MEET THE TEAM
Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Nicole is an experienced attorney and nonprofit executive. She co-founded the Material Innovation Initiative after identifying the rich potential of the next-gen materials market through her work catapulting plant-based foods into the mainstream. In her previous role as director of international engagement at the Good Food Institute, Nicole worked with key audiences around the world including companies, entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, and government officials to promote the development of alternatives to animal products. Her expertise in the field and in bringing together stakeholders made her a sought after speaker at conferences and high profile meetings in locations like Israel, Estonia, Poland, London, Brazil, India, and across the U.S.
Chief Scientific Officer
Sydney is a materials scientist who is passionate about sustainable materials and processes that harness the resources and principles of nature. She spent nearly 5 years at the global scientific and engineering firm, Exponent, Inc. Sydney obtained her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Harvard University with prior materials education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Florida, with research focus in bioinspired materials including 3D/4D printing, bioprinting, self-healing, and anti-fouling materials.
Chief Innovation Officer
Elaine’s north star is to harness the power of business to shift the world away from industrial animal agriculture. Prior to MII, Elaine founded and managed the Good Food Institute Asia Pacific. She advised startups, corporates, and investors from market trends to business strategies; published industry reports and startup manuals; worked with scientists and policymakers to accelerate the alternative protein industry. Before immersing in the post-animal bio-economy, Elaine had over a decade of experience in corporate and finance law, from IPO and M&A to structured products and investment funds, at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, Slaughter and May, and Simmons & Simmons.
Director of Development
Victoria brings a unique and blend of nonprofit and tech startup experience to MII. She comes to us after working with visionary philanthropists to fund the work at The Good Food Institute. It was GFI and MII's focus on using innovation and markets to create change that inspired her to return to nonprofit work after an incredible experience working with a high-growth SaaS company in New York and San Francisco, and, prior to that, in online advocacy and fundraising campaigns at The Humane Society of the United States in Washington D.C.
Chief Operating Officer
Cortney is responsible for MII’s finances, operations, IT systems, and our people's experience. After receiving her law degree and LL.M., Cortney joined human rights legal charities in London and Pakistan. She has worked across nonprofit organizations around the world, including programming, operations, communications, resource development, and human resources for over 15 years. She joined MII after serving as Executive Director of a grantmaking foundation operating an annual income of over $11M. Cortney has also provided operations, governance, fundraising, and human resources consultancy services for numerous nonprofits and political campaigns.
Major and Corporate Gifts Officer
After beginning her career in sales, Anastasia was a recruiter for startups in Silicon Valley where she witnessed first-hand the power of technology to disrupt and transform long-established industries and practices. Inspired by the possibilities for innovation to create change and drive sustainability, Anastasia comes to MII after most recently serving as Culture and Engagement Specialist at The Good Food Institute. Anastasia graduated with honors from the University of California at Berkeley and is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Environmental Data Scientist
Ranjani specializes in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Sustainability evaluation of diverse processes and products. Previously, she worked as a Senior Sustainability (LCA) Consultant for start-ups - Modern Meadow and Green Story, Inc. and EP3Data/Moorland Technologies. After completing her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher at Clemson University and the U.S.EPA, Office of Research and Development (ORD). As an Environmental Data Scientist at MII, Ranjani's work focuses on consolidating and making environmental impact data related to textiles more accessible, consistent, and reliable for innovators, designers, and brands. With a purpose that aligns with MII's vision, she hopes to help textile industries and consumers make informed decisions in building a sustainable future that replaces animal and fossil fuel sourced materials with next-generation plant-based innovations.
Fashion Design Specialist
Thomasine Dolan Dow has been in the fashion industry for 25 years. In addition to founding her own line, she worked for Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Armani Exchange, and others, where she held directorial and VP roles. She has consulted for both small and large brands and has a broad understanding of the process and the market.
Toube brings more than 15 years of executive assistant experience from tech startups, the banking industry and a high-impact nonprofit. She is passionate about creating a healthier, more compassionate world and serves as a consultant for California State University and Chico’s Town Hall Meeting program on the topic of the humane treatment of animals. Toube also holds a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
A professional in Marketing and Communications based in São Paulo, Fernanda has built her career working for a variety of industries, including cosmetics, commercial real estate, hospitality, and food. Her passion for delivering positive experiences to customers and associates make her attentive to innovations and new trends worldwide. She is also a dedicated advocate for a cause dear to her heart: a sustainable and cruelty-free world. She’ll use her language and communications skills to profile material innovators in Europe and South America for MII.
