Mitzi Baum joined the team at Stop Foodborne Illness as the Chief Executive Officer in May 2019. She is motivated by the mission to create a new strategy for Stop and its constituency that will drive change through advocacy, collaboration and innovation.
Prior to beginning her tenure at Stop, Mitzi cultivated a 23-year career at Feeding America beginning as a network services representative rising to the senior level position of managing director of food safety. As managing director of food safety, Mitzi guided the continued development of food safety initiatives including development and execution of the food safety strategic plan; oversight of third-party food safety audit program; food safety educational summits; development of food safety resources; and coordination with donors and regulatory agencies to support food donations. Prior to her career with Feeding America, Mitzi managed restaurants for the Peasant Restaurant Co. in Atlanta, Funky’s Restaurants in Cincinnati, and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises in Chicago.
Mitzi holds a Master of Science in Food Safety and a certificate in Food Law from Michigan State University. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH. She has earned certificates in Non-Profit Management from the University of Chicago, Quality Management from DePaul University and Food Safety Management from Cornell University. She is a certified seafood HACCP instructor and is a certified PCQI. Mitzi is a member of the International Association of Food Protection, the Conference for Food Protection and the Association of Food and Drug Officials.
Maria has been with Stop Foodborne Illness since April of 2010. Initially hired as a part time book keeper, she accepted the full time position of Operations Manager in November of 2010. A year later, Maria was promoted to Operations Director. Her responsibilities include: Finance and Accounting, Human Resources, Board Relations and Office Administration.
Prior to joining our organization, Maria worked at the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB), a nonprofit organization. She has over twenty years of experience in accounting, administrative and member services, and has worked as a Grant Coordinator liaison between CCTB and the State of Illinois government grant administration.
Maria is a graduate of Northwestern Business College in Chicago. When she is not managing the office Maria likes to garden, go for walks and spend time with her family. She is a wife, and a mother of two teenage boys.
Maria greatly contributes to the growth and success of Stop Foodborne Illness.
Originally an Iowa boy, Stanley was a volunteer with Stop Foodborne Illness before joining the staff in 2011. From the Great Plains to the UK to Illinois by way of California, his work experience has given him opportunities to use his gifts of ideation and adaptability in such diverse fields as design, education, specialty book procurement, farming, office administration, travel, food service and now, nonprofit–where he gets to put all that other good experience to use.
Stanley keeps the Stop website current and viable, manages the e-Alerts and eNews, and engages our treasure trove of volunteer advocates. Additionally, using social media, phone numbers, snail mail, and word of mouth, he seeks out individuals and families impacted by foodborne illness to offer a listening ear as well as platform to share their foodborne illness experience. Stanley assists with social media and exhibiting, when needed. He has a B.S. in Pastoral Ministries, and a BFA in Interior Design.
Kelly Lombardo started with Stop Foodborne Illness in 2013 as a Consultant tasked with diligently and thoroughly ensuring compliance with individual state registration requirements. With more than 20+ years of knowledge and experience, Kelly became full time with Stop Foodborne Illness in 2016.
Naturally, her role and responsibilities have expanded, from being lead contact and liaison for conferences in which we are exhibiting or participating, to administering and supervising correspondence with donors, board members, and partner organizations. Kelly researches, preps, and executes contact for foundation grants, community-supporting associations, and corporate gifting entities. Ongoing, she continues to keep us compliant with state registration requirements.
Additionally, Kelly provides all manner of executive support to Mitzi including making travel arrangements, maintaining calendar oversight, and generally (and specifically!) cultivating clarity and focus.
When she’s not up to her eyes in envelopes and folders, Kelly loves spending time with daughter, Sammy, and family, reads voraciously, and enjoys her neighbors and friends.
Michael Alderson joined the team at Stop Foodborne Illness in December 2019 where he serves as the Alliance Manager. Coming from an extensive food background that includes operations, food sales, and food safety, Michael most recently served as a Quality Assurance Auditor at a commercial bakery in Chicago.
Michael is excited to help grow and manage the Alliance while working with food industry professionals and STOP constituents to provide assistance to companies seeking to improve their food safety culture and training programs. Engaging individuals and families to tell their stories will be an integral piece of the Alliance that he is hopeful will prove effective at reducing the number of people impacted by foodborne illness.
Michael earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from Indiana University and recently completed his Master’s Degree in Regulatory Affairs of Food and Food Industries through Northeastern University, Boston, MA.
Michael lives in Chicago with his wife. He enjoys spending as much time outdoors as possible, because he loves grilling and using his smoker. He is an avid animal lover that enjoys volunteering at nursing homes through a local animal rescue group bringing dogs (and an afternoon of smiles) to residents. He is eager to add a new 4-legged member to their family soon.
Jaime Ragos attended the University of Tennessee – Knoxville (Go Vols!) where she received a BS in Food Science, and a BA in Language and World Business completing Hispanic Studies with a professional emphasis in International Business.
Her interest in food safety blossomed during her time as a food science summer scholar at N.C. State University under Dr. Clint Stevenson. As the Theno Fellow, she will spend her time working with Stop Foodborne Illness while simultaneously completing courses with Michigan State University for an Online Food Safety Certificate. After that, she intends to pursue further food safety study in graduate school in either public health or food science.
Jaime then plans to pursue her M.D./PhD where she will specialize in infectious diseases of the GI tract.
When she’s not hitting the books hard, or finding out everything there is to know about the long term consequences of foodborne illness, Jaime likes to cook dishes with lots of ingredients and multiple steps, hangout with her friends or family, and stay active with yoga, walking, and barre.
Mike Taylor got his start in food safety at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a staff attorney (1976-80) and served as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy (1991-94) before moving to the USDA where he served as Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service and Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety (1994-96).
Before rejoining the FDA in 2009, Mike spent close to a decade conducting food safety, food security and public health policy research and serving as a Senior Fellow at the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, where he conducted research on U.S. policies affecting agricultural development and food security in Africa.
In his third stint at the FDA as the Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, Mike led the comprehensive overhaul of FDA’s food safety program Congress mandated in the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 and oversaw all of FDA’s food-related activities, including its nutrition, labeling, food additive, dietary supplement, and animal drug programs. Mike Taylor is currently a senior fellow at the Meridian Institute, focusing on food safety globally and food security in Africa and other developing regions.
In the private sector, Mike founded the food and drug practice and was a partner in the law firm of King & Spalding, was Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto Company, and served on the boards of the Alliance to End Hunger and RESOLVE, Inc. He is currently a member of the board of Clear Labs, Inc.
Lauren Bush brings eight years of experience in politics and has lobbied passionately for increased consumer protections at the state and federal levels.
She first joined Stop in 2009 after she contracted hemorrhagic E.coli in the 2006 spinach outbreak. Driven to affect change for all consumers, Lauren was honored by Pew Charitable Trusts for her efforts to advocate for the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Currently, Lauren is the Manager of Government and Community Affairs at the New York Public Library, working on policy and collaborative city partnerships helping millions of New Yorkers gain access to resources. She last served as Chief Operating Officer of a million member PAC, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee where she oversaw all operations, human resources, and compliance. As a fellow of Senator Gillibrand, she served on the event planning team for the inaugural Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit.
Lauren received her M.P.A. in public policy analysis from New York University and a B.A. in art history from the University of Kentucky.
Mary Heersink is a food safety advocate, and the author of E. Coli O157: The True Story of a Mother’s Battle with a Killer Microbe. In it, she recounts the harrowing experience of her son Damion, who in 1992 at the age of 11 ate contaminated hamburger meat at a Boy Scout outing and spent six-and-a-half weeks near death in pediatric intensive care. Despite Damion’s ultimate victory over E. coli O157:H7, Mrs. Heersink found her confidence in our food safety systems shaken. Her encounters with ineffective government agencies led her to co-found S.T.O.P. (Stop Foodborne Illness) in the aftermath of the Pacific Northwest E.coli epidemic in 1993.
Mrs. Heersink has served on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. She has also testified before the U.S. Congress and has presented at scientific meetings, both nationally and internationally.
Mrs. Heersink currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Masters of Global Heath Programme, a joint initiative between McMaster University in Canada, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India, and Thammasat University in Thailand, University College of Southeast Norway, and Universidad del Rosario in Colombia.
She also serves on the Board of Visitors for the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine.
She has served on Boards of Directors for numerous nonprofit and civic organizations in her community of Dothan, Alabama, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Dothan, Wiregrass Museum of Art, Houston Academy, and Landmark Park.
Mrs. Heersink has been married for 40 years to Dr. Marnix Heersink, an ophthalmologist. Trained as a visual artist, she is currently illustrating a volume of ophthalmic muscle surgery.
Dr. and Mrs. Heersink have six children and seven grandchildren. Mrs. Heersink splits her time between Alabama and the Netherlands, where the couple renovated a 16th-century national monument in collaboration with a historical preservation foundation.
Gillian Kelleher started her career with Express Foods Group in England where she worked at various locations in manufacturing Quality Assurance. From there, she moved to Burger King Europe in London to work as a Supplier Quality Assurance Auditor and in 1992, relocated to France to work as a plant Quality Assurance Manager at Häagen Dazs’ green field European manufacturing site.
Gillian’s next stop was with Grand Metropolitan Foods Europe where she served as Senior Quality Assurance Manager and was responsible for all aspects of Quality Assurance for eight manufacturing locations in four countries. Currently, Gillian works for Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., a mid-Atlantic grocery chain, where she has been the VP of Food Safety & Quality Assurance since 1997.
