CEO, Vermont Smoke & Cure
Chris Bailey has led Vermont Smoke & Cure (VS&C) from being a local smokehouse in 2005 to become the leading meat snack company in the natural channel. VS&C in 2016 became a BCorp and continues its local purchasing and processing services for local farmers. Previous to graduating from Dartmouth College, he raced on the U.S. national road cycling team and then professionally. Chris worked in environmental consulting for two years and then farmed for seven years before earning an MBA at Cornell. Chris lives with his wife in Huntington.
Food Business Development Specialist, Franklin County Community Development Corporation
Joanna Benoit is the Food Business Development Specialist for the Franklin County Community Development Corporation. Home of the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center, the Franklin County Community Development Corporation has almost 40 years’ experience as an economic development non-profit delivering comprehensive business development education, access to capital, technical assistance and commercial space.
As the Food Business Development Specialist, Joanna assists food businesses at any stage in planning, logistics, marketing and production. She also coordinates the Food Processing Center’s Pioneer Valley Vegetable Venture. This program purchases fresh, in season, local produce to lightly processes it and sell it to area institutions. This gives farmers a stable, fair and consistent market while getting local food to those who need it most in institutional settings. Outside of this role, Joanna has experience working with large institutions on local food procurement and has provided wholesale and retail market development assistance to small and beginning farmers.
Owner, duo Restaurants
duo Restaurant’s mission is to pair farmers and diners together. We are committed to local and seasonal eating and Stephanie Bonin leads this vision everyday in both Denver, CO & Brattleboro, VT. She strategically develops events and menus to stay relevant in both locations as well as directs the concept, design and production of all PR communication for the restaurants. Stephanie has a background in political organizing and environmental direct lobbying so creating the philanthropic program at duo. She implemented a strong & focused program for each of the restaurants: Denver, CO: Created bi-annual philanthropic dinner series for local non-profits committed to working on environmental, educational or women’s issues. In Brattleboro, VT: Developed philanthropic series, “Brunch for our Soul”. The first Saturday of every month benefits organizations working to promote outdoor education or the local food movement in Windham County.
Vermont Wine School
Kevin Cleary has been a proponent of supporting local growers and farmers since his days as Chef de Cuisine at the award-winning IL Capriccio restaurant in Waltham Massachusetts from 1997-1999. During his time at IL Capriccio Kevin became involved with Slow Food Italy before there was a chapter in the US. In 1997 Kevin was one of the few chefs from the US to attend the Slow Cheese Conference. This was Slow Food’s first international fair dedicated to dairy products which was held in Bra, Italy. It has gone on to become a biennial event. While in Vermont Kevin supported local, Burlington area farmers by featuring their products at his restaurant L’Amante and his wine bar Vin. Kevin is a chef with over 25 years of experience in the food and wine industry. He is the former chef/owner of the critically acclaimed L’Amante Restaurant in Burlington Vermont which operated from 2003 until 2015. L’Amante was frequently featured in the local press as well as the Boston Globe, Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appetite Magazine. In 2012 L’Amante was named one of the top 32 Italian restaurants in the country by Travel + Leisure Magazine. In 2011 Kevin founded the Vermont Wine School. The Vermont Wine School offers the French Wine Scholar course, the Wine and Spirits Education Trust Level’s 1, 2 & 3 Awards as well as monthly informal wine tastings and classes. Kevin also conducts staff trainings for wholesalers and retailers as well as corporate tastings and events. Over 500 people attend one or more of the classes and tastings offered by the Vermont Wine School each year.
Seventh Generation Maple Farmer
Founder and CEO of Bagel Works Inc
Co-founder and CEO of Ehrmann Commonwealth
Thomas Moffitt is an entrepreneur and executive in the food and beverage industry. He is Co-founder & CEO of Commonwealth Dairy which has two production facilities and sales of approximately $150 million per year. Moffitt has proven capability in starting and scaling large, complex businesses. His expertise encompasses a diverse range of skills from raising capital to building consumer brands. His business philosophy includes a commitment to high-quality products, respectful and responsive interactions, and a supportive corporate culture. Moffitt has been quoted and interviewed in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, and Forbes Magazine. He holds a BA from Colby College and a Ms. in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin. He acts as an advisor to a number of businesses and maintains a strong commitment to supporting local agriculture and sustainable food systems. Moffitt lives with his wife and two children in Concord, MA.
