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  • Tomorrow's Harvest: Food and Agriculture Sustainability Forum

Tomorrow's Harvest: Food and Agriculture Sustainability Forum

  • 11 Apr 2024
  • 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM
  • BMO Office, 320 South Canal Street, Chicago, IL


Registration is closed

We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children 

Environmental sustainability continues to be a driving force in consumer choices and business operations. Companies are embracing eco-friendly practices, incorporating sustainable materials, optimizing supply chains for reduced carbon footprint, and committing to achieving net-zero emissions. Sustainability isn’t merely a trend but a fundamental aspect that increasingly influences brand perception and consumer loyalty. In other words, industry is moving towards a new business case for Food and Agriculture sustainability.

CFBN is proud to bring together key players in the Food & Agriculture sectors to advance the conversation around environmental sustainability. Starting with the core question of How Do We Envision and Create a More Sustainable Food & Agriculture System for the Future? we will also dive into key questions including:

  • What is the outlook for regenerative agriculture and upcycled foods?
  • What can be done to help the food industry make the transition to a circular economy?
  • How can we as an industry better address food waste?
  • What developments are occurring in green packaging materials?
  • What is the future evolution of plant-based foods?

Join CFBN, sponsor BMO, and industry experts for this unique Forum for Food & Agriculture stakeholders to learn from each other, hear from experts, share challenges and successes, and strengthen cross-sector collaboration in order to drive a more sustainable future for our industry.


1:00 PM Doors Open/Networking

1:30 PM Opening Remarks/ Keynote Speaker

1:45 PM "Creating a More Sustainable Food System" Panel + Q&A

2:45 PM Break/Interactive Activity

3:30 PM "The Future of Sustainable Agriculture" Panel + Q&A

4:30 PM Closing Remarks/Call to Action

4:45 PM Appetizers and Networking

6:00 PM Event Ends



Managing Director, Head of Sustainable Finance & Clean Energy


Ela Eskinazi is responsible for the strategy and execution of sustainable finance solutions and clean energy banking coverage. Before this role, Ela worked at Bank of America for 15 years, most recently as Head of Business Development ESG & Sustainable Finance in North America. Prior to banking, she worked in healthcare industry for 5 years at GE Healthcare in various product & commercial leadership roles. She is black-belt certified. Ela has a MSc. degree from Purdue University and BSc. from METU in Turkey. Ela serves as Chair of the Board at Bridge to Turkiye Fund, an education focused US non-profit organization serving underprivileged children and youth.


"Creating a More Sustainable Food System" 

(Moderator) ALAN REED

Executive Director

Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network

Alan Reed is the Executive Director of the Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network, a startup, nonprofit organization that brings industry players together, provides a forum for collaboration and support, and better connects the 4,500 companies in the industry across Chicagoland to drive innovation and growth in the region.  The group leverages the power of the food & beverage industry in Chicagoland to grow the industry, and the local economy. 


Regional Innovation Officer

Illinois Fermentation Agriculture Biomanufacturing (iFAB) Tech Hub

Beth Conerty currently serves as the Associate Director for Business Development for the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory and the Food Science Human Nutrition Pilot Processing Plant at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. Last year, she also became the Regional Innovation Officer for the Illinois Fermentation and Agriculture Biomanufacturing (iFAB) Tech Hub.  In her current roles, she leads the effort to build relationships with researchers and industry clients as well as developing the biomanufacturing economy in Central Illinois. In the six years in her role, Beth has helped shepherd over 100 industry clients through IBRL.


Managing Partner

Bluestein Ventures

Ashley is Managing Partner at Bluestein Ventures where she drives the firm’s strategy, portfolio company support, and deal pipeline. She has made over 30 investments in the space and is an observer on three boards.  Ashley has deep experience leading growth strategy and establishing scalable infrastructure necessary to build sustainable ventures.  

Active in the Chicago and food community, Ashley serves on the Board of Naturally Chicago, on Selection Committee of the Good Food Accelerator, and as a mentor at Food Foundry, The Hatchery, and the LeAD Accelerator, in addition to being a judge at Booth’s new venture competitions. She is also on the National Leadership Council of United States Artists. 


Senior Vice President, Global Account Director


Christina is a senior vice president and leader on Ketchum’s Food, Agriculture & Ingredient team. She has managed integrated marketing and communications campaigns and strategic reputational communications strategies for global consumer and B2B brands across agriculture, food, entertainment, retail, insurance, government, and technology sectors. Ketchum is a leading global communications consultancy, leveraging deep industry insights to uncover unexpected connections that lead to lasting relationships and meaningful work. 


Chief Business Officer

Comet Bio Sciences

Loula is the Chief Business Officer at COMET with over 15 years of experience in agribusiness and energy industries. Previously the Director of Project Development at Coskata, she was responsible for the development and financing of commercial projects. She also spent 8 years at McKinsey & Company, serving clients at the intersection of chemicals and agribusiness industries, including multinational fertilizer, agrochemical and food companies.


