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Future Food 21 — Conference Webinar Series White.png

The Future Food 21 Conference Webinar Series is an opportunity for food processors, suppliers, economic developers, and other supporters to hear from leading industry executives, government leaders, and technology experts about the latest trends in the 21st Century food processing sector.  Don’t miss this opportunity to get the latest information and network with your peers by registering today. 

September 24

Webinar Kickoff Event

Marty Gerencer

Marty is the Executive Director of the West Michigan Food Processing Association (WMFPA).   She is also principal of Morse Marketing Connections, LLC (MMC), a business consulting firm founded in 2002, where she works with food companies and organizations connecting them to resources related to producing healthy food and implementing sustainable approaches.  Prior to the launch of MMC, Marty spent over 20 years with Gerber Products Company and worked with cross-functional teams to implement collaborative approaches to business practices.  While at Gerber, Marty received the Chairman’s Award for her work.  

Katie (Swanson) Hensley

Katie is Chair of the Board of Directors of the WMFPA.   Katie is also CFO of Swanson Pickle Company.  She earned a bachelor's degree from Clemson University in 2004. She received her MBA from IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain in 2009. Katie has been with her family’s agribusiness in Ravenna, Michigan, since 2013. Prior to that she worked for Syngenta in both Basel, Switzerland, and in Florida.

Gary McDowell

Gary McDowell was appointed Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in December 2018. Prior to becoming Director, Mr. McDowell served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2005-2010. He was formerly an owner/operator of a family business with his brothers, McDowell Brothers Farm and McDowell Hay Incorporated, which brokers hay sales from the eastern Upper Peninsula to markets around the nation. Director McDowell was a member of the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners for 22 years. He attended Lake Superior State University.

​U.S. Representative Bill Huizenga

Congressman Bill Huizenga represents Michigan's 2nd Congressional District which stretches from Kentwood to the lakeshore and up the coast of Lake Michigan from Holland to Ludington.  HE was first elected to Congress in 2010 and is currently serving in his sixth term. He is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and serves as Ranking Member on the Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets Subcommittee for the 117th Congress.  Since January of 2017, Congressman Huizenga has been elected by his colleagues to serve as a Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, a bipartisan group which fosters cooperation and support for policies and programs that enhance the environmental and economic health of the Great Lakes.  Bill previously served in the Michigan House of Representatives representing the 90th District until term-limited out in 2008. Congressman Huizenga is a lifelong resident of Ottawa County, where he currently resides with his wife and children.

Todd DeKryger, Ph.D.

Dr. Todd DeKryger, Ph.D. is Regional Supplier Development Manager - Agriculture at Nestlé Nutrition North America (Gerber). His group provides technical support to Procurement, QA, and Corporate Affairs throughout North America on matters pertaining to contaminant mitigation and agricultural development. It also supports suppliers and growers across the globe in developing agricultural solutions for meeting Nestlé Gerber's tight quality standards.   He has had a number of program management and research roles at Nestle Nutrition NA and Gerber Products Company since he began with the company in 1993. Prior to this, he was an independent crop consultant with West Michigan Integrated Pest Management, Inc. He has Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. degrees from Michigan State University.  

Lindsay F. Hager

Lindsay is Vice President & Chief Philanthropy Officer of the Fremont Area Community Foundation.   He earned a Master of Urban Planning degree from Michigan State University. His 30 years of work history includes experience as director of a local nonprofit organization, housing and community development consultant, and his current position as vice president & chief philanthropy officer. His passion for community is evident through development of hundreds of units of affordable housing, commercial and infrastructure projects, nonprofit leadership, assisting volunteer boards, community involvement, and fundraising.

Food and Agriculture Workforce and Housing Overview

Ashley Batteen

Ashley has worked as the Recruitment, Professional Development, and DEI Officer for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for 2 years in November. She spent 12 years in the education industry, most recently at Michigan State University in a Career Center working with hundreds of employers to build their recruiting strategy. She enjoys supporting and coaching employers through their recruiting challenges.

Joseph Rivet

Joseph Rivet was born and raised in Bay County.  He graduated from Delta College with an Associates of Arts Degree and went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Masters in Business Administration from Michigan State University.   More recently, he received a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.  In 1994 and 1996, he was elected Bangor Township Supervisor.  In 1998 he was elected State Representative for the 97th District in Bay County and was re-elected in 2000 & 2002.   From 2005 through 2020 he served as served as Bay County Drain Commissioner. In February of 2021 he became Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  Among numerous affiliations, he is past President of the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners and served as Chair of the State of Michigan Wetlands Advisory Council.  Joseph Rivet is married to Kristen McDonald Rivet and they have six children.

October 1
October 12

New Innovations in Food Waste Processing and Management

Dan Radomski

Dan Radomski is currently the Director of the Lawrence Technological University Collaboratory, a program that helps accelerate and scale small manufacturers and innovators of new hardware products. Dan was formerly the Chief Strategy/Operating Officer for the Optimal Group. While at Optimal, Dan was responsible for diversifying the company’s business model, growing the revenue, and scaling the business globally. In his prior role as Vice President of Industry and Venture Development at NextEnergy, Dan led all market and technology analytic efforts to support the growth of energy technology firms. Prior to NextEnergy, Dan co-founded a clean energy technology consultancy.

