Food Forward Board of Directors
Robert Valencia is an attorney with 25 years of experience representing non-profit healthcare organizations including hospitals, community clinics, and medical foundations in the areas of business transactions, regulatory compliance, governance, and strategic planning. A former partner in the healthcare law firm of Hooper, Lundy & Bookman, and senior counsel at Dignity Health, Robert started his own law practice in 2013 so he could better pursue his interest in serving community based non-profit organizations such as Food Forward, Foothill Family Service, Union Station Homeless Services, Kids Charities of the Antelope Valley, and Verdugo Housing Corporation. Robert is a native of Los Angeles and graduate of California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo and the Pepperdine School of Law.
Christy Remey Chin is instrumental in finding, funding and supporting DRK entrepreneurs, as well as cultivating and engaging DRK’s network of donor partners. Christy has devoted her career to advancing social entrepreneurship and championing high-impact philanthropy. She worked as a research associate at the Harvard Business School, supporting Greg Dees who defined social entrepreneurship. Christy later served as a Senior Program Officer at the Skoll Foundation. Prior to DRK, Christy was the Deputy Director at the Hewlett Foundation’s The Philanthropy Workshop West. Christy received her MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a BA in History from Colgate University. Christy currently serves on the boards of DRK portfolio organizations Accountability Counsel, Adventure Scientists, Education Opens Doors, Food Forward, New Story and Transcend. Christy also chairs the board of Benetech, serves on the National Venture Capital Association board.
SuzAnn Brantner is the owner of The Family Business, a Los Angeles based marketing company. Founded in 2013, The Family Business works with various entertainment and nonprofit clients such as Steve Aoki, Hilarity for Charity, Fox Pictures, Alanis Morissette, GRiZ, and Island Records. Having served in various roles throughout her 20+ year career, she most recently served as WME’s Worldwide Head of Digital. Committing herself to public and nonprofit service, SuzAnn is also a Climate Reality leader and mentor as part of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.
Jason Crayne is a financial and operational executive who has served in leadership roles for companies in agriculture, consumer products, media, technology, and professional services. Jason has over fifteen years of experience helping organizations improve operational effectiveness and achieve desired outcomes. He has worked with numerous companies of all sizes (from start-up to multi-national) and developed deep relationships with his clients and partners. Jason can usually be found cooking for his family and friends, roasting coffee, and trying to keep his little girl from sharing her raspberries with the family dog.
Crystal L. Frierson is a lawyer in private practice with over a decade of experience representing private equity and other alternative asset managers in raising and managing private investment funds. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley and, while working at her family’s small local delivery service, was first introduced to the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, the hard work required to bring food to market, and the scale of food waste. Crystal is a graduate of Howard University, Berkeley Law and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton.
Jedd Gold is the co-founder of Artkive, the leading app and service that solves the problem for parents of what to do with all the art kids create. Jedd also serves as head of business development for JibJab. Previously, Jedd co-founded a gaming company that built virtual training games for corporations and the government. He has held senior executive positions in the entertainment and interactive industries, and received his MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. Jedd is the father of two girls who work tirelessly every summer attempting to keep the squirrels from eating all the plums off their plum tree.
Carol Goldstein is an urban planner involved in program design and strategic planning for cultural and community infrastructure. A consultant to non-profits, funders, designers and the public sector, she collaborates on new initiatives, from formulation through implementation and evaluation. Her work includes concept design, policy planning, project management, feasibility analysis, and organizational development and assessment. Carol is a practice faculty member of the Department of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
Neil Haltrecht worked at Decurion Corporation for nineteen years ending in 2010. In his roles as chief operating officer and then chief strategy and finance officer, Neil oversaw all business operations and led business planning, strategy development, and value creation processes for Decurion and its businesses: Robertson Properties Group (RPG), Arc Light Cinemas, and Pacific Theatres. He was the president of RPG where he oversaw all activities including the development, acquisition and management of real estate, primarily in California, Seattle and Hawaii. Since leaving Decurion Neil has pursued a variety of philanthropic and personal interests. Since 2010 he has been an active member of Home for Good, an initiative to end chronic and veteran homelessness in Los Angeles County. Neil obtained his master’s degree in business administration from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. A James McGill Scholar, he received his Bachelor of Commerce degree with distinction from McGill University.
