FIBR Board of Directors
The Food Industry Business Roundtable (FIBR) is a non-profit trade association (501)c6 that is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.
Current Board of Directors
Founding Board Members are designated by an asterisk *.
Anna Valls F. Gaviña & Sons
F. Gavina & Sons, Inc., is a 4th generation coffee roaster. Always having her eye on the family business;; her passion for coffee grew as she studied international business and visited coffee producing countries. She has officially worked at Gaviña since 2008 and is currently settled in the McDonald’s Division. In her free time she enjoys the company of her 3 dogs and cat, cooking, traveling and using her groupons.
Henry C. Leong* Vice President, Quon Yick Noodle Company
Quon Yick Noodle, Great Harvest Foods, Inc.
Leong was a charter member of FIBR and has served on the Board Of Directors since then. He continues to support FIBR because it has been a very progressive organization and continues to provide business opportunities and the latest food industry regulation updates and training. He was employed by Quon Yick Noodle Co. for over 35 years manufacturing Chinese noodles. He is currently consulting for Great Harvest Foods on making noodles.
Yvette Nunez Partner, Etchea
Yvette Nunez was a partner of a new Downtown Los Angeles Café, Bakery & Market Place, "Etchea". For over a decade, Nunez served as the Executive Director for the Food Industry Business Roundtable. She also has extensive Government and Non-Profit Experience including her most recent position as Sr. Program Director for Business and Economic Development for CDTech, a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to promoting economic opportunities and justice to low income communities of greater Los Angeles. Before joining CDTech, Nunez worked for RLA (Rebuild L.A.), a non-profit Los Angeles Riot Recovery agency. Nunez is also the former Executive Director of the Toy Association of Southern California (TASC), and has served under former Mayor of Los Angeles Tom Bradley, U.S. Senator Alan Cranston and the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown. Ms. Nunez was the Chef at the Oso Ranch and Lodge in New Mexico for 10 years.
Nunez has received numerous awards and honors and currently is a Board member of the Food Industry Business Roundtable and an Advisory Board member for the Dorsey Culinary Arts Program and the Toy Association of Southern California. Formerly, she served on the Board of Girls and Gangs and was a member of the Steering Committee for the Ca Association of Environmental Health Administrators, Safe, Secure and Sustainable Food Systems Symposium and served on the Legislative Affairs and Environmental Affairs Committees of the California League of Food Processors.
Rosemarie Christopher President, & CEO of MEIRxRS
Rosemarie Christopher is the President and CEO of the MEIRxRS family of companies. She has a strong understanding of employment, on the job training and retention of multigenerational workforce from over 25 years’ experience in recruiting and placing technical and scientific STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) professionals.
Executive placement has been Rosemarie’s focus since 1987 when she first entered the recruitment industry. She is author of “What Employers Hire” (DIA FORUM, Jan 2004), an interactive executive seminar series that reveals the strategies and techniques for successful career development and advancement. An expert in workforce engagement, Rosemarie regularly speaks at industry and corporate events helping management understand what it takes to create a successfully performing synergistic multi-generational diverse team of workers.
Rosemarie has owned and operated the MEIRxRS family of companies since 1992 when she opened the headquarter office in Glendale, California. She has led the MEIRxRS family of companies through exceptional growth. With over $1 million dollars in ‘split’ and ‘contract’ placements and awards for long term hires, Med Exec International is ranked number one in Top Echelon Network, the professional association of 500 plus executive search firms to which it has belonged since 1992.
Rosemarie earned her Master’s degree from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications (1999) with an emphasis on corporate communications, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society (1999). Her BA in Anthropology is from the University of California, Los Angeles (1971). She is an active leader in the community and serves on boards or industry organizations and educational institutions, including:
- Board member, The American Society for Quality (ASQ)
- FD&C Division Chair and National Discussion Group Chair serving 5,600 division members
- Region 7 Deputy Regional Director serving 7,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Science (STEMS) members across three states and Section Career Development and Education Chair
- 15-year Board of Councilors Member of the USC School of Pharmacy and Executive Committee Chair of the Life Sciences Council
- 11-year Orange County Regulatory Science Discussion Group Board Member
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) recruiting and staff augmentation for FDA-regulated businesses
Laura Lee General Manager, Soyfoods of America
Laura Lee is General Manager of Soyfoods of America, a family enterprise. Laura has been with Soyfoods from the beginning when her parents started the business. Still in high school, she began as a gopher and clean up person, and tells us she can still handle a mean floor squeegee!