Mark L Shepard
Restoration Agriculture Development, Forest Agriculture Enterprises and New Forest Farms
Mark Shepard is the CEO of Restoration Agriculture Development, Forest Agriculture Enterprises and runs New Forest Farms, a 110 acre perennial agricultural savanna, one of the first of its kind in the USA. New Forest Farm is a planned conversion of a typical row-crops grain farm into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savanna, successional brushland and eastern woodlands as the ecological models. Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants, and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food (for humans and animals) fuel, medicines, and beauty. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts and various fruits are the primary woody crops. The farm is solar and wind powered. Farm equipment has been converted to be powered with locally produced biofuels (straight vegetable oil and biodiesel) from oils that are not taken from the human food chain. Trained in both mechanical engineering and ecology, Mark has developed and patented equipment and processes for the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of forest-derived agricultural products for human foods and bio fuels production. Mark was certified as a Permaculture designer in 1993 and received his Diploma of Permaculture design from Bill Mollison, the founder of the international Permaculture movement.
FW Olin Distinguished Professor and Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Conscious Capitalism Inc.
Raj Sisodia is FW Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College, and Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Conscious Capitalism Inc. He has a Ph. D. in Marketing from Columbia University. Raj is co-author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (2013), Wall Street Journal bestseller Everybody Matters (2015) and the seminal Firms of Endearment (2014). He was named one of “Ten Outstanding Trailblazers of 2010” by Good Business International, and one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior” by Trust Across America for 2010 and 2011. Raj received an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University in 2016. He has published ten books and over 100 academic articles. He is on the Board of Directors at The Container Store and a trustee of Conscious Capitalism Inc.
Raj Peter Bhakta
Founder of WhistlePig
The son of immigrants, Raj was born to an Indian father and an Irish mother who instilled in him a determination to succeed and a love of country.Before graduating from Boston College with a dual degree in history and economics, Raj became an expert on the military history of the Austrian Empire. During a post-college Himalayan trek in which he sought the spiritual insights of Hindu gurus, an undeclared war broke out between India and Pakistan. Raj offered his services to an Indian artillery regiment, hoping to gain some experience before shipping off to the United States Marines. When, in 1999, a serious ski injury derailed his plans, Raj returned to his entrepreneurial roots, and in 2005, he was cast on one of NBC’s highest rated shows, The Apprentice. He made it to week nine before he was ousted by now President Trump. Next, he pursued his passion for politics, winning the Republican Party’s endorsement for the United States House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district in 2006. Frustrated by the porous U.S.– Mexico border control, Raj illustrated the haplessness of current policy by crossing the border along the Rio Grande atop an elephant with a six-piece mariachi band near a U.S. Border Security checkpoint. During the campaign, Raj raised more money independently than any GOP candidate in the nation and led the Republican ticket for his district. Though unable to unseat his incumbent opponent, he received more than 74,000 votes of 180,000 cast. In 2007, Raj found his true calling. He followed in the footsteps of George Washington (a legendary rye whiskey producer) and began his journey to create the world’s finest whiskey, purchasing a 500 acre dilapidated dairy farm in Vermont. By 2010, that dilapidated farm had been transformed into the 1,300 acre WhistlePig headquarters. Through WhistlePig, Raj met his wife Danhee. They live on the farm with their three young children and pet Kunekune pigs.
Windham County Economic Development Program Project Manager, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation
R.T. Brown has 20+ years of professional experience in online technologies, education, non-profit management, and small business consulting. He moved to the area recently from Denver and took the opportunity to seek work in the field of his passion – Economic Development. R.T. has a Masters in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi which focused on areas such as land use and planning, commercial real estate financing and development, regional economic development strategies, technology innovation and entrepreneurship as economic development strategies, and business development and marketing for economic development organizations. Creating a business friendly environment, culture of innovation, and set of conditions for businesses to succeed are some of his primary goals.
