and Specialty Brands portfolio, Lesley managed a $1B multi-brand P&L and architected the effective turnaround of Quaker’s Cereal business. Lesley is particularly passionate about building brands with purpose and leveraging innovation to solve meaningful, everyday consumer problems.

Lesley holds an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. She lives in Chicago with her family of two young boys.

Steve Gaither, Founder of JBChicago. Steve Gaither is the founder of JB Chicago, an integrated marketing agency whose clients include DMI, Tetra Pak, and Hershey’s.  A mentor at the Good Food Business Accelerator, ICNC and The Hatchery, his relationships with the financial sector led him to start Windy City Troublemakers, an early-stage food brands group in Chicago.  Steve is also a partner at Windy City Food Brands, a food advisory and investment group, where he and his fellow CPG experts provide the operational know-how and go-to market strategies that help brands accelerate their growth.

Steve graduated from Ball State University (1994) with a degree in Architecture and Planning. He resides in Munster, Indiana with his wife and three children.

Jim Goers, Topco Associates. Jim brings a strong consumer packaged goods background with 25+ years of Fortune 500 sales leadership, business development, field marketing, and supply chain experience serving at Pepsico, Mondelez, Nabisco, Kraft Foods and Hostess Brands. As the Senior Vice President of Member Development and the National Brands program at Topco, a $14 Billion grocery cooperative, Jim was instrumental in successfully recruiting and on boarding 10+ retailers and wholesalers as well as over 20 category leading manufacturers to the Topco organization. Jim has a proven record and passion in developing and executing organizational change initiatives and new ‘go-to-market’ platforms. He’s a graduate of the Eller College at the University of Arizona and is a member of the National Grocers Association Foundation Board of Regents.

Karen Malkin, is certified as an Integrative Health Coach and Lifestyle practitioner from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, founded by Andrew Weil, MD.  She is also a certified Eating Psychology Coach and Teacher.  Karen serves on the philanthropic council for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Medicine and is on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. Karen’s positive and upbeat approach to healthy eating and lifestyle has made her a popular, well-loved and successful practitioner.  Her clientele includes executives, professional athletes, women of all ages, and motivated individuals who are ready for a new level of vitality.  Some of Karen’s specialty areas include her 14 Day Transformation whole foods cleanse, emotional eating, weight loss, the science of nutrition, high energy superfoods, managing cravings and healthy lifestyle makeovers.  Karen appears on ESPN Sports Medicine Weekly radio.

Tracy Miedema, Presence Marketing. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest and with family roots in the Deep South, gardening, gathering, hunting and preserving real food shaped her basic food philosophy: know where your food comes from, prepare it with care and enjoy time around the table.

With nearly 20 years serving the natural and organic food industry, Tracy has focused on building transformative food brands for consumers and building enterprise value for companies. She is now the VP of Innovation & Brand Development at Presence, the nation’s leading natural products broker, where she oversees the company’s two investment portfolios.

She has also served for 5 years on the US Federal regulatory advisory committee for organic, the USDA National Organic Standards Board, including Chair of the Board. Past roles include Director of Product Innovation for Earthbound Farm/ WhiteWave Foods, creating consumer brands for Stahlbush Island Farm, and Marketing with General Mills’ Small Planet Foods Division. Since 2012, Tracy has led graduate student teams in product innovation at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. Tracy holds a BA from the University of Washington and an MBA from Western Washington University. She is lives with her family in rural Oregon.

Melinda Ring, MD serves as Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern and is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine .  While earning her medical degree and completing her residency at the University of Chicago, Dr. Ring’s passion for complementary and alternative medicine evolved along with her holistic philosophy of needing to treat the whole person to achieve true health and healing.  Following residency, she completed the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Integrative Medicine. Her special interests include culinary medicine (food is medicine), integrative women’s health and herbal medicines.

Michael Schopin

Michael Schopin, Partner Zenfinity Capital. Michael has been a principal investor for over 15 years. During the last 12 years of his career, Michael has been leading private investment transactions on behalf of ultra-high net worth individuals and families where he has been instrumental in founding and growing three separate private investment efforts. In addition to his investment experience during this time, Michael served as an active participant in the development and growth of the portfolio companies operating as everything from an active Chairman of the board to temporary C-level executive at the business. He has completed over 40 private transactions during his career across a variety of industries.

Jim Slama

Jim Slama, Founder and President of FamilyFarmed. Jim Slama founded FamilyFarmed at a time when few people recognized the term “Good Food movement,” and demand for locally, sustainably, humanely, and fairly produced food was still a tiny sliver of the overall consumer market. Under Slama’s leadership during more than 15 years since, FamilyFarmed has become an important catalyst in the booming, consumer-driven rise of the movement, helping to build a robust Good Food cluster in its home base of Chicago while expanding the national scope and impact of its work. As part of FamilyFarmed, Jim oversees the good food business accelerator at the 1871 innovation incubator in Chicago.

Bobby Turner

Bobby Turner, Regional President, Whole Foods Market. Bobby Turner is a professional in the Natural and Organic industry bringing 20+ years of experience in retail operations, supply chain management, and supplier relations. He is currently the Regional President at Whole Foods Market. While passionate about the retail business, he is also active in the local food movement and commits personal time participating on the board of directors for several nonprofit organizations in Chicago.