Phillip Arons is national director of retail category management for UNFI, distributor of natural, organic and speciality foods. His background in the specialty food industry spans over forty years. Throughout his career he has held several positions that have brought vast diversity in practical experience. In the early eighties, as a sales manager of a specialty wholesale distribution company in the Northeast, he recalls servicing what was then referred to as “health food stores," natural products that have grown to become mainstream giants. He later advanced to supermarket management, merchandising management, and was later VP of specialty food marketing for an east-coast company.
With a B.S. in chemistry, Phillip has found a way to intertwine science and his intuitive industry knowledge for a unique, innovative and practical approach to retail category management, which is a key point of delineation for UNFI
John Grubb is managing partner of Sterling-Rice Group. For more than 30 years, SRG has been doing research, strategy, innovation and communication in the realm of consumer packaged goods including food, beverage, personal care and home care. John’s strategy consulting experience began at Bain & Company, and he has held numerous executive marketing and strategy roles in retail and in the manufacturing sector.
He has particularly deep experience in the realm of food and beverage. He is a frequent speaker on the topics of health and wellness and natural products trends at industry conferences such as The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Food Leaders Summit, Natural Products Expo, Healthy Foods Europe, NBJ Summit and others.
John's MBA is from Yale University. He is a member of the board of advisors at the Yale Center for Customer Insights as well as serving on the board of Naturally Boulder.
As an avid healthy lifestyle expert, Bill works with emerging brands as well as mid-sized companies on everything from brand and sales channel strategy to finance, operational challenges and product innovation. Bill has held positions of VP of marketing at Kinko's and EVP of GAIAM and has been a co-founder of OurHouse (environmentally safe cleaning products). He has also worked as agency director at the public relations firm Fresh Ideas Group.
For the past 15 years Bill has been a consultant, public speaker and trainer in the LOHAS and natural and organic industry. In addition, Bill is the co-founder of The Boulder Farm Team, a strategic consulting firm based in Boulder, Colorado that assists early stage brands as they prepare for rapid growth. In 2016 BFT will be launching a food accelerator.
Bill currently serves as president/board chair for Naturally Boulder, a trade association in Boulder with 1,000 members
Victoria Hartman is a 25+ year veteran of the natural and organic products industry with experience in driving brand growth, increasing revenue and expanding product share. Victoria has maintained sales and marketing leadership positions with companies such as Celestial Seasonings, Horizon Organic Dairy, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Charter Baking Company and Madhava Natural Sweeteners.
In April 2014, Victoria was recruited by Alliance Sales & Marketing to lead its west expansion and to open and staff offices in Colorado, Texas, Arizona and California. She now leads a strategic division of the company offering a comprehensive brand management solution to start-up brands with national potential.
Alan Lewis handles government affairs and food and agriculture policy for Natural Grocers, a 60-year-old health food store chain which operates more than 100 stores in 18 western and Midwestern states. He also oversees organic certification and compliance, while supporting the development of small farmers, ranchers and local food makers. Alan is active in several national trade and advocacy organizations, sitting on the board of the Organic and Natural Health Association and the Boulder County Food and Agriculture Policy Council. He is executive editor of Local Food Shift magazine.
A prolific commentator and dynamic presenter, Alan has been a speaker and panelist at dozens of food-related events, including at TEDx Boulder in 2014. Long a student of political activism, his focus is on communicating with policy makers and stakeholders at the federal, state and local level using frameworks that are non-confrontational and inclusive
Bob Rountree, MD
After graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1976, Dr. Bob Rountree received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill in 1980. He subsequently completed a residency in family and community medicine at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and was certified by the American Board of Family Practice.
Dr. Rountree has been practicing family medicine in Boulder, Colorado, since 1983. He began his professional career at Wellspring, Partners in Health, a multidisciplinary clinic that was one of the first integrative healthcare centers in the U.S. In January 2002, he opened Boulder Wellcare, a private practice specializing in individual healthcare consulting. He is the long-time medical editor for New Hope's consumer-facing Delicious Living magazine, and clinical editor and regular columnist for Alternative and Complementary Therapies.
Kitchen stints as diverse as Le Manoir aux Quat Saison in Oxford, England, Willie G's and other chain operations in Denver led Chef du Cuisine, Jorel Pierce, to the kitchen of Rioja. Chef Jennifer Jasinski promoted him after 18 months, and he has never looked back. Jorel traces his interest in food to early home experiences where he was exposed to complex, exotic flavors and participated in hunting and foraging.
As a sous chef at Rioja, Pierce learned management techniques, ingredient utilization and inspired cooking from his fellow workers and chefs. He applies those lessons as Chef de Cuisine at Stoic & Genuine in Denver’s Historic Union Station. Stoic & Genuine has been twice named one of 5280’s Best Restaurants and Best New Restaurants, chosen as Best Seafood Restaurant by Westword.
In 2013 Jorel appeared in Top Chef season 10 and Top Chef Masters season 4 as a sous chef to Jennifer Jasinski