Chairman & CEO
Lawrence is an entrepreneur who has dedicated his career to developing public-private partnership solutions to some of the world’s most vexing problems. Recognizing the link between dietary practices and numerous chronic diseases, he established the non-profit, non-governmental United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) to improve the health of Americans. The USHFC provides incentives, programs and tools to increase the production and consumption of healthful and sustainable foods, such as Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) Certification for the food and foodservice industry.
Most recently, Lawrence worked with Elon Musk at SpaceX and in collaboration with NASA to develop a domestic commercial crew and cargo program to replace the Space Shuttle. Prior to SpaceX, he was the lead for wireless pioneer Craig McCaw and Bill Gates’ Teledesic in negotiating the radio frequency access with the FCC and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to make broadband access ubiquitous through the use of low-Earth orbiting satellites. Lawrence’s government experience includes the White House Office of Public Liaison, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Lawrence received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with honors from Georgetown University. He is a three-time Ironman triathlete that is passionate about the importance of nutrition, exercise and health.
Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Marketing
Chris has over 10 years of experience working at the intersection of marketing and finance. Having spent the early portion of his career as a financial analyst at a Fortune 100 firm, Chris most recently worked as a small business consultant for LivingSocial, one of the world’s premier online marketing companies. While at LivingSocial, Chris partnered with hundreds of small business owners and primarily restaurants to create and implement profitable marketing promotions and improve customer acquisition.
Chris is also the creator and co-founder of the popular iTunes audio podcast, “Smart People Podcast”. Smart People Podcast has received over 4 million downloads to date, has ranked in the Top 10 on iTunes out of nearly 500,000 podcasts, and was ranked a top 100 podcast by Inc.com and Business Insider. He has interviewed many of the top authors and nutrition professionals in the world including Dr. Walter Willett (Harvard School of Public Healthy), Dr. Brian Wansink (Cornell Food and Brand Lab), and Dr. Joel Fuhrman (Author of “Eat to Live”).
Chris received his Bachelor’s degree from James Madison University with a concentration in Finance. He is a lifelong athlete, having played baseball at the collegiate level. When he’s not hard at work he enjoys softball, golf, mountain biking and gardening.
Vice President of Nutrition
Kim Blum, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian with over 15 years of experience in nutrition. She received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Dietetics from Michigan State University and a Master’s of science degree and dietetic internship in Clinical Nutrition from Rush University in Chicago, Illinois.
In graduate school, Kim became interested in conducting nutrient analyses when she analyzed the cafeteria menu for a 700-bed hospital in Chicago. After that, Kim worked for nearly five years for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, focusing her efforts on nutrition education in schools and analyzing school meals to ensure they were meeting federal nutrition requirements.
Following her work with the USDA, Kim spent more than 3 years working for Action for Healthy Kids, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the epidemic of overweight, undernourished and sedentary youth by focusing on changes in schools. Kim then began to focus her efforts on working with restaurants to provide nutrition information for their menus, providing companies and organizations support on their nutrition-related needs, as well as educating families and individuals on maintaining healthier lifestyles. Kim is married with two young boys.
Director of Marketing and Program Manager, Tennessee
Nikkole has over eight years of experience in business development where she brought revenue and sponsorship funds to a local Nashville television station. During her work in television, Nikkole facilitated mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and local causes in the community.
As a child, Nikkole grew up on a family farm where she participated in programs such as FFA and 4-H. She loved learning about the connection between healthy eating and local produce. While at the television station, she witnessed the fast food industry was willing to jump at any chance to sponsor advertisements geared towards children. At that moment she decided to shift her career and became committed to making positive changes in our food system.
Nikole co-founded an organization called Urban Organix as a way to connect the dots between food access to communities and the surrounding local agriculture. Through her work she developed farmers markets and community gardens in designated food deserts in the Nashville area by partnering with like-minded, non-profit organizations. Nikkole also helped form relationships between restaurants and local farms. She worked directly with chefs to help them develop menus based on seasonal availability, while also constructing gardens on-site.
Nikkole received her Bachelors of Science in Business Communication with an emphasis on Marketing and Graphic Design from Eastern Michigan University. She is an active member of the Nashville Food Policy Council and runs a seasonal farmer’s market in North Davidson County. In her spare time she enjoys gardening, cooking and preserving food, and training rescue horses.
Josillia Johnson, MPH
Program Manager, Spartanburg
Josillia Johnson, MPH, is an educator, researcher and self-proclaimed “foodie,” with a deep fascination of place-based initiatives for cultivating healthier food environments.
She attributes her Liberian roots for instilling a deep appreciation for the power that culture and food play in defining one’s health. Josillia continues to explore these connections today. For the past five years, her research has primarily focused on examining the intersection of culture, environment, and health as it pertains to equitable access to nutritious foods, safe drinking water, and sustainable change to hunger alleviation.
