Leadership Team

Jack Chambers Founder, President

 

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Jack directs and manages production, both of VermiCompost and VermiConcentrate. He also heads up the Research and Development team, which conducts growing trials, develops new products, and interfaces with the Academic Advisory Board.

In 1992, Jack Chambers, a commercial airline pilot, purchased a worm farm in Sonoma Valley, and began educating himself about vermiculture and vermicomposting. He attended worldwide worm conferences, engaged researchers, and studied design before building his first continuous flow vermicomposter in 2001. Concurrently, Jack developed a system and process for converting dairy manure into organic compost, and then pathogen-free biologically superior VermiCompost.

Between 2002 and 2012, Jack refined his VermiComposting System and processes, developed VermiCompost and Teas, implemented a Research and Development program, and expanded operations. Growers throughout the Napa and Sonoma Valleys have come to rely on Jack’s VermiCompost and liquids to produce high quality plants – herbs, vegetables and wine grapes.

Jack retired from flying in 2011, after 33 years, to grow the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm, and launch TerraVesco, its commercial division. Jack is a regular speaker on vermiculture, and the uses and benefits of vermicompost and teas as organic fertilizers in organic farming. He has appeared in the New York Times, Eye on the Bay (CBS SF Bay Area), and Growing a Greener World.

Jack holds a B.A. in Modern Western European History from the University of California at Berkeley.

 

Brian O'Toole Chairman of the Board

 

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Brian O’Toole provides executive leadership and strategic vision. He is 30-year veteran of the investment management and financial services industry. Brian co-founded AssetMark Investment Services, which was sold to Genworth Financial in 2006.  He served as the Chief Executive Officer of Genworth Financial Wealth Management until the fall of 2009.

Brian’s primary responsibilities included strategic planning, product development, and directing the firm’s practice management training and consulting activities. During his tenure, he guided and mentored hundreds of independent financial advisors helping them to build and manage better performing businesses. Brian is co-author of “The Art of Investing & Portfolio Management,” and was recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005.

In 2009, Brian retired from Genworth Financial Wealth Management to provide entrepreneurial guidance to promising start-ups and early-stage sustainable businesses. In 2012, he became a principal in the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm LLC, and was named Chairman of TerraVesco.

Brian holds a B.A. in Political Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

 

Richard North Chief Executive Officer

 

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Richard North leads business operations for TerraVesco, including strategy, finance, technology, sales and marketing. He is also responsible for developing and executing the company’s overall scalable business model and strategic vision. Richard comes from a multi-generational farming family, with strong ties to agriculture.

With an extensive background in management consulting, Richard has served clients in numerous industries. Most recently, at ZS Associates, Richard helped transform the firm’s global operational delivery capabilities. His teams assessed and implemented operational standards and continuous improvement initiatives, increasing the accuracy and efficiency of client operations around the world.

Richard graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana with a B.A. in Economics. He also holds a Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

 

Margaret Lloyd Chief Scientist

 

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Margaret received her MS (2011) and PhD (2015) in Plant Pathology from UC Davis. Working to find non-chemical alternatives to methyl bromide fumigation, her research focused on the cultural practices for management of soil borne pathogens. Her research examined commercial composts effects on commercial strawberry production, specifically studying root development, disease suppression and productivity. Margaret also received her MS in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis in 2009 and has advised smallholder farms in Kenya, Guinea and Mali on vegetable production practices.

She holds a BA in International Relations and Environmental Science from Tufts University.

Prior to attending UC Davis, Margaret developed a small business, Home Farming International, which provided consultation, training and installation of sustainable farms for urban and suburban landscapes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over her 12 years working in agriculture, she has worked on numerous projects including a nationwide campaign to establish a farm at the White House, and the design and installation of an edible garden at the California Department of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento.

