Uniquely strong, high-pedigree Board of Directors with directly transferable experience
Deep consumer food & beverage experience across emerging brands and established powerhouses, from Branding to Sales to Supply Chain.
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Chair of the Board
Julia sets the vision and drives all elements forward to turn that vision into reality, including pulling the pieces together to deliver on key goals including product development, sales, investment, and marketing strategy.
Julia is a perpetual innovator, with a 20-year career developing new products, business models, and strategies. She has directly created and launched myriad brands as well as being instrumental in the development and advancement of multiple successful food & beverage brands.
In 2004, Julia was brought into United Airlines as an entrepreneur-in-residence to create innovative revenue-driving solutions. She created and launched the airlines snackbox concept to solve significant and costly operations and customer service issues that were leading to dissatisfaction and waste. Julia has been driving healthy food innovation ever since.
The nutritious and balanced shelf-stable meals quickly became the backbone of the United’s domestic economy meal program, and other airlines tried to imitate – unsuccessfully. In response, Julia formed GoPicnic, Inc. (now GP Concept Labs, Inc.) and launched the ‘buy onboard’ snackbox programs for the majority of US and Canadian carriers. As the airline market consolidated dramatically, she continued to pivot and innovate, launching the AirlineMporium division, today one of the leading airline foodservice brokerages representing more than 150 better-for-you brands.
In 2010, Julia spun off GoPicnic Brands and took the shelf-stable meal concept to the consumer product industry with GoPicnic ready-to-eat meals. She created six independent food brands for the food components, organizing an extremely complex supply chain to effect as an ongoing series of meals. GoPicnic immediately saw strong consumer and retailer success, growing more than 500% over three years.
In 2016, Julia partnered with several like-minded food & beverage entrepreneurs to launch Spinning Wheel Brands, now The Planting Hope Company Inc. Our founding management team saw a need for real nutrition and sustainability in areas of plant-based food, building meaningful brands around three impact missions: Nutrition, Sustainability, and Representation.
Julia was named one of 2020 Crain’s Chicago Business Notable Entrepreneurs and in 2020 inducted into the Exceptional Women Awardees. Julia is a frequent judge/ panelist for entrepreneurship competitions and classes, and is dedicated to mentoring entrepreneurs, especially women in food. She was one of the first graduating classes at pioneering Illinois Math & Science Academy. She attended Miami University of Ohio for undergrad, graduating with a BS in Marketing & Economics + BA in Creative Writing, with minors in International Business, Women’s Studies, & French, and received her MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management's one year program in 2002.
Chief Operating Officer
Susan, like the rest of the leadership, is an energetic, disciplined and innovative entrepreneur. Given Susan’s deep experience in the food manufacturing and finance industry, her focus is on the building blocks of TPHC: brand performance/customer value, production partner network/supply chain, shared services and business and financial performance. The social missions of TPHC energize Susan’s passion to take TPHC to the next level: “It is more than just moving more product… it is about the nutrition, sustainability and the people that TPHC serves!”
Prior to joining TPHC, Susan was the President of Nu-World Foods, a strategic leader in specialty food ingredients and contract manufacturing. This was a pioneering venture for 20 years, taking an unknown company and unique product offerings (Ancient Grains ingredients) and services into the marketplace. Ultimately, Nu-World grew into a multimillion-dollar enterprise that served niche brands like Enjoy Life Foods and mega brands such as Chobani, Kellogg, Conagra and more. The keys to success at Nu-World were operational/product excellence, product innovation and quality, supply chain partnering, financial focus, customer experience and passionate people. The journey, with all of it twists and turns, honed Susan’s skills and her resolve to build a strong and successful company winning with proprietary products and processing value, customer relationships and great people!
Susan’s success at Nu-World was fostered by her business acumen and business performance improvement skills developed throughout her career at Arthur Andersen. From 1991 thru 2001 Susan worked with companies large and small to define new business strategies, design new organizations (including outsourcing and shared services), implement improved systems, processes and metrics, as well as engage and train their teams to change and improve their financial business performance. Susan loved her time as a management consultant. Helping organizations be the best that they can be is something that Susan did with Arthur Andersen and has continued to do throughout her career.
Susan’s passion for building business is innate. She began to shape her craft while attending Business School at Indiana University and also gaining her Executive MBA from Kellogg School of Management. She enjoys consulting but loves business building, with all of the challenges and opportunities, the fun is propelling a strong and successful organization forward.
Foodservice and China Expertise
Jessica has served on the Planting Hope Advisory board as lead advisor since July 2023, and was helpful with the Company’s evaluation and acquisition of Argo Tea. Jessica resides in Shanghai where she is currently the CEO of Brighter Beauty; she moved to Shanghai in 2007 when she was tasked with launching Starbucks into China after seven years on the Starbucks management team in Seattle. Jessica spent four years scaling Starbucks across Greater China, then opted to remain-in country ongoing, taking a leadership role with The Walt Disney Company, and subsequently with Claire’s Accessories. With more than a decade of expertise in developing top-quality cutting edge café experiences, Jessica has strong knowledge on optimizing world-class café processes and operations. Over the past 15 years of developing Western businesses in China, Jessica has become an expert in the strategic and cultural approach to ensuring a solid foundation and ongoing success in one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing and evolving marketplaces.
Lead Director, Chair of Governance, Nomination, Compensation Committee
Saundra is guided by the principle that putting the consumer first in decisions and in actions leads to better long-term results. She is a seasoned executive who is passionate about delivering business results through customer-led insight, science, and solutions. Her experience extends over two decades and spans verticals, including operations, merchandising, strategic planning and finance for major retailers and consultancies within North America.
