Caesaré Assad | CEO, Food System 6
Caesaré Assad leads the work at Food System 6, a non-profit that is building a more equitable and sustainable food and agriculture system by supporting entrepreneurs focused on health, sustainability, and justice. Over the last 20 years, Caesaré has developed and led several food business innovations to address social and environmental challenges. Her expertise spans the private, non-profit, and corporate sectors, with a range of hands on, operational leadership roles as a chef, entrepreneur and business executive. Her experience includes launching back-to-back start-up concepts for Whole Foods Market, co-founding The Cleaver Group – a food environment design consultancy, developing culinary career programs for youth, groups, and launching nutrition-based wellness and foodservice concepts around the US for private and corporate clients. As a native to rural Oklahoma, she is especially passionate about surfacing and supporting issues that impact agricultural communities.
David LeZaks | Senior Fellow, Croatan Institute
David LeZaks, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, is an environmental scientist and financial activist whose work is centered around developing innovative mechanisms for financing the transition to agroecological farming and food systems.
Before joining Croatan Institute, Dr. LeZaks led the Regenerative Food Systems initiative at Delta Institute in Chicago, where he managed a portfolio of projects that focused on the design and deployment of disruptive mechanisms to unlock substantial capital flows into regenerative agriculture. Previously, he served as an RSF Social Finance Integrated Capital Institute fellow. Earlier in his career, David was a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he completed his Ph.D. in Environment and Resources and an M.S. in Land Resources. Afterward, he served as Managing Scientist of the Knowledge Systems for Sustainability Consortium and Program Director of the university’s Agricultural Innovation Prize. Currently, he serves in advisory roles to Mad Agriculture, the Savanna Institute, Nourishn, Council of Development Finance Agencies’ Food Systems Finance Advisory Council, and the Transformational Investing in Food Systems initiative, an allied initiative of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.
He is based in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is active in a number of community organizations and spends his spare time gardening and participating in a variety of silent sports.
Paul McMahon | Co-Founder & Managing Partner, SLM Partners
Paul McMahon is a co-founder and Managing Partner of SLM Partners, an asset management firm that uses investment capital to scale up regenerative farming and forestry systems. The firm manages two existing funds (in Australia and Ireland), and is developing a new investment strategy to scale up organic row crop production in the US. Previously, Paul was Vice-President at Climate Change Capital Ltd, where he led a team developing a strategy for a global farmland fund. Before that, he was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company in New York. He has published a book on the global food system (Feeding Frenzy: The New Politics of Food), as well as a white papers on investing in ecological farming and sustainable forestry. Originally from Ireland, Paul holds a PhD from Cambridge University and a BA from University College Dublin. He lives in New York.
Nova Sayers | Senior Business Development Manager-Sustainability, NSF International
Nova ‘s goal is to build triple bottom line value by engaging CPG companies, brands, farmers, suppliers, retailers, restaurants to innovate and collaborate to achieve better impacts. She helps these organizations use tools like standards, certification, supply development, responsible sourcing, impact measurement and currently leads industry engagement for Regenerative Agriculture market development. Over nearly 7 years with NSF, Nova has helped develop new programs such as NSF Non-GMO, Certified Transitional, Certified Plant Based, Raised Without Antibiotics, the Soil Carbon Index and Regenerative Organic Certification; plus sustainability consulting services to promote responsible businesses and regenerative supply; along with standards for globally traded commodities ranging from Produce to Coffee to Honey. Nova earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and worked in international trade development before shifting to sustainability certification and consulting. She is based in Northern California and serves on the Board of the Sustainable Food Trade Association.