We're guided by a team of leaders who are united under our mission to alleviate global poverty and promote sustainable development. Combined with the collective wisdom and constructive feedback of our Board of Directors and Advisory Council, these individuals enable us to deliver more impact to more communities around the world.
Paul Rice is founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA, the internationally-acclaimed social enterprise and leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. He launched the award-winning nonprofit organization in 1998 after spending 11 years organizing farmers in the highlands of Nicaragua. There he founded and led the country's first Fair Trade coffee export cooperative, which introduced him to the transformative power of market-based approaches to sustainable development. Paul then returned to the United States to obtain his MBA from Berkeley Haas with the dream of bringing Fair Trade to consumers, businesses and farmers worldwide.
People called him crazy in the beginning, but Paul had a bold vision for Fair Trade: from his years in Nicaragua, he knew that farmers and workers could learn to navigate the global market and empower themselves on a journey out of poverty. He believed that business could become a major force for social and environmental change, creating “shared value” and sustainability with profitability. He envisioned a consumer awakening and recognition that everyday purchases can impact the world for the better. In short, Paul believed deeply that the FairTrade movement would have a major impact on the world and also help propel a much larger, lasting shift toward Conscious Capitalism.
Twenty years later, Fair Trade has grown into a widely-known and increasingly mainstream consumer trend that is rapidly approaching an inflection point. In 2016, consumer recognition of the Fair Trade Certified label reached 67% and U.S. retail sales of Fair Trade products grew to an estimated $6 billion. Paul and his team have enlisted the support of over 1,300 companies, including market leaders like Green Mountain, Starbucks, Nespresso, General Mills, PepsiCo, Whole Foods, Costco, Target and Walmart. Fair Trade USA now certifies coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, coconut, fresh fruits and vegetables. Most recently, through groundbreaking partnerships with Patagonia, West Elm and Gap Inc., Fair Trade has begun certifying apparel and home furnishings to improve working conditions and incomes for factory workers.
Since its launch, Fair Trade USA and its partners have generated almost $500 million in additional income for farmers and workers in more than 70 countries worldwide, allowing them to keep their kids in school, care for the land and steadily improve their livelihoods.
Paul’s rich, first-hand experience over the last 30 years in the areas of sustainable agriculture, grassroots economic development, global supply chain transparency and consumer activation is unique in the certification world. He is now a leading advocate of “impact sourcing” as a core strategy for both poverty alleviation and sustainable business.
Paul has been honored for his pioneering work by Ashoka, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Fast Company Magazine’s Social Capitalist of the Year award (four-time winner), Ethisphere’s 100 Most Influential in Business Ethics, Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year (2012 Finalist), the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and Ethical Corporation's Responsible Business Leader of the Year (2019). The Texas-native holds an Economics and Political Science degree from Yale University and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, where he is now an Executive Fellow. Paul has spoken at the World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, Skoll World Forum, TEDx and numerous universities and conferences around the world.
Larry Ruff joined Fair Trade USA as President & Chief Operating Officer in April 2020. In this role, Larry leads all operational aspects of Fair Trade USA's business, including standards, auditing and certification programs, marketing and sales, and business development activities.
Larry has 30+ years of experience working with major US and global brands, small, medium, and large for-profit corporations, social entrepreneurs, and a variety of nonprofit organizations.
Larry is a passionate advocate for poverty alleviation, economic justice, sustainable development, diversity and inclusion, and health and wellness. Larry is a mission-driven leader focused on building purpose-driven organizations, leveraging business as a platform for growth and good, developing diverse teams, and delivering meaningful social, environmental, and economic impact.
Larry served as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Fair Trade USA from 2017 to 2020 and was an active member of the board from 2014 to 2020. During this period, Larry served on the board's Executive Committee and as Chair of the Nominating & Governance Committee. He is passionate about fair trade and proud of Fair Trade USA's 20+ year track record of impact.
Larry served as CEO and Board Director for the US Healthful Food Council (EatREAL.org)—a social enterprise focused on fueling food system transformation by promoting food and beverage options that are good for people and planet—from 2017 to 2019.
Larry has worked as a Strategic Advisor and Board Director for several Silicon Valley-based marketing technology startups, food business entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and major brands.
From 1987 to 2012, Larry held a variety of leadership positions with Levi Strauss & Company in the US and internationally, including Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer, Global Marketing Officer, and Managing Director. During his time with Levi's, Larry and his team received over 40 awards for product and marketing innovation, brand-building, corporate social responsibility, diversity, and sustainability.