Saundra is a managing partner of GEM Insight Consulting. GEM’s goal is to make analytics, that are now table-stakes in retail, accessible to companies of all shapes and sizes through a flexible delivery model that is cost effective without compromise. While holding data has become easier and less expensive, knowing how to create the right metrics and using them to make better decisions can be illusive. GEM works with global retailers and manufacturers to get value from the vast amount of data they are collecting. GEM has decades of experience helping retailers, like Kroger, Metro, Whole Foods, Ahold/ADUSA, Tesco, and Cardenas Markets, and major CPGs, including Unilever USA, Unilever Vietnam, and Unilever Taiwan, use data and insight to deliver better assortment, pricing, promotions and personalized content and offers. Clients also include data insight providers including EYC, Infoscout/Numerator, and Sertis. She has a long-term client relationship with SPINS, a data and technology firm for natural and wellness retailers and brands, where she was the interim Head of Retail in 2020.
Prior to GEM, Saundra was COO of dunnhumby Canada, SVP Retail for dunnhumby North America, and SVP Client Leadership at 84.51° and dunnhumbyUSA. In each of these roles, she led the development and execution of customer solutions for retailers and brands, including Whole Foods Market, Metro Inc., The Kroger Co., and CPGs, in merchandising, assortment, pricing, promotions, loyalty and store design.
Prior to her work at dunnhumby, Linn served as VP of Operations Strategy for FedEx Kinko’s where she delivered operational and quality improvements. She spent over a decade in executive positions at The Kroger Co. including Vice President of Merchandising for General Merchandise and Vice President of Operations in Kroger’s Atlanta division, Group Vice President of Retail Operations, and Director of Finance in The Kroger Co.’s corporate office.
Saundra holds a Master’s in Business Administration, with a specialization in Quantitative Analysis from the University of Cincinnati, and a Bachelor of Science from Purdue University.
Director, Chair of Audit Committee
Kay is an experienced, high integrity strategic board director bringing broad finance and operations experience to bear in helping public and private companies achieve corporate objectives. Currently, she serves as the CFO & Head of User Acquisition, Data Science & Analytics, Legal & Compliance, and Asset Infrastructure at Kabam Inc., a subsidiary of Netmarble Corp. Kabam is a world leader in the development and publishing of massively multi-player mobile games.
An enabler of innovation for the business, Kay is passionate about championing a collaborative and integrative approach for the finance function that leverages technology and data to drive decision making.
Kay holds a BA, Political Science from Queen’s University, and is a CPA, CA, CFE, ICD.D. She has served on multiple boards from a variety of sectors. She has been fortunate to collect an array of domestic and international experiences in in Commerce & Trade, Hospitality & Gaming, Technology / FinTech, Telecommunications, Mining & Exploration, Transportation, Anti-Money Laundering & Regulations and Community Education.
Shelley is a passionate builder of global brands and businesses, with expertise across an integrated array of communications disciplines. As one of the highest-ranking female executives in advertising (named the 11th Most Powerful Woman in Advertising by Business Insider, among other accolades), Shelley has helped champion marketing transformation for domestic and global clients in both the consumer and B2B spaces.
In her current role as Chief Marketing Officer of UNICEF USA, Shelley is responsible for building the UNICEF brand and communicating its mission “to be the leading child rights organization” to the US market. As head of marketing, her focus is to deliver the goals of the strategic plan through integrated marketing communications across all channels influencing all constituents. Her team leads small donor strategy and experience, external communications and partnerships and supports the entire organization. She is a member of the senior management team.
Shelley Diamond was the Chief Client Officer at Young & Rubicam and served on Y&R’s Executive Board. During her tenure at WPP she led the Dell, Tyson Foods, Campbell Soup and Xerox business responsible for P&L’s representing over $100 million in annual revenue. As a WPP leader she also provided the vision and organizational leadership to integrate 10 agencies across four continents and deliver cross-channel marketing solutions. Shelley also created and led Y&R Inspire Change, a social impact practice focused on helping corporate clients and not-for-profits transform the way the way they go to market and engage a new generation of donors and advocates for social change.
From 2007 through 2010 Shelley served as President of the flagship New York office of Young & Rubicam. She led the day-to-day operations, formulating, and implementing strategic direction, developing talent, and leading the transformation efforts to expand the company’s capabilities through the addition of new media and digital capabilities. She successfully drove organic growth from both existing and new clients, introducing new capabilities across offices and lines of business resulting in significant increases in top and bottom- line performance.
Shelley is also a mentor and a champion of women in the work force. She led women’s initiatives for Y&R including WPP’s commitment to the United Nations Gender Equality Sustainable development goal. Among other endeavors, she is a founding member of W.O.M.E.N. in America and a charter member of the prestigious Fortune/US State Department Mentorship Program since inception. Ms. Diamond has recently been named a Global Ambassador for Vital Voices.
Shelley Diamond is a team builder, a connector, a motivator, a pioneer, a networker, and a leader. In addition to it all, she raised two daughters and a son. She and her husband live in Scarsdale, New York where they occasionally babysit their rescue grand-dog.
Chief Financial Officer and Financial Expertise
A finance and business development professional, Kevin has spent his career managing financial organizations, raising capital for startup companies, and developing new businesses through strategic alliances and acquisitions. Kevin is a General Partner in Trillium Group, LLC; a Rochester, New York based venture capital firm and a founder of Cashel Rock Advisors and FinanciaLink Strategic Alliances, two private wealth management firms specializing in strategies for corporations and high net-worth individuals. A CPA, Kevin began his career with Price Waterhouse, where he consulted with Eastman Kodak’s BioProducts Division, ultimately spinning off the business into an international joint venture, Genencor International, and becoming CFO of this new entity. As CFO, Kevin created and managed Genencor’s finance and treasury organizations and established the company’s accounting and reporting practices, raising more than $100 million in debt capital to fund Genencor’s operations and expansion.