Weekly Lecture from Experts in the Area

The Impact Scholars meet weekly with a different guest speaker. The following are examples of previous speakers.

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Tina May currently serves as the Chief of Staff and VP of Rural Services for Land O’Lakes and leads the rural initiatives for the cooperative, including the American Connection Project. Previously, Tina led the innovation team as the Senior Director of Sustainability at TruTerra, formerly known as SUSTAIN, where she was tasked with creating innovative solutions for farmers and co-op member-owners, harnessing the nexus of policy and business. Prior to her time at Land O’ Lakes Tina worked for over 12 years in multiple roles in Government on agriculture and food policy, as a Silicon Valley executive and co-founder of the first-ever DC-based lobbying firm to incorporate as a Public Benefit Corporation. While in government, Tina served as a political appointee for President Obama, first as the Legislative Director for USDA, then in the second term as Chief of Staff to U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden where she managed the departmental implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. Tina served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry during both 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills. Tina was the policy director during the 2014 Farm Bill where she shepherded the conservation, forestry, trade, and international development work for the Committee. Tina started her career as an international grain trader and logistics coordinator with The Scoular Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She also worked for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, DC. Tina hails from a family farm in Stacyville, Iowa, and has degrees from the University of Minnesota and the University of London.

Tina May

Chief of Staff and VP of Rural Services at Land O' Lakes

Dr. Karama Neal is currently the USDA Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Services. Prior to joining USDA Rural Development, Karama Neal served as president of Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a nonprofit community development loan fund and financial development organization promoting economic mobility in rural Arkansas and Mississippi. She spent twelve years at Southern and led their small business, consumer and other development lending, consumer and savings focused public policy work, and a variety of financial development services to help low and moderate wealth families and communities build wealth. In 2013, Dr. Neal started a statewide grassroots organization promoting passage of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act in Arkansas which was passed in 2015. This work was inspired by her family’s ownership of rural heirs' property in the state. Before joining Southern, she had a career in biosciences and worked for a period in biofuels informatics with a focus on feedstocks and balancing food and fuel priorities. For six years, Dr. Neal served on the board of the Little Rock Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. After completing her undergraduate degree in biology at Swarthmore College, Dr. Neal later earned a doctorate in genetics from Emory University and a master’s in bioethics and health policy from Loyola University Chicago. She also completed executive education in impact investing at the University of Oxford Saïd School of Business.

Dr. Karama Neal

USDA Administrator for Rural Services

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Jim is the Founder and Managing Partner of Open Prairie with over 30 years of investment experience and has been instrumental in starting and providing capital to companies throughout the country. Jim has a diverse background in venture capital and private equity, investment banking, and other entrepreneurial ventures. He has been an active investor in a wide variety of industries, including agriculture, life sciences, medical services, and medical device technologies, semiconductors, software development, e-commerce, construction, financial services, and information technology. Before founding Open Prairie, Jim was active in negotiating investment agreements in numerous equity and mezzanine financings for start-up and growth-stage companies in the Midwest. In 2015, Jim was appointed by the Governor of Illinois as Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. In his career prior to private equity, Jim held executive-level management positions and served as the Chairman of the Board of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Small Business Advisory Council on Agriculture, Labor, and Small Business. As Chairman of PrimeBanc, a rural-Illinois regional bank, Jim provided leadership that resulted in increasing the bank’s assets from $40 million to $600 million, largely through de novo growth. Jim is a graduate of the National Venture Capital Association Venture Capital Institute. He received an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Juris Doctorate from DePaul University College of Law. 

Jim Schultz

Founder and Managing Partner of Open Prairie

Jeremiah Chapman is the Co-Founder and CEO of FreshFry, a high-growth food tech company that enhances the experience, quality, and safety of frying oil. Chapman was recognized by Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 and holds a B.S. and master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisville Speed School, graduating cum laude. Born and raised in Louisville, KY, Jeremiah still calls Louisville home and lives with his wife and son. In his free time, he enjoys reading, fishing, and being active enough to support his love of cooking.

Jeremiah Chapman

Co-Founder and CEO of FreshFry

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As a pioneer in impact investing, Ashley Allen Jones is committed to breaking traditional financial models that separate social and financial returns and aligning capital behind commercial enterprises whose core business activities generate positive social or environmental impact. At i2, she leads the creation and development of innovative financing vehicles to support impact investments across conservation, education, energy, and health sectors. Prior to founding i2, Ms. Allen Jones was a Co-founder and Partner in the Endeavor Group, an international consultancy that represents the business, legal and philanthropic interests of a select group of high net worth individuals and family offices. In that capacity she provided strategic, financial, tax, governance, and operational advice and support to a range of cutting edge private and philanthropic initiatives including The Girl Effect (Nike), The Harman Center for the Arts (Harman Family Foundation), Malaria No More (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and youthCONNECT (Venture Philanthropy Partners). Previously, Ms. Allen Jones was a Principal in Women’s Growth Capital Fund, a pioneering gender lens investment fund. Ms. Allen Jones served as a Vice President of Quarterdeck Investment Partners (Jefferies), and as a Senior Associate in the international corporate finance practice of Coopers and Lybrand (PriceWaterhouseCoopers), where she facilitated a range of global buyout transactions on behalf of private equity firms including the Carlyle Group and Doughty Hansen. She began her career as an Analyst with Alex. Brown & Sons (Deutsche Bank). Ms. Allen Jones serves on the Board of Climate & Capital Media and on the Environmental Finance Advisory Board of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Ms. Allen Jones earned an MBA with distinction (Beta Gamma Sigma) from the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, and a BA in American Studies from the University of Colorado. She is originally from Lander, WY.

