Meet the Nutiva Team
John Roulac, Founder & CEO
John founded Nutiva in 1999 to create a better food system that nourishes people, communities and our planet. As a vocal challenger of the industrial food system, he is a strong advocate for hemp agriculture, GMO labeling, organic farming and healthy food for all. Through his leadership, Nutiva has been named one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing food companies in America for five consecutive years.
John is a keynote speaker on sustainability, trends in the organic food industry, purpose-driven companies and the impact of genetically engineered food. He has founded four nonprofit groups including GMO Inside and the Nutiva Nourish Foundation, which donates 1% of Nutiva’s sales to support sustainable agriculture and other environmental programs.
Neil Blomquist, Senior Advisor
Neil is a leading expert in the national products industry with over 37 years of success building iconic brands for top companies. His expertise has been focused in retailing, distribution, brand marketing, product sourcing, product development and organizational management.
Neil was the CEO of Spectrum Organic Products, the leading producer of natural and organic culinary and nutraceutical oils, condiments, and essential fatty acid supplement oils in North America. Neil oversaw the daily operation of the company and led its double-digit annual growth in sales and profits. He also served as the driving force behind strategic supply-side management and new product development, launching an average of six new products per year.
Neil also served as the COO for Numi Tea, a leading organic and fair tea company, where he oversaw Finance, Operations, IT and Customer Service.
Neil is currently on the Board of Directors for the American Botanical Council and the Rudolf Steiner Foundation, Social Finance, and has served as Chair of the Organic Standards Subcommittee for Oils in the development of the Organic Foods Act of 1990.
Neil was born in South Dakota and received his B.A. in business management and economics from the University of South Dakota. He currently resides in Sebastopol, California.
Jeff Mitchell, Chief Financial Officer
Jeff brings over 20 years of senior finance and operations experience, leading innovative manufacturing companies in the tech and industrial equipment industries. Most recently he served as VP of Finance and Operations for Pacific Ozone. Prior to that he was the senior North American Finance and Operations executive for Sartorius Stedim Biotech.
Jeff has a B.S. in Economics from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. Although a veteran of high-growth, pioneering companies, he finds his greatest challenge is teaching 10 year olds to play a motion offense and pure man-to-man defense on the basketball court.
Greg Peterson, Director of Technical Services
Greg joins the Nutiva team with over 25 years of Food Safety and Quality experience, his most recent position being as Senior Manager of Quality Assurance for Plum Organics (Campbell Soup Company). As one of the first employees to join the team, Greg developed and managed Plum’s quality and food safety programs for over 30 co-manufacturing facilities, which produced organic nutritional products for infants and children. Greg is an SQF practitioner, is BRC certified and has broad experience in Auditing, HACCP, Regulatory Management and organic food production.
Greg holds a B.S. in Food Science from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, an M.S. in Quality Management from University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL and an M.S. in Food Safety from Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. In his spare time, Greg enjoys cooking, travel, music and sports.
Mike Smario, Director of Manufacturing
Mike joins the Nutiva team with a strong food manufacturing and management background. He spent over 10 years at General Mills in the cereal division working to maximize throughput on high-speed packaging and processing equipment with a staff of over 90 employees.
In his last role as Operations Manager he was key in developing and implementing CI tools to streamline and standardize processes increasing system performance. Mike was also instrumental in developing a strong training program, safety programs and cross-departmental team development. Prior to joining General Mills, Mike worked as a Network and Systems Engineer for San Francisco based company, Fort Point Partners in the early stages of ecommerce supporting the development of some of the earliest online retailers.
Mike is very excited to be part of the Nutiva team and has a strong passion for living the kind of healthy lifestyle that the company promotes. When not at work, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and two young sons playing music and enjoying the outdoors.
Gretchen Grani, Director of Sustainability and Corporate Giving
Gretchen brings 20 years of management experience in the corporate and non-profit sectors, focusing on socially responsible and green companies. Her broad background in project planning and non-profit management and finance gives her the tools to lead Nutiva’s corporate giving, community outreach, and sustainability programs, while also directing the administration of the office.
Gretchen is thrilled to serve as Nutiva’s goodwill ambassador, promoting the company’s core values of community and well-being. She has a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in environmental planning from University of Pennsylvania. On the weekends, she enjoys spinning, strength training, and experimenting with Nutiva’s superfoods to create new pressed juices and vegan recipes.
Michelle Montakhab, VP of People & Culture
Michelle joins Nutiva with over 20 years of progressive experience and leadership in Human Resources within premium brand retail, service operating environments, manufacturing, and non-profits ranging in size from 150 to 25,000+ employees. She is most passionate about building human capital capability and organizational structure to support high growth and business strategies. She’s known for creating and developing teams, providing leadership and motivation to engage employees to achieve their career aspirations and building organization bench strength.
Most recently, she served as Director of Human Resources for Williams-Sonoma, Inc. where she spent 12 years developing the foundation for the stores and corporate organizations, assembling teams for new brands and integrating acquired businesses into the company’s culture.
Michelle is thrilled to join Nutiva and to work for a company that truly cares, has a purpose, and is making a difference in the world. On weekends you’ll find Michelle attending her daughter’s sports activities, practicing yoga, gardening and simply enjoying the beauty of Marin County with her husband and daughter.
Liz Kaplan, Director of Marketing
Liz joins the Nutiva team with over 10 years experience in natural and specialty food marketing. Her experience includes positions with Ghirardelli Chocolate, Peet’s Coffee and Hershey Foods where she managed marketing for the Dagoba, Joseph Schmidt and Scharffen Berger brands. In these positions, Liz oversaw strategic planning, product development, public relations, advertising and customer programs. She’s excited to be working for a company that is aligned with her social and environmental values.
Liz earned a B.A. from Kenyon College and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. When she’s not trying out new coconut products, she keeps busy with her two young sons and enjoys hiking and skiing in Northern California.
Inna Neujahr, Controller
Inna brings over 15 years of senior finance experience, with over 10 years in food and beverage and manufacturing companies. She is skilled at developing financial controls, policies and procedures to optimize efficiency, reducing costs, and maximizing profitability.
Inna has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Accounting. Her strengths are in systems and technology and she is excited to use her innovative approach to streamline Nutiva’s Accounting Department. When Inna is not crunching numbers, playing with forecasts or enforcing policy, she is trying to keep up with her three young and very active boys. Her main focus for them is to instill a lifelong love of learning and a healthy non-GMO, organic lifestyle.