Jeff Harris is the founder of JB Harris Consulting, a firm focused on supporting non-profit organizations with strategic planning, executive coaching and partnerships. He recently served as the Director of School and Community Partnerships for the Compton Unified School District where he brought resources, programs and funding to the students and schools in this award-winning school district. Jeff created opportunities for engagement, enrichment and connection for over 20,000 K-12 students in a wide variety of curricular areas – the Arts, technology, literacy, athletics and more. Jeff is also the former Chief Executive Officer of The Junior State of America Foundation, an organization that he was involved in for more than 25 years – as a high school student leader, program director, civic educator and mentor to students. Career highlights include creating the Junior State’s popular student-run Congressional simulation format, launching a successful alumni relations program and establishing evaluation systems for JSA’s programs to measure their impact against strategic mission-related goals. Jeff spearheaded JSA’s outreach efforts to low-income minority students in Los Angeles and expanded that pilot program nationwide. Jeff majored in Political Science at U.C. Berkeley where he served as founder and president of the Cal Democrats and as a Senator in student government. Currently, He is a member of the Board of Directors of The Junior State Foundation and Future is Now Public Schools.
Carla Heer grew up in Newport Beach and has lived in Arcadia for the past 20 years. After graduating from UCLA, she developed a career as an event planner for the Bradbury Building in Downtown Los Angeles and later at various venues in the San Gabriel Valley. She has used this talent to successfully fundraise for local non-profits. Her passion for fruit harvesting began when she joined her friends, the Selby Family, at Fruit For All – a San Gabriel Valley-based youth engagement and fruit harvesting non-profit that is now a part of Food Forward. Carla is excited about growing Food Forward in the San Gabriel Valley.
Scott Jarus is Executive Chairman of EV Connect, a provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging station solutions and the industry-leading platform for managing the EV charging eco-system, which includes the charging stations, the drivers who use them and the electric utilities that feed them. Previously, he was Chairman and CEO of Ironclad Performance Wear, CEO of Cognition Technologies, CEO of j2 Global Communications (eFax), President and Chief Operating Officer for OnSite Access, and several executive positions within the telecommunications industry. He has been a member of the Tech Coast Angels, a partner at Social Venture Partners, and a Sr. Fellow in the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University; and is a frequent guest speaker at various universities’ business schools. In 2005, Mr. Jarus was named National Entrepreneur of the Year for Media/Entertainment/Communications by Ernst & Young.
Mark Rhein leads learning, talent, and organizational development at Perkins & Will, the global architecture and design firm. He has worked in HR and consulting roles at Spencer Stuart, Abbott Laboratories, and Deloitte. Mark studied Architecture at the University of Kansas and received a degree in Environmental Design from the University of Missouri and is scheduled to complete Northwestern University’s ELOC program in 2020. He joined Food Forward as Riordan Leadership Institute Fellow and previously served on the Board of Directors at The People’s Music School and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Missouri and has extensive volunteer experience. A Midwest native, Mark and his husband Warren moved to Los Angeles in 2017. They love to travel, host parties, and enjoy the beach and sun with their black Labrador Barney.
Betty Zamorano-Pedregon is a Program Director with 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, specifically in childcare. She has served as the Head Start/Early Head Start and State Preschool Director at the Child Care Resource Center since 2010, serving the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley. Betty is a skilled leader and project manager, and currently leads a team in monitoring interconnected projects, formulating strategies and defining project objectives. She holds a BA in Child Development from CSU Los Angeles and an MS in Child and Family Studies from CSU Northridge. Betty comes to Food Forward through the Riordan Leadership Institute (RLI) Fellowship program, where she worked with the staff and board on an extensive 8-month project to build capacity for Produce Pick-Ups.
