FamilyFarmed is a non-profit organization committed to expanding the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food, in order to enhance the social, economic, and environmental health of our communities.
Charlotte Flinn is co-founder and president of Flinn Consultants, a 25 year-old consulting firm assisting industrial, service, professional, academic, government and not-for-profit clients to achieve and sustain optimum levels of business, leadership and organizational effectiveness. Consulting strengths include strategic planning, leadership and management development and executive coaching. She is Chair of FamilyFarmed board and has been associated with the organization for some 15 years. Charlotte is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate in Philosophy from Queens College in New York and a graduate in Organization Development from the Center for Organization Development at Loyola University in Chicago. Her leadership with environmental firms, sustainability and urban agriculture initiatives supports her long-standing interest in the environment in a sustainable economy. Flinn Consultants is best known for its long term client relationships and its ability to partner with owners, entrepreneurs and senior executives. She lives with her husband in Highland Park, Illinois from which they have launched their four children into independent careers.
Mari Gallagher is President of Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group, a national firm based in Chicago. She authored the breakthrough study that popularized the term “Food Desert” nationally in 2006 and encouraged Congressman Bobby Rush to enter “Food Desert” language into the Farm Bill. In large part because of Mari’s work, millions of dollars have been invested in underserved areas across the country. She has been tracking the Chicago Food Desert each year and has played a major role in seeing its reduction by 40%. Directing, tracking, and measuring community investment impact is a core specialty. Mari also has hands-on experience. As a former practitioner, she developed a $75 million shopping center anchored by a full-service grocery store that included community employment programs with the grocer for retail jobs and with the unions for construction jobs. Mari’s research includes other content areas, too. Her research includes identifying practical solutions and how to move stakeholder groups into effective action. Mari is President of the National Center for Public Research and Adjunct Associate Professor at Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University in Boston, where she guests lectures from time to time.
Rob Gordon is responsible for all aspects of the firm including investment management, marketing and relationship management, and the overall operating environment. Additionally, he is charged with ensuring the long-term viability of the firm as an independent, focused money management organization. He has 31 years of investment related experience.
Prior to joining Driehaus Capital Management in 2006, Mr. Gordon was formerly president and CEO of Banc of America Capital Management, the investment arm of Bank of America. He has also held management roles at ARIS Capital Management, a New York based fund of hedge funds, Fidelity Investments and Lehman Brothers. He earned a B.A. in international relations from Bucknell University and an MBA from Suffolk University.
Adam B. Murphy MD, MBA, MSCI is an academic urologist who studies the underpinnings of prostate cancer and health disparities faced by African Americans and other ethnic minorities. In his research he noted that dietary habits, vitamin deficiencies, food desserts and zip codes were very predictive of prostate cancer and prostate cancer mortality. In Nigeria food storage quality suffers exposing their population to aflatoxin from molds and excess cancer risk. It became clear that good food is prevention and prevention is the best medicine. Dr. Murphy works to educate men about the connection between diet and cancer prevention and general health. He joined the board of Family Farmed to support their efforts to improve access to Good Food for all. Dr. Murphy is an Assistant Professor at Northwestern Medicine in the Department of Urology.
As Chicago City Director for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative, Jamie works in the Office of the Mayor to drive environmental and economic benefits in Chicago and across a network of global megacities. He focuses on market-driven resource stewardship, energy efficiency, and sustainable infrastructure finance. Since 2012, Jamie has supported implementation of the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda, which includes commitments to expanding urban agriculture in Chicago, creating partnership opportunities for regional businesses and farms that deliver healthy food into the city, and encouraging more individual production of healthy food in public and private spaces.