Divisional President Black River Produce / Black River Meats
Sean Buchanan is the Divisional President of Black River Produce / Black River Meats and evaluates day to day operations for both companies as well as long term projects. Over the last 35 years Black River has become a leader in New England local food distribution focusing on conventional and organic produce, specialty products, sustainable meats, and local cheeses. He evaluates all investments with structured business planning that weaves together branding, marketing, and strategic expansion.
He is is an advocate for local growers, producers, and small businesses that focus on building Vermont’s agricultural community and creating better jobs through its food system. Sean regularly sits on various state and nonprofit panels to help develop new innovations in small-scale agriculture and business enterprise.
Michael G. Burns
Teacher, Farmer; Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, Cayuta Sun Farm
Michael Burns spent years working in education, publishing and within the peace and justice movement. Two decades ago he learned permaculture design in Guatemala, while working with Ronaldo Lec Ajcot of the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute. In 2005 he cofounded the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute for which he is an instructor and board member. Now he is building Cayuta Sun Farm based on permaculture principles. The farm raises woodland pastured hogs and chickens, and log-grown mushrooms. Michael continues to teach and organize permaculture courses and events through Cornell Cooperative Extension, New Roots Charter High School and the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute. He has founded and consulted for local farmers markets, and serves on the Schuyler County, NY Cooperative Extension Board.
Coordinator, PVGrows Investment Fund
Rebecca Busansky is the Coordinator of the PVGrows Investment Fund, providing financing and technical assistance to farm and food entrepreneurs located primarily in Western Massachusetts through community investments. She has worked for PVGrows since 2013 and recently joined the FCCDC team to coordinate the PVGrows Investment Fund, specifically focusing on marketing and outreach, maintaining relationships with borrowers and investors, and liaising with the PVGrows network. She has an undergraduate degree from Brown University and has worked in community economic development for over 20 years.
Against the Grain Gourmet
Thomas Cain is co-owner of Against The Grain Gourmet. He has been a college instructor and opera composer, a Wall Street systems manager, a computer and technical book author, and an entrepreneur, among other things. Not long after he and his youngest son Marty were diagnosed with celiac disease, he and his wife Nancy got the idea for starting a company manufacturing the great gluten-free breads that Nancy had created for their family. Founded in 2005, Against The Grain is a wholesale manufacturer of gluten-free bread, pizza products, and cookies. Its products are sold in all 50 states.
Organizational & Community Development Professional, Theater Educator, Nature-Based Leadership Guide
Jodi Clark is an experiential educator and facilitator with experience in a number of fields from both the nonprofit and private sectors. Jodi is a team member and "Steward for Collective Awesome" with Global Round Table Leadership where she offers her passion for working in service of collaborative teams, organizations, and initiatives from diverse sectors through trainings, facilitation, and soulful accountability measurement. She is also a faculty partner at Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies and teaches in the Collaborative Leadership Concentration. She works to cultivate joyful rigor and purposeful play with the groups she serves infusing organizational culture, project management, program development, and performance measurement with tools from theater, martial arts, and nature based leadership practices. Jodi is a Core Consultant with Marlboro’s Center for New Leadership and is a Results Based Accountability trainer. She is also a founding board member of Wolfgard Northeast. Jodi resides in West Brattleboro, VT.
Clean Yeald Asset Management
Karin oversees the research and implementation of Clean Yield’s alternative and community investment initiatives focusing on food and agriculture in Vermont. Karin started her career in sustainable investing in 1997 as a social research intern at Trillium Asset Management while pursuing her masters in economics and environmental policy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University. After graduation she spent 10 years with KLD Research & Analytics, where during her tenure as Index Manager the number of sustainability indices grew from 2 to more than 30, and the assets under management licensed to those indices increased ten-fold to over $11 billion. Prior to joining Clean Yield in 2013, Karin consulted to businesses, foundations, and NGOs on community investment and impact. Karin is a board member and treasurer of the Vermont Community Loan Fund, a member of Slow Money Vermont’s executive team and is an active member of the Near Equity/Alternative Lender group. She enjoys being a guest lecturer on sustainable business and investing at local business schools and a judge for impact investing and social entrepreneurship contests. From 1994-1997 Karin served as a livestock production volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Ecuador. She holds a B.A. in international relations from Kenyon College and is trilingual in English, Spanish and German and has working knowledge of Quichua. Karin is a recovering endurance athlete and now enjoys recreational hiking and biking in the Upper Valley along with doing trail maintenance on her adopted trail up Mt. Moosilauke. Clean Yield Asset Management is a socially responsible investment advisory firm that provides clients with customized portfolios and the opportunity to participate in high impact investments.