Ashley Allen Jones

Founder and CEO of i2 Capital

Eric is a serial entrepreneur who has dedicated his career to starting, leading, and advising nonprofit and business organizations pursuing positive social, economic, and environmental change across the country and around the globe. As the founder of Arabella Advisors in 2005, Eric has been at the forefront of innovation and impact in the philanthropic sector during its greatest historical expansion. With a best-in-class CEO and management team now leading Arabella’s 300+ employees as they advise on nearly $10 billion in philanthropic resources annually, Eric’s work at the firm centers around spurring new social-sector innovations, advising donors and investors focused on improving our food system, and launching campaigns and services aimed at addressing the world’s most intractable problems. Named one of Inside Philanthropy’s 100 Most Powerful Players in Philanthropy, Eric co-founded the Chef Action Network and created the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change—both programs of the James Beard Foundation—as well as co-founded the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Eric proudly serves on the governing boards of the James Beard Foundation and the National Democratic Institute and the advisory boards of Georgetown University’s Business for Impact and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. Eric is also on the boards of several businesses in the food sector that supports organic farmers and independent chefs. He is an active member of YPO (formerly Young Presidents’ Organization) and the Summit Series community. Earlier in his career, Eric served as the national field director for the League of Conservation Voters. Then, as a White House appointee, he helped manage conservation issues during the Clinton administration. Later, Eric spent six years with the National Democratic Institute, which sent him to the former Soviet Union, Southeast Asia, and throughout the Middle East to train civic and political leaders on strategies to encourage democratic change. Eric holds an Executive MBA from Georgetown University and a BA from the University of Colorado.

Eric Kessler

Founder and CEO of Arabella Advisors

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Hank is a senior director of the Leadership Solutions for Health and Prosperity program at Business for Impact and chair of the Portion Balance Coalition. He is a regular contributor to Forbes on food industry matters pertaining to consumer health and well-being. The Leadership Solutions Program brings together and assists business, public health, regulatory and nonprofit leaders to arrive at practical solutions to health, nutrition, and other pressing problems. For over three decades, Hank was an executive at some of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, including President of Cadbury-Schweppes’ Sunkist Soft Drinks, Inc., Vice President of Marketing for Canada Dry, Director of Marketing for Coca-Cola USA, and Brand Manager for Anheuser-Busch and General Mills. He has served as Chief Executive Officer for several ingredient companies and, in 2000, was identified as a “Top 10 Innovator” in the Nutritional Foods industry. Most recently, Hank was senior fellow and director of the Food Policy Center at Hudson Institute. Hank’s perspectives have been shared in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Economist, and TIME magazine, as well as in major broadcast media, such as CNN, NPR, the BBC, Good Morning America, CNBC, and the major television networks. Mr. Cardello is the author of the book Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s (Really) Making America Fat and the landmark report Better-for-you Foods: It’s Just Good Business. He has moderated expert panels at the White House, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Partnership for a Healthier America among others. Hank holds a B.S. degree Magna Cum Laude in materials science and metallurgical engineering from Lehigh University, and an MBA in marketing from the Wharton Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania.

Hank Cardello

Senior Director at BFI; Leadership Solutions for Health Prosperity program

Principal at Pontos Aqua Advisory, Max Holtzman focuses on developing early-stage companies and projects, including Pontos’ unique risk-focused RAS platform, as well as leading its institutional and governmental advisory work. He is also a founding member of Ocean14 Capital which is Pontos’ recent Blue Economy Impact Fund. Mr. Holtzman is a founding officer of Stronger America through Seafood, which strives to increase the U.S. production of healthy, sustainable, and affordable seafood. Formerly, Mr. Holtzman was Vice Chairman of Capitol Peak Asset Management, where he focused on developing infrastructure projects and companies in Rural America. Prior to Capitol Peak, Mr. Holtzman was appointed by the President of the United States as the Senior Advisor to the United States Secretary of Agriculture. For six years, Mr. Holtzman advised the Secretary on the development of new public-private partnerships, aquaculture, trade, biotechnology, and international food security. He also served as Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and as Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs. In these roles, Mr. Holtzman represented the United States in its negotiations with the Peoples' Republic of China as a four-time Delegate on the Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade and was regularly involved with a multitude of international trade issues, trade missions, and trade negotiations. He also served as the United States Chairman of the North American Biotechnology Initiative, which includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Holtzman, an attorney for over 20 years, provided strategic consulting to multi-national companies related to transportation infrastructure, project finance, public-private partnerships, health care, and government procurement. He also served as a City Attorney and Special Counsel to several municipalities. Mr. Holtzman is a Board member of K Street Capital, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, and is the Founding Chairman of Adopt-A-Classroom. He earned a B.A. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and a J.D. from the University of Miami.