Josh is the co-founder of Blackberry Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary and the founder of Dedicated Designs which is a marketing agency focused on growing the sales of small and medium sized companies. Josh and his team of eight at Dedicated Designs took over all things related to the website in May of 2021. He has a BS in Finance and a Masters in Education from UC Davis.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Senior Director of Finance at Integer Holdings Corporation
Linne has a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Management. She has in depth experience coaching and mentoring her colleagues to think more creatively about finance and how it drives decision-making. She is also fluent in Spanish and has lived in Spain and Mexico. She is currently the Senior Director of Finance for the Cardiac Rhythm Management and Neuro at Integer and serves as the treasurer of the MII board of directors.
Corporate Board Member & Start-up Legal Strategist
Angela Padilla is a corporate lawyer and longtime animal advocate. Most recently she served as Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Litigation & Employment at Uber in San Francisco. In addition to taking on pro bono cases to advance animal rights, Angela founded the nonprofit Family Dog Rescue in 2010 as another way to give back to the animals who gave her comfort and inspiration through a battle with aggressive breast cancer. She received her J.D. degree from Columbia University School of Law, her B.A. degree from Harvard College.
After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Virginia, Jacqueline worked in New York City as a political fundraiser. Since then she has enjoyed a diverse career spanning both public and private sectors, most recently as a Senior Account Executive for Open Table working with local and national restaurant chains as well as independent operators. She also serves as a senior advisor to the Good Food Institute and Factory Farming Awareness Coalition among others.
Advisory Board Member
Naomi spent the last 25 years leading operations, strategy and finance for both small and large companies, most recently as President and COO at Sittercity, a VC-backed digital marketplace for childcare. She is now focused on working with companies and organizations to fight climate change, end animal exploitation, and create a more sustainable and equitable food system. Naomi serves on the Advisory Council for Factory Farming Awareness Coalition and is an active member of an angel investment group in Chicago that focuses at the intersection of sustainability, food justice, and nutritious food in the Midwest.
Vice President at ESPN Production
Amy has spent over 30 years in sports television production with a portfolio that includes coverage of 8 Men’s and Women’s World Cup soccer tournaments and 5 Olympic Games.
She is currently Vice President of Production at ESPN with oversight of the ACC and Longhorn Networks, international and domestic soccer and 18 collegiate sports and NCAA Championships.
Amy earned a BA in history from Colorado College.
Senior Director Supply Chain Sustainability & Human Rights
Kirsty has worked on all sides of sustainability: as a corporate executive for Gap Inc., senior program lead of a global Public-Private Partnership, VP of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and triple-bottom-line oriented supply chain leader for both Apple and HP. She has served on advisory boards for an impact investment firm, 2 sustainability incubators/accelerators, and a circular economy-focused apparel industry consortium.
Director of Fashion at
John Bartlett is an award-winning fashion designer who has worked in the fashion industry for over thirty years. With his own eponymous collection, John earned awards as Best Newcomer and Best Menswear Designer of the Year from the prestigious C.F.D.A. (Council of Fashion Designers of America). He was also honored as Designer of the Year by the American Footwear and Apparel Association. John has shown his collection globally and has also worked as Design Director for other American Brands such as Ghurka and Liz Claiborne, as well as the Italian brand Byblos.
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY COUNCIL
Biotechnology & Entrepreneurship
As a Senior Associate at Flagship Pioneering, David conceives, creates, resources, and builds first-in-category companies spanning agriculture, nutrition, and therapeutics industries. David cofounded Senda Biosciences and Montai Health and currently leads the iLabs Innovation team at Invaio. As part of this team of entrepreneurial scientists, he develops the science, intellectual property, and business strategy that form the foundation of the firm’s breakthrough startups. An engineer by training, David has a multidisciplinary background in materials science, stretchable electronics, microfluidics, and bioengineering. Prior to joining Flagship, David earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University where he focused on 3D bioprinting of vascularized tissues, where his work has been adopted broadly as a method for creating in vitro models.