 

Academic/Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Dan Kluepfel, Ph.D. USDA-ARS Research Leader, Location Coordinator, Crops and Pathology Research, UC Davis

 

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Dr. Daniel Kluepfel received a BA in Biology from the University of Missouri, St. Louis and then went on to receive his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology, with a minor Microbiology, from the University of Florida, Gainesville. His Ph.D. research examined the attachment of plant associated bacteria to solid surfaces. After graduation Dr. Kluepfel accepted a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct post doctoral work at the Agriculture University of the Netherlands in Wageningen. This was followed by a second post doctoral position at the Univ. of Hawaii in the Dept. of Plant Pathology where he was involved in the genetic characterization of toxin production by phytopathogenic bacteria. Dr. Kluepfel served on the faculty of the Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology at Clemson University in South Carolina from 1987-2003.

In 2003 Dr. Kluepfel joined the USDA/ARS in Davis, CA. At UC Davis, Dr. Kluepfel is the Research Leader of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The majority of Dr. Kluepfel’s research focuses on bacterial diseases of almonds and walnuts, specifically crown gall disease. Dr. Kluepfel and the ARS team identified some of the early sources of infection for crown gall disease. Their findings regarding how the agrobacterium affects seeds at a very early stage has lead to nursery operators changing harvest, handling, and planting procedures. Positive results from this research and the new growing techniques developed from it are being seen now.

The response of growers to new information and practices is one of the best aspects of doing agricultural work in California, according to Dr. Kluepfel. Growers are quick to pick up new practices if they are proven to be effective.

An exciting current project of Dr. Kluepfel’s is developing ways to move away from using fumigants and work to modify the natural biology to suppress disease agents. Bioinformatics is key to this process and the ARS is working with the National Clonal Germplasm Repository to screen the walmut germplasm collection for varieties resistant to crown gall. Breeding new disease resistant strains could drastically reduce the need for chemical agents in the growing process, but will take time to successfully implement as a growing practice. Still, Dr. Kluepfel is hopeful about the impact this project will have on future growing practices.

 

Dr. Paul R. Anamosa, Ph.D. , Owner, Vineyard Soil Technologies

Dr. Anamosa is the owner of Vineyard Soil Technologies, a California based viticulture consulting company specializing in soil analysis, land evaluation for wine grape production, and vine nutritional disorders.

Dr. Anamosa has Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Agricultural Biology, and Pest Management from New Mexico University. He earned a MS degree in Soil Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in Soil Fertility Management from the University of Florida. He received a MS in Viticulture from UC Davis in the spring of 1997.

Dr. Anamosa won a prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science Diplomacy Fellowship in 1989, and worked as a research strategy consultant on soil fertility management issues in over 15 African countries.

Dr. Anamosa started Vineyard Soil Technologies in 2004 and estimates that he has evaluated over 18,000 soil pits and interpreted the data from over 30,000 soil and grape leaf tissue samples in his 14 years working in California viticulture.

 

Vicki H. Bess M.S. Microbiology, Arizona State University; Former Adjunct Professor, Arizona State University, Department of Microbiology; Founder and former President, BBC Laboratories, Inc.

 

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Vicki Bess is a microbiological consultant specializing in microbial concerns of the agriculture community. She is the founder and former owner of BBC Laboratories, Inc., a commercial agricultural microbiology laboratory. She now works internationally to assist clients with analyzing and understanding the relationship between the microbial community in the soil and on the plant with plant health and productivity. Her clients include growers, compost producers, and manufacturers of biological agriculture products.

Vicki has B.S. degrees in Biology and Zoology/Botany from Southeast Missouri State University and a M.S. degree in Microbiology from Arizona State University. Additionally, she served as an adjunct professor for the Department of Microbiology at Arizona State University for 13 years. She has many years of commercial experience designing methodology to evaluate soil microbial diversity, pathogen inhibition, and compost quality issues as well as designing projects to evaluate plant responses to biological agriculture products. Vicki has spoken on the topics of soil microbiology, compost microbiology, turf microbiology, and plant pathogen inhibition at numerous conferences and seminars.

