Future of Women in Food Entrepreneurship

Presented by Windham Grows

Thursday & Friday, June 6 & 7, 2019

Downtown Brattleboro, Vermont

How can we connect a community of like-minded individuals
seeking to expand women’s roles in farm and food systems?

The goal of Future of Women in Food Entrepreneurship 2019 is to give current and aspiring women in farm and food the tools, resources, and mentorship needed grow businesses, create positive change in their communities, and revolutionize the future of food. This has been a powerful year for women, and we want to explore the present and future of women in food-centric fields.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Susan Knight

Susan Knight

CCO, Commonwealth Dairy

Susan Knight has 25+ years of experience in selling and marketing food brands in the U.S. She built her foundation in marketing, starting as an Assistant Brand Marketing Manager in 1993 at International Home Foods, with increasing roles and responsibility through VP Marketing. In 2007 she added responsibility for Sales, as the VP Sales and Marketing for Vitasoy. Currently she is CCO at Commonwealth Dairy in Brattleboro. Susan has built her career and reputation by helping small, typically natural or organic brands, grow into larger brands. She has expertise in the retail landscape, distributor networks, broker networks, managing and optimizing marketing budgets, new product development and launching, data interpretation, merchandising opportunities, pricing and trade marketing strategies. Susan received her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and her MBA from UMass Isenberg School of Management. She has three grown children and spends her free time traveling with her husband and dog and at her house on Cape Cod.
Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke

Executive Director, Honor the Earth

Winona LaDuke is a rural development economist and author working on issues of Indigenous Economics, Food and Energy Policy. She lives and  works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is the  Executive Director of Honor the Earth (HtE). She co-founded HtE with the  Indigo Girls, as a platform to raise awareness of and money for indigenous  struggles for environmental justice. She works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice alongside Indigenous  communities. In her own community, she is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project,  Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute, and Akiing: 8th Fire Project. She also runs Winona’s Hemp and  Heritage Farm. Globally and nationally, Winona is known as a leader in the issues of cultural-based  sustainable development strategies, renewable energy, and sustainable food systems. She is one of the  leaders in the work of protecting Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic  engineering. LaDuke’s work on food systems includes; the creation of Native Harvest, protection of wild rice (manoomin), and the promotion of food sovereignty for reservation communities. On her farm in  northern Minnesota, she grows traditional varieties of corn, beans, squash, Jerusalem artichokes,  melons, herbs, and tobacco. This work is documented, in part, in the book ​Food is Medicine​, available  from Honor the Earth. Work on the restoration of traditional corn varieties has received significant  support from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, and a number of private  foundations. In 2015 -2016, LaDuke and Honor the Earth completed a Mille Lacs Band Tribal Food  Plan including policy and implementation plans for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Charles Merinoff

Charles Merinoff

Principal Founder, Breakthru Beverage Group

Charlie Merinoff is a principal founder of Breakthru Beverage Group (BBG), the innovative beverage wholesaler formed by Charmer Sunbelt Group (CSG) and Wirtz Beverage Group on January 1, 2016.  He currently serves as Co-Chairman of BBG’s Board of Managers. The operations of the company and its affiliates spans 16 markets throughout North America, and the company represents a portfolio of premier wine, spirits and beer brands totaling more than $6 billion in annual sales. Previously Charlie was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CSG, one of the nation’s leading distributors of fine wines and spirits. Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1980, Charlie joined the family’s business, holding various positions in operations, purchasing and sales. In 1991, Charlie was named President of Charmer Industries, the family’s Metro New York business. In 1994, the family acquired Sunbelt Beverage Corporation, then operating distributorships in several Eastern states. The Sunbelt Beverage Corporation continued to expand through acquisitions and partnerships, and in 1997 the wholesale companies in which the family had an interest became known as The Charmer Sunbelt Group. In 2011, he was named Chairman of the Board of The Charmer Sunbelt Group. Charlie devotes a significant amount of time and resources to charitable organizations. He has been a member of the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation since 1999, and is currently its Treasurer and an active member of its Board of Directors. Additionally, Charlie spent twelve years on the Board of Trustees of the Culinary Institute of America and is currently Trustee Emeritus. He presides on the Board of Directors of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Charles has previously been on the Board of Trustees of Northwell Health - formerly North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and Make-A Wish Foundation Metro New York.  Charlie spearheaded the annual “Wine and Wishes” tasting and auction, which raised nearly $8.0 million over 13 years for Make-A-Wish. Charlie has been honored over the years by the Boys Town of Italy, the Boy Scouts of America, the UJA-Federation of New York, the American Cancer Society and received the George Washington Spirit Award at Mt. Vernon.  He is a Past Chairman of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.
Stacey Vanek Smith