Circular Economy & Agricultural Side Stream Valorization
Noëmi is a passionate materials scientist. She has worked in both startup and corporate environments, driving projects related to sustainable materials innovation. Currently, she is Project Manager Circular Economy at Bühler Group a Swiss multinational plant equipment manufacturer in the agriculture and food value chain. She works in the CTO office and is responsible for valorizing customer side streams as carbon neutral resources for food, packaging, textile, fertilizer or energy applications. She is a team leader in Generation B, a corporate bottom-up change-maker movement advocating for more social and environmental sustainability as well as more employee ownership of global challenges. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in materials science from ETH Zürich with a focus on sustainable materials and innovation management and stayed at Imperial College London, Politecnico di Milano, and EPF Lausanne. She was active in several associations for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Recombinant Silk Protein
Helen Zha is an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She attended MIT and Northwestern University for her B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering. Helen brings with her 13+ years of experience in protein and peptide-based materials. Her research at Rensselaer focuses on the exploration of natural biomaterials and the synthesis of new biomimetic material technologies.
Material Innovation at
Claudia is an experienced technical product leader and materials engineer with a degree from MIT in Materials Science and Engineering. She led the Materials Innovation Team at Patagonia for over five years, where she oversaw the strategic portfolio of R&D partners and investments in raw materials, polymers, coatings, surface chemistry, and end-of-life solutions for apparel with an inclination toward environmental materials.
Amy E. Landis
Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Dr. Landis is a Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Colorado School of Mines and serves as the first Presidential Faculty Fellow for Access, Attainment, and Diversity. Previously, she was a full professor at Clemson University as the Thomas F. Hash ’69 endowed chair in sustainable development. There, she served as Director for Clemson’s Institute for Sustainability, which brought together interdisciplinary research, education, and business for sustainability. Dr. Landis has developed a research program in sustainable engineering of bioproducts. Her research ranges from design of systems based on industrial ecology and byproduct synergies, life cycle and sustainability assessments of biopolymers and biofuels, and design and analysis of sustainable solutions for healthcare.
Lauren Dermody is a synthetic biologist with a passion for protecting the natural world. She has worked as a senior scientist at EnduraBio, matriculating at IndieBio accelerator, and at academic labs including Memorial Sloan Kettering. She graduated Magna cum Laude at Cornell University and completed her graduate education at Cornell Medical School.
Erin Rees Clayton
Associate Director of Science & Technology
Erin is the Associate Director of Science and Technology for The Good Food Institute (GFI), an international nonprofit developing the roadmap for a sustainable, secure, and just protein supply. Erin works with GFI's SciTech team to identify critical research needs in the alternative protein field and mobilize research grant funds for these key research white spaces. She established and now leads GFI’s Research Grant Program, which has awarded grants totaling over $12 million to 65 plant-based and cultivated meat research projects in 16 countries around the world. Prior to joining GFI, Erin was a research faculty member at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from DePauw University, a Ph.D. in genetics from Duke University, and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) in epidemiology from the University of Michigan.
Co-founder & Managing Partner at Focus Academy
Jayaranjan has an extensive background in scientific research and technology validation and has worked in clinical, clean-tech, biotech, and agri-tech sectors. Leveraging his experience and background in biology and lipid chemistry, he has developed novel technologies for overcoming product development, process development, and engineering challenges.
He has also been an active figure in the Bay Area biotech startup scene and is the founder of Berkeley Biolabs, a biotech incubator where he helped mentor and launch over 30 companies, and co-founded The Berkeley Program which equips high school and middle school STEM students to pursue entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur and mentor for several startups, J’s emphasis is often on product/market fit as the main driver of R&D effort and strategy.
Natural Fibers &
Sandra brings 3+ years of experience in natural fiber innovation, supply chain management, textile certification and impact assessment. She has a B.Sc. in Economics and a Masters in Trade Management in Textile Business. Currently she is the Research and Impact Project Manager at a clean-tech start up innovating on crop residues emerging as a resource in a fully regenerative system for the apparel industry. Prior to that she worked at a sustainability consulting company. She is passionate about next-gen materials and has the vision to shape a future in which waste equals resource.
