Impact Lab

About the Impact Lab

No longer an active group, the Impact Lab was created in 2017 as a professional development opportunity for mid-career sustainability professionals working to address global agriculture and food system challenges.

The Impact Lab was facilitated by Sustainable Food Lab and provided a confidential space for peer-to-peer sharing, capacity building, expert coaching and exploration of potential partnerships. Fellows were provided with opportunities to engage in workshops, multi-day learning journeys, monthly peer group calls and one-on-one mentoring.

Fellows came from organizations like PepsiCo, Handsome Brook Farms, Unilever, Niman Ranch, Starbucks, Target, AB InBev, Stonyfield Organic, General Mills, Environmental Initiative, Impossible Foods, MARS, Oatly, Farmer’s Fridge, Costco, Rich Products Corporation, Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc. and Cargill.

“It is a worthwhile and enriching experience to invest in my leadership development by engaging with trusted practitioners who face many of the same challenges as I do. There is comfort in knowing that we encounter similar challenges, be they personal, organizational or systems-wide, and there is great opportunity and fulfillment in sound boarding these challenges with a collective and shared sense of purpose.”

-Shauna Sadawski, VP of Sustainability, Simple Mills (Previously General Mills)

Unique Value

The Impact Lab provided a unique community and structure for professionals to grow and make real impact within their organization and industry. It focused on building capacity and creating system leaders in these areas:

  • Personal Leadership: Fellows learned to manage teams through conflict, bridge cultures and create engagement while navigating short-term business pressures.
  • Strategic Engagement: Fellows learned to engage key people in other functions, lead in industry and create collaborations that scale impacts.
  • Impact Delivery: Fellows learned to balance quick wins and game changers, generate measurable impacts, make the business case for farmers and suppliers and mobilize resources.
“Being in the Impact Lab has been one of the most powerful career development experiences of my life- offering sustained, authentic connection with industry peers, expanding my knowledge about emerging sustainability issues, and renewing my confidence and energy to keep striving for systemic solutions”.

– Urvi Kelkar, Visa Inc. (previously AB InBev)


“At trade associations and conferences, we all show up as ‘peacocks.’ Here we can share where we’re stuck and get support from the very best of our peers.”

-Impact Lab Fellow

Mentoring & Events

The Impact Lab provided a variety of ways to engage including in-person events, peer phone calls and one-on-one mentoring. All activities were encouraged but not required.

In-Person Events

  • Workshops: Two annual workshops provided Fellows with opportunities to learn and practice system leadership skills. Fellows were given the opportunity to share personal stories and receive coaching and advice from peers and mentors.
  • Learning Journeys: Fellows were invited to attendee Learning Journeys hosted by Sustainable Food Lab. Learning Journeys provided an opportunity for Fellows to expand their viewpoint about a specific farming system.

Remote Opportunities

  • Monthly Phone Calls: Fellows could join a small group of peers and Food Lab staff to discuss sticking points in their work, opportunities for pre-competitive collaboration or a variety of other topics.
  • One-on-One Mentoring: Food Lab staff, Academy for Systems Change staff and other mentors from Sustainable Food Lab community were available for one-on-one sessions throughout the year. Additionally, Fellows were encouraged to work with Food Lab staff to establish an Annual Personal Learning Reflection. This exercise allowed Fellows to reflect on areas of improvements and establish goals for the coming year.
  • Quarterly Newsletters and What’s App Chit-chat: For fellows who were unable to commit to monthly phone calls, our quarterly newsletter and WhatsApp Group Chat allowed for Fellows and Food Lab staff to communicate about important information.
“The Impact Lab is just that, impactful. I am grateful for being in a pre-competitive environment with thought leaders that open your mind to new ways of approaching challenges.”

-Tim Wahlquist, Costco
Contact Us

Current Fellows

Julie Anderson

Julie Anderson

Sr. Manager, Global Responsibility
Starbucks

Bilal Bawany

Global Cocoa Sustainability Manager
MARS
Jill Davies

Jill Davies

Corporate Responsibility Lead
Target

Andre Eitner

Agro Sustainability Manager
PepsiCo

Autumn Fox

Climate Sustainability Sr. Manager
MARS

Margaret Henry

Director of Sustainable Agriculture
PepsiCo

Katie Hoard

Global Agricultural Development Manager
AB InBev

Nira Johri

Director of Sustainability
Rich Products Corporation

Jess Newman

Senior Director of Agriculture & Sustainability
McCain Foods

Julie Kunen

Sustainability Director
Oatly

Britt Lundgren

Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture
Stonyfield Organic

Nicholas Mylet

Global Sustainability Manager
AB InBev

Briana Perro

Director of Strategic Sourcing and Sustainability
Farmer’s Fridge

Jamie Thorn

Senior Manager, Ethical Sourcing
Starbucks

Tai Ullmann

Sustainability Manager
Cargill

Tim Wahlquist

Director, Responsible Sourcing & Packaging
Costco

Kristen Wharton

Vice President of Corporate Responsibility
Handsome Brook Farms

Jenna Evans

Global Sustainability Manager
Ben & Jerry’s

Rebekah Moses

Director, Impact Strategy
Impossible Foods

Alicia Laporte

Communications Director
Niman Ranch

Whitney Kakos

Sr. Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability
Keurig Dr Pepper

Cheryl Pinto

Global Values Led Sourcing Manager
Ben & Jerry’s

Alumni

Stefani Grant

Senior Manager, State External Affairs & Sustainability
Unilever

Shayna Harris

Co-founder & Managing Partner
Supply Chain Capital

Urvi Kelkar

Senior Manager, Impact Assessment
Visa Inc.

Seth Petchers

Sustainable Supply Chain Manager
Frontier Coop

Colleen Popkin

Senior Manager, Sustainability
Keurig Dr. Pepper, Inc.

Shauna Sadowski

Vice President of Sustainability
Simple Mills

Christina Skonberg

Senior Sustainability Analyst
General Mills

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