Pam Kaizer has extensive experience in charitable foundation and nonprofit management. She currently provides on-going foundation management services to private family foundations. She is a founding Food Forward Board Member, having served as the first Chair of the Board of Directors.
“I believe that I have a duty and moral obligation to my community, which is much larger than the small bubble I live in. My involvement with Food Forward enables me to contribute to the health, vitality, success, and opportunity of the greater whole. All boats rise in a high tide.” – Scott Jarus, Former Chair, Board Member
Council of Advisors
Laura Avery – Former Farmers Market Supervisor, Santa Monica
Lisa Brenneis – Co-Founder, Churchill Orchard, Ojai
Carl Buratti – Owner, Empowered Engineering Group, Inc
Jim Churchill – Owner, Churchill Orchard, Ojai
Erica Dent – Senior Project Manager, AltaMed
Anthony E. Ghosn – Information Technology Expert
Nike Irvin – Managing Director, Civil Society Fellowship of the Aspen Institute
Carrie La Londe – Chief Operating Officer, Valley Fruit and Produce
Cindy Lee – Field Representative, U.S. House of Representatives, California 27th Congressional District
Neil Newman – Consumer Products Marketing & Branding Executive. Proud “Can-It” Graduate
Betsy O’Brien – Industry Executive, Healthcare, Higher Education, Nonprofit Banking, JPMorgan
Jill Overdorf – Director of Business and Culinary Development, Corp. Chef, Coosemans LA Shipping
Maxine Pollack – Retired CFO & Business Executive
Diana Rodgers – ED/Manager Mar Vista Certified Farmers Market
Evan Schlessinger – Consultant, specializing in the food and beverage industry
Iesha Siler – Public Health Professional
Nancy Volpert – Director of Public Policy, Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
Council of Advisors: Ventura County
Rod Cordova – Assistant Analyst, Public Works Department, Sustainability Division
Tobie Mitchell – Environmental Specialist, County of Ventura Public Works Agency, Integrated Waste Management Division
Chris Sayer – Farmer, Petty Ranch
Suki Sir – Marketing and Fund Development Manager, The Turning Point Foundation
Sarene Wallace – Food Journalist and Marketing Professional
“From the outset, this simple yet brilliant idea—to rescue and donate produce—struck me as both obvious and achievable. Millions and millions of pounds and thousands of volunteers later, Food Forward has far exceeded expectations, efficiently and exponentially. It’s the organization I’m proudest to be associated with.” – Sarah Spitz, Kitchen Cabinet
Culinary Advisory Board
Matthew Biancaniello – Eat Your Drink
Clemence Gossett – The Gourmandise School
Roxana Jullapat and Daniel Mattern – Friends and Family
Michelle Lainez – Chef Michelle & Company
Josh Lurie – Food GPS
Annie Miler – Clementine Bakery, Cafe & Catering
Minh Phan – porridge & puffs
Laurie Porter – Smog City Brewing
Jocelyn Ramirez – Todo Verde
Henry Tarmy and Anthony Caspary – Ventura Spirits Company
David Thorne – Elysian
Edna R.S. Alvarez – Retired Attorney and Founder, First Friday Ideas Salon
Margaret Bach – Founding President, Los Angeles Conservancy
Jesse Gilbert – Founder, Dark Matter Media LLC
Joan Hanawi – Social Impact Manager, Lyft
Gay Yee Hill – Media Relations Specialist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Erica Kopmar – Former Harvest Coordinator and Founding Board Member, Food Forward
Mary MacVean – Journalist
Paul Robbins – Founder, British Garden Company
Karen Sillas – Actress
Sarah A Spitz – Former Publicity Director KCRW, Master Gardener, & Master Food Preserver