As an independent consultant, Vicki works with clients on projects to optimize plant productivity using economical biological methods. Her goal is to assist others in gaining knowledge about the microbial aspects of their soil and compost and implementing this information to improve plant health and crop yield.

 

Business Advisory Board

Ann M. Veneman Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (2001-2005) and Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (2005-2010)

 

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Ann M. Veneman has a distinguished career in public service, serving as the as the United States Secretary of Agriculture from 2001 to 2005 and as Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2005 to 2010 and.    Veneman’s leadership and vision has been recognized both nationally and internationally.  In 2009 she was named to the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women list and she has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors.

As Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Veneman directed one of most diverse federal agencies with a budget of $113 billion and 110,000 employees.  She also served as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture from 1995 to 1999, overseeing the state agency responsible for nation’s largest agricultural producing region.  From 1986 to 1993, she served in various positions in the USDA, including Deputy Secretary, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, and Associate Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service.  At USDA, Veneman advanced an expanded trade agenda, food protection, progressive farm policy, responsible forest policy, and stronger nutrition programs.

At UNICEF Veneman directed a staff of over 11,000 in more than 150 countries around the world. She worked to support child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all, access to clean water and sanitation and the protection of children and women from violence, exploitation and HIV/AIDS. She traveled to more than seventy countries to review the plight of children, to witness the devastation caused by natural disaster, conflict, disease and exploitation, and to advance programs aimed at improving and saving lives.

Veneman currently serves on the boards of directors for Alexion, Nestlé S.A., and The Climate Corporation.   Alexion is a global biopharmaceutical company that combines groundbreaking science with a steadfast commitment to meeting the needs of patients living with severe, life-threatening and often ultra-rare diseases.  Nestlé S.A. is the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, providing consumers a wide range of food and beverage products.  The Climate Corporation provides unique technology and risk-based products to help farmers manage and adapt to climate change.

Veneman is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Trilateral Commission.   She is a frequent speaker on a range of topics including poverty alleviation, empowering women and girls, food security and nutrition, and global health.

Throughout her career Veneman has served on a number of advisory councils, committees and non-profit boards, particularly those involving higher education.  Currently she is co-chair of Mothers Day Every Day and on the boards of the Close Up Foundation, Malaria No More and the National 4-H Council.  She is also a co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center initiative on Obesity and Physical Activity and on several advisory boards including BRAC, The FEED Project, Pencils of Promise, the Chicago Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative,  the Global Innovative Health Technology Fund, the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, Living Goods, Runa Tea, Driptech and Enlightened.org.   In 2012 she served as a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and the U.C. Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy.

A lawyer by training, Veneman has practiced law in both California and in Washington DC.  Early in her career, she was a deputy public defender.  Veneman holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Davis; a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley; and a juris doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.   She has also been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from several universities and colleges.

 

 

 

David Van Zelst Founder & President, Van Zelst Inc. & Christina Farms Nursery

 

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David is an accomplished landscape architect and nursery professional. He advises TerraVesco on delivering VermiCompost and VermiExtract products to the horticulture and landscape markets.

David Van Zelst is founder and president of Van Zelst, Inc., a landscape design/build firm. Since 1979, his firm has won dozens of national and regional awards for innovative design, construction and landscape management. David is an expert in phased landscaping, in which the design is implemented incrementally, while maintaining a unified landscape.

An author, David wrote Transformations: Ideas for Midwestern Landscape. The book features two gardens his firm installed at the Chicago Botanic Garden. David is also founder and president of Christina Farms Nursery, a tree, shrub, and perennial nursery.

David is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association, the Illinois Green Industry Association and Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). He holds a B.S. in Landscape Architecture from Purdue University.

 

D.G. Macpherson Chief Operating Officer, Grainger

 

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D.G. Macpherson was named Chief Operating Officer for Grainger in August 2015. In this role, he is responsible for all operating units of the company globally, as well as Enterprise Systems.