As a National Institute of Health MHIRT* Scholar, Josillia traveled to Dornogovi, Mongolia to conduct water quality field research. When she was not living the life of a nomadic pastoralist, Josillia engaged with the local communities to better understand the public health barriers. She learned that health education and access to resources were the two most sustainable ways to combat the challenges incited by limited safe drinking water sources and poverty.
Since then, Josillia has spent the last three years working with universities, non-profit organizations, and food justice coalitions on strategies for improving health through nutrition via environmental changes, nutrition literary, access to healthful resources and workforce development.
Josillia is a graduate from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She has a Master’s of Public Health degree in Health Behavior and Health Education, with a certification in Global Health. Her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology is from Winthrop University. In her free time, Josillia enjoys traveling, nature photography, and watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel.
*MHIRT-Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training
Director of Communications and Public Relations
Melissa Rouse is a writer and editor who worked for 5 years in the publishing world before turning her sights to the sustainability sector. Growing up on the Big Island of Hawaii, Melissa was immersed in the “farm-to-table” lifestyle at a young age; from farmer’s markets to fresh fish, she developed a taste for high-quality, minimally processed, and locally grown foods.
By turning her editorial background towards the food industry, Melissa was able to combine her skill with her passion; she is excited to be partnering with the United States Healthful Food Council to bring healthful eating to the forefront of our dining culture and to play her part in a changing food world.
Melissa has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Critical Social Thought from Mount Holyoke College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Her free time is spent with a book in her hands or a yoga mat beneath her feet; if given the opportunity, she would spend most of her time traveling to unfamiliar places and eating new and exciting foods.
Vice President of Programs
Eleni brings a unique background to the USHFC – over 15 years experience in business development for analytical chemistry technologies, a firm commitment to health and fitness, and a lifetime growing up in the restaurant business. In addition to being versed in food safety practices and health codes, she has been involved in many aspects of restaurant operations. Eleni has applied her background in science to research how food supply and ingredients impact health, balancing food costs with quality and nutrition.
She is adept at working with companies both small and large, academic institutions and government agencies with whom she most recently established and expanded business on behalf of Waters’ TA Division (formerly DuPont) and Bio-Rad Laboratories. Eleni also has extensive experience in contract negotiations and sales and marketing strategy.
Eleni received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and practicing yoga.
Business Development & Marketing Consultant
Ali Cherry is on a mission to make it easier for people to integrate healthy habits into their daily lives. Her work with USHFC is focused on expanding the REAL certification to consumer packaged goods market and bringing the REAL logo to a store near you. Beyond USHFC, she is the founder, CEO of Snack Packers, a healthy snack delivery service that improves workplace wellness and productivity. In addition, she maintains active roles in health promotion including working with organizations such as Weight Watchers.
Prior to focusing on health behavior change, Ali spent eight years developing creative online marketing strategies to help dozens of social cause organizations, like the Special Olympics and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, to grow audiences of engaged supporters. Ali has been a business development consultant working on customer communication and user experience for a start-up online marketplace in Hyderabad, India, was the Online Campaigns and Marketing Director at Beaconfire Consulting and Director of Marketing at Grassroots Enterprise.
Since 2009, Ali has served on the Social Investment Council of Echoing Green, an organization dedicated to promoting social enterprise and is a Social Entrepreneur in Residence for the University of Maryland’s Center for Social Value creation. Ali has a BA from Hamilton College, an MBA from University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business and her certification in health coaching from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Alan Glazer (Board)
Alan has over ten years of legal experience as a practicing attorney. He is well recognized as a problem solver who consistently delivers solutions to various challenges, always with an eye towards the underlying business objectives of the client and/or project.
Currently Alan is an associate at a full service real estate boutique firm, Wilf Law Firm, LLP. At Wilf, he has often served as outside in-house counsel for a number of clients, ranging from a sole proprietor to those with a net worth of over one billion dollars. Recently Alan served as Vice President of the USHFC, and remains as legal counsel to the organization. In addition to his legal work in the real estate field, and always civic minded, he consulted for the Drum Major Institute. He designed community building projects targeting local leadership development and cultivating new entrepreneurial activity in order to meet Appalachian Kentucky’s need for strong leadership and economic growth.
Alan maintains his membership as a Museum Council Fellow of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he previously served as the Development Vice-Chair of the Museum Council Steering Committee.
Alan L. Glazer received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Juris Doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis. Alan also holds a Masters in Public Affairs from Brown University.
Vice President of Development
Chuck Benya is a fundraiser, rainmaker and business development guru who has been the chief architect of many successful advancement programs.