Larry began his business career in Brand Management with The Procter & Gamble Company's Food & Beverage Division.
Larry received a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from Rutgers College and an MBA from Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management. He is also a graduate of Columbia University's Digital Marketing Strategy program.
Larry lives in San Francisco with his family.
Clay comes to Fair Trade USA after almost ten years in the sustainable certification industry. He leads the organization’s work in developing Standards across all product categories, commodities and industries. In addition, he and his team work to ensure that certification is an effective tool for managing risks in supply chains, while also delivering on the impact objectives of Fair Trade USA. Finally, Clay oversees all Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact work, delivering solid and meaningful data for our commercial, supply chain and origin partners, while also constantly working to improve our internal systems and processes. Prior to joining the organization, Clay began his career at the Fairtrade Foundation in London, where he encouraged brand engagement with Fair Trade and saw the UK food sector adopt sustainability-oriented labelling systems. Clay later moved to the global certification company, FLO-CERT. Working in various management capacities, including Associate Director of Certification, he pioneered numerous innovations into the FLO-CERT certification systems and oversaw all audits and certification decisions across 70 countries. He left FLO-CERT in 2013 to set up Adaptogether, which partners with supply chains and certification systems to develop more sustainable business practices.
Mary Ostafi joined Fair Trade USA as the first Chief of Staff in 2018. She oversees the Office of the CEO and is responsible for a variety of critical functions in support of the CEO and Executive Leadership Team.
Mary’s passion for sustainability and community development has translated across multiple sectors over the course of her career. Most recently, she founded the nonprofit organization, Urban Harvest STL, to build community around inclusive and resilient local food systems. She pioneered an urban agriculture movement in St. Louis and built the first rooftop farm in the region – the FOOD ROOF Farm. Mary grew a network of urban farms in underutilized spaces across the city, stimulating biodiversity, growing healthy food for people who need it, and educating the community around food equity and sustainable agriculture.
Mary began her career in architecture with a focus on green building design at multiple national and global architecture and design firms. She was an early adopter of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system. Her strong interest in sustainability motivated her to pursue a Master of Science in Sustainability Leadership from an international University in Sweden. Mary collaborated with the Dublin City Council to develop a City Sustainability Plan for her dissertation. Upon graduation, she joined global architecture firm, HOK, as a Sustainability Manager, where she led internal sustainability initiatives across their 24 offices around the world and served as a consultant for clients seeking sustainable buildings. Later, she joined Washington University’s Office of Sustainability where she led a partnership of campus and community stakeholders to develop a Strategic Plan for Sustainable Operations.
Mary is a high performing and multi-faceted professional with a track record of achievement within business, academia, nonprofits, and community contexts. She is a collaborative leader, strong community activist, and a seasoned public speaker who has addressed national and international audiences. She brings a personal passion for developing partnerships that result in positive social and environmental impacts.
Leilani Latimer is an energetic go-to-market executive and board advisor with a track record of taking nascent products, programs, and companies to scale and for her ability to balance today’s tactics with tomorrow’s strategies. Her operational expertise extends across the full commercial continuum from marketing to customer success, including accelerating customer acquisition and revenue, and commercial optimization – all underpinned by her passion for data. Leilani is known for her unique perspective on corporate risk and reputation, shaped by her specialization in ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) and her systems-thinking approach to transformational, high impact change.
Leilani joined Fair Trade USA in January 2021 and leads the organization’s commercial transformation and growth efforts as interim Chief Commercial & Marketing Officer. Previously Leilani was the Chief Marketing & Commercial Operations Officer at Earlens, a privately held medical technology company. There she transformed the end-to-end, B2B2C customer experience and led marketing, customer research and performance analytics, customer care, and business process improvement teams.
Prior to Earlens, Leilani led Global Marketing, Partnerships & Commercial Operations for Zephyr Health, a cloud-based data and analytics company (SaaS) serving the life sciences industry, where she built the marketing organization from the ground up, secured channel growth with strategic industry partners, doubled its revenue each year, and guided the enterprise from startup to growth stage, through to acquisition.
Previously Leilani spent 25 years with Sabre Inc. (NASDAQ:SABR), the world’s largest technology and services provider for the travel industry. Her tenure includes roles in various business units, both in North America and Europe. Leilani received global accolades for developing and leading Sabre Holdings’ enterprise Sustainability strategy, reporting directly to the CEO. She launched the Travel Industry’s first Green Hotels program with Travelocity and instituted comprehensive ESG reporting systems and KPIs for the company. She was elected and served as an Executive Board Member on the council that developed the first Global Certification Standard for Hotels and Lodging for 5 years.
