Sustainability, Fair Wages & Supply Chain in the Food & Beverage Industry


Wednesday, July 17th from 8:30 am - 10:30 am

Join us at Kestrel Coffee Roasters in South Burlington as we discuss sustainability, fair wages, and supply chain with food and beverage professionals and industry experts.

Kestrel Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee roaster that sources and roasts specialty coffees from all over the world, focusing on excellent coffees that are ethically sourced single origin coffees from small farms.

Vermont’s food system is one of the largest industries in the state and is intimately tied to our state’s three largest industries: tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture. Vermont’s food system is responsible for:

  • 60,078 food system jobs
  • $1.5 billion in restaurant sales
  • 15.6 breweries per capita (#1 in U.S. per 10,000 21+ adults)
  • 1,447 eating and drinking locations

Sourced from data shared by Think Vermont, 2022, and the National Restaurant Association, 2022.

This special morning event is open to everyone interested in working toward a just, thriving, and transformative economy that works for all people and the planet! This is a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues, make new connections, gain new ideas and inspiration, and have some fun!

We will enjoy free coffee and breakfast bites from our generous hosts at Kestrel to start us off! We will then break out into discussion groups, led by industry experts to discuss the following:

  • Sustainability (packaging, energy use, waste management, etc.).
    This group will be led by Polly Ericksen, Director of the Food Systems Research Center at University of Vermont.
  • Supply chain (planning for climate change, finding ethical suppliers, buying local, etc.)
    This group will be led by Annie Rowell, Environmental Sustainability Manager at King Arthur Baking.
  • Fair wages (moving away from tipping, employee benefits, etc.)
    This group will be led by Johnny Steverson, Co-owner at Kestrel Coffee Roasters.

Food & Drinks
Our hosts will provide free breakfast bites for attendees, including gluten free and vegan options. Additionally, there will be FREE drip coffee and lattes available for purchase.

Meet Our Speakers

Polly Ericksen, Director of the Food Systems Research Center
Polly Ericksen is the innaugural Director of the Food Systems Research Center. Ericksen has been recognized as an early pioneer in the field of food systems research and is a seminal scholar using interdisciplinary approaches to solve complex food systems issues in the context of global environmental change. She has spent much of her career working across disciplines to link science with development policy and resource mobilization.

For more than two decades, Ericksen has worked at the nexus of research and development relating to agriculture, food systems and climate change across Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. She joins UVM after having spent the past nine years as the program leader for sustainable livestock systems with the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya where she led a research program of more than 40 staff across East and West Africa and South Asia and managed an annual budget of $10 to $15 million.

Ericksen holds a Ph.D. in Soil Science, an M.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College. She brings extensive leadership and management skills to the research center, as well as expertise on the impacts of climate change on agriculture, natural resource management, disease, and social equity.

Annie Rowell, Environmental Sustainability Manager, King Arthur Baking

Hailing from Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, Annie Rowell is a prominent figure in the development of resilient food systems. As the Environmental Sustainability Manager at King Arthur Baking Company, she spearheads their work in regenerative agriculture, responsible sourcing, emissions reduction, waste management, and sustainable packaging.

Before her role at King Arthur, Annie spent nine years at Sodexo, a global food service provider, where she led their acclaimed local food sourcing program, Vermont First. Her efforts bolstered Sodexo's approach to local sourcing in Vermont, New England, and beyond, earning the program the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council's Best Practice Award in 2018. Annie also served on the Board of Directors for the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, the Vermont Fresh Network, and Farm to Institution New England during her time at Sodexo.

Prior to her corporate roles, Annie founded the social enterprise Just Cut at the Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick, Vermont. There, she aggregated, processed, and distributed local produce to institutional markets across New England.

Annie graduated from Middlebury College in 2011 with a degree in Political Science and recognized for her achievements in two sports, soccer and track. She furthered her education with a Sustainability Leadership Certificate from Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2021, followed by a Sustainability MBA from the University of Vermont, where she graduated with honors in 2023. During her MBA, Annie consulted for Vermont Creamery, a subsidiary of Land O' Lakes, aiding in the development of their GHG emissions reduction roadmap.

Outside of work, Annie spends her time gardening, skiing, biking and any opportunity to play the cello or stand-up bass. She lives with her partner, Jeremiah, and their small yet formidable dog, Pierre.

