Board of Directors
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.
Board of Directors
Janet Nezhad Band
Janet Nezhad Band has more than two decades of leadership experience in philanthropy and development with particular expertise in strategy, volunteer team building, donor engagement, solicitation, and stewardship.
She is the Chair of Fair Trade’s Development Committee and sits on its Executive Committee. Ms. Band is a Member of the Harvard College Fund Executive Committee, an Elected Director of the Harvard Alumni Association, and a Board Member of the Harvard Club of New York Foundation. Ms. Band also serves on the Advisory Council of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.
Ms. Band clerked for the Honorable William C. Conner in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York prior to joining the litigation practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. She left Paul, Weiss to join MTV Networks as lead counsel for Nickelodeon’s off-channel businesses and the “Nick Jr.” programming block.
Ms. Band received her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School, and an A.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard College. In 1984 she was a Fulbright Scholar in Egypt.
Ron D. Cordes
Ron Cordes has been involved in the investment industry for 25+ years, having founded and sold over this period three companies involved in the real estate investment /management, mutual fund and investment advisory businesses. Most recently, he sold AssetMark Investment Services to Genworth Financial (NYSE:GNW) in 2006, and currently serves as Co-chair of Genworth Financial Wealth Management, which is responsible for over $ 20 bb of assets under management for individual and institutional clients.
Ron is a co-author of “The Art of Investing & Portfolio Management,” published in 2004 by McGraw Hill, and was recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. He holds a BS in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley.
Ron Cordes co-founded AssetMark Investment Services and is currently Executive Co-chairman of AssetMark with more than $25 billion of assets under management. Cordes is co-author of "The Art of Investing & Portfolio Management" and was recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. Cordes co-founded the Cordes Foundation with his wife, Marty, with the goal of advancing market-based solutions that address the world’s most challenging problems. Cordes speaks extensively on impact investing and achieving meaning and purpose in an encore career, and has been profiled in multiple publications including Fast Company, Forbes, Financial Advisor, Financial Planning and Private Wealth Management. Cordes chairs the Executive Committee for ImpactAssets, a nonprofit financial services company launched in 2010, and is also co-chair of the Opportunity Collaboration. In addition, Cordes also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Clinton Global Initiative, and as a board member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Fair Trade USA, MicroVest Holdings, and is Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Center for Social Impact Learning at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA.
Ricardo is Vice President of Sales and Marketing and co-owner of Wholesum Harvest, a grower and marketer of certified organic vegetables with operations in the US and Mexico. Motivated by a sincere belief in stewardship, Wholesum has been a pioneer in organic growing methods that eliminate synthetic chemicals and replace them with naturally occurring inputs to grow vegetables that are a safer for both farmworkers and consumers.
In its 80 years as a family company, Wholesum has worked to adopt a triple bottom line approach to addressing its responsibility to the PEOPLE that grow and buy its produce, the one PLANET we all share, and the PROFITS that enable the continued growth of the company. Wholesum Harvest first began certifying its operations in Mexico under Fair Trade in 2011 and in 2016 became the first Fair Trade certified vegetable farm in the United Sates. In Ricardo’s tenure there, Wholesum has also become a leader in environmental sustainability by making investments in solar energy, irrigation efficiency projects, and promoting biodiversity at the farms.
As the head of Sales and Marketing, Ricardo has worked to create a market for Fair Trade produce by educating retailers and connecting consumers with farm workers through authentic story telling about the positive impact of Fair Trade in worker communities.
To serve his local community, Ricardo serves as a board member of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, an organization that fosters trade between US and Mexico. He is also a volunteer at the Kino Border Initiative helping migrants in the Sonoran Desert by feeding and clothing those in need.
Ricardo holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. He resides in Nogales, Arizona with his wife Kenya and their 3 children.
Robin Evitts has over 30 years’ experience solving costly business problems and managing risk – often innovative “firsts” – with emphasis on global organizations in consumer products, retail, social sector and K-12 education.
Robin’s consulting experience is anchored in strong financial management and corporate governance expertise, first as a Partner at Deloitte and then as a Managing Director at Alvarez & Marsal. She has advised clients about key financial reporting matters, along with driving fiscal and operational efficiencies with specific focus on operating models, process and technology improvements, and strategic vendor relationships as key levers for transformational change.