As a consultant, he has piloted start-ups and reboots. He served as an advisor to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and the staff at her esteemed Institute for Caregiving. He was retained as the engineer of Howard Brown Health Center’s high profile emergency fundraising drive, The Lifeline Appeal, exceeding its aggressive fundraising goal, as well as significantly increasing its social network share. Chuck has held senior leadership roles at Vital Bridges, the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education, The Martin Luther King Center for the Performing and Cultural Arts, and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
He holds a BA from Nazareth College and a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Michigan. Chuck is an avid reader and writer of poetry. And, he enjoys extraordinarily long walks with Silas, his Springer Spaniel, when he is not cooking for friends.
Brian Wansink, PhD (Board)
Brian is the John Dyson Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University, where he directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. The mission of the Lab is “to discover and disseminate transforming solutions to eating problems.” This is relevant to families, medicine, nutrition, obesity, public health policy, and marketing.
Brian is author of over 150 academic articles and books, including the best-selling Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think (2006). Brian’s award-winning academic research on eating behavior, behavioral economics, and behavior change has been published in the world’s top marketing, medical, and nutrition journals. It contributed to the introduction of smaller “100 calorie” packages (to prevent overeating), the use of taller glasses in bars (to prevent the over pouring of alcohol), the use of elaborate names and mouth-watering descriptions in many chain restaurant menus (to improve enjoyment of the food), and the removal of 500 million calories from restaurants each year (via Unilever’s Seductive Nutrition program). These insights have been presented, translated, reported, and featured in television documentaries on every continent but Antarctica.
From 2007-2009, Brian was granted a leave-of-absence from Cornell to accept a White House appointment as Executive Director of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the Federal agency in charge of developing 2010 Dietary Guidelines and promoting the Food Guide Pyramid (MyPyramid.gov).
Brian holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University, 1990, an M.S. from Drake University 1984, and a B.S. from Wayne State College, 1982.
David has over two decades of experience in the environmental nonprofit community. Most recently, David served as Executive Director at the Just Label It Campaign that drove 1.3 million signatures to the Food and Drug Administration demanding federal labeling of genetically engineered foods, and built a membership of 300,000 individuals, a 600 organization coalition and 55,0000 Facebook fans. Prior to that, for seven years David was President of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay leading the partnership effort in Bay Restoration.
As Executive Vice President of the Solar Energy Industries Association, David helped spearhead the creation of the Million Solar Roofs program. Earlier in his career, David spent five years as the Deputy Executive Director of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, a consortium of eight governors and two Canadian premiers focused on the environmental protection and economic development of the Great Lakes Basin. David did graduate work in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He holds a Masters degree in Technology and Policy from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and Bachelors in Environmental Science from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Scott is co-president and CEO of Fortessa Tableware Solutions (FTS), LLC, a recognized global leader in the commercial foodservice and upscale consumer tableware industries. Working with his co-founder and brother, Scott has built FTS into a highly regarded innovator in the design, manufacture and distribution of the finest quality tableware. Scott heads the company’s development, business processes, marketing and growth strategy.
Under Scott’s leadership, FTS has pioneered concepts, which have led to trends that became accepted and widely imitated practices in the tableware industry. He has always kept himself and his company on the vanguard of innovative thinking in the foodservice industry, for example as a founding sponsor of Farm-to-Fork Loudoun, which encourages restaurants to buy fresh from local sources, and by partnering with the United States Healthful Food Council to promote healthier eating habits for Americans.
An avid and passionate entrepreneur committed to best business practices, Scott is the past president of the Loudoun County CEO Cabinet, and serves on the Loudoun County Government Reform Commission. Scott is a graduate of Georgetown University.
Sharon Feuer Gruber
Sharon is a proven leader both in creating cutting-edge programs addressing food access for low-income populations and also in establishing high nutrition standards for non-profits’ food distribution systems. Sharon has created nutrition education programs for numerous organizations. She is a member of the Nutrition Advisory Board for the Capital Area Food Bank and participates on the committee initiating the formation of Washington, D.C.’s first Food Policy Council. The D.C. Primary Care Association recently recognized Sharon with its “Unsung Hero” award for her work with Bread for the City. Her innovative, comprehensive approach to addressing the nutritional needs of low-income DC residents has been featured several times in both the Washington Post and on NPR.
Previous to her nutrition career, Sharon was a non-profit communications manager, specializing in health and serving low-income populations. She was the creative manager for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and editor of the National Head Start Association’s Children and Families magazine.
Susan Sykes Hendee, PhD
Susan, owner of CulACon, is a seasoned professional, administrator, and educator with managerial and consulting experience in culinary arts, foods education, and hospitality management. She earned a Ph.D. in foods and food management and an M.A. in food service management from New York University (NYU), an M.S. in computer education and a B.S. in food service education from Johnson & Wales University, and an A.O.S. degree from the Culinary Institute of America. She is certified by the American Culinary Federation as a Certified Culinary Educator and was awarded fellow of The American Academy of Chefs.
Susan recently held the position as Vice President for Academic Affairs and previously Dean of Graduate and Academic Studies (Hospitality and Culinary) at Baltimore International College, Chair of Culinary and Food and Beverage Management at Arts Institute Washington, D.C., Chair of Culinary Arts and tenured professor at New York Institute of Technology and Director of the Foods Program, Department Foods and Nutrition, at NYU. Her recent community and professional service includes Share Our Strength – Cooking Matters Board and American Culinary Federation Sizzle Editorial Board. Her newest publication is “Handheld Computers for Chefs,” and research includes “emotional intelligence and job satisfaction” and computerization in the hospitality industry.
Philomena Gambale Fritz, MS
Philomena has been working in the area of advocacy, policy, and alliance management with expertise in program development and implementation. Her most recent position was with an innovative biotechnology start-up focused on addressing public health needs. Philomena currently serves as a strategic advisor to technology and nonprofit start-up organizations. Her interest in healthful eating and cooking was inspired by significant time spent eating out while on business travel.
Philomena received her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and Masters of Science from Georgetown University. She lives in Washington, D.C. and is active in community-based non-profit work.
Patrice has been passionate about nutrition, health and exercise for over 20 years. Leading by example, she educated her sons about the importance of making healthful food choices and participating in daily physical activity. Patrice enjoys sharing her passion and is recognized by friends and family as a role model for good health. She is active in running, cycling, yoga and weight training. Patrice also enjoys cooking, reading and conducting speaking events about nutrition and fitness.
Patrice has a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from Walsh College in Troy, Michigan. She is also a member of the National Association for Health and Fitness and volunteers for running events, Gleaners Food Bank in Detroit, a Diabetes Awareness Education Program and other charitable organization.
Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N. is a nutrition consultant, journalist and author specializing in nutrition, health and wellness. Karen is a go-to resource for the media. Karen’s expert nutrition advice appears in leading magazines, websites and newspapers nationwide. Always on the cutting edge of the latest breaking nutritional trends, Karen consults with corporations to help them enhance their corporate nutrition programs and provide strategies to improve their employee’s health and wellbeing. She additionally develops recipes for several of the nation’s leading food brands. Karen is also a former instructor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University.
Karen is a graduate of Duke University where she majored in psychology. She received her Masters of Science in clinical nutrition from New York University. An active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Karen belongs to several dietetic practice groups including Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Food and Culinary Professionals, and Nutrition Entrepreneurs.
Karen lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and two teenage daughters. When she’s not busy writing about nutrition, she enjoys cooking, running and playing with her dog, Cosmo.
Sarah has provided editorial and strategic communications services to nonprofits and government organizations for over 16 years. In both nonprofit and consulting environments, Sarah has helped organizations effectively communicate important health information to varied audiences via print and online content development, strategic communications planning and partnership development.
She has a master of public health from George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services, and has focused much of her health communication efforts on nutrition education. Sarah’s focus on maternal and child health in graduate school continued professionally as a member of the communications team for the Society for Women’s Health Research and as a consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, among other roles. Sarah lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington, DC with her husband and two sons.
Karan Girotra, PhD
Karan Girotra is Professor of Technology and Operations Management at INSEAD and Author of the “RiskDriven Business Model”. Karan’s research has examined how new business models are disrupting centuries-old ways of doing things in a variety of industries including the clean transportation, retailing, urban living, global sourcing sectors— while creating game changing new business opportunities.
Karan holds a PhD in Managerial Sciences and Applied Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an AM degree from the Wharton School and a Bachelor of Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
PANEL OF EXPERTS (partial list)
Owner and Head Chef
Guy L. Clifton, MD
Ann Brody Cove
Specialty Food Consultant
Co-Founder of The Central Farm markets
Yale Sustainable Food Project
Founder, DC Central Kitchen
Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N
Nationally recognized dietitian and nutrition expert
The Culinary Edge
National Association of Health and Fitness
Editor and Director
Chef Ris Lacoste
Chief Executive Officer
Food Allergy Initiative
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
Founder and Holistic Health Coach
Live In Rhythm
Chef Nora Pouillon
CEO of the Rosenthal Group
Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op
Director of Operations
Rabbit Grill/Red Velvet and TangySweet
Director of Food, Beverage and Events
William J. Clinton Foundation
Jaime Coffey Martinez MS, RD, PN1
Owner and Founder
Nutrition CPR, LLC
Culinary Nutritionist and Health Coach
Executive Chef at The Factory
Samantha Attard, PhD