For over three years, she has been central to cultivating Wegmans’ relationship with Stop Foodborne Illness.
Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health.
With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food.
Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk, contributes to barfblog.com and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow Ben on Twitter @benjaminchapman.
Jorge Hernandez graduated from Rockford University in Illinois with degrees in chemistry and biology. He also holds a degree in French culture from La Université de la Sorbonne in Paris, France, and a degree in microbiology from the Centro de Estudios Científicos y Tecnológicos Especialidades Medico-Biológicas in México City, México.
Joyce Williams is the Chief Culture Officer at AEP Energy, leading their marketing, communications and cultural endeavors. As an accomplished communications and organizational development executive, she is responsible for the delivery of mission-driven communications that express the voice and values of AEP Energy to the customers, employees and communities they serve.
Joyce has extensive experience in a variety of industries and organizations including consumer products, technology software and consulting, marketing and advertising and retail energy supply. The breadth of her experience stretches across Fortune 500, venture capital-backed, privately-held and start-up organizations. In each organization, Joyce has championed transformative change through the strategic 360° alignment of culture, communications and organizational design.
Joyce holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Millikin University. She currently serves as a mentor at 1871, where she advises and consults with the entrepreneurial community in Chicago. Joyce and her husband, Jim, live in Chicago and have four children.
Craig Wilson is the Vice President, General Merchandising Manager of Quality Assurance/ Food Safety, Non-Foods Quality Assurance, Environmental Services/Hazmat and Merchandise Services for Costco Wholesale Corporation. Costco Wholesale Corporation operates membership warehouses world-wide, that offer a selection of branded and private label products in a range of merchandise categories.
Costco is a global leader when it comes to food safety, and all suppliers must meet their strict compliance requirements. Costco’s food safety audit systems, STEC testing of fresh foods, x-ray product inspection, and unique positions on the Global Food Safety Initiative and the global regulatory environment, is well known industry wide.
Prior to joining Costco Wholesale, Craig worked as a Special Projects Director for Frigoscandia Equipment Food Safety Systems for over 24 years. During his time with Frigoscandia, Craig published numerous research papers in the areas of food safety and food processing and holds many patents, the most notable for steam pasteurization of food, and is the recipient of the Gia/Matek Global Excellence in Food Safety Award.
He currently serves on the boards of Stop Foodborne Illness, the Global Food Safety Initiative, the Center for Produce Safety, the Center for Food Integrity, and the Steering Committee for the National Food Safety Consortium.
Amanda Craten is a mother, an educator, and a food safety advocate from Arizona. She is currently a Special Education Assistant for Resource at Desert Palms Elementary School and is working towards her bachelors degree in Special Education and Elementary Education at Northern Arizona University.
She has three beautiful children. The youngest, Noah, was a victim of the Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak in 2013. Their family has been fighting to make change in the industry since then and became the first to take a poultry producer through civil trial and win. Food safety has made huge strides in recent years but there is still but there is still much work to be done.
Amanda wants others to see families like hers, not as victims, but as architects of change. Amanda evokes the words of Heidi Wills, “You can choose to be affected by the world, or you can choose to affect the world.”
Dr. Patricia M. Griffin is Chief of the Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The branch conducts surveillance for cases of illness and for outbreaks, does studies of human illness due to bacterial agents such as Salmonella and E. coli O157, tracks trends in these illnesses, and analyzes data on the relationship of illnesses to particular foods. Dr. Griffin has supervised epidemiologic investigations throughout the United States and overseas. She has authored or co-authored over 235 journal articles, book chapters, and other publications.
“Helping all parties understand the major sources of and trends in foodborne illness is one way that Stop Foodborne Illness can help foster informed decisions by industry and government on policies and strategies that result in safer food,” said Dr. Griffin.
Dr. Griffin holds an adjunct appointment in the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. She received an MD degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, trained in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, trained in gastroenterology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, in mucosal immunology at the University of Pennsylvania, and in epidemiology with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS). She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, is a Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America and a member of the American Epidemiological Society.
Rob Swenson has been with ORBA (Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams, Ltd.) since 1996 and is a member of the firm’s Tax Leadership and Training Committees. Over the course of his career, Rob has gained extensive experience serving individuals, trusts, partnerships and privately-held corporations.
His specialties include tax compliance, tax planning and consultations for owners and key executives. Rob works closely with many law firms, professional corporations, professional athletes, restaurants and also with a wide variety of other industries.
While Rob focuses on supporting the firm and clients while on the job, away from work, he spends time supporting his family. Whether it’s using his season tickets to Cubs games on a sunny summer day, coaching kids’ sports or cheering on the University of Michigan, Rob enjoys being there for his family and friends.