In addition, Robin served for 7 years as a corporate executive with The Clorox Company, first as the Chief Audit Executive and then as Chief Information Officer. She initiated and led the transformation of the global IT function, driving significant cost reduction, accelerating delivery cycle times, and improving infrastructure resiliency and performance. She also provided strategic leadership to corporate governance and compliance programs, executed operational audits and investigations across the company, and led a finance transformation effort.
Robin holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from University of Illinois and is a licensed CPA (inactive).
In addition to her work with Fair Trade, she is currently actively involved with Girls Inc. of Alameda County (Oakland) as the Board President and Great Minds in STEM as a Board member and Chair of the Audit Committee. Robin has also held industry leadership roles with the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) Information Technology Committee and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA).
Sherri Pittman is Managing Director and co-lead of the California Clean Energy Fund. She brings over 30 years of strategy, corporate development and marketing experience to her role. Known for her strength as a strategist, Sherri excels at leading complex projects and aligning diverse perspectives against a common goal.
Sherri works to continually define the intersection of value amongst all stakeholders, creating partnerships that are aligned around a common goal and actively partnering in a determined way. She brings this sensibility to her work as a facilitator and has successfully lead engagement processes that refine strategy and messaging based on broad cross- stakeholder input. Capability building work has included more than 20 years developing and delivering training across communications, integrated marketing, public relations and strategic planning in both the U.S. and internationally.
Prior to joining CalCEF Sherri served as Executive Vice President of Metropolitan Group leading the firm’s San Francisco office. During her tenure there Sherri provided strategy and organization development consultation to environmental and social justice clients such as Sierra Club, Plan USA International and Bridgestone America. Previously, Sherri served as Vice President of Marketing for Sungevity, a leading Bay Area based solar company, where she established successful awareness building and customer acquisition programs, built an affinity marketing program and scaled the company’s non-profit fundraising partnership program. Sherri’s previous roles include close to ten years at Levi Strauss & Co. leading all aspects of marketing and strategic partnerships for numerous brands.
Sherri holds a Master of Arts in Culture & Spirituality from Holy Names University, an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Florida A&M University.
Deeply engaged in her community and the social change sector, Sherri serves on the board of Envision Education, Mal Warwick Associates and the Social Venture Network.
Paul opened our first "national headquarters” — a one-room office in a converted warehouse in downtown Oakland — in late 1998. Since launching the Fair Trade Certified label, Paul has pushed to mainstream the Fair Trade movement and expand its impact on farmers by innovating the model, partnering with over 800 U.S. companies and expanding certification across new product categories. This vision and leadership helped push U.S. retail sales of Fair Trade products to an estimated $1.5 billion in 2011, enabling millions of small farmers and workers to live better.
Paul came to Fair Trade by way of the mountainous Segovias region of northern Nicaragua, where he served for 11 years, organizing cooperatives and training farmers. While in Nicaragua, Paul founded and led PRODECOOP, the country's first Fair Trade, organic coffee export cooperative, which introduced him to the transformational power of Fair Trade. Subsequently, Paul served as strategy consultant and development advisor to 22 cooperative enterprises throughout Latin America and Asia, helping them become more competitive, democratic and self-reliant. Paul’s first-hand experience over the last 30 years in the areas of global supply chain transparency, social auditing, sustainable agriculture, and cooperative enterprise development is unique in the certification world.
Paul has received numerous honors and awards for his pioneering work as a social entrepreneur in the Fair Trade movement. In 2000 he received the prestigious international Ashoka Fellowship for social entrepreneurship. In 2001 Paul was recognized by the AVINA Foundation for his "leadership for change.” Paul was honored by the Klaus Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the World Economic Forum as one of the world's top 40 Social Entrepreneurs in 2002. Fast Company magazine named Paul “Social Capitalist of the Year” four years in a row (2005-08). Paul also received the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and has been honored by the Clinton Global Initiative for his leadership in Fair Trade. Paul holds an Economics and Political Science degree from Yale University and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
Larry Ruff is a Board Director, CEO, Social Entrepreneur, Strategic Advisor, and former Chief Strategy & Global Marketing Officer. Larry is passionate about health and wellness, sustainability, conscious capitalism, social justice, economic empowerment, and growth and impact strategy. Larry has 30+ years of experience working with start-ups, small, medium and large for-profit corporations, social entrepreneurs, higher education, and other nonprofits.
Larry has served as CEO and as a member of the Board of Directors for EatREAL.org since October 2017. EatREAL.org is a non-profit focused on promoting REAL food – food that is good for people’s health, the environment, and animal welfare. Larry has been a member of Fair Trade USA’s Board of Directors since 2014, where he serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, is a member of the Executive Committee, and Chair of the Board’s Nominating & Governance Committee.
