Carla Balakgie

President & CEO, NAMA
Carla Balakgie, FASAE, CAE is President & CEO of NAMA. Founded in 1936, NAMA is the national trade association representing the $25 billion convenience services industry including vending, coffee service and foodservice management in the business and industry market. With more than 1000 member companies—including many of the world’s most recognized brands—NAMA provides advocacy, education, research and business development forums to its membership.

Prior to joining NAMA in December 2011, Carla served as Chief Executive Officer of the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), a position she held for nine years. ETA is an international trade association representing companies that enable acceptance of electronic payments by merchants at the point of sale.

Previously, Carla served as Senior Vice President and COO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), where she held management and executive roles during her 15-year tenure. She began her career in association management at the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) following several years in commercial publishing.

Carla, a certified association executive (CAE) and a Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives, is the first woman to lead NAMA in its 84-year history. Ms. Balakgie is an active volunteer leader having served on numerous committees, task forces and governing boards of non-profit organizations. Currently she serves as a director for ABSI (ASAE Business Services, Inc.); Wnet (Women in Electronic Transactions) and WFF (Women’s Foodservice Forum).


Ethan Brown

Founder & CEO, Beyond Meat
Ethan Brown is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Beyond Meat, a company dedicated to building meat directly from plants. Ethan gained an appreciation for agriculture and the natural world from his father, a professor, conservationist, and hobby farmer. This interest shaped the direction of his career, where he sought to make a contribution to climate change through the clean energy sector. His early work centered on electricity restructuring in support of an open grid, where his analysis at the gubernatorial level directly informed federal and state policies on grid management. Subsequently, Ethan joined the world’s leading Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell developer Ballard Power Systems, rising to report directly to the Company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Though passionate about clean energy, Ethan returned often to the role of livestock in our economy and became convinced that a change in the origin of the protein—from animals to plants--that we place at the center of our plates could simultaneously address human health, climate, natural resource, and animal welfare challenges in a unique and powerful way. In 2009, Ethan founded Beyond Meat. Today, the Company sells products in more than 53,000 grocery stores, restaurants, universities, hotels and stadiums globally. The Company’s flagship product, the Beyond Burger, has revolutionized the meat aisle by being the first plant-based burger to be sold in the meat case alongside beef at major grocery chains including Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Target and Safeway. Beyond Meat is routinely recognized for its innovation, including being named Newsweek’s Top Innovators of 2019, Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies 2019, TIME’S Best Inventions of 2018, a United Nations 2018 Champion of the Earth and by Forbes as a CircleUp25 Top Consumer Brand for 2018.

Ethan holds an MBA from Columbia University and an MPP from the University of Maryland. He is a member of the 2017 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute


Jennifer Chow

Co-Founder, Nurture Life
Jennifer co-founded Nurture Life, a provider of freshly made, nutritionally balanced meals for children, on a mission to deliver a healthier world through better nutrition for our kids. Jennifer is a lifelong foodie and mother of two little boys, passionate about helping families feed their children nutritious, delicious meals they're proud to serve and creating a new standard for kids food in our industry. Jennifer’s work at Nurture Life is focused on new product development and innovation, customer experience and strategy. Prior to Nurture Life, Jennifer spent 17 years in marketing and product development in the technology industry, most recently as vice president of marketing at a high-growth, cloud platform startup. She previously ran marketing at a media software company and cleantech company. Jennifer holds a B.S. in Economics and MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Bettina Elias Siegel

Advocate & Author, Kid Food
Bettina Elias Siegel is a nationally recognized writer and commentator on issues relating to children and food policy. Her first book, Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World, was published by Oxford University Press in November 2019. She has also written numerous articles and opinion pieces about children and food for publications such as the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, Civil Eats, and her own widely read blog, The Lunch Tray, and she's frequently quoted or featured in the national press. As a vocal advocate for policies to improve our children’s food environment, Siegel has become one of the most successful petitioners in’s history and in 2015 was named one of the country’s “20 Most Influential Moms" by Family Circle. A graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, Siegel lives in Houston with her husband and two children.


Dr. James Gavin III

Board Chair, Partnership for a Healthier America
James R. Gavin III, MD, PhD is chairman of the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Board of Directors. He is a widely respected academic and entrepreneur in the medical community who brings a deep knowledge of childhood obesity-related illnesses and the policy and environmental influences that contribute to childhood obesity.

Dr. Gavin is a clinical professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and clinical professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He currently serves as chief executive officer and chief medical officer of Healing Our Village, Inc.