Most recently, Mr. Macpherson was Senior Vice President and Group President, Global Supply Chain and International, where he led the development of corporate strategy and continuous improvement, the global supply chain organization, the company’s single channel online business model and international operations in Asia and Europe. Prior to that, Mr. Macpherson was Senior Vice President and President, Global Supply Chain and Corporate Strategy.

Mr. Macpherson joined Grainger in 2008 from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where, from 2002-2008, he was Partner and Managing Director. In that capacity, he served as a consultant to Grainger on a number of strategic and operational efforts including availability improvement, pricing strategy, product line expansion and sales force effectiveness.

At BCG, Mr. Macpherson was a member of the Industrial Goods Leadership Team with strong experience in production systems and continuous improvement methodologies. Early in his career, D.G. was an operations manager for Rain Bird Sprinkler Manufacturing Company and a test engineer with the U.S. Air Force.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Mr. Macpherson is a member of the board of directors for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

W.W. Grainger, Inc., with 2014 sales of $10 billion, is North America’s leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products, with operations also in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

 

Ed Schultz Shareholder (Los Angeles) Greenberg Traurig, LLP

 

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Ed is a attorney and advises TerraVesco on legal and business issues, including governance and strategic planning.

Edward Schultz is shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Los Angeles office. Ed has extensive experience representing privately-held and public companies in all areas of corporate law, securities law and corporate finance—including private equity. Ed advises senior managers and boards of directors on a broad range of corporate issues from contract drafting and negotiation to corporate governance and strategic planning.

Ed is an active fundraiser and supporter of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He holds a B.A. in Economics from DePauw University and a J.D. from Southwestern School of Law.

 

Ron Carli Former President and CEO of American Ag Credit

 

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Ron Carli was born and raised on a Petaluma dairy. He received his Bachelor of Science, in Dairy Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, a secondary teaching credential from UC Davis, and a Masters Degree, in Agricultural Science, form Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Ron taught agriculture in high for six years.

Mr. Carli became on of the youngest CEOs in the Farm Credit System, and served as President and Chief Executive Officer of American AgCredit for more than three decades. During his tenure, he forged the creation of Agricultural Credit Associations (ACA) by integrating short-, immediate-, and long-term credit authorities under one umbrella, and negotiated multiple mergers, including the first system merger of non-contiguous farm credit territories.

Mr. Carli retired January 31, 2014 from American AgCredit, where he served as President & Chief Executive Officer for 32 years, and for a total of 35 years with the Association. American AgCredit recognized substantial growth during his tenure, becoming the seventh largest association in the system, with nearly 450 employees and operating 33 branches throughout six states. Under his leadership, American AgCredit grew from $50 million to $6.5 billion in assets.

Mr. Carli has served with the Farm Credit Captive Insurance Committee and the Sonoma County 4-H Foundation Board. In October 2014, the Santa Rosa Junior College Ag Trust, as the Sonoma County Ag & Business VIP, honored him. In 2012 he was the recipient of the 4-H Alumni Recognition Award, which honors a former Sonoma County 4-H Club member, who upholds the values of leadership, citizenship and community service.

 

Ron Cordes Co-founder-Cordes Foundation & Co-chairman of Genworth Financial Wealth Management

 

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Ron Cordes is a leader in social entrepreneurship and impact investment. He advises TerraVesco on community investing.

Ron Cordes is co-founder of the Cordes Foundation and co-chairman of Genworth Financial Wealth Management, with more than $20 billion of assets under management. Cordes co-authored the “The Art of Investing & Portfolio Management” and was recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. He speaks extensively on impact investing and achieving meaning and purpose in an “encore” career.

Ron also serves as chairman of the Executive Committee for ImpactAssets, a nonprofit financial services company formed in partnership with the Calvert Foundation. He is also co-chairman of the Opportunity Collaboration, a global poverty business retreat, and a regent of the University of the Pacific and chairman of the Advisory Board for its Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Ron holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley.