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You Are What You Eat: The Nexus of Food and Health

October 11, 2018 @ 7:30 am - 6:00 pm

$45.00 – $75.00

The Nexus of Food and Health sessions focus on how nutrition plays a role in achieving optimal health through disease prevention and treatment. This event brings together experts from multiple industries to share insights and personal stories on the space shared by food and health. In addition, this event showcases local Executive Chefs to demonstrate the preparation of nutritious and delicious foods for a tasting lunch followed by a keynote on how to bring Functional Foods into our daily lives. Later, a moderated panel session brings together food scientists, physicians, and founders of local food companies utilizing Functional Foods to discuss the obstacles and opportunities they’ve faced. In the afternoon, hear from health insurance executives about the future of food as medicine. Attendees will leave with an in-depth understanding of what Functional Foods are, as well as how individuals can leverage food in their restaurants, businesses, and daily lives to promote health.


Andrew Baechler, Founder & CEO, Eniva

Andrew Baechler is co-owner of Eniva Corporation and serves as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Baechler is personally responsible for determining and overseeing strategic initiatives. He directs Eniva’s “values-based” charitable activities – where significant impact has been made locally, nationally, and internationally. Mr. Baechler is the visionary and leading force behind Eniva’s success. He has been instrumental in the outstanding acceleration of the organization, positioning Eniva as one of the fastest growing companies in America. Baechler has extensive experience as a top performer with a variety of sales distribution organizations. He is a dynamic motivator and committed leader who provides a foundation of experience and values-based success for Eniva’s future. He also attends to business development and expansion, including strategic partnerships, company ventures and other alliances that encompass and promote total body health and wellness. He is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently serves as an Advisory Board Member of MyFormulary.

Brian Beutner, General Counsel, Bright Health

Brian K. Beutner, JD, is General Counsel of Bright Health, an innovative connected healthcare experience. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of MNSure, Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, from 2013 to 2015. Prior to that, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of mPay Gateway, Inc. From his beginnings as General Counsel of UnitedHealthcare, Beutner has become a seasoned executive at the intersection of healthcare administration and banking. While at UnitedHealth Group from 1999 through 2005, he was one of the founders of its consumer finance business, chartered Exante Bank, and served as its Chair for three years. From 1991 through 1998, he was an executive at Jostens, Inc., served as a General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Now, Mr. Beutner serves as a Director of Cardialen LLC. He has held numerous board positions at companies of all sizes and currently serves on the Board of Governors for MyFormulary LLC. Beutner received a Master’s in Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School.

Jennifer Breen, Culinary Nutritionist, The Earl Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing

Jennifer Breen is a culinary nutritionist. She uses cooking education to address the issues of sustainability, justice, well being, and public and personal health. Breen is both a professional chef with over 20 years in the food industry and a Public Health nutrition educator (MPH). She promotes and uses local and sustainable foods to teach about a food systems approach to healthy cooking and eating. She works with a variety of populations from individuals and families to public health and community professionals. Breen specializes in using local, sustainable, and organic foods for all kinds of lifestyles, cooking, and events. She is an expert natural, sustainable, and whole foods chef. Apart from cooking, Breen has developed nutrition curriculum, and health related programming for a variety of audiences.

Rick Brimacomb, CEO, Brimacomb & Associates

Rick has been a venture capitalist, advising and investing in hundreds of emerging companies, for 25+ years. He founded the Brimacomb Capital venture fund and co-founded the Sherpa Partners venture capital fund, both early-stage venture capital firms. His earlier experience includes venture capital – Norwest Venture Capital, investment banking – Piper Jaffray, and investment research – Needham & Company. Rick is founder of Club Entrepreneur, co-founder of The Network Connect, Sagis Club and MOJO Minnesota, and a past President of the Minnesota Venture Capital Association.

Alex Danzberger, President, MyFormulary USA

Alex Danzberger brings over 30 years of leadership success across a variety of industries as well as international assignments in Asia Pacific with a focus on finance, business operations, strategy, and business development. He has a proven history of thriving in an environment of change where discernment and strong business acumen are essential skills for rapid situation assessment and success. Danzberger’s more recent focus on digital transformation has led to executive roles responsible for the development and implementation of organic and in-organic growth strategies in the areas of global ecommerce at Digital River and online. He has also developed education at Capella University and Unitek College. Danzberger has also created his own consulting practice, A Harris & Associates, LLC, made numerous private investments, and held advisory roles.

Gail Dennison, Director of Development & Public Relations, The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota

Gail is responsible for external marketing for The Hormel Institute and for 10 years has led the fundraising development for cancer research and the major expansions of The Hormel Institute, including growing collaborations to support The Hormel Institute’s cancer research, two major capital campaigns, grants for technology, and regional research fundraisers. In 2012 she co-led lobbying for Austin Port Authority’s bonding bill receiving $13.5 million from the State of Minnesota and $23.5 million from The Hormel Foundation, resulting in the newly completed 2016 expansion. The expansion added another 20 labs to The Hormel Institute and a separate “Coming Together for the Cure” campaign developed the “Ray Live Learning Center,” a 250-seat lecture hall and large event room providing cutting edge global communications technology used for international cancer research conferences, seminars and collaborative meetings. Gail has her master’s degree in Philanthropy and Development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. She is past president of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on boards including the executive board of Austin Area Foundation, executive board of ACGV Austin Community Growth Ventures board, executive board of GRAUC (Greater Rochester Advocates for Universities and Colleges), APEX Austin Diversity council, Association of Fundraising Professionals and Development Corporation of Austin. She is an alumnus of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s 2015-16 ” Leadership Minnesota” group and Blandin Foundation Leadership group.

Damon Johnson, Board Member, CocoKefir LLC

Damon Johnson serves as the vice president of Enterprise Strategic Growth within Global Enterprise Solutions (GES) for Cox Automotive. Before joining Cox Automotive, Johnson started a digital agency in 1994 called DeemJay Consulting and in 2001, Johnson co-founded CDM data and CDM dealer services, which was named “2002 Small Company of the Year” by Fortune Magazine and acquired in 2004. Damon has started several successful businesses focused on digital marketing, retail solutions, social media, and sustainability. Damon was also on the Board of Directors for CocoKefir, the maker of coconut-based kefirs and yogurts that are fermented with vegan probiotic cultures, which was acquired by Millennium Products, Inc. (the parent company of GT’s Kombucha). On a personal level, Damon has also dramatically changed his mental and physical wellbeing through exercise and adopting a gluten-free, dairy-free, and probiotic diet. Johnson currently serves as an Advisory Board Member of MyFormulary.

Mark Kaster, Partner, Dorsey and Whitney LLP

Mark Kaster is a nationally recognized lawyer with over 25 years of experience helping clients resolve regulatory compliance matters. Mark’s practice emphasizes complex matters involving federal, state, and local regulatory agencies. The increasing body of rules and regulations presents enterprise risk concerns to businesses. Mark works with clients and regulatory agencies to find solutions to critical business challenges. Kaster approaches these complex relationships to find creative solutions that help clients meet their business objectives and regulatory obligations. Mark’s practice started with environmental, health and safety risk management. He has a Master’s degree in public health, and was on the legal defense team in one of the first Superfund cases litigated in the United States. That grounding led to the representation of many Fortune 500 companies in connection with their operations, chemical control, work place safety, contamination matters, product safety, insurance and litigation. Mark has national expertise in handling enterprise risk management, occupational health and safety, federal and state product safety and toxic tort laws, chemical regulations, and green marketing. Mark started the Dorsey Environmental Evaluation Program (DEEP) to assist clients in their due diligence, corporate compliance, workplace safety and product safety business operations and transactions. The DEEP program helps clients manage their environmental, health and safety risks with comprehensive services, rapid response, practical advice and solutions. Mark is a partner in Dorsey’s Regulatory Affairs Group.

Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, Founder & CEO, Step One Foods

Dr. Klodas has dedicated her career to preventive cardiology. Trained at Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins, she serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Step One Foods. Dr. Klodas is a nationally sought out speaker and has an active role at the American College of Cardiology. Her clinical interests include prevention of heart disease and non-invasive cardiac imaging and she has published dozens of scientific articles throughout her career. She has also authored a book for patients, “Slay the Giant: The Power of Prevention in Defeating Heart Disease,” and served as founding Editor-in-Chief of the patient education effort of the American College of Cardiology. In addition to her practice and her duties at Step One Foods, she also serves as medical editor for webMD.

Tammy Lee, CEO, Recombinetics

Chief executive of biotech company that is the global leader in creating gene-edited animal models for biomedical research; human therapeutics; and precision-bred animals with health, welfare and productivity traits. Raised $34 million in Company’s Series A Round; transitioned business from pre-revenue to signing $4 million in contracts for 2018 with revenues expected to exceed $40 million over life of contracts; signed business agreements with premier research institutions and leading genetics companies. Industry subject matter expert and frequent speaker on strategies to get U.S. and international regulatory approvals for gene-edited food animals; frequent speaker at biotech venture capital and healthcare investment forums. Elected to serve on the biotech industry’s international trade association, BIO Board of Directors.

Dave Lenzmeier, CEO, Milk Specialties Global

As the CEO of Milk Specialties Global (MSG), David Lenzmeier is primarily focused on expanding the Company’s capabilities within the Human Nutrition market. Lenzmeier also currently serves as a board member at the Hendrickson Foundation, working to sponsor individuals with physical/mental disabilities to play hockey. He joined MSG as President of Global Food Solutions in 2008. Prior to joining MSG, he was co-founder and President of Protient, Inc. and served as President of Glencoe Butter & Produce. From growing up on a dairy farm in central MN to serving on the board of directors for both the US Dairy Export Council and the American Dairy Products Institute, Lenzmeier has gathered over 20 years of dairy industry experience. Mr. Lenzmeier is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

John Naylor, President & CEO, Medica

John Naylor is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Medica. He is also a member of the board of directors of Medica Holding Company (MHC), which oversees Medica’s family of businesses including Medica Health Plans, Medica Health Plans of Wisconsin, Medica Insurance Company, Medica Self-Insured and Medica Health Management, LLC, as well as the Medica Foundation. He joined the company in 2010 and became President and Chief Executive Officer in 2017. Naylor has more than 30 years of industry experience. He was previously Senior Vice President of Commercial Markets, Medica’s largest business unit. Under his leadership, Commercial Markets achieved record highs in membership growth and developed a number of industry-first innovations, including accountable care organization products in partnership with several health care systems. Prior to joining Medica, Mr. Naylor spent 21 years at Willis Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin). For more than a decade, he served as the market leader for the Towers Perrin Minneapolis office and Managing Director for the U.S. Central Region, with responsibility for all aspects of selling and providing service to clients across the company’s human resources consulting practice. Mr. Naylor is a passionate volunteer and a board member of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.

Dr. Sonja Nodland, Senior Scientist, Wellmune

Sonja Nodland received her Masters degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Washington University in St. Louis and her Doctorate in Immunology and Cancer Biology from the University of Minnesota. After completing a post doctoral fellowship in human developmental immunology in Tucker LeBien’s laboratory at the University of Minnesota she became a scientist in the Healthcare division of Biothera Inc., working with the functional food and beverage ingredient, Wellmune®. During her time at Biothera she was responsible for the development and implementation of the research program to identify immune biomarkers of Wellmune’s function. After the Wellmune business was acquired by Kerry in 2015, she took on responsibilities for the clinical research program for Wellmune. Since the acquisition of Ganeden BC30 by Kerry in September 2017, Sonja has been active in technical support and clinical study development to support the efficacy of the Ganeden BC30 ingredient in addition to the Wellmune research portfolio. In her spare time Sonja enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, volunteering in her community, golfing and playing music.

Mike Rakun, Executive Chef, Mercy Hospitality

Executive Chef Michael Rakun believes that good food begins at the farm. His signature style eschews fat in favor of herbs, broths and food’s natural flavors, using inspiration, technique and a love of natural foods to create mouth-watering, farm-to-table, healthy dishes. Executive Chef/Owner for Mercy, in downtown Minneapolis, Benedict’s, Wayzata and partner in Mill Valley Kitchen in St. Louis Park, Minn., Rakun was the first local chef to take the bold move of printing the nutritional information for all the items on his menus. His fun, flavorful, health-conscious approach to food has earned him a devoted, loyal – and ever-growing – fan following. Rakun has been working in kitchens for more than half of his life, from attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts to working at The Saint Paul Hotel, opening Mission American Kitchen in Minneapolis, and serving as executive chef and partner at Truluck’s (a Floridan steak and seafood restaurant). Eventually, Rakun returned to Minnesota, with his wife Abby and children, to assist with the management and development of Black Sheep Pizza in Minneapolis. In 2011, Rakun formed a partnership with Craig Bentdahl and began working with him on the development of Mill Valley Kitchen, featuring Northern California-style cuisine in a friendly, casual neighborhood eatery. Bentdahl and Rakun again teamed up to develop Marin in 2013.

Jason Robinson, Project Development Director-Food, AURI

In his role as a Project Development Director for the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Jason Robinson works with food clients to develop their businesses to further the value-added development of Minnesota’s agricultural products. Prior to joining AURI, Jason spent 19 years in corporate research and development at a Fortune 500 food manufacturer, as a product and process developer across a number of food technologies for the U.S., Canada, and other global businesses in both the conventional and natural products sectors. Jason brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the end-to-end new product development process to support the AURI mission. Jason is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He lives with his wife and two energetic sons in Maple Grove, MN, and enjoys coaching his sons’ basketball teams and brewing his own fermented kombucha tea recipe for the continued health of his family.

Ed Rogers, Founder & CEO, Bonomuse

Mr. Rogers has more than 25 years of entrepreneurial business experience as a founder, investor, adviser and lawyer. Before co-founding Bonumose, he practiced law for 11 years, co-founded an animal food technology company based on university technology, and designed/implemented a grant-funded venture investment endowment for a foundation in rural Virginia. He has Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Virginia.

Shannon Schlecht, Executive Director, AURI

Shannon M. Schlecht, Executive Director of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) is responsible for the overall strategic and operational oversight for the organization’s staff, programs and execution of its mission. AURI provides technical services to businesses, conducts applied research initiatives, and convenes networking events to create value-added economic opportunities for the food and agriculture sector. AURI operates three laboratories and its dedicated staff assist industry participants on over 200 food and agricultural innovation projects each year to further the Institute’s mission of fostering long-term economic benefit for Minnesota through agricultural products. Schlecht most recently served as Vice President of Policy for U.S. Wheat Associates in Arlington, Virginia and held numerous roles within the trade association during his 14 years with the organization. He has extensive background in agriculture, policy, market development, international trade, strategic planning and management. He served as the wheat industry representative to the USDA Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative for the Grains, Feed, Oilseeds, and Planting Seeds Agricultural Trade Advisory Council. He was also the liaison to multiple agricultural coalitions, and staff lead for national committees covering trade policy and biotechnology as well as a food aid working group. Internationally, he conducted initiatives to develop U.S. wheat exports in over 40 countries. He holds Bachelor’s and Master of Science degrees from North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.

Dr. Kate Shafto, CTropMed, Integrative Medicine FellowUniversity of Minnesota

Dr. Kate Shafto is board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, and is currently pursuing a fellowship in Integrative Medicine (Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, Class of 2017). She has various roles in Undergraduate Medical Education and Global Health Education at the University of Minnesota’s College of Medicine and Department of Internal Medicine. She practices Integrative Medicine in the outpatient setting, seeing both pediatrics and adults for Integrative Health Consultations. Kate also teaches a course she co-developed called Food Matters for Doctors (with Chef Jenny Breen), a class using cooking to teach nutrition concepts and food as medicine. This class was piloted for medical students and has been expanded to include health professional students from other disciplines, offered now through the Center for Spirituality and Healing.

Rohit Shukla, Founder & CEO, Larta Institute

He founded the Larta Institute in 1993 and incorporated it as an independent non-profit organization in 1997. It is a mission based organization, focused on the transformation of ideas into enterprises working to feed the world, fuel the world and heal the world. Larta designs and manage commercialization initiatives to guide the transition of publicly funded R&D into commercial businesses. Larta represents a portfolio of companies and technologies to large organizations in food and agriculture, alternative energy, and health care. Larta curates solutions to problems affecting society from around the globe, and works with a world-class network of experts, buyers, investors, and public and private organizations. Larta stimulates innovation through their focus on adoption and commercialization of great ideas. Over 20 years, first as a partner with the State of California between 1993 and 2003, and then with large federal agencies and countries around the world, Larta has successfully completed many projects with great results. Their network of industry executives, domain experts, entrepreneurs and leaders of organizations, is a point of distinction. Ideas, Energized. That’s Larta’s tag line and it captures their value proposition.

Adam Southam, Founder & CEO, MyFormulary USA

Adam Southam is a broad-based strategic thinker with more than 25 years of leadership, innovation, strategy, invention, business start-up, branding and marketing excellence. He has conceived several patented and patent-pending inventions related to health, fitness, functional and preventative medicine, broadcast media, ecommerce and distribution channel management. He consults with companies internationally and holds positions on several Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards. Southam is engaged to speak at conferences, trade shows, colleges and universities on topics of innovation, branding, patent prosecution & defense, business and channel management. Adam is an exercise fanatic, avid downhill skier, mountain biker and former equestrian. He has a long history of leading charitable events and fundraising initiatives. He is passionate about dance, ballet, theatre, and artistry. His charitable passions are leadership, youth, and wellness. Southam credits his success to countless mentors and advisors and looks to give back and pay forward in mentoring and advising others. Currently, Southam serves as Founder/Chairman and Governor of MyFormulary.

Dr. Kevin Steele, President, PTA Global & PTontheNet

Dr. Kevin Steele is the President of PTA Global & PTontheNet, providing high quality online education for the health and fitness industry worldwide. He began his career with a private personal training business for celebrities and athletes while a faculty member at Pepperdine University. As Director of Education, Research, and Member Services at Health & Tennis Corporation of America, Dr. Steele managed the fitness department and launched the first national platform for personal training. Next he joined the senior management team of 24 Hour Fitness as the VP of Health Services/Corporate Sales (later becoming the VP of Sports Marketing); where he managed the fitness and corporate wellness departments, integrated health care into the clubs, and developed 24 Hour Fitness University. Dr. Steele also served as the VP of Education and Programs for Mad Dogg Athletics where he was responsible for all educational initiatives for their six brands and international Master Instructors. Dr. Steele has also served as VP of Research and Business Development for Life Time Fitness. He has established corporate sales programs and relationships with numerous health care providers, participated in government relations/public policy initiatives for the fitness industry, coordinated numerous sponsorships with professional sports teams, and served on the U.S. Olympic Committee. Dr. Steele currently serves as a Governor of MyFormulary.

Dr. Jaeyun Sung, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Mayo Clinic Ventures Microbiome Project

Jaeyun Sung, Ph.D., develops computational analytical approaches to understand the intricate relationship between commensal microbial organisms and human health. Of particular interest to Dr. Sung is characterizing the global interconnectivity within our body’s microbial community, as well as identifying the primary biomolecular processes driving microbiome-associated chronic disease. Dr. Sung’s work is conducted primarily through network modeling and systems-level, integrative analyses of multiomics data from clinical samples. Ultimately, Dr. Sung aims to apply insights from his data-driven research to inspire future investigations into human microbiome biocomplexity and to create novel technologies that can lead to breakthroughs in improving human health.

Greg Thompson, Chief Food Law Counsel, General Mills

Greg Thompson is the Chief Food Law Counsel at General Mills where he leads the Food Law Center of Excellence and is responsible for advising the business on a wide variety of food law issues. Previously, he served as Associate Chief Counsel for Foods at the US Food & Drug Administration where he counseled the agency on a range of issues including the issuance of warning letters, regulations, guidance documents and responses to petitions for health claims, qualified health claims, nutrient content claims and food additives. In addition, Greg has worked for Cargill, Dorsey & Whitney, and the Flavor & Extract Manufacturers’ Association. He earned his JD from Georgetown University.

Dr. Tomas Valdivia, Chief Health Officer, Bright Health

Dr. Valdivia is a health care executive with more than 20 years of experience founding, building, and selling companies in the health care technology, provider accountable care services, and health consumer sectors. Having been both a primary care physician and a leader in a large provider organization, Dr. Valdivia understands the needs of care delivery organizations. As a medical informaticist, Tom believes that unlocking the value of technology is a function not just of technical prowess, but also of its ability to intersect with the needs of providers. As an entrepreneur, Tom is passionate about developing, managing, and leading dynamic and effective organizations, understanding existing and emerging market and customer needs, and creating valuable services. As the founder of Advanced Informatics, the first SaaS based evaluation technology used in hundreds of health care organizations, he was able to build a health care technology company that eventually produced a 100x return. In the role of Chief Medical Officer for Definity Health, Dr. Valdivia led the development of consumer activation strategies and services that formed the basis of care management for this national, CDH plan. Serving in the role of President for Carol, Tom helped raise over $35M to develop the first direct-to-consumer health services exchange.

Jennifer Wagner-Lahr, Senior Director of Innovation & Commercialization, AURI

As Senior Director of Innovation & Commercialization, Jennifer Wagner-Lahr oversees projects in partnership with Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) staff members, commodity groups, state and federal agencies, and other collaborators and stakeholders that fulfill the AURI mission and advance the development of value‐added agricultural products within Minnesota. Her time is also employed toward advocating as a spokesperson for AURI and presenting value‐added opportunities to the public. Prior to joining AURI, Wagner-Lahr worked as a Program Specialist and, later, Executive Director of Global Outreach, Inc. During her time in the latter position, she also took on an economics faculty member position at South Central College in Minnesota. She and her husband run a diversified crop and livestock farm in Central Minnesota and have three young children. Wagner-Lahr received her Bachelor of Science in applied economics, trade and development from the University of Minnesota, MN, and Master of Science in international agricultural sciences from Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany. She also has a mini‐Master of business administration from the University of St. Thomas, MN, and was an exchange student to Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands. A recipient of numerous awards, Wagner continues to prove why she is a vital member of the AURI team.


October 11, 2018
7:30 am - 6:00 pm
$45.00 – $75.00
Event Categories:
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Twin Cities Startup Week
Agricultural Utilization Research Institute
The Larta Institute


LeMeridian Chambers Hotel
901 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403 United States
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