Previously, he served as president and chief executive officer of MicroIslet, Inc., as well as president of the Morehouse School of Medicine, senior scientific officer at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and director of the HHMI–National Institutes of Health Research Scholars Program. Dr. Gavin was also a professor and chief of the Diabetes Section, acting chief of the Section on Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Hypertension, and William K. Warren Professor for Diabetes Studies at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

In addition, he served as an associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, as well as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, where he continues to serve as a reserve officer. Dr. Gavin belongs to a number of organizations, including the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Diabetes Association, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the Endocrine Society, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and the American Association of Physicians.

Dr. Gavin graduated from Livingstone College with a degree in chemistry, and earned his PhD in biochemistry from Emory University, as well as his MD degree from Duke University School of Medicine.


Gordon Reid

President, Stop & Shop
Gordon Reid became the President of Stop & Shop in July 2019. Previously, he served as Brand President of Giant Food, the Washington DC region’s largest Grocery brand with 165 stores and approximately 18,000 associates. With more than 35 years of retail experience, he joined Giant Food in November 2013.

Gordon qualified as a Pharmacist in 1984 and worked in the U.K. with Boots for 15 years where he moved into several General Management roles. In 1999, he moved into International retailing with the A.S. Watson Group spending time in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea. He joined Tesco in 2006, which took him to Hungary, India, and China in a variety of leadership roles. Prior to arriving at Ahold Delhaize, Gordon served as CEO of China and Deputy Regional Director of North Asia for The Dairy Farm group in Hong Kong.

Gordon is a member of the following boards:

• Member of Ahold Delhaize US Leadership Team

• Executive Director of Giant Family Foundation Board

• Member of USO Washington‐Baltimore Executive Board

• Member of Capital Area Food Bank Board

• Member of Partnership for a Healthier America Board

Gordon has a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, U.K. and a Master of Business Administration from Nottingham University Business School in the U.K. He resides in Washington, DC.


Laura Reiley

Reporter, The Washington Post
Laura Reiley is the business of food reporter. She was previously a food critic at the Tampa Bay Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Baltimore Sun. She has authored four books in the Moon Handbook series, has cooked professionally and is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. In 2017 she was a Pulitzer and James Beard finalist.


Jason Reiser

Executive Vice President, Chief Merchandising Officer, Dollar General
Jason Reiser is Dollar General’s executive vice president, chief merchandising officer.

Jason joined Dollar General in July 2017. He is an innovative merchant who brings more than 30 years of experience in retail management, private brand sourcing and regulatory affairs as well as being a trained pharmacist.

Prior to joining Dollar General, Jason served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Vitamin Shoppe where he had responsibility for Merchandising, Operations and Supply Chain. Prior to that, Jason served as the chief merchandising officer at Family Dollar from 2013 to 2016.

Jason earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Northeastern University and started his retail career as a pharmacy manager for Walmart. From there, he rose through the ranks to positions of increasing responsibility at Walmart, including: pharmacy district manager; director of government relations; senior Pharmacy Buyer and vice president, Merchandising, Health & Family Care for Sam’s Club.


Nancy E. Roman

President & CEO, Partnership for a Healthier America
Nancy E. Roman leads the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to creating lasting, sustainable change that transforms the culture of food and activity so that all children grow up healthy. During her tenure, Nancy has led PHA to more fully recognize the impact of food on chronic disease and to embrace objectives advancing global sustainable nutrition.

Prior to joining PHA, Nancy was the President and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., working to solve hunger and its companion problems: chronic undernutrition and diet-related disease. Under her leadership, the food bank became a national voice for embedding health and wellness in hunger relief work.

Nancy sat on the leadership team of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), overseeing public policy, private partnerships, and communications for the world’s largest humanitarian agency feeding 100 million people in 75 countries. She chaired WFP’s Investment Committee with more than $1 billion under management and served on the Nutrition Advisory Committee of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Prior to joining WFP, Nancy served as Vice President of the Council on Foreign Relations, President of the G7 Group, a strategic consulting firm, and as a journalist, covering politics, the US Congress, foreign policy and economics.

Nancy is a vice chair of the board of trustees of Global Communities, an international NGO that works on hunger, health, micro-finance and lending to support lives and livelihoods, and of the Millennial Action Project (MAP), which organizes nonpartisan communities to find common ground on the issues facing millennials and future generations. She was recently named one of “The Most Powerful Women in Washington” by Washingtonian magazine. She speaks internationally on women in leadership and on the power of food to shape health.

Nancy holds a Master of Arts degree in International Economics and American Foreign Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and French from Baylor University. She is married to Steven Cohen and has two children, Daniel and Taylor.


