Founder and Principal
After a long career with the world’s largest food companies, Kathy recognized that consumer preferences were shifting to fresh and minimally processed foods, and that the local, organic and artisanal segments were driving this growth. These patterns reflected her own values, and Kathy founded New Venture Advisors to bring advanced business strategy, thought leadership and entrepreneurial momentum to the Good Food movement.
This shift began in 2009 when Kathy began working with FamilyFarmed.org, an advocacy organization whose founder, Jim Slama, believes that the surest way to change the way America eats is through market-based solutions. Their collaboration focused on building businesses that facilitate trade between farmers and local customers – businesses that are today called food hubs. Kathy’s work with FamilyFarmed.org has led to the launch of the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative and Blue Ridge Produce, among the first food hubs to be established in the recent era; the publication of studies and resources that have influenced the development of food hubs worldwide; and the Good Food Business Accelerator, a fellows program with mentoring and financing assistance for early stage food businesses in the Chicago foodshed.
Today, New Venture Advisors helps build businesses across the value chain from small family farms to food companies, grocery and foodservice outlets, aggregators, processors and distributors. Kathy’s work has produced numerous assessments, business launches, speaking engagements and publications focused on developing food systems that are good for farmers, consumers and the intermediaries that connect them.
Kathy serves as a board member and advisor to a number of nonprofit organizations including the Food Hub Management Program, an academic certificate offered by the University of Vermont for which she is also a subject matter expert and educator; Breakthrough Enterprises, a community-based business incubator serving those affected by poverty in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago; and Garfield Produce, a hydroponic farm producing microgreens and herbs for Chicago-area chefs and providing jobs through its affiliation with Breakthrough Enterprises.
Kathy has over 20 years of marketing and strategic leadership experience with Fortune 100 companies. She served on the leadership team for a $5 billion product portfolio at Kraft Foods. She previously managed accounts at Leo Burnett and Young & Rubicam, then the nation’s largest advertising agencies, developing national campaigns for Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay and Miller Brewing. Kathy graduated with honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she earned an M.B.A. and the Award for Strategy for achieving the highest academic record in Strategic Management.