Head of Innovation at Alpine Group
Lewis has a passion for material innovation and advanced manufacturing. For most of the past 15 years he has been living in China and leading textile innovation and sustainability initiatives for the world's largest sportswear and fast fashion brands. Aside from roles at Under Armour, Gap, and Stance, he has consulted for over 50 apparel and footwear brands around the world. Today his research is focused on microfiber mitigation, textile recycling, and low impact technologies for textile and garment manufacturing. He supports academia, NGO’s, and industry groups as an SME on textiles, and regularly presents on sustainable innovation at conferences around the US, Europe, and Asia.
Ph.D. & Professor of Biomedical Engineering
David Kaplan is the Stern Family Endowed Professor of Engineering at Tufts University, a Distinguished University Professor, and Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research focal areas are on biopolymer engineering, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and cellular agriculture. He has published over 900 peer-reviewed papers, he is editor-in-chief of the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering, and he serves on many editorial boards and programs for journals and universities. He has received numerous awards for his research and teaching and was elected Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
INVESTMENT ADVISORY COUNCIL
Managing Director at VegInvest
Amy Trakinski is Managing Director of VegInvest, a mission-driven investment firm which provides early-stage capital to companies focusing on providing alternatives to the use of animals. Amy has also practiced animal law for 18 years and was a partner in Egert and Trakinski, where she litigated on behalf of national animal protection organizations, grassroots advocacy groups, and individual clients.She serves on the boards of Wild Earth Inc. and Animal Welfare Trust and holds a B.A. in History from Binghamton University and a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Specialized Investment Research at Slate Path Capital
Taylor has worked for more than 15 years in research and analysis roles at firms that invest capital on behalf of institutions and families, including since 2017 at Slate Path Capital, a registered SEC investment advisor that seeks to achieve risk-adjusted capital growth over the long term through a fundamental, research-based security selection process. He is a member of GlassWall Syndicate, a group of investors who want to accelerate the adoption of products and services that will make a difference in the lives of animals and people and are better for the planet. Taylor earned a BA from Middlebury College and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Managing Partner at Unovis Asset Mgmt. & New Crop Capital
Mark Langley is a Managing Partner at Unovis Asset Management, B.V. Unovis focuses on innovative alternatives to conventional meat, dairy and eggs, to fix an antiquated and broken food system that poses the most vital economic and ethical imperative of our time. Mark works on deal flow and performs asset and market level analyses. He has worked as an engineer, analyst, economic consultant, entrepreneur, and as an advisor to plant-based start-ups. Mark also has more than a decade of experience on Wall Street where he analyzed special-situation and high-tech companies.
Michiel van Deursen
Vegan Investor at Capital V
Michiel, an avid triathlete and vegan, is a tech entrepreneur from the first generation of internet pioneers who believed they could change the world and defy established rules. He founded Capital V and as an early investor in The Vegetarian Butcher he has helped the alternative protein space develop. Michiel has identified bio-based materials as the next space that he wants to help disrupt. Michiel thrives at helping early stage teams getting started and accelerate their entrepreneurial journey. His driving force for his investment choices is always to ‘take as many animals as possible out of production.’
Partner at Material Impact
Corinna is a Partner at Material Impact and focuses on applying fundamental technologies across sectors to meet new needs and solve emerging real-world problems. Her areas of interest include synthetic biology, bio-based materials, advanced electronic materials, and next gen computing; her expertise spans many fields—including sensor technologies, device design, biotechnology, electronics, and semiconductors. Corinna began her career as a rocket scientist at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. Corinna is dedicated to the advancement of science and technology to better human lives and the environment.
CEO at Alwyn Capital
Heather is Founder and CEO of Alwyn Capital, an early-stage investment firm that focuses on removing animals from the consumer supply chain. Heather has been vegan for 25 years. She holds a degree in Biochemistry from University of Florida and worked as a researcher in a pharmacology lab focused on the biophysics of neurotransmitter receptors. She also holds a degree in Photography from Parson School of Design and worked as a lifestyle photographer in New York City for over a decade, helping fashion and lifestyle brands tell their stories through images.
Impact Finance Advisor & Investor
Elise is an impact investor and start-up advisor whose mission it is to improve the health of the planet and its inhabitants through a shift to more sustainable and humane global solutions, particularly in sustainable agriculture. She is passionate about food innovation, applied biotech, animal welfare, and plant-based everything. Elise works with private foundations such as the Greenbaum Foundation, and has 10 years experience working with U.S. and European family offices and investment funds. Prior to that she worked for biotechnology and engineering companies in the U.S., Germany and France.
