2019 Speakers


speaker: Farm Workers: Alternate Futures for the Coffee Industry

Angela Pelaez - Sustainability Manager, RGC Coffee


Read bio

Angela Pelaez is a third generation Colombian Coffee producer. She began her coffee career in 1998 with the FNC. She currently works for RGC Americas in Colombia as Sustainability Manager and serves as a volunteer of the Farmworker Committee of the SCA Sustainability Center. Her work seeks to create value for coffee producing communities through the supply chain and also supporting the industry in implementation of sustainable initiatives.


PANELIST: Farm Worker panel discussion

Brandie Sasser - Senior Advisor, Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Department of Labor

Read Bio

Brandie Sasser currently serves as Senior Advisor in the Office Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT) at the US Department of Labor. In this capacity she provides expert technical guidance on a variety of labor topics, including approaches for assisting vulnerable and at-risk youth and child and forced laborers. Previously, Ms. Sasser was the Division Chief for Monitoring and Evaluation in OCFT, overseeing a portfolio of evaluations, comprehensive M&E plans, audits, and operational planning and performance reporting. Within OCFT, Ms. Sasser has also served as Division Chief of Research and Policy, coordinator on combating trafficking in persons, coordinator for Executive Order 13126 list of products made with forced or indentured child labor, and project manager for technical assistance programming in South East Asia. Prior to joining the Department of Labor, Ms. Sasser worked on a series of economic and legal reform projects at the IRIS Center at the University of Maryland and also worked at the World Bank designing and conducting policy and country level evaluations in the Operations Evaluation Department. She has worked for local and international NGOs on issues such as gender and poverty reduction, and has consulted on M&E, child labor, forced labor, and trafficking issues. She holds a MA in International Development from American University and a BA in International Relations from Xavier University.



Michelle Deugd - Director of Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods, Rainforest Alliance

Read Bio

As Director of Agriculture, Michelle provides strategic direction for the work in Sustainable Agriculture to deliver the Rainforest Alliance mission. She holds a M.Sc. in Tropical Agriculture, graduated at Wageningen University, with 20 years of experience in Sustainable Agriculture in Latin America, Africa and Asia. During the nine years she has worked with Rainforest Alliance she has also led the development of the sustainable yield concept for coffee and cocoa and managed a coffee projects in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Michelle is member of the technical committee of the GCP.


Moderator: Climate Change PANEL DISCUSSION

Molly Laverty - Director of Sustainability, Farmer Bros. Co.

Read Bio

Molly Laverty is the Director of Sustainability for Farmer Bros Co. Molly started with Farmer Brothers in 2010 as a green coffee buyer and has been critical in developing direct trade verified sustainable programs and growing Farmer Brothers' overall portfolio of responsibly sourced coffees and other products. Molly sits on the Specialty Coffee Association's Sustainability Council, McDonald's Supplier Sustainability Council, and is on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Coffee Communities. Molly graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in Anthropology, Spanish, and Latin American Studies. Her passions include hiking, gardening, and coffee!


SPEAKER: Profitability: Beyond Costs of Production

Michael Sheridan - Director of Sourcing and Shared Value, Intelligentsia Coffee


Michael Sheridan is the Director of Sourcing and Shared Value at Intelligentsia Coffee. In that role, he oversees the work of a team of seven green coffee buyers sourcing coffee from more than 30 Direct Trade partners in 14 countries. Prior to joining Intelligentsia, Michael spent more than a decade leading coffee projects for the international aid organization CRS, living and working extensively in Mexico, Central America and South America. He has written and spoken widely on sustainability issues in the coffee sector. He lives with his wife and three children near Chicago.


panelist: profitablility panel discussion

Vera Espíndola - Director Sustainability and Shared Value, SAGARPA

Read bio

With a Bachelor in International Business and Masters in Development Economics, she started researching the value chain of coffee for Anacafé in Guatemala. From there, she started to work for UTZ, a NGO focusing on sustainable farming practices overseeing the coffee program in Africa, Asia and mainly Latin America.

Since Abril of 2016, Vera continued her professional path with the Secretary of Agriculture in Mexico (SAGARPA), which initiated in October 2015 the Plan for the Care of Coffee. Currently as Sustainability and Shared Value Director, she focuses on harmonizing the elements of sustainable coffee production in the Plan as well as overseeing the market strategy.

Since October 2015, Vera is also member of the Sustainability Council of the Specialty Coffee Association.

panelist: Climate Change PANEL discussion

Meredith Taylor - Sustainability Manager, Counter Culture Coffee

Read Bio

Meredith has worked in specialty coffee for 9 years, starting as a barista and moving into customer support before entering her current role as the Sustainability Manager at Counter Culture Coffee. She has an educational background in environmental policy and enjoys drawing on this experience for her work on with the SCA on sustainability issues and her role at Counter Culture. She has been working with Duke University to study the use of participatory methodologies to address climate change adaptation and has recently piloted a farmer-based workshop that reflects those learnings.



Juan Luis Barrios - Manager, Finca La Merced

Read Bio

Third generation coffee farmer. Juan Luis has been managing the family farm, Finca La Merced and El Retiro del Quisaya, since 2006. Former board member of Anacafe. Current board member of the Specialty Coffee Association.


PANELIST: Farm Worker panel discussion

Iris Suyapa Alvarado Lemus

Read bio

Iris Alvarado was born in Honduras on June 26, 1985. Until today she has received training that integrates diverse disciplines, including Education Teacher, Industrial Engineer, Q grader and coffee producer. She has also served as Director of the school of Catación for young people and children in Capucas - an initiative that was born due to the need to form a Honduran coffee industry. Iris currently works as a manager of quality control and production at the Cooperativa Cafetalera Capucas Limitada in San Pedro Copán, Honduras.


PANELIST: Farm Worker panel discussion

Colleen Popkin - Senior Manager, Sustainability, Keurig Green Mountain

Read bio

Colleen B. Popkin is a Senior Manager in Sustainability at Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. responsible for social impact and supply chain outreach. Colleen works closely with Keurig’s Coffee Sourcing team to invest corporate resources into building more resilient households, businesses, and ecosystems in coffee origins to promote the long-term supply of quality coffee. Prior to joining Keurig, Colleen was a Senior Manager with Accenture, the global business and technology consulting firm. Colleen holds a B.A. from Middlebury College in Vermont and serves on the Board of the Sustainable Food Lab.



Gerardo Flores - Director, Anacafé

Read Bio

Gerardo Flores has extensive experience in coordinating and executing agricultural projects, on a national and international level. He Currently serves on the Board of Directors of ANACAFÉ.