Johnny Steverson, Co-owner, Kestrel Coffee Roasters

Johnny is a seasoned coffee industry professional with a career spanning nearly 15 years. As Co-Owner of Kestrel Coffee Roasters, Johnny oversees all aspects of daily operations, including coffee sourcing and roasting, staff training and management, and ensuring a high standard of service across all cafes and wholesale accounts. Johnny is also a certified Q grader.

Johnny's expertise in hospitality extends beyond coffee. With a foundation in culinary arts and restaurant management from the New England Culinary Institute, Johnny brings a holistic approach to his roles. His career has been defined by a commitment to delivering exceptional guest experiences, with his attention to quality and dedication to the customer. His journey with beverages began with loose leaf tea and led him to a position at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a fine dining restaurant in Pocantico Hills, NY, where he served as Director of Coffee & Tea for over three years. He then partnered in a wholesale coffee roasting company that serviced New York City and the surrounding areas for over five years.

Johnny has had the privilege to consult with a wide array of cafes, restaurants, and markets, offering guidance on coffee service, staff management, and operational efficiency. These opportunities, coupled with his extensive service background and current leadership as a small business owner, have deepened his insight into the essence of hospitality and the importance of recognizing (and paying!) those who drive it day in and day out.

Thank you to our hosts!

Kestrel Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee roaster located in South Burlington and has three cafe locations (two in downtown Burlington and one at their roaster). They source and roast specialty coffees from all over the world, focusing on excellent coffees that are ethically sourced single origin coffees from small farms.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Davis & Hodgdon Advisory Group (DHAG) is a business and financial services firm with locations in Williston and Rutland Vermont. DHAG is a one-of-a-kind financial firm with the unique ability to offer tax planning through Davis & Hodgdon CPAs, financial and investment planning through *Copper Leaf Financial, and client accounting services through Convergent Accounting. These comprehensive services address all of your business and individual needs and each has a fully dedicated staff. Since 1990 the firm has provided clients with progressive, proactive services through expert staff, high-end technology, and unparalleled efficiency.

*Copper Leaf Financial is an affiliated and separately registered entity.

Community is at the heart of what we do, sharing our love through pizza. Ours is a partnership, built on mutual admiration and trust. You are the inspiration behind all we do. Your passionate support fuels our team to be better everyday. Our commitment to you is integrity, quality and authenticity. With innovation and creativity as our foundation, we won't stop striving until you get the very best.

Let’s Grow Kids is a nonprofit organization on a mission to ensure affordable access to high-quality child care for all Vermont families by 2025. With nearly 40,000 supporters from all walks of life, Let’s Grow Kids, in partnership with Let’s Grow Kids Action Network, is empowering Vermonters to advocate for sustainable child care policy change. Working together, we can build a child care system that meets the needs of Vermont children and families and supports a brighter future for us all.

Sodexo North America is committed to meeting the challenges of everyday life with a dual goal: to improve the quality of life of our employees and those we serve, and contribute to the economic, social, and environmental progress in the communities where we operate. Our purpose is to create a better every day for everyone to build a better life for all. We are working locally in Vermont to create a better life for all. This work is currently being accomplished on eight campuses and four corporate locations across the state. Our efforts are being led by Vermont First, which was created in 2014, and is a first of its kind program committing Sodexo to increase local purchasing across its Vermont institutional markets. Since its inception, our aim has been to grow market opportunities for local producers, stimulate job growth and ensure the viability of Vermont’s working lands. Learn more about our work and partnerships at

We are a team of experienced, farm-to-table catering and event professionals. We love sharing Vermont produce, meats, cheeses and craft beers in expertly executed parties with you. We connect people through food, events and celebrations.

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center is a statewide, nonprofit organization founded in 2001 to promote and foster employee ownership in the state of Vermont. We assist owners interested in selling their business to their employees, employee groups considering purchasing a business, and entrepreneurs who wish to start up a company with broadly shared ownership. We also provide ongoing education and networking opportunities for employee-owned companies to make sure employee owners continue to prosper over the long-term in Vermont.

Attendee Experience

This event is family-friendly and caretakers of any kind are welcome to attend with your dependents!

All members of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility are welcome to attend for free.

Free parking is available on site.

Please make note of any accommodation requests when you register.

Are you interested in sponsoring this event? If so, please contact Jeremy Gerber at for details.

Questions? If so, please contact to Molly Rand at