Southeast New England Loan and Outreach Officer
Co-Founder and Managing Director, FreshTracks Capital
Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA)
General Manager of Associated Convenience Grocers
Steve Felton is the General Manager of Associated Convenience Grocers a division of Associated Grocers of New England, which is a cooperative that services the wholesaler needs of over 600 independent retailers in New England. They carry over 24,000 products in their 400,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Pembroke NH
Steve is involved in sales development, procurement, sourcing of new items, program development, operational and profit management, and team development
Steve has also owned his own retail store for several years and worked for over 15 years in regional operations management, franchising, marketing, merchandising, commissary development and procurement with 7-Eleven
He lives in central NH with his wife Jane and enjoys family, traveling, and hiking. He is involved in municipal government activities with a focus on economic development and promoting local, regional, state, federal and private project collaboration.
Steve has also been involved with working with NH HEAL (Healthy Eating and Living) initiatives in trying to bring healthier product choices to all areas of NH.
Podcaster at Permaculture Voices
Podcaster at Permaculture Voices who has spent years swimming upstream against the status quo trying to find his true calling and his life’s work. While on his journey Diego started a podcast with the goal of inspiring others to join him in the quest to live the life that they want to live by doing work that matters to them regardless of what other people might think. As a connector and storyteller he shares the inspirational stories of people doing amazing work and people struggling in the battle that is life. Through these stories, people learn tools and techniques to make their work easier while being inspired knowing that none of us are alone on our own epic journeys. As a permaculture designer, he geeks out on soil, bio-intensive growing, and systems thinking. His favorite permaculture principles include stacking functions and arriving at solutions, not imposing solutions.
Founder, Global Rountable Leadership
President and co-founder of Citizen Cider
Justin Heilenbach is the President and co-founder of Citizen Cider. Citizen Cider was founded in 2011 on a dream to bring a better craft cider to the market. As it happens, when you work hard and have a decent idea, good things can happen, one can of cider at a time.
Joe Heslin Strategies
Joe believes sales and marketing are pretty horrible—often focused on getting people you don't care about to buy things they don't need with money they don't have. He equally believes that there is a better way. The first step is for him to not speak about himself in the third person... I have helped dozens of organizations all along the East Coast to understand how to communicate more effectively by being more authentic. As Joe Heslin Strategies, I have worked with higher ed, nonprofits, and businesses to engage powerfully and equally with both their external (sales) and internal (cohesion) audiences.
Slow Living Summit Coordinator
Jesse Kreitzer is a filmmaker, educator, and founder of Lanterna, a film and video production company based in Marlboro, Vermont. Using genealogy and archival materials as creative conduit, Kreitzer’s documentary and narrative films explore the preservation of memory, lineage and tradition. His films have received Oscar®-qualifying and regional Emmy® awards, and have screened at festivals, galleries and museums worldwide including The National Gallery of Art, The Museum of the Moving Image, Oldenburg, Raindance, Camden, and Ashland Independent Film Festival, among others. He is currently producing Caregivers, a docu-narrative about community-driven elder care in rural Vermont. Told over the course of four seasons and featuring live accompaniment by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the film is a lyrical exploration of grief, guilt, and acts of compassion.
Commercial Lender at Community Capital of Vermont
President, Wheel Pad L3C
Julie Lineberger, EdM Harvard, is a successful entrepreneur, and President of Wheel Pad L3C. Her past success with LineSync Architecture LTD, a green and sustainable firm in southern Vermont, garnered numerous awards for both Design and Business Management. A previous career in International Development included managing and participating in projects for the United Nations Development Program, the International Rescue Committee, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees throughout the world.
As the past chair of both Green America Board of Directors and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility Board of Directors, Julie has led many workshops and is a consultant on various aspects of business management. She is also involved in various community efforts and in maintaining positive, healthy work environments both at LineSync Architecture LTD and Wheel Pad L3C.
Director of Business Programs, Vermont Community Loan Fund
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.
Founder & Executive Director, Strolling of the Heifers
President, Alchemy & Science
General Manager of the Brattleboro Food Co-op
Sabine Rhyne is the General Manager of the Brattleboro Food Co-op. Prior to that, she was the Shareholder and Community Relations Manager at the Co-op, and for nearly two decades held several positions at Northeast Cooperatives, a wholesale distributor to retails and buying clubs throughout the northeastern U.S. She believes in the power of community, and especially of community ownership.
Supplier Manager, Personal Care, United Natural Foods
A Supplier Manager is the primary point of contact within UNFI for suppliers doing business with UNFI or its customers. Supplier Managers are responsible for sourcing new suppliers and items for all sales channels and managing those relationships, fostering an environment of professional interaction which provides a path to growth and profit for UNFI, suppliers and our retail partners.
Valarie began her journey in the natural foods industry at Stow Mills in 1994, then moved on to Northeast Cooperatives as their Publications Supervisor and eventually joined the newly formed UNFI in 2003. She has seen – and been a dedicated participant in - the explosive growth in the natural foods industry over the past two decades.
Valarie lives in Brattleboro with her husband and beloved chocolate lab, River.
Janice St. Onge
President, Flexible Capital Fund
Co-founder, Milk Money
Janice loves the definition of entrepreneur as “pathological optimist.” She sees obstacles as opportunities. Creating order from chaos in the pursuit of environmental and social improvement is her passion.
When she’s not trying to change the way the world does business, she co-chairs the Four Winds Nature Program at Jericho Elementary School and is vice president of Browns River Soccer Club. She’s an avid skier, hiker, cyclist, triathlete, youth soccer coach, and experimental cook. Janice lives in Jericho, VT, with her husband and two daughters.
Entrepreneur and marketing/finance professional with 20 years experience in brand management, strategic planning, and financial analysis
Founder/CEO of TrueBody Products
Founding board member/Executive Director of Local First Vermont
FO/VP Operations of Mamava, Inc.
Management level positions with Procter & Gamble, Welch’s, Nelson Bach USA and Seventh Generation
Author, teacher, entrepreneur
Dr. Tamara Stenn is a professor of social entrepreneurship and owner of KUSIKUY, a Fair Trade eco-fashion brand that specializes in Andean alpaca knits. She is an Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Development at the SIT Graduate Institute, and is a Fulbright scholar/researcher working on women’s leadership and sustainable development amongst Bolivian quinoa farmers. Her latest book, Social Entrepreneurship as Sustainable Development, just came out in January 2017 and introduces the Sustainability Lens, an easily accessible tool that enables anyone to grow a sustainable social enterprise. In 2013, Tamara published The Cultural and Political Intersection of Fair Trade and Justice. More information about her is on Tamara’s website.
Program Manager of the Vermont Farm Fund
Kate Stephenson is the Program Manager of the Vermont Farm Fund, a revolving loan fund providing low interest loans to farmers. She is also a partner in HELM Construction Solutions, which works with owners, designers and builders to create high performance and sustainable buildings and businesses. She is an experienced leader in the fields of green building, professional education, local food, sustainability, and business management. She’s worked with established and emerging businesses and non-profits to achieve triple bottom line metrics, develop business systems, and plan for a dynamic and resilient future. She has deep experience in post-secondary education, and led the Yestermorrow Design/Build School for over thirteen years. Kate helped to develop and is a facilitator for NESEA’s BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines peer network of builders and architects. Kate is the Chair of the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee, and serves on the Board of the Urban Death Project and the Advisory Board of One Square World. She is a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor. She holds a MS in Management from Antioch University New England and a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Science from Haverford College.
Director and Entrepreneur-in-Residence