Prior to this role, Jamie spent 10 years with global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, during which time he specialized in corporate strategy, economic development, and resource efficiency. These efforts - including work with the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Packard Foundation - address some of the planet’s most pressing challenges through solutions that span industries, sectors, and ideologies. Jamie holds a BA from Indiana University, an MPA from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Lauren Rosenthal is an attorney from Chicago focusing on real estate law and land conservation. She has been a Commissioner on Illinois Nature Preserves Commission since 2007 and served as Chair of the Commission from 2010 to 2012. Ms. Rosenthal has recently joined the board of the Illinois Environmental Council, a statewide organization that promotes sound environmental policy and protections for land, air, water, wildlife, and human health. She has been a committed advocate for sound environmental policy and has organized environmental leaders in support of various political candidates including President Obama, Governor Quinn and congressional candidates. She Chaired Environmentalists for Obama in the 2008 Presidential Campaign, served on the Executive Committee of the Energy and Environmentalists for Obama in the 2012 campaign and worked on the transition team for President Preckwinkle at the Forest Preserve District of Cook County in 2010. A graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law (1982) and Northwestern University (1979), Ms. Rosenthal loves shopping for, preparing and eating local, good food.
Markus Schramm is the founder and CEO of Manna Organics, LLC. He was born and raised in Bavaria, Germany and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering in Munich. He moved to the USA in 1993, following a job offer from a Chicagoland based company. He and his wife started their own business – Manna Organics, LLC – in 2007, when they acquired Nature’s Path’s sprouted Manna Bread® division. They leased a warehouse in Lisle, IL, a suburb of Chicago, and converted it into a organic and kosher certified commercial bakery producing sprouted Manna breads, gluten free sliced breads, artisan Bavarian style sourdough breads. They have recently launched a line of bagged organic snack items, including kale chips and nutty snacks. Markus’s life long passion for good foods has become the building ground for his family’s company.
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 Vice President of Purchasing and Distribution at Whole Foods Market's Midwest Region overseeing 8 states and a Canadian Province. 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. When not busy contributing to the natural and organic movement, he spends his time practicing yoga, cycling, and traveling.
Jennifer L. Worstell is a partner in the Chicago office of Natarajan | Worstell LLC, and was formerly a partner in a National Law Journal Top 100 firm. She concentrates her practice in the representation of financial institutions in real estate finance matters, including loan originations and modifications, creditors’ rights, loan enforcement, representation of buyers and sellers of real estate and general corporate and litigation support. Jennifer is a 1994 graduate of Indiana University, majoring in Business and French. In 1998, she received a JD from the Indiana University School of Law and an MBA in Finance from the Indiana University Kelley Graduate School of Business. Jennifer is also a 2008 graduate of The John Marshall Law School with an LL.M in Real Estate Law.
In 2011, Jennifer was on the Advisory Board and the Co-Chair of the Financing Farm to Fork Conference, and on the Advisory Board and the Chair of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Good Food Financing Conferences. She is Co-Chair of the 2015 Good Food Financing Conference. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of FamilyFarmed, and additionally serves as the Board’s Treasurer. Jennifer is the immediate Past President of the Chicago Mortgage Attorneys Association, is on the Advisory Board of The John Marshall Law School Center for Real Estate Law, and is a member of the Chicago Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women, the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation, the Old Town Triangle Association Neighborhood Improvement Committee, and is a Treekeepers volunteer with Openlands.org.
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.
In 2004, Slama created FamilyFarmed’s highest-profile event, the Good Food Trade Show. Held each March in Chicago, the event — the nation’s oldest and biggest trade show focused on local and sustainable food — has evolved into the three-day Good Food Festival and Conference.
It includes tracks on financing, food policy, school food, producer issues, and food trade issues — plus a Festival that is a public celebration of the growing Good Food movement, with chef demos, DIY workshops, and more. In the event’s 11-year history, more than 700 unique speakers have participated. More than 5,000 people participated in the 2015 Good Food Festival & Conference.
The Good Food Financing and Innovation Conference was launched in 2009 in partnership with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Since then more than 50 businesses have pitched investors at the conference and more than a dozen have successfully raised more than $14.5 million in debt and equity financing. More than 80 angel investors, venture capitalists, banks, and other investors are now seeking to put capital into Good Food companies in the region.