Stacey Vanek Smith

Co-Host, The Indicator from Planet Money; Correspondent, Planet Money

Stacey Vanek Smith is the co-host of NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money. She's also a correspondent for Planet Money, where she covers business and economics. In this role, Smith has followed economic stories down the muddy back roads of Oklahoma to buy 100 barrels of oil; flew to Pune, India, to track down the man who pitched the country's dramatic currency devaluation to the prime minister; and spoke with a North Korean woman who made a small fortune smuggling artificial sweetener in from China.

Prior to coming to NPR, Smith worked for Marketplace, where she was a correspondent and fill-in host. While there, Smith was part of a collaboration with The New York Times, where she explored the relationship between money and marriage. She was also part of Marketplace's live shows, where she produced a series of pieces on getting her data mined.

Smith is a native of Idaho and grew up working on her parents' cattle ranch. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in comparative literature and creative writing. She also holds a master's in broadcast journalism from Columbia University.

Cathy Berry

Cathy Berry

Managing Director, Baldwin Investment Management, LLC

 
Cathy is one of the founders of Slow Money, focusing on investment in agriculture and local; slowing money down to the speed of nature! She is also one of the founders of BALLE; focusing on creating vibrant local business communities across the country. One of the founding Managing Directors of Baldwin Investment Management, lead investor in Vermont Smoke and Cure, and participant in other mission based companies in the US. She is an active participant in The Sandy River Charitable Foundation, which focuses its grant making locally to family members and partners with other NGOs to work internationally, helping people help themselves. Her family grew up in rural New England and much of the grant making and mission related investments focuses on rural America. Here in Vermont, she is a volunteer consultant to the Strolling of the Heifers Organization and Co-Chair of Two Rivers.
Lisa Lorimer

Lisa Lorimer

Entrepreneur, co-founder of MamaSezz Foods

Lisa Lorimer is the co-founder of MamaSezz Foods, a whole food plant-based meal delivery company available nationwide. The company is committed to the values of Respect and Gratitude (you will see a What Are You Grateful For? sign on the side of the building). These values extend to employee ownership, livable wages with great benefits, and a stock ownership structure where all outside investors own common stock, putting all owners and employees on equal footing.

Prior to MamaSezz, Lisa spent over 20 years as the pioneer owner and CEO of the Vermont Bread Company, supplying all-natural and certified organic breads, rolls and English muffins to supermarkets and natural product stores in the Northeast, including private label for Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. She sold a majority stake in the company to a large private equity firm and worked with them to create the first national certified organic bread company. Lisa went back to school to get her MBA and on one day in April 2014, her final paper was due at 9:00 am and at 9:01 it hit the WSJ that the business was sold to a public company.

Lisa is the co-author with Margot Fraser, founder of Birkenstock USA, of the book Dealing With the Tough Stuff: Practical Wisdom for Running a Values-Driven Business. She has served on numerous boards including Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Smoke & Cure, Chittenden Bank, The White House Project, VBSR and the Women’s Freedom Center. She has an MBA from the UVA Darden School of Business and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Owner-President Management Program. Lisa lives with her three generations of her family in Brattleboro, VT.