While going to USC for business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship, she kept the Company books and handled in store demos. After graduating and working full time for Soyfoods, she found out how smart mom and pops were and that the "standard" business models that she learned about didn't really apply to a family run operation. She then learned all the pitfalls of running a food manufacturing plant: regulations, maneuvering big chain store, insurance, etc. 25 plus years later, she is still learning new things and really appreciates FIBR!
Outside of Soyfoods, Laura is a belly dancer and supports many charity events.
John N. Pesce
John N. Pesce experienced in working for a major food company in Los Angeles. He was responsible for developing food safety programs, GMPs SSOP HACCP and Food Security employee training, supplier audits, vendor compliance and pest control.
John has over 46 years of experience in the food industry in both production and executive management capacities. For 27 of those years, he worked at a subsidiary of Kellogg’s', where he developed curriculum and provided employee training in sanitation and hygiene, CGMP's, SSOPs, SPC and pest control and industrial safety. He has extensive experience in thermal processing of canned food products and was responsible for employee training in retort and orbitort operations.
He is a member of four professional organizations (AFDO) Association of Food and Drug Officials the (ASQ) American Society for Quality .and the (ASM) American Society for Microbiology and (FIBR) Food Industry Business Roundtable where He is on the Board of Directors and a trainer for CGMP’s, SSOP’s, GLP’s and Prerequisite for HACCP. He is also a Food Defense Coordinator. He is also an Instructor Proctor for the Certified Professional Food Manager Program and is a registered ServSafe Instructor Proctor for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and he is a GFSI internal auditor.
Mr. Pesce is a licensed steam engineer by the City of Los Angeles. He has attended the University of California at Davis' Better Process Control School;; the American Institute of Baking for certification in Food Processing Sanitation and Hygiene; the University of Tennessee's Statistical Process Control Management for Food Processing;; and the University of Southern California's Food protection Certification Program for food plant manufacturers. He also has a certificate in Seafood HACCP. He is licensed by the structural pest control board # RA-45864 as a pest control applicator. He is also a Food Defense Bioterrorism Risk Management coordinator.
Maurie Thomas 21st Century Fresh Food Consulting
President of 21st Century Fresh Food Consulting. Born in Bell and raised in Maywood California, was the General Manager and part owner of , a 60 year old family owned Fresh Vegetable Processing and Sprout Growing Company in Maywood. Caldwell also Farms almost 200 acres in Oxnard, California growing specific vegetables for their operation. Maurie can best be known for saying that "It is nice to work where everyone cares about the business.
After three years in the US Army, Maurie met and married Judi, they will celebrate 49 years of marriage this year. They have two married children and seven grandchildren. Attending Art Center College of Design gave him the ability to distinguish good work and the realization that his limited artistic ability would not pay the bills. From his first job, Maurie’s enjoyment of working with people is what led him into selling. It was eighteen years ago when Maurie’s friendship with Caldwell’s Founder Jack Caldwell and current President Harry Caldwell got him the job.
Caldwell is very active in all stages of Food Safety and believe Fresh Produce Processing is one of the most exciting businesses to be in, we, other processors and the FDA are developing "How Fresh Cut’s will be processed and marketed in the future." Maurie stays active in supporting several Food Safety and Processing Organizations and serves on FIBR’s Board. Maurie is a member of the Downey Sertoma Club and enjoys photography.
Mike Yadzyn V.P./ Business Development Officer, Manufacturers Bank-Headquarters Office
Mike Yadzyn is Vice President and the Corporate Business Development Officer for Manufacturers Bank. Prior he was a business owner for eight years and President of a Human Resources consulting company for six years. As a commercial business banker since February 2006 he devotes most of his time to the food industry. Food is the largest segment of the bank's portfolio. Always looking for ways to add value to each and every relationship. Taking the time identifying or recommending ways to better manage a client's banking and credit needs. "Watching our clients grow year after year is extremely rewarding". Manufacturers Bank has been a gold sponsor of FIBR since 2012 and will continue to do so in the future.
