Charles I Kosmont, Advisor – Agribusiness Irvine, CA
Charles is a venture capitalist and private equity investor, with prior experience as CEO and Co-founder of Next Pharmaceuticals, a company that extracts ingredients from plants. Charles was also President of MET-Rx , the sports nutrition company, CFO and co-founder of Westbrae Natural, now part of Hain Foods in New York, and Chairman of Growers Transplanting, a supplier to commercial vegetable growers.
He began his career with Princeton/Montrose Partners where he became General Partner. Charles has a B.S. in Business Administration from SUNY Albany and an MBA from the Marshall School of Business at USC. Most recently, he became a Founding Board Member, Orange County Business Bank, Nationally chartered, an FDIC insured institution.
Eric M. Poole, Advisor – Food Processing and International Agriculture, Scottsdale, AZ
Mr. Poole spent most of his career as a senior executive with the Ralston Purina Company in their International feed, pet food, and cereal businesses. He attended California Polytechnic University where he obtained an Agricultural Engineering degree.
Mr. Poole has extensive experience in the animal feed businesses where he spent 8 years managing Ralston’s European operations in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Turkey, Poland, and South Africa. He also managed their Latin American division for four years that included Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Chile and Brazil. Mr. Poole has also spent a considerable amount of time managing the construction of new feed, pet food and cereal plants in Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and France.
Al Vangelos, Advisor – Fresh Produce, Laguna Beach, CA
Al has 35 years experience in the fresh and processed food products industry with an emphasis in general management, sales, and marketing. He was 11 years, the president and chief executive officer of Calavo Growers, the world’s largest avocado cooperative.
Currently working as a consultant in the food industry, he is Chairman and CEO of Premier Valley Foods, Chairman of BC Hothouse Foods in Vancouver, Canada and Chairman of the Russian Farm Project, a new and developing produce distribution center serving retail markets in Moscow. Earlier in his career he was an executive with Dole Foods Corporation. For many years, Al has participated in food industry organizations as both director and chairman to help design and enact regulations supporting the produce industry.
Peter J. Cohen Advisor – Financial Institutions, New York NY
Mr. Cohen is a Managing Director of 22 Research Corp., a private investment fund of approximately $100 million in assets focusing on making equity and real estate investments. 22 Research focuses on in fast growing mid-size companies in consumer products, industrial equipment and media and information technologies. 22 Research Mr. Cohen is a Director for several private companies including: Terphane (plastic film for food packaging), Hanna-Sherman (industrial equipment), and STI Inc. (communications equipment).
Mr. Cohen has held executive positions in industry for the past 20 years. Most recently, he was head of marketing for the United Auto Group. He was President and CEO of CHF Industries in New York and President and COO of Knoll International, the design and furniture concern. Prior to Knoll, Mr. Cohen was Executive Vice President and General Manager of General Felt Industries, a textile business in New Jersey. Prior to Mr. Cohen’s business career, he was head of the Middle School at Friends Seminary in New York and was a teacher at Sidwell Friends in Washington D.C.
Mr. Cohen has an M.A. in Education from Catholic University in Washington D.C. and B.A. in Economics from American University. He is active art collector and past Trustee of the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Daniel O’Neill has more than 30 years of experience managing agricultural loan portfolios. Most recently, he was the head of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s (MetLife) Agricultural Mortgage Portfolio Unit, where he managed the company’s agricultural loan portfolio with oversight for loan approvals, pricing, underwriting, new business development, and strategy. Under his leadership (2005-2014), MetLife’s agricultural portfolio more than doubled in size, to $13 billion. Daniel joined MetLife’s Agricultural Investments Department in 1980 as a Representative in Central California after working in farm management. Daniel is a Farm Foundation Round Table member, and has served on several boards including the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry and MetWest Agribusiness. Daniel earned a B.S. in Agricultural Business from California State University, Fresno. He lives in Leawood, Kansas with his wife.