SUMMIT SPEAKERS

Kaeleigh Barker

Kaeleigh Barker

Communications Director, Cooperatives for a Better World

Kaeleigh Barker has been connected to cooperative business for over a decade. Having worked in cooperative research and content development, she now directs communications for Cooperatives for a Better World, a compelling cooperative initiative. Barker first interned in 2005 at CCA Global Partners, working thereafter to conduct research for the Purchasing Cooperative & floor covering giant that would lead to multiple expansions of the business. Today CCA Global Partners consists of 13 divisional businesses under one cooperative umbrella. Subsequently her background also includes rural & urban teaching experiences in special education and competent communication. Barker’s passion for learning, communication, and storytelling has compelled her involvement with Toastmasters International, a global public speaking program, in which she was recognized in 2016 for her accomplishments. Most recently, Barker has dedicated herself to elevating awareness of the cooperative business model, working with national and global partners facing a similar lack of knowledge on the Cooperatives for a Better World initiative. She is well versed in the diversity of the cooperative sectors and recognizes the current state of cooperative awareness. She looks to actively connect what we can do together to enhance public knowledge, appreciation, and participation in the cooperative movement.
Sue Bette

Sue Bette

President + Conductor, Bluebird Hospitality

Sue Bette is the President + Conductor of Bluebird Hospitality in Burlington, VT. Foundational to her work at Bluebird is utilizing food and a spirit of hospitality as vehicles to foster and advance community well-being, health, and vibrancy. With a Master's in Higher Education, and experience in coaching at a collegiate level, Sue's work at Bluebird also seeks to craft and develop systems to create workplaces that are growth-orientated, safe, and positive. Most of all, Sue's approach to food, work, and life overall is to design environments and develop teams that nurture enthusiasm and to have fun every step of the way.
Stacy Carroll

Stacy Carroll

Director of Partnerships, Hungry Harvest

Within Hungry Harvest, Stacy Carroll created “HarvestRX,” a farm to patient food access platform that supplies preventative health programs with affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables, delivered. To date, Hungry Harvest has recovered and delivered 9 million pounds of surplus and cosmetically imperfect produce while donating 700 thousand pounds to our hunger relief partners.

Carroll holds a masters degree from Wagner College and has spent the majority of her career consulting for the hospitality and consumer food industries.

Amy Chamberlain

Amy Chamberlain

Chef-Owner, The Perfect Wife Tavern

Amy has been cooking in restaurants since the age of 15. Her first cooking job, breakfast cook at The Pancake House in Manchester, inspired her to continue in this field and back up her passion with a formal education at NECI. In 1996, after several jobs in five different states, Amy opened The Perfect Wife Restaurant and Tavern. Over the years Amy steered the business from one menu to two (tavern and fine dining), catering on and off premise, and hosting a show, “Life of the Party!”, on the Northshire’s local cable access channel. And what’s a chef bio without a little name dropping? Amy has had the pleasure of appearing five times on the Food Network, including a Thanksgiving special with Sara Moulton taped here in Manchester in 2002 and two victories on “Ready, Set, Cook!” She was also chosen to represent the state and the USA in Dijon, France in July of 2009 at the Festival of Music and Food. She kept great company among a great line-up of American chefs including Bill Yosses, former White House pastry chef. It was an honor and a spectacular experience. In 2010, she was named Vermont’s Chef of the Year by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. In Amy’s 23 years of business at The Wife she employed thousands of locals from teenagers to adults. As the employee pool became shallower Amy was faced with the challenges of staffing the many arms that had become The Perfect Wife. In October 2018, Amy closed her doors and is now looking forward to creating a new business which demands far less employees and affords her more time to be a mom. Amy is the mother of a dashing 16 year old athlete, Duncan, who attends Burr and Burton and promises to study anything but culinary arts.
Amanda Freund