To build on this momentum, Slama created the Good Food Business Accelerator in 2014. It is based at 1871, Chicago’s center for innovation and business incubation. The Accelerator program provides competitively selected entrepreneurs with a six-month program that includes a curriculum, mentorship, technical assistance, and networking opportunities with potential investors. Read full bio here.
Bob Benenson is leveraging more than three decades of experience as a journalist in his role as FamilyFarmed's communications specialist. He spent 30 years covering politics and elections for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C., including 11 years (1998-2009) as the publishing company's politics editor. After relocating to Chicago in 2011, Bob decided to change tracks and pursue his lifelong interest in food, and his work on issues relating to the Good Food movement resulted in a working relationship with FamilyFarmed. His roles with the organization include taking the lead in maintaining its Good Food on Every Table website, and he is also currently engaging in researching and writing a report titled Food Safety for Food Hubs and Their Farmers, on which FamilyFarmed is partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Along with (and partially overlapping) his work with the Good Food movement, Bob is an accomplished photographer whose work can be found at https://www.facebook.com/
Rebecca brings 10+ years of high level administrative experience to both the Good Food Business Accelerator and the Wholesale Success program at FamilyFarmed.
After receiving her Bachelor's of Fine Arts Degree in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rebecca worked in museums and fine art galleries on the West Coast, assisting a broad range of professionals in these institutions. She was employed with the J. Paul Getty Museum, and moved on to manage fine art and commercial art studios, specializing in creative arts office administration and artist/client relations. Her most recent previous employment was as Production Coordinator and Studio Manager for a prominent commercial advertising photographer in Los Angeles, during which time she honed her project coordination and small business management skills.
Upon returning to Chicago, Rebecca’s strong personal interest in sustainable living sparked her desire to expand her own knowledge, as well as others’, of the Good Food movement. She is happiest when surrounded by good food, good art, and great people.
Leah is passionate about all things Good Food, urban agriculture, traveling and social justice. She began her career in corporate design and event planning, but decided that she wanted to be more directly involved with making the world a better place and returned to school in order to change her career path. While studying for her Master's Degree in the International Public Service, she traveled to India to work with rural farmers and the Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR), and she has also done work with social entrepreneurs in South Africa. She has been a gardener and a Block Captain with Peterson Garden Project since 2011 and recently joined the Steering Committee for Advocates for Urban Agriculture. Cooking is one of her favorite things in the world, and Leah believes there is nothing so powerful as Good Food to help people find common ground and learn about each other.
James Pirovano has sought out Good Food all over the world. From the Philippines, where he was an Agro-Forestry Technician with the Peace Corps, to regional cuisine in China where he lived for several years. James worked for The Nature Conservancy for eight years working on projects to protect farmland and habitat for endangered plants and animals. In addition to being a Master Gardner, he has been an active volunteer on local organic farms and for food businesses looking to increase their local purchasing. James joins the team as FamilyFarmed’s Market Development Program Coordinator, building markets and sales for local farmers and food producers by connecting them with trade buyers and consumers.
Since 2008 Kim has worked with FamilyFarmed to bring exceptional speakers and inspiring, educational workshops to the thousands of people who attend the annual festival. Her work developing the Good Food Festival programming is grounded in her passions for sustainable farming and responsible environmental practices, home gardening, and the culinary arts. Kim honed her creative, organizational, and management skills in a 20-year career as an executive in the book publishing business, where she held positions in both the editorial and design areas. After leaving the corporate world Kim launched Bartko Design, a communications and graphic design firm. She successfully navigated the challenges faced by small business and gained a deep understanding of the education, support, and opportunities that entrepreneurs need to thrive. The insight she gained while running her own business informs the programming she develops for the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, which provides small farmers and food entrepreneurs with critical business skills, access to financing networks, and experts’ insight into emerging business opportunities in the Good Food space. Kim is manager for the Good Food Business Accelerator and oversees the development and implementation of the program.