Max Holtzman

Principal at Pontos Aqua Advisory; Founding Member of Ocean14 Capital

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Maria G. Gotsch is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Partnership Fund for New York City (www.pfnyc.org), which is the investment arm of the Partnership for New York City. The Fund, which has invested over $170 million, has built a network of top experts from the investment and corporate communities who help identify and support New York City’s most promising entrepreneurs in both the for-profit and non-for profit sectors. In addition to leading the Fund’s operations, Maria has spearheaded the creation and operation of a number of the Fund’s strategic initiatives, including: FinTech Innovation Lab; New York Digital Health Accelerator; Transit Tech Lab; NY Fashion Tech Lab; NYCSeed (seed financing for IT/digital media companies); BioAccelerate Prize NYC (proof-of-concept funding for university-based biomedical research); Arts Entrepreneurial Loan Fund (low cost loans for mid- size arts groups); ReStart Central and Financial Recovery Fund (assistance and funding for small businesses impacted by 9/11/01); and, the NYC Small Business Resource Network (assistance for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 economic shutdown). Ranked #39 on Crain’s 2021 Most Powerful Women in New York, #16 on City & State New York’s The Life Sciences Power 50 in 2021 and #15 on Institutional Investor’s The FinTech Finance 40 in 2018. Selected for Crain’s 2019 Notable Women in Tech and 2021 Notable Women on Wall Street. She is a member of the FINRA FinTech Industry Committee. Prior to joining the Fund in 1999, Maria was a Managing Director at BT Wolfensohn (now part of Deutsche Bank), providing strategic and financial advice related to mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures and the development of business strategies. Maria has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.A. from Wellesley College. Maria is a member of the boards of Sonepar SAS and Sonepar USA Holdings and serves on the audit committee of Sonepar SAS. She also serves on the advisory boards of ProPublica, Schools That Can, Hospital for Special Surgery Innovation Advisory Council and the Cornell-Tech Runway Visiting Committee.

Maria Gotsch

President and CEO of The Partnership Fund for New York City

Eric is the Founder and CEO of Quantified Ventures, an outcomes-based capital firm that helps clients develop and finance initiatives that deliver measurable health, social, and environmental impact. He is a “tri-sector” executive, bringing 25+ years of leadership experience in government, nonprofit, and private sector organizations operating in healthcare, environment, education, and housing. He has led transformative, public-private initiatives to drive social impact in complex, cross-sector business environments including IBM, Baltimore Public Schools, Baltimore Housing Department, Cyveillance Software, PWC, and Samaritan Inns Homeless Services. Eric is a member of the U.S. EPA Environmental Finance Advisory Board, the WaterNow Alliance Leadership Council, and the board of Recovery Cafe DC. He is a routine and energetic speaker at conferences, events, and universities related to impact and outcomes-based investing in the environment and health sectors. Eric married way over his head and has two daughters who keep him humble.

Eric Letsinger

Founder and CEO of Quantified Ventures

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Among the most innovative, respected thought leaders in public affairs, Jason has transformed organizations through his deep experience driving communications strategies in the areas of finance, capital markets, and technology, with a focus on sustainable investing, corporate governance, and diversity. Throughout his career, Jason has led complex teams in high-profile settings, working with executives, experts, senior government officials, and other key stakeholders to build multi-million-dollar earned media campaigns that influence business and public policy conversations in Washington, D.C., London, Brussels, and other economic centers throughout the world. Jason is particularly skilled at developing original “content eco-systems” and leveraging his long-standing relationships in media, government, business, and academia to bring about real results for clients. A multi-disciplinary thinker, his industry-leading work in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) has created a sea change in how organizations bridge financial, corporate, and public policy preparedness. Prior to Resolute, Jason was the Managing Director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s (PPI) Financial Services, ESG, and Capital Markets research. PPI is a catalyst for policy innovation and political reform based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to create radically pragmatic ideas for moving America beyond ideological and partisan deadlock. He continues to lead The Mosaic Economic Project, an effort he founded to elevate the voices of diverse women who are experts in economics and technology with the media and policymakers. Prior to PPI, he was an executive at S&P Global and a member of the senior leadership team. His efforts on pro-growth, economic policies in financial markets had a tremendous impact on S&P Global and resulted in groundbreaking campaigns that positioned the global brand as an innovative and sought-after thought leader. Jason was an adjunct professor for Georgetown University’s graduate program, where he taught “Capitol Hill and Capital Markets”. He is a frequent industry speaker and was until recently an opinion columnist for US News and World Report. He continues to be quoted on economic and markets policy issues in a number of national publications.

Jason Gold

Executive Vice President at Resolute Public Affairs