Amanda Freund

Freund's Farm Market

Amanda Freund is the 3rd generation on her family farm in East Canaan, CT. The family manages 3 farm businesses; a dairy farm, a farm market & bakery and their value added product, CowPots. Among other things, Amanda is in charge of feeding the cows each morning, the farm’s presence on social media and marketing CowPots, a biodegradable pot made from their cows' manure. A graduate of Cornell University, before joining her family farm full-time in 2015, she held various positions in government and with the Connecticut Farm Bureau. Amanda served as an agriculture volunteer with the Peace Corps in Zambia from 2010-2012. Amanda currently serves as President of the Young Cooperators Committee with her dairy cooperative, Cabot Creamery. In 2016 she began speaking professionally at conferences, on panels and in classrooms about the impact of women in agriculture and sustainability.
Christine Hallquist

Christine Hallquist

Former CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative & 2018 Democratic Candidate for Governor of Vermont

Christine Hallquist moved to Vermont in 1976, first living in Essex Junction, and then settling with her spouse Pat in 1984 in Hyde Park. In 1998, she joined Vermont Electric Coop as an engineering and technology consultant, bringing a background in process engineering from her work with leading information technology companies and consulting for top manufacturers. In 2000, Christine became Engineering and Operations Manager, and then its Chief Executive Officer in 2005, after the Coop acquired the assets of a larger investor-owned utility. At the beginning of Christine’s tenure as CEO, the Coop was in severe financial distress, and the state was considering pulling its certificate of public good. Christine’s experience as head of VEC and her national prominence as an expert on the electric grid and climate change inspired her cinematographer son Derek to direct the biographical documentary about her entitled Denial. While in the process of filming Denial in 2015, Christine made the decision, after years of holding it inside, to come out as her true self, a transgender woman, becoming the first business leader in the country to transition while in office. For relaxation, Christine is happiest when floating on the reservoir in summer in her old tractor tire inner tube. She also enjoys playing the piano, telemark and backcountry skiing, running, fishing, and sharing stories with friends and family. One of the things people often recognize Christine for is her great sense of humor and positive energy. Working to ensure that Vermont remains the special, inclusive and progressive place that it has always been, not only for her children and grandchildren but also for future generations of Vermonters.
Addie Rose Holland

Addie Rose Holland

Co-Founder, Real Pickles

Addie Rose Holland is co-owner and co-founder of Real Pickles Co-operative, an organic food manufacturing company producing naturally fermented pickles from Northeast-grown ingredients. In 2013, after over a dozen years in business, Addie Rose and co-workers used an innovative community financing tool to convert Real Pickles to a worker-owned co-operative. The business now thrives with a vision for building a better food system, securing good local jobs, and staying rooted in the values of equity, solidarity and democracy. Addie Rose also serves as Deputy University Director at the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, based at UMass Amherst.
Rob Michalak

Rob Michalak

Global Director of Social-Purpose Impact, Ben & Jerry’s

Rob Michalak is the Global Director of Social-Purpose Impact for Ben & Jerry’s. From 2006 to 2017, Rob led a process of reinvigorating Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission, following the acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever in April of 2000. The goal of the process was to ensure that Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission thrives in balance with the Company’s Product & Economic Missions. Rob’s current focus is on identifying how Ben & Jerry’s can achieve better outcomes from the Social Mission initiatives the Company is investing in and prioritizing. Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission works to create innovative ways that the business can apply its many resources to achieve positive social, economic and environmental change in the world and make progress on the company’s sustainable corporate concept of “linked prosperity,” which is the ambition that as the company prospers, its stakeholders prosper equitably as well. Rob served as Ben & Jerry’s PR Czar from 1989 – 1998. Rob left Ben & Jerry’s for a little bit from 1999 – 2006, to get back into broadcasting and independent productions. Prior to working at Ben & Jerry’s, Rob worked in broadcast news, public affairs and independent productions from 1980-1989.
Christine Ng, Ph.D.

Christine Ng, Ph.D.

Manager & Principal Engineer, Nutrition & Technology Solutions, General Mills

Christine Ng is a senior expert at General Mills who leads technology development in food ingredient and process systems to deliver innovative food product experiences to consumers. With over 20 years of tenure, she has successfully led and created diverse, innovative solutions that span all key food manufacturing platforms, product categories, food safety, and supply chain. Christine also leads long-term technical strategy development in new opportunity spaces. She formulates technical strategies to meet future consumer trends with demonstrated successes in converting front-end innovations from concepts to tactics to deliver new and impactful business solutions.
Gwen Pokalo

Gwen Pokalo

Center for Women & Enterprise, Vermont Director

In 2016, Gwen Pokalo joined CWE’s exciting tradition of developing & delivering high-quality programming and technical assistance to women in business. Gwen has worked in local economic development in a variety of capacities and environments. She holds an MS in Community Development & Economic Development from the University of Vermont, where she developed a microbusiness incubator to assist emerging Vermont value-added-food and artisan entrepreneurs through a retail store and academic technical assistance model. She owns a small business consulting firm offering business plan and pitch writing, finance and operation strategy support, and delivering marketing presentations. Most recently, Gwen worked as Director of the Women’s Small Business Program. While there, she further developed the 25-year-old organization to expand offerings in business planning, personal finance, and networking. She held a contract with the Vt Small Business Development providing one-on-one technical assistance to nascent and early-growth stage entrepreneurs. She has taught entrepreneurship and business skills at a variety of institutions, including the University of Vermont, Green Mountain College, the Community College of Vermont, and the Governor’s Institute of Vermont. Gwen has also worked in rural development research, human services, and brief stints in Honduras and Costa Rica.
Jaquelyn Fernandez Rieke & Martina Anderson

Jaquelyn Fernandez Rieke & Martina Anderson

Nutty Steph's

Jaquelyn Fernandez Rieke lives in Plainfield at the Onion River Campground community where she and her family steward 23 acres of recreational and agricultural land along the Winooksi River. She founded Nutty Steph's at the tender age of 23 and slogged through it for a decade until she discovered the Worker Owned Cooperative model in 2013, which has been her dream for Nutty Steph's ever since.

Martina Anderson is a nomad coming all the way from Austria that finally settled with her two children in Vermont. She has a background in Special Education and is all about Inclusivity and building community through relationships.

Louisa Schibli

Louisa Schibli

Co-founder, Milk Money VT

Louisa is an entrepreneur who thrives on the ability to find creative solutions to any problem. After developing several websites tailored to local living, Louisa drew on that experience and her passion for technology and all things local to co-found Milk Money VT, Vermont’s first “invest local” equity crowd-investing platform. She brings her energy and enthusiasm to her many passions whether it's volunteering, technology, photography, Vermont or a variety of sports.
Dr. Jessica Shade

Dr. Jessica Shade

Director of Science Programs, The Organic Center

Dr. Jessica Shade is the Director of Science Programs at The Organic Center where she directs projects associated with communicating and conducting research related to organic agriculture. During her tenure at The Organic Center Dr. Shade has collaborated on a number of diverse research programs ranging from applied solutions to on-farm challenges to methods for improving environmental impacts of agriculture. Some of her most recent collaborations include projects aimed at decreasing nitrogen pollution from agricultural sources, increasing on-farm biodiversity, and developing integrated pest management solutions for organic growers. Dr. Shade has extensive experience leading groups of diverse stakeholders to successfully develop unified visions and project goals. She developed and leads the Center’s signature conference event, Organic Confluences, which brings together policy makers, researchers, farmers, industry members, and other non-profits to address and overcome challenges faced by the organic sector. Dr. Shade has been honored for her environmental accomplishments by the Audubon Women in Conservation through their Women Greening Food Special Recognition, the Ecological Society of America Student Section and Union of Concerned Scientists through their Ecoservice Award, and is a Switzer Environmental Fellow. She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Nicola Williams