During her tenure with the Sabre Travel Network, Leilani led Global Marketing Planning and transformed the company’s $300M investment plan across four global regions. Leilani spent 10 years with Sabre EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) in Product Management, Marketing and Sales roles for the Southern European Division from its inception through its achievement of 15% market share.
Leilani holds a BA from UC San Diego, a certificate in Management for International Executives from UC Riverside and a certificate in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School. She resides in San Francisco, is a regular writer and speaker, and holds both US and Italian citizenship.
Carlos Ruiz joined FTUSA in August 2015 and serves as Vice President of Finance. Prior to joining Fair Trade USA, Carlos led the Finance department for over five years at International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), a non-profit organization based in San Francisco, CA. In addition to professional experience in the non-profit environment, Carlos worked seven years supervising the Accounting and Finance departments for Amidi Group, a family own business. Previously, Carlos worked for leading international corporations based in Mexico, including Deloitte.
Born in Mexico City, Carlos graduated with honors from Escuela Bancaria y Comercial, known as Mexico’s leading business school, where he received a degree as Public Accountant.
Carlos lives with his two sons in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is active in the community and enjoys coaching baseball and soccer youth teams. In his personal time, Carlos enjoys golfing, riding his motorcycle and spending time with friends.
Maya Spaull, Senior Director of Apparel and Home Goods at Fair Trade USA, spearheads the strategic development of the Fair Trade manufacturing program. In this role, she oversees all aspects of bringing Fair Trade apparel and home goods products to market, connecting stakeholders in the sector and building Fair Trade supply chains with leading global brands and factories. Maya's commitment to economic sustainability for global communities and her deep belief in positive systems change is grounded in her early work as an ethnobotanist. Maya has worked at Fair Trade USA since 2004, managing a multitude of products including tea, honey, wine, cosmetics and developed FT USA’s Seafood program.
Maya is an experienced ambassador for Fair Trade USA, often visiting with Fair Trade producer groups and representing the organization at global industry events. Prior to joining Fair Trade USA, Maya worked in the gemstone industry on sourcing and sales. She also developed and sold her own line of jewelry. Maya is a mother, avid gardener, dancer, music enthusiast, and works locally in the Bay Area on sustainable food issues.
Nathalie Marin-Gest is Head of Producer Services at Fair Trade USA, having joined in 2013. Growing up in fair trade on the farm support side, Nathalie has trained thousands of workers and growers on fruit, vegetable, and rose farms throughout the Americas, helping them achieve and maximize the impact of fair trade certification. She then pivoted to lead the exploration of bringing fair trade to agricultural production in the Global North and helped certify the first fair trade farm in the US. Nathalie then moved into leading the strategic development and growth of the Fair Trade USA Produce & Floral program, which has expanded to include the Seafood program in a new Fresh Goods commercial department. As Head of Producer Services, Nathalie is leading program development and implementation in the field across all fair trade product categories.
Before working at Fair Trade USA, Nathalie worked as a Spanish-English court interpreter in northern California, where she began to learn more about farm workers' issues from her collaboration on hundreds of court cases, medical appointments, and workers' compensation hearings. Other past endeavors include supporting indigenous businesses in southern and central Mexican communities with market expansion efforts of artisanal products, as well as working as a market research consultant within the agriculture and tech industries.
Nathalie has dual Bachelor's degrees in Anthropology and International Business, as well as dual Masters Degrees in Development Policy and Business Administration. She was born in Mexico City to a French and Spanish family and grew up in both Mexico and California. Besides fair trade, Nathalie is passionate about family, cultural experiences, and learning.
Ryan Owen is the Senior Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships at Fair Trade USA. Ryan has served international development organizations for more than 15 years working to connect philanthropists of all sizes with opportunities to impact and empower projects that give people opportunities to provide for themselves through sustainable business and agriculture. Giving to Fair Trade USA greatly accelerates the impact that the fair trade certification helps farmers and producers earn, so Ryan and his team are working diligently to expand the opportunities for donors and partner organizations to participate.
Ryan holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University and is a member of the faculty at Drury University where he teaches in the Nonprofit Leadership program offering both graduate degrees and professional certificates for current and aspiring nonprofit leaders. Ryan is passionate about his family, global connections, and continuing to learn.