John Beske is a designer and art director who creates the graphic identity for FamilyFarmed. He was the co-founder and long-time creative director of Sustain, and designed most of its successful campaigns. As creative director at Sustain, John oversaw the design of the Keep Organic Organic Campaign, which helped generate 275,000 comments opposing USDA standards, which would have allowed food that was genetically engineered, irradiated and grown in sewage sludge to be labeled as organic. John’s work with Sustain helped prevent oil drilling on the shores of Lake Michigan, encouraged the creation of tough federal clean air standards that save 15,000 lives per year and helped to force Congress to develop a real recycling campaign. He is the president of John Beske Communications, which provides marketing and design solutions for a range of small businesses and nonprofit groups.
Atina Diffley is an organic farmer, activist, public speaker, and author of the 2012 award-winning memoir, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works. From 1985 to 2008, she and her husband Martin ran the Gardens of Eagan, an urban-edge, organic vegetable farm, which he started in 1973 as one of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest. The Diffley’s on-farm projects now include breeding sweet corn; mentoring beginning farmers, and transitioning non-organic land to organic.
Atina’s areas of expertise include post harvest handling, brand-name marketing, greenhouse management, and organic farming systems. She is a co-author author/editor and lead trainer for Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Selling, Postharvest Handling and Packing Produce, and the editor and designer of Roger Blobaum’s Organic History Website. She presently serves on the boards of the Organic Seed Alliance and the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture.
Land use issues have been a central point of entry for the Diffley’s organic advocacy. In 1989, the 5th-generation Diffley family land was lost to suburban development and Atina and Martin collaborated with filmmakers to make the video documentary Turn Here Sweet Corn for PBS broadcasting. The Diffley’s started over on new land, but faced eminent domain again in 2006 when threatened by a crude oil pipeline owned by notorious polluters, Koch Industries. The Diffleys intervened as legal parties in the route proceeding and with the help of over 4,500 letter writing customers, attorney Paula Maccabee, expert witnesses, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, succeeded in creating an Organic Mitigation Plan that provides protections for the soil and certification of threatened organic farms in Minnesota.
Grant Kessler is a food photographer in Chicago, obsessed with eating well, cooking with fresh, whole foods and shrinking the distance his food travels. Grant is marketing director for FamilyFarmed and the Good Food Festival & Conference, spreading the word about our mission and events. He manages our social media channels and loves networking and making connections that build a strong social community. Grant also blogs at myfoodshed.com and explores the food system through One Hundred Meals.
Cathy Small joined FamilyFarmed in 2015 with a diverse background in business development and marketing. Cathy started her career in operations in the retail food industry as a district manager for ALDI Inc. Her successful management afforded her the opportunity to open three new store locations, directing store layout, merchandising and product placement. Taking the marketing skills she developed, she joined Angie’s List in 2001 as a marketing manager. Cathy served Angie’s List in a variety of roles for 14 years, directing marketing and sales efforts for the company, while establishing hundreds of partnerships with both corporate and family-owned businesses. During this time, Cathy also maintained a passion for environmental stewardship and worked for the U.S. Green Building Council – Illinois. She was introduced during a recent sustainability conference to several advocates for stronger food regulations and more local food distribution channels. This aligned with her personal commitment to Good Food and increased her desire to assist others to experience the health, environmental and community benefits of Good Food products.
John brings more than 15 years of finance and entrepreneurial experience to the accelerator. He has launched multiple business ranging from asset management to food. He earned a B.A. in Linguistics from Boston University and holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School of Management.
Lloyd Yanis brings more than twenty years of exposition management experience to the annual event, including responsibility for managing over 400 similar events — ranging in attendance from 50 people to 150,000 — in consumer and trade-show arenas. Lloyd’s career highlights include eight years as manager of the Miami Boat Show, the third largest trade show in the United States. As General Manager of the boating industry’s trade association, he was significantly involved in the development of a nationwide tour of twenty-five annual boat shows with 500,000 annual attendees.