Nicola Williams

Founder, The Williams Agency

Nicola Williams founded The Williams Agency in 1995. Nicola, with over 20 years of industry experience and international respect, is recognized for superior problem-solving, project management, relationship building, and strategic planning skills. The Agency's core competencies are in sustainable food and culture. She has a strong marketing background in marketing management, market research, brand development, advertising, public relations, sponsorship development, and event promotions. She is passionate about making a difference and is constantly sought after for public engagements. Williams was the producer and one of the founding organizers of the Boston Local Food Festival, Boston’s premier food event and top 10 food events in the City. She is the brainchild of Boston JerkFest and Vermont JerkFest, Caribbean-style foodie events that launched in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Nicola also developed the concepts for and produces Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest and Local Craft Spirits Festival in the Greater Boston area. Williams is a recipient of many awards, and she has been featured in Black Enterprise magazine, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and the Boston Business Journal. Nicola Williams currently serves on the board of The Sustainable Business Network of Boston and Cambridge Carnival International, Inc. and Harvard Square Neighborhood Association. Nicola can be found at a local farmers market, at a local concert, in her urban garden or in her or someone else’s kitchen improving upon her culinary skills for one of her favorite passions- cooking. photo:Adam Detour
Heather Wright

Heather Wright

Attorney, Wright Jones PLC

Prior to practicing law, Heather worked for over a decade as an HR professional, including roles as an HR Director and as an HR consultant for small businesses, start-up organizations, and food co-ops of all sizes. In these roles, Heather handled a range of HR functions, such as drafting job descriptions, writing policies and employment manuals, administering discipline and employee dismissals, managing and executing hiring strategy, developing compensation models, composing benefit packages, and training for all organizational levels. As an attorney, Heather now leverages her HR background to provide a unique and thorough perspective on legal issues in the area of labor and employment law. This includes providing guidance and counseling to HR and management personnel on day-to-day challenges and defending employers against lawsuits and charges from administrative agencies (such as the EEOC, Vermont Attorney General’s Office, or the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination). Additionally, Heather provides legal training and guidance for employers in labor relations matters, including representing employers in proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board and during union campaigns. When not in the office, Heather teaches strategic human resource management in the MBA in Sustainability graduate program at Marlboro College and lectures on various HR and legal topics at conferences across the country. Originally from California, Heather now lives in Bennington with her fiance and their dogs Molly & Luna. When left to her own devices, Heather enjoys knitting, clog dancing, and getting above treeline on hikes through the Vermont mountains.

SUMMIT HOSTS

Orly Munzing

Orly Munzing

Founder & Executive Director, Strolling of the Heifers

Orly is the founder and executive director of Strolling of the Heifers. Previously, she served as a learning specialist with the Windham Central Supervisory Union for 24 years. She has a BA in Psychology and Education from Boston University, and Master of Education degree in Psychology and Special Education from Keene State College. She also built a profitable private consulting business, training teachers in cutting-edge educational techniques. Drawing on this background, she gathered a group of volunteers in 2001 to help focus attention on the difficulties of small family farms in the Brattleboro region. Building an organization with no startup funding, under Orly’s leadership they organized the first annual Strolling of the Heifers in 2002. Orly attracted corporate sponsorships ranging from national brands to local businesses, and with the growth in the local foods movement since then, “the Stroll” has expanded to a full weekend which is annually rated one of Vermont’s Top Ten Summer Events (and was rated one of America’s Top 10 Summer Festivals in 2013, and one of North America’s Top 100 Events in 2014). Over the years, Strolling of the Heifers also launched educational programs, a microloan fund, and farm internship program for youth, which are now all carried on by other organizations; the farm/food business planning competition; the Locavore Index; and now the Farm/Food Innovation Center at the River Garden. Orly was named the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year in 2010, and in 2013 she received the Vermont Community Leadership Award from the Vermont Council on Rural Development. She received the Vermont Land Trust's Rick W. Carbin Community Conservation Award in 2018. Under Orly’s leadership, in 2006 Strolling of the Heifers received the Harvest Wave of the Future Award from Glynwood.
Jim Verzino