Founder & Managing Partner at Alante Capital
Karla is founder and Managing Partner of Alante Capital, a VC fund investing in innovative technologies that address climate change and enable a resilient, sustainable future for apparel production and retail. Launched in partnership with Eileen Fisher and Leslie Harwell, Alante invests in innovative technology startups that improve production practices, support mindful consumption, and recover and recycle apparel waste. Previously, Karla served as Investment Director at VilCap Investments and Associate Director at the Eleos Foundation. Karla's passion for supply chain reform and deep concern with the state of the apparel industry led her to create Alante Capital.
Director at GlassWall Syndicate
Macy Marriott is the Director of GlassWall Syndicate. Stray Dog Capital pioneered a one-of-a-kind nonprofit network in the global impact investing ecosystem that engages and empowers individual investors and firms in the plant-based and cell ag space by connecting them with game-changing companies. This global collective, GWS, has led to millions in additional capital deployed into innovative companies in the landscape. As the Syndicate Leader, Ms. Marriott works daily with entrepreneurs and investors to build relationships that drive forward sustainable, scalable, disruptive companies.
BRAND ADVISORY COUNCIL
Co-Founder & CEO at AERA
Tina Bhojwani is the Co-Founder and CEO of AERA New York. Prior to that, she held key leadership roles at global brands Donna Karan and Theory where she played an integral part in international business development. Her most recent corporate role was as President & CEO of Dolce & Gabbana, North America. In addition, Tina has acted as a strategic advisor to a variety of brands including Kendra Scott, Augustinus Bader, Misa Los Angeles, CO, Yves Salomon, Boden and Sachin & Babi.
Material Development Lead at Patagonia
Pasha has developed new supply chains around diverting ocean plastic waste, and is constantly working to innovate better materials to create products that promote a positive interaction between people and the planet. As someone who cares deeply about the health of our ecosystem, he’s honest about the dilemma of working in an industry that has a negative impact on the environment, while simultaneously designing better solutions.
Global Sourcing at
John is a career fashion executive with over 30 years of experience in global sourcing, product development, and supply chains. He was the SVP of Product Development and Global Sourcing at both Kate Spade and JJill, and he was the VP of Global Production at Banana Republic. He is consistently recognized for outstanding results, with a constant focus on the ultimate retail consumer.
Tara St. James
Fashion Design & Sustainability
Tara St James has worked in the fashion industry for over 20 years. In addition to founding her own sustainable brand, she has consulted for both small and large brands and has a broad understanding of sustainable design and supply chain. Most recently Tara worked as Production Coordinator and Research Fellow in the Sustainable Strategies Lab for Pratt’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator. She has built a sustainable textile library and sourcing service to help the industry find responsible solutions. Tara also teaches a sustainable material sourcing course at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Playbook For Innovation
Alexandra is the Founder and Principal at Playbook For Innovation, a consultancy practice that works with organisations to deliver winning futures for the brand and its consumers. Alexandra is a proven innovation and R&D leader with 12+ years’ experience across global brands including Lululemon, Canada Goose, Adidas, and Blackberry. With a degree in Materials Engineering, Alexandra has a unique ability to blend technical and business acumen to help tangibly bring new value-generating ideas and technologies to reality. Alexandra also has extensive expertise in building world-class innovation teams, spaces, strategies and processes tailored to serve an organizations’ goals for the future.
Lauren has a BS in Multidisciplinary Engineering from Purdue University and is a leader in multinational manufacturing environments, most recently at Gap. Her other roles in the field include Materials Developer at Nike, R&D Engineer in Global Innovation at Columbia Sportswear, and Studio Design Engineer at Chrysler.
Innovation in Apparel and Footwear Specialist
Chase Kahmann has 11-years of cross-industry R&D experience on design, manufacturing, innovation, and sustainability with 8-years at Columbia Sportswear and in a contract capacity at Nike. He has received material and product awards in performance and sustainability-driven technologies leveraging polymers, fabrics, and manufacturing innovations and is an expert on next-gen materials and circularity driven recycling methods. He can be found through his consulting company Integrated Sustainability R&D