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Max Fisher, VP of Economics and Government Relations, National Grain and Feed Association

Max Fisher is the National Grain and Feed Association’s Vice President of economics and government relations.  He joined NGFA in 2013 after serving as the chief economist for the Senate Agriculture Committee where he worked for Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas.  He received his undergraduate degree in agricultural business from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University.  He grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Kansas and he continues to help farm as much as he can.  Max and his wife have four children and live in Virginia.


‚ÄčKantha Shelke, Ph.D., CFS

Kantha is principal at Corvus Blue LLC, a food science and research firm that expediates development and commercialization of products and technologies to create market demand for honestly healthful foods and teaches food safety regulations at Johns Hopkins University. She held senior positions at ACNielsen, Ben & Jerry's, Continental Baking and Grand Metropolitan and started Corvus Blue in 2000 to help startups and established entities at the intersection of science and business to maximize opportunity and minimize risk. Kantha is a contributing editor for Prepared Foods Magazine, and PLMALive! video magazine. When not teaching or working with clients, she travels around the world helping entrepreneurs advance the understanding of food and nutrition, food safety, and regulations with science and sensibility. 



Gary Jay Kushner, Partner, Hogan Lovells 

Gary knows the food industry inside and out as he has been part of it for more than 40 years. His clients are some of the largest food corporations in the world as well as their trade associations. Gary helps address regulatory compliance issues, advising on product development, labeling, advertising, inspection, and representing clients in enforcement proceedings before government agencies and the courts. Previously, Gary served as vice president and general counsel for the American Meat Institute where he directed the organization's legal, regulatory, and legislative activities. He began his career as staff counsel for Scientific Affairs for the  Grocery Manufacturers of America. 



Alexandra Smith Ozerkis, NPA Communications Director, Kellen Communications

Alex Ozerkis brings over 17 years of experience in public relations and marketing with knowledge in a wide range of sectors, both corporate and nonprofit, and a strong background in food and nutrition communications. At Kellen, Alex has overseen the marketing and communications efforts for NPA since 2009. Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Cornell University and serves as a Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador. She has lectured on the topic of public relations at the National Society of Association Executives, New York Women in Communications, Fashion Institute of Technology and The New School in New York City. She is also a pasta-lover who comes from a long line of Italian home cooks!



Jim Peterson, Policy and Marketing Director, North Dakota Wheat Commission

Jim is the North Dakota Wheat Commission's Policy and Marketing Director and assists with three major program areas: export marketing, trade policy and issues, and research/customer service. Jim presents programs to wheat producers and customers on spring wheat and durum use, their economic and quality advantages, and supply and demand outlook. He is also involved with efforts to maintain and enhance the quality of U.S. wheat by serving on the Wheat Quality Council's Spring Wheat Committee and the U.S.  Wheat Associates' Wheat Quality Committee. Jim is a graduate of North Dakota State University with a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics. He grew up on a farm near Makoti, ND and continues to be involved in the family's small grain, sheep, and beef cattle operation. Jim and his wife have two children and make  their home in Bismarck. 


Rosario Del Nero, Culinary R&D Specialist

Rosario Del Nero lives and breathes pasta! He arrived in the US from Milan, Italy in 1983 and has enjoyed a multi-faceted career in the culinary arts ever since. Rosario and his wife, Constance, launched The Apple Orchard Restaurant in Ipswich, MA, which focused on authentic Italian cuisine and Rosario's original creations. It was awarded Boston Magazine's coveted Super Food award in 1987. Later, Rosario joined Bertucci's Italian Restaurants as their Corporate Chef. He worked at Bertucci's for 15 years, dreaming up dozens of new pizza, pasta, appetizers, and entree recipes. Rosario has also led product development teams for several prestigious companies, including Joseph's Gourmet Pasta, Buitoni, La Pasta, and Nuovo Pasta. He taught Regional Italian Cuisines at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts for many years, eager to impart his knowledge of pasta and dough-making to students all over the world.








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