William works as a Compliance Manager at Tawa Supermarket for over three years. He is responsible for developing food safety programs, GMPs, SSOP, and HACCP progrmas. Our food safety team is responsible for employee training and auditing over 25 locations in Southern California, Nevada, and Texas.
Honorary FIBR Board of Directors Members
Don Whittemore Dandy Don's Homemade Ice Cream
Once Upon A Time (circa 1962 – 67), Don was a stand-up comedian. He worked under the name Don Harris in Atlanta, Miami Beach & Newport, KY. If you have some free time one day, ask him to tell you some jokes.
The next part of this biography starts just after that but still long long ago, in the Time Before CDs. Don was in the record business. He convinced DJs to play records by Frank Sinatra, Elvis, The Beatles, David Bowie, and Cat Stevens (to name a few). Some of those records went gold.
In the late ’70s, Don decided to leave the record business for good. Too much temptation for a family man, he thought. And too few creative DJs.
In 1981 Don and his lovely wife Linda (pregnant with their second child) bought an ice cream shop in Tarzana, California called The Creamery. They thought it would be a gold mine. They were wrong. So they worked their keesters off, got into the wholesale business, and began a catering division. These are photos of Don (photo on the left, 3rd from the left) and Linda (photo on the right) at one of their first hot fudge sundae bar catering gigs at the Directors’ Guild of America. This is how the catering division of their company—now with over 1,000 customers—got its start.
They no longer have The Creamery, or any retail shop. But they have begun putting their homemade ice cream into pints, so once again regular folks can buy their product retail. Funny how things come full circle, even if they do take 20+ years. Don’s favorite part of doing business is dealing with people. He loves talking to his clients, making ice cream with them, and helping them promote their businesses. He loves selling his ice cream to new clients, finding out what they want, tempting them with great service. He just loves people. And he loves making people happy. Good thing he makes great ice cream.
Kenny Yee* CEO and Founder of Imuarock International
Yolk Partners, LLC is an entertainment cross media and intellectual property development and consulting firm. Kenny is also President and CEO of Imurarock Partners, a strategic consulting agency which services media and entertainment enterprises in the China region. Founded in 2008, Kenny is responsible for the firm’s leadership, strategic investments, and business development.
Kenny began his early career working for Wing Hing Noodle Company, a food manufacturing business based in Los Angeles that was founded by his father, Robert Yee. Wing Hing Noodle Company started in 1978 as a “mom and pop” operation with one machine making authentic noodles for Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles. After working in all levels of the company-including business operations, sales and marketing, Kenny eventually took over the business as President in 1993. Under his visionary guidance, Wing Hing Noodle grew into one of the largest noodle manufacturers and distributors of Asian foods in the U.S., with a broad roster of clients that include PF Chang’s. The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Panda Express, Chili’s Bar and Gill, Applebee’s, Souplantation, and Yard House.
After overseeing the successful acquisition of Wing Hing Noodle Co. and Passport Food Group by the private equity group Wedbush Capital Partners. Kenny began to pursue a lifelong goal of transitioning to the media sector, forming Imurarock Partners in Shanghai.
He consulted for the ChopChops animated series, the Animation Creative School with Help university College in Malaysia, and the China Animation Market Conference in Suzhou, China.
In addition, Kenny helped form Showbucks, a new interactive gaming platform co-funded by Time Warner & Cartoon Network.
In 2004, Kenny was presented with The Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Asian Business League, also served as President for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, the Food Industry Business Roundtable, and is a very active member in numerous civic and philanthropic organization in the Asian American community.
Founding Board of Directors
FOUNDING PRESIDENT:Gina Harpur Juanita’s Foods
- Henry C. Leong Great Harvest Foods, Inc.
PAST PRESIDENT:J. Mark Roth El Burrito Mexican Food Products, Inc.
- Shelly Suzuki Suzuki Enterprises
- Kenny Yee Imuarock International