These judges are present for the final pitch event where the IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the YearTM is announced, along with a People’s Choice Award based on audience voting.
If you are interested in volunteering to become a judge or learning more about the process, please contact us at [email protected].
IFT is proud to introduce the IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM competition judges from the second annual competition in 2019. Each brought their unique perspective, professional experience, and intimate understanding of the challenges faced when bringing a novel and groundbreaking product to market.
Mr. Brown is the Managing Director of NOLA Holdings, LLC, a private equity investment firm owning interests in numerous specialty, niche businesses. Before founding NOLA Holdings in 1997, Mr. Brown was a co-founder and Managing Director of Legacy Capital, a mergers and acquisitions advisory firm; Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and General Counsel of Brown’s Velvet Dairy Products; and an attorney at Chaffe, McCall.
He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of McIlhenny Company, the 150-year-old maker of Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce. Mr. Brown is the Vice President/Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of Avery Island, Inc., a family-owned land management company.
Civically, Mr. Brown serves as Chairman of the Greater New Orleans Foundation; Chairman of the Selley Foundation; members of the boards of the National Audubon Society and the Audubon Society Louisiana, of which he was the inaugural chairman, and a member of the National Audubon Society’s Leadership Council; and a trustee and an executive committee member of the James Beard Foundation. Mr. Brown serves on the Times-Picayune Editorial Advisory board. He is a founder and the past Chairman of the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, which has provided nearly $7.5 million of grants since 2007 to organizations, primarily charter schools and support entities that are involved in the post-Katrina rebuilding of New Orleans. He also served as the board chairman of New Orleans’ PBS affiliate WYES-TV and the Louisiana Museum Foundation. He currently serves as an executive member of the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Committee.
Jaime Tulley has over 10 years experience innovating and driving growth in food companies from commercial kitchens to beverage to culinary frozen foods. Most recently, Jaime served as Director of R&D, Quality and Continuous Improvement for Sweet Earth Foods, leading growth of the company more than 15-fold in 4 years, resulting in an acquisition to Nestle USA. She went on to manage the scale and launch of Sweet Earth's innovative portfolio within Nestle facilities across the country. With a background in nutritional cancer research at the National Cancer Institute and a culinary passion for wholesome, healthy foods, Jaime focuses on products and companies that meet the growing trend of health & mindfulness without compromising on deliciousness. She now serves as VP of Commercialization with Catapult Commercialization Services, a consulting firm empowering food start-ups with the technical, strategic and logistical muscle to successfully launch and grow their brand.
Jeff Grogg founded JPG Resources (JPGR) to build food and beverage companies and brands. Before launching JPG Resources in 2009, Jeff led product innovation at Kashi as the company grew from $25 million to $750 million in sales over 9 years. In addition, JPGR has helped hundreds of companies of all sizes launch successful new products on short timelines. These experiences have given him direct insight into rapidly moving functional food concepts from blue sky to market shelf, as well as into the creation of brands and products that capture the hearts of consumers, retailers and investors. Jeff has spoken at conferences in the U.S., Canada and Europe on topics such as The Future of Health Foods, Commercializing Innovation and Innovation in a Troubled Economy. He has founded or co-founded six companies and is a board member for four others.
As the CEO of The Idea Village, Jon is deeply committed to serving this region’s entrepreneurs, innovators, startups, and growth-oriented companies, and he is passionate about writing the next chapter of this organization — an organization whose programs have helped form the fabric of our burgeoning entrepreneurial community. He considers himself a product of this ecosystem and am excited about the opportunity pay it forward for a new generation.
Over his career, Jon has worked in finance, investment, entrepreneurship, and education and been an advisor and mentor to both for profit and social ventures. He previously served as the first Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development at Loyola University New Orleans, the CFO of a food startup, and co-founder of the Changemaker Institute at Tulane University.
He currently serves as co-founder of the Lagniappe Angels, a local angel investment fund, and is a volunteer member of the Investment Committee of the New Orleans Startup Fund. He received his degree in Economics from Davidson College and MBA from Tulane University Freeman School of Business.
Rob Lalka is Professor of the Practice at the A.B. Freeman School of Business and the Executive Director of the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Lalka is the co-founder of Medora Ventures, a consulting firm that supports investments with returns for shareholders, the local community, society overall, and generations to come.
He moved to New Orleans from Washington, DC, where he was a director at Village Capital and a senior advisor at the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Before that, Lalka served in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships and was on the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff.
Lalka graduated from Yale University and holds his master’s degree in global public policy from Duke University. He and his wife, Lynn, reside in New Orleans' Broadmoor neighborhood, where he serves as a Commissioner for the Broadmoor Improvement Association.
Tracy Landau, Founder, President, and Chief Brand Strategist of MarketPlace, has 30+ years of experience in the food and beverage industry. Tracy spent 18 years in various marketing and leadership roles for a global food and beverage manufacturing + merchandising company before investing a decade in leading marketing strategy and product innovation for Givaudan, a global leader in the flavor + ingredient systems industry.
Since founding MarketPlace in 2002, Tracy has grown the company into a leading business and brand strategy partner in the B2B and B2C food + beverage industries. Building upon a foundation of success, MarketPlace expanded into synergistic markets including pet + animal and health + wellness (vitamins/minerals/supplements, sports nutrition, medical foods, etc.).
Informed by decades of experience working with hundreds of leading food and beverage industry brands, Tracy has a gift for getting to the heart of what MarketPlace’s partners need to grow. She has successfully developed businesses and award-winning brands and marketing programs for companies of all shapes and sizes from entrepreneurs to global corporations. MarketPlace is directly responsible for helping companies, including those that are investor-owned, grow and sell businesses for higher than expected multiple. MarketPlace also consults with, and advises, private-equity firms on acquisitions. These successes inspired MarketPlace to develop its own consumer brands, including those in partnership with ingredient companies and manufacturers.
Tracy is frequently asked to serve as an educator and speaker at food + beverage and health + wellness industry events. Many of Tracy’s achievements can be attributed to her unique approach in applying tested consumer marketing insights and principles to B2B programs, as well as helping consumer goods companies strengthen their B2B programs. Tracy developed MarketPlace’s innovative strategy to help B2B companies sell directly to consumers, also known as B2B2C or B2E.