Executive Director

Illinois Agri-Food Alliance

Tyler Strom is Managing Director of the Illinois Agri-Food Alliance (ILAFA) and has been involved in the organization since the development of the FARM Illinois RoadMap in 2014. He drives ILAFA's mission as a neutral platform, fostering cross-sector collaboration to address economic, environmental, and societal challenges across Illinois’ diverse agri-food ecosystem. His expertise is in agri-food systems, sustainability, multi-stakeholder collaborations, and systems thinking. He actively participates, advises, and consults various local, state, regional, and national efforts, including the Chicago Wilderness Agriculture Committee, Network for Employer-led Workforce Solutions (NEWS), Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education (ILCAE), Office of the Lieutenant Governor’s Equity and Food Insecurity Initiative, Midwest Climate Collaborative, and Climate-event Framework for Analysis of Macro-Environmental Systems (C-FrAMES), a NASA IDS project. He is a previous McCloy Fellow and Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Tyler holds a BSc in agricultural business and economics from Iowa State University and an MSc in environmental studies and sustainability science from Lund University, Sweden. 

"The Future of Sustainable Agriculture"

(Moderator) Dr. KIMBERLEE K. KIDWELL, Professor

Associate Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Office of the Chancellor

As Associate Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Dr. Kim Kidwell assists the Chancellor with the strategic development of high-priority, high-impact, multi-stakeholder initiatives for the University. She provides leadership in pursuing resources and developing new and sustained partnerships with academic institutions, foundations, federal and state agencies, alumni, and the private sector. These collaborations are designed to better position the University to lead scientific discoveries and innovations that will inspire and empower tomorrow’s sustainable food, agriculture, nutrition, and health systems. Dr. Kidwell’s goals are to improve student learning; drive sound, innovative research; and cultivate external partnerships to improve the lives and livelihoods of people in Illinois and beyond.


Vice President

Farm Foundation

Tim Brennan is Vice President for External Relations at Farm Foundation, a 90-year-old Chicago-based non-profit organization with a mission to build trust and understanding at the intersection of agriculture and society.  Before joining Farm Foundation in 2013, Tim held several different roles at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Chicago Wilderness Growing With Agriculture Green Vision committee and is the President of the Chicago Farmers Foundation.  Tim grew up on a small farm in northeastern Ohio and currently manages his own hobby farm just outside of Chicago.


Vice President, Sustainability Standards, Measurement and Reporting

Innovation Center for US Dairy

Eric serves as Vice President, Sustainability Standards, Measurement & Reporting at Dairy Management Inc. (DMI). Eric has been with DMI since 2018, leading multiple working groups comprised of subject matter experts and leaders from dairy cooperatives, processors and associations to align on common social responsibility priorities, strategies and actions that better position and support U.S. dairy in key areas such as circularity, GHG emissions, and water stewardship. Eric also supports development of the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment, a voluntary, stakeholder-aligned initiative to quantify industry action on important impact areas and affirm U.S. dairy's longstanding values of responsible production and continuous improvement. Specifically, Eric strives to substantiate the Stewardship Commitment's relevance in the global marketplace by aligning the U.S. dairy value chain's sustainability reporting methods with globally recognized and accepted best practices and standards.


Professor of Regenerative Agriculture in the Crop Sciences Department 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Emily is a Professor of Regenerative Agriculture in the Crop Sciences department at the University of Illinois.  Her research investigates the growth and productivity of perennial C4 grasses to guide their management for biomass, ecosystem services, and profit. As Feedstock Production Theme Leader for the Center of Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) I advance CABBI’s generation of fundamental plant science for production of climate-smart, resilient grass crops that produce value-added bioproducts. As director of I-Regen, an I-state Regenerative Agriculture Initiative, she connects researchers and stakeholders to advance knowledge and practices that foster health and wealth, particularly in disinvested Midwest communities. Her family owns and operates Caveny Farm near Monticello, IL where they graze cattle, sheep, and heritage poultry for local sale; the farm serves as inspiration and proving ground for their ideas and collaborations. She went back to Illinois after twelve wonderful years at Iowa State University, where she remains an Affiliate Professor in the Dept. of Agronomy.


Domestic Markets Manager

Illinois Soybean Association

Tim Rendall serves as the Domestic Markets Manager for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA). ISA represents the 43,000 soybean farmers of Illinois and upholds their interests through promotion, advocacy, research, and education. ISA works to invest in programs focused on market development, soybean production, and government relations to ensure Illinois soybean farmers’ profitability now and for future generations. Tim has over a decade of experience in research and development programming with agri-food systems. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s in Technical Systems Management from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Science Director

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action

With over two decades of invaluable experience in sustainability research and environmental assessment within the food systems domain, Dr. Ying’s significant contributions include leading the sustainability strategy at the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, where she established and steered a groundbreaking sustainability impact assessment for carbon, water, and biodiversity.  A sought-after expert and a certified ESG sustainability practitioner, Ying Wang has made substantial contributions to the evolving landscape of GHG reporting for ESG, product lifecycle, and corporate sustainability reporting. Her expertise encompasses greenhouse gas accounting, lifecycle assessments, ESG reporting, and compliance. Additionally, she actively participates in the emergent climate MRV (measurement, reporting, and verification) of carbon Scope III emissions calculations and their impact on carbon offsets or insets.

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