Jim Verzino

Director and Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Jim is the Director and Entrepreneur in Residence of Windham Grows, a business accelerator that was created by the Strolling of the Heifers and is designed to nurture the next generation of innovative food and agriculture entrepreneurs in southern Vermont. Prior to running Windham Grows Jim co-founded and successfully exited three socially responsible businesses focused on energy and waste management automation systems, and workforce development. As a co-founder of Ruralogic, a "re-shoring" firm created to counter the trend in outsourcing US jobs to third world countries, Jim helped bring 2,900 high-tech jobs to rural Louisiana and Pennsylvania that would have otherwise gone overseas.
Cairn Cross

Cairn Cross

Co-Founder and Managing Director, FreshTracks Capital

Cairn Cross is a co-founder of FreshTracks Capital in Shelburne, Vermont, and serves as a managing director of the Fund.  He serves on the boards of FreshTracks portfolio companies Vermont Teddy Bear, NativeEnergy, Faraday, Budnitz Bicyles and Mamava. Prior to starting FreshTracks Cairn was a strategic and financial adviser to Vermont banks and growth businesses, the assistant general manager of Green Mountain Capital, L.P. from 1996 to 1998, and spent a decade working as a commercial banker. In 2014 he created Road Pitch — a four day motorcycle tour around Vermont bringing investors and entrepreneurs to seven towns to listen to entrepreneurs pitch their ideas. He is a former member of the Vermont Board of Public Accountancy and was formerly a director and vice chairman of Opportunities Credit Union and formerly a director of the Vermont Community Loan Fund. In 2011, the United States Small Business Administration named Cairn its Vermont, New England and National Financial Services Champion. He earned a B.S. (1981) from Montana State University and an MBA (1987) from New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University). He received a graduate certificate from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking in 1995.
Jennifer Brandt

Jennifer Brandt

Slow Living Summit Coordinator

Slow Living Summit Coordinator, Jennifer Brandt, brings years of marketing experience for a variety of clients ranging from Sony to small non-profits. Jennifer’s extensive marketing experience gives her access to a vast professional network of marketing and creative heavy-hitters that can be assembled for projects with even the most daunting marketing and creative challenges. Her passion for sustainable food systems makes her work with Strolling of the Heifers more like a dream than a job. While not working on organizing spectacular events or creating new marketing materials for clients, you can find her exploring new food around the world whether it be via food stall, beach shack and even the occasional high-end meal.

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Come and discover Brattleboro!

The Summit takes place in the non-traditional conference surroundings of Main Street, Brattleboro — a small community in southern Vermont, long renowned for its commitment to healthy, local, sustainable living and technology, for its vibrant communities of visual and performance artists, craftspeople, poets and writers, and for the diversity of its shops, restaurants and galleries. In turn Brattleboro is a gateway to the Green Mountains and Vermont.

Strolling of the Heifers, the organizer of the Summit, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, with the mission of supporting

and sustaining family farms and local food systems by connecting people with healthy local food. We do this through a variety of year-round programs. Best known is our annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Slow Living Expo, which takes place during “Stroll Weekend” immediately after the Summit. We also organize a Vermont Farm/Food Business Planning Competition, and we publish the annual Locavore Index ranking the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food, and other projects and events.

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About Strolling of the Heifers

Strolling of the Heifers, the organizer of the Summit, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, with the mission of connecting people with healthy local food, encouraging and facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship in the farm/food sector, and supporting the development of stronger local food systems and healthy, sharing, connected and resilient communities. We do this through a variety of year-round programs. Best known is our annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Slow Living Expo, which takes place during “Stroll Weekend” immediately after the Summit. We also publish the annual Locavore Index ranking the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food, and other projects and events.

In a major new initiative to further our mission, in November 2013 we acquired a prominently-located downtown Brattleboro building, the Robert H. Gibson River Garden (where Summit lunches and receptions take place), which has 4500 square foot of open space used since 2001 for public events, performances, lectures and exhibits. Under our stewardship of this community resource, we plan to maintain the public uses of the building, but also to create exhibits and programming that are related to our own focus areas of local food, food systems, and healthy sustainable living — a Farm/Food Education Center.

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