Larry has also served as a Strategic Advisor to a variety of Silicon Valley-based modern marketing start-ups including Smart Story Technologies, Inc., LifeLock, and Pinpoint Predictive, Inc. Larry worked for Levi Strauss & Company for over 25 years holding leadership positions in marketing, business development, and general management. In his role as Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer at Levi's, Larry led creation of the company’s growth, brand portfolio, and sustainability strategies. He also served as Levi’s Global Marketing Officer. During his tenure at Levi’s, Larry and his team received numerous awards for product and marketing innovation, brand-building, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability.
Earlier in his career, Larry held a variety of positions in brand management with The Procter & Gamble Company’s Food & Beverage Division. Larry received a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from Rutgers College and a Master of Business Administration from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. Larry is also a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business Executive Education program in Digital Marketing.
Larry lives in San Francisco, CA with his family.
Liesel Pritzker Simmons
Liesel Pritzker Simmons is Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, an innovative family office that invests for profit and with purpose. An early leader in the impact investing space, BHI manages an international portfolio of diversified investments in traditional asset classes, groundbreaking impact business models, and nonprofit organizations. It applies a rigorous portfolio-management lens to its investments with the goal of generating measurable financial returns as well as societal and environmental benefits.
Liesel is also Co-Founder of IDP Foundation, a private Chicago-based foundation focused on achieving universal primary education. There, she helped create the IDP Rising Schools Program, which leverages microfinance networks to empower nearly 450 low-cost private schools — established and managed by local entrepreneurs — in some of the least-developed regions of the world.
Liesel is a sought-after speaker on the topic of impact investing. She serves on for-profit and nonprofit boards and investment committees of organizations including Impact Assets, Synergos, Toniic, Eco-Post, and the ImPact, a network of families committed to the conscientious stewardship of wealth. Liesel attended Columbia University in New York City, where she studied African History. She lives in the Boston area with her husband, Ian Simmons, and their daughter.
Robert P. Stiller
Robert Stiller, long time entrepreneur and Fair Trade enthusiast, brings with him over 40 years of business, fundraising, and coffee industry experience to the Fair Trade USA Board of Directors. After making his first fortune as the Co-founder of E-Z Wider doublewide rolling papers, Robert entered the coffee business by founding Green Mountain Coffee Roaster (GMCR) in Vermont in 1981, taking it public in 1993. He served as its Chairman, President, and CEO from 1981-2007, when he hired his successor and remained Chairman until 2012. He later retired and was made Chairman Emeritus.
Over the years, Robert Stiller led a number of key initiatives with a very inclusive, innovative culture that helped propel the growth of GMCR. For example, he spearheaded investment in Keurig in 1998, and purchased it outright in 2006 to transform the company from a regionally recognized specialty coffee roaster to a leader in the emerging single-serve beverage category in North America. GMCR became Keurig Green Mountain in 2014.
Under his leadership, the company also received numerous international accolades for its environmentally and socially responsible business practices. Since 2010, Fair Trade USA has recognized GMCR as the world’s largest purchaser of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee. It was one of the first national brands to bring Fair Trade coffee to mainstream U.S. consumers in 2000. It also donates 5% of its operating income on charitable causes, and offsets 100% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions. Today Robert serves on the Board of the Norton Museum and is Chairman of the Board of AgNovos, a medical device company. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Forbes in 2001 and helped establish the Stiller School of Business at Champlain College to include many of the management techniques that made GMCR so successful.
James D. White is the Executive Chairman at Bradshaw International and the former Chairman, President and CEO of Jamba Juice, a leading global healthy lifestyle brand. Prior to his tenure at Jamba Inc., White held executive and management positions at Fortune 500 companies including Safeway Stores, the Gillette Company, Nestle-Purina, and Coca-Cola. He currently serves on the Boards of Callidus Cloud and Adtalem Global Education, and previously on the boards of Panera bread, Hillshire Brands and Keane, Inc. His non-profit board experience includes Directors Academy and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. White previously served on the boards of the NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center, GenYouth Foundation and the Network of Executive Women.
White is a passionate champion for diversity and inclusion and has been recognized with numerous awards including the American Heart Association Corporate Citizen Award in 2014 and Junior Achievement’s Northern California Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. In 2010, the San Francisco Business Times named him the Bay Area’s Most Admired CEO.