Octobr 15

Food Waste Recycling-Zero Waste to Landfill Goals

Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman is an asset manager with Generate Capital having oversight responsibility for the Fremont Regional Digester, an organic recycling and energy facility which provides a source of clean, renewable energy to more than 2,500 homes in the West Michigan community.  The Digester provides a sustainable and productive alternative for food waste that would otherwise be sent to landfills in the region and contribute to climate change.   Matt has experience in management consulting, impact investing, asset management, operations, and food waste recycling along with a technical background in engineering and environmental sciences.  He has an MBA from the New York University Leonard N Stern School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. 

October 26

Produce Shelf-Life Extension Using Cold Plasma Technology

Tejasvi Chunduri

Tejasvi Chunduri is the Technical Lead for the Free Radical Generator (FRG) technology platform at Somnio Global LLC, Novi, MI. Over the last 8 years at Somnio, Tejasvi has lead the development and validation of the core FRG technology and the development of applications for Air and Water Purification and Medical Sterilization. Presently, Tejasvi leads the product development for the Food Preservation application of the FRG technology with the vision to reduce food wastage and increase global access to fresh food. Tejasvi specializes in systems engineering and has experience in mechanical engineering, program management and product development. He holds an M.S in Automotive Systems Engineering from the University of Michigan at Dearborn. 

November 5

Supply Chain Challenges

Michael Lahti

Michael is a servant leader who believes in community investment and development of others.  He believes an organization is only as successful as its weakest component, people are the most important component of a successful business and investment in their growth should be number one.  If a business shows he/she cares about their employees, the employees will ultimately care about their customers, guests, and clients.  

Michael has a broad business background and expertise in business restructuring, operational analysis, systems development and implementation, strategic evaluation, team building, financial performance analysis, and financial modeling.    Prior to his current role at Tamarack Holdings, Michael has served as General Manager of Simply Northern, LLC, Old Mission Windows, Black Star Farms, and Superior Wood Products.  He graduated from Grand Valley state University with a BBA in Finance, minoring in Psychology, Banking, Corporate Finance and Securities Law.

Novembr 9

Sustainable Packaging

Bernard Bourgeois

Bernard Bourgeois is the Director of Ecosystem Development for the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA), a nonprofit economic development organization that exists to create and develop business collaborations between Michigan and Israel.  Based in Southeast Michigan, Bernard has been with the MIBA for 3 years and held various senior analyst roles prior to joining the MIBA.  With Israel recognized as one of the most innovative countries in the world and as a leader in developing technologies for the future of food, food processing, and sustainable packaging, Bernard is excited to share just a few Israeli food tech innovations.

Tom Manske

Tom Manske is currently Kellogg Company’s Director of External Partnerships for sustainable packaging innovation.  In his current role, he leads the identification of partners with technical solutions to enable Kellogg to deliver its sustainable packaging commitments.  Tom has delivered innovation across Kellogg’s snacks and cereal portfolio globally.  Mr. Manske has 23 years of package development experience across a range of consumer goods.  Prior to joining Kellogg in 2012, Mr. Manske led package innovation at P&G for several categories including coffee, pet food, and snacks.

Shannon Moore

Novembr 19

Food as Medicine

Paula Martin

Paula Martin, MS, RDN, LDN studied at the University of Pittsburgh and earned a BS in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition and MS in Wellness and Human Performance. With a focus on public health, she has grown her practice over the last 25 years to include the intersections between wellness with the built environment, ecological systems and the socio-ecological public health model.

Brandon Seng

Novembr 23

Advanced Food Growing Technology

Mitch Schaffer

Tim Vogelzang

December 3

Opportunities in Healthy Food Processing

Jamie Rahrig

Jamie Rahrig manages the Michigan Good Food Fund at MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and is part of the MSU Product Center team. She provides business coaching to good food businesses statewide from farm to fork with a goal of increasing equitable access to healthy and affordable food. In her career, she has focused on health issues from nutrition and food access to cancer and HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Public Health from UM Flint and a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from MSU. In her free time, Jamie enjoys being outdoors in the sunshine, riding bikes and spending time with her family.

December 14

Energy Waste Reduction in Food Processing

Duane Watson

Duane Watson is an Agricultural Program Specialist/Energy Advisor II for Consumers Energy providing Energy Efficiency Programs to electric and natural gas farm, agribusiness and food processing customers. Duane is a Michigan Farm Bureau member, residing on a centennial cash crop/forestry operations farm in the Lansing area. He previously taught pre-engineering, sustainable/renewable energy technology and a wide range of secondary hands-on vocational courses. Duane holds bachelor degrees in Agricultural Engineering and Vocational Agricultural Education and a master’s degree in Vocational/Technical Education and Administration from Michigan State University.

Jerry Zolkowski

Jerry Zolkowski, PE CEM CMVP is a Principal Engineer with DNV GL.  Since 2013 he has been working on the Consumers Business Energy Efficiency Program in Michigan with a focus on making industrial plants more efficient.   Prior employment includes: 2.5 years at Dow Corning, the world leader in silicones, supporting global manufacturing energy efficiency efforts; and 6 years finding and evaluating energy conservation opportunities for Shaw Industries’ manufacturing operations.  Shaw has over 50 manufacturing plants and is the country’s largest carpet producer.  Also 10 years at the state’s industrial extension service at Georgia Tech.  That work included energy conservation, environmental compliance, and plant & design engineering.  Jerry’s writings have appeared in Compressed Air Best Practices, Strategic Planning for Energy and the Environment, Energy Engineering, Computer Shopper, and Machine Design.  Education includes a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester and an MBA from Columbus State College. He can be contacted at:

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