Darci Vetter

Vice Chair, Agriculture, Food and Trade, Edelman
Ambassador Darci Vetter, former Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the US Trade Representative (USTR) and Deputy Under Secretary at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), coordinates Edelman’s North American Food and Beverage practice, and works closely with clients throughout the U.S. Agriculture, Food and Beverage Sectors.

Darci works closely with Edelman’s clients to develop business and communication strategies to help companies meet changing consumer expectations while complying with a rapidly changing policy landscape. Her work has helped clients navigate international trade tensions and address transparency and traceability issues to implement and verify sustainability and animal welfare initiatives.

Darci joined Edelman in 2018, and brings deep international trade, agriculture and food policy experience to her work following a 17-year career in the federal government. After leaving government in early 2017, Darci was the Diplomat in Residence at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, where she helped launch the Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance.

While serving as President Obama’s Chief Agricultural Trade Negotiator, she led the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agricultural package, as well as bilateral deals with Japan, China, Brazil and other countries.

Previously, she oversaw the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and led U.S. delegations to re-open international markets to US beef and advance international standards for food safety and animal health. Darci also served as an International Trade Advisor on the Senate Finance Committee.

Darci serves on the board of directors of the Neogen Corporation, the Farm Foundation, and the Washington International Trade Association. She is also a Member of the CME Group Agricultural Markets Advisory Council, and the Advisory Board of the Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance. She grew up in Nebraska on her family’s farm and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two children.


Shannon Whaley

Director of Research and Evaluation, PHFE WIC
Shannon E. Whaley, Ph.D. is the Director of Research and Evaluation for PHFE WIC, the largest local agency WIC program in the nation. Dr. Whaley’s expertise is in the planning, development and evaluation of programs designed to optimize the healthy development of children and families served by WIC. Her work spans a broad range of topics, including childhood nutrition and obesity, prevention of prenatal alcohol use, promotion of early literacy for low-income children and examination of the impact of the WIC food package on WIC participants. Her most recent focus is on factors associated with WIC program retention. Dr. Whaley served on the National Academies Committee to Review the WIC Food Packages and continues to focus on how the WIC food package impacts health outcomes of WIC participants. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 15-year-old son.


Douglas Langa

President, Novo Nordisk Inc.
Douglas “Doug” Langa was appointed Senior Vice President, Head of North America Operations and President of Novo Nordisk Inc. in March 2017 and was promoted to Executive Vice President, North America Operations and President of Novo Nordisk Inc. in August 2017. In this role, Mr. Langa has full business responsibility for Novo Nordisk’s largest sales region, comprised of the United States and Canada.

Prior to his current role, Mr. Langa served as Senior Vice President, Market Access, where he was responsible for securing formulary access with key payer customers for Novo Nordisk brands. The Market Access function at Novo Nordisk covers payer marketing, contract strategy, pricing, and account management for all promoted and in-line brands. Under Mr. Langa’s leadership, the Market Access account executive team has received numerous third-party recognitions for their performance allowing a broad number of patients with chronic diseases to benefit from having access to Novo Nordisk brands.

Mr. Langa previously served as Corporate Vice President, Market Access. He joined Novo Nordisk in 2011 as the Senior Director, Managed Markets, in which he was responsible for strategy development and execution across Novo Nordisk’s diabetes portfolio.

Mr. Langa joined Novo Nordisk from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), where he was the Senior Director of Payer Marketing. Prior to GSK, he spent the majority of his career at Johnson and Johnson, where he held various roles of increasing responsibility within Managed Markets, Sales Leadership, and Marketing. He has over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

Mr. Langa graduated from Widener University, earned his MBA from Fordham University, and holds professional certificates from The Wharton School and Harvard Business School.

custom imageAllison Ellison
Sr. Director, Home & Community Health
Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness

Allison Ellison is head of home and community health for Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness. In her role, Allison is focused on developing Walmart’s strategy to provide affordable health services to customers, no matter where they are, and leveraging partnerships to learn and understand needs of patients in home. Allison’s education and background in education and workforce development makes her uniquely qualified to understand the needs of caregivers and developing programs to support and recognize their work and achievements.

After joining Walmart in 2016, Allison was an integral part of developing the evolving strategy of the Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness organization as lead human resources business partner and then as Chief of Staff to the President of Health and Wellness, where she focused on strategy, oversight, operations and high priority projects.

Prior to joining Walmart, Allison served as the director of support services and operations at the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching and as vice president of business development for EWI, Inc. Allison attended the University of Arkansas, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in education, Master’s degree in Workforce Development and has achieved all but dissertation toward her Doctorate in Education. Allison is married with two young children and is a caregiver for her 91-year-old grandmother.