About Us

About J.E.D.I

In 2019, One Step Closer started working on its third industry collaborative, J.E.D.I Collaborative. The impetus for creating this collaborative for the natural products industry was to frame the business case for embedding justice, equity, diversity and inclusion into our entire food ecosystem. Co-Founders Sheryl O’Loughlin, Lara Dickinson, Carlotta Mast, and MaryAnne Howland, along with The Avarna Group, began developing a commitments framework and toolkit for companies to begin making J.E.D.I commitments. In 2019, the first ten companies began piloting the work with The Avarna Group.

In early 2020, the toolkit was implemented into this website and became available to the industry public. In the first year we saw over 60 companies make JEDI commitments and begin using the toolkit. In April, we hosted 100+ industry influencers at our soft launch event and shortly thereafter started our Early Adopter Program with 15 natural products industry companies. We also launched a Women’s Peer Mentoring Circle and a CEO Action Learning Initiative in 2020, reaching an additional 20 companies with this work.

Why JEDI content media

After two years of building, working alongside companies, and getting industry feedback, we had learned a lot! In 2021, we officially launched to the natural products industry at Expo West, announcing an updated focus on centering BIPOC and Latinx communities in our work, as well as expanding our work to three strategies:

  1. Connect capital to BIPOC and Latinx Entrepreneurs
  2. Support natural products companies to take long term action through processes, benchmarking tools and resources to become just, equitable, and inclusive of all people
  3. Use our platform and connections to amplify BIPOC and Latinx-led Initiatives; thereby increasing the capacity of the industry to develop a network of and connect resources to BIPOC and Latinx talent and entrepreneurs

We must think about justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in a holistic way. This goes beyond checking boxes on a scorecard when vetting applicants—we must also ensure that all organizations that wish to prosper in a non-extractive way are equipped to support and embrace a variety of individuals’ strengths and needs. Today’s global business environment is filled with challenges that can only be met by encouraging and increasing inclusion of folks from varied demographics who bring different skills, insights, and abilities. The data is clear that companies that build a truly equitable, inclusive culture will outperform their peers. We must also, however, embrace and accept the idea that doing everything we can to erase and replace outdated ideas, policies and concepts—especially those that are based on and support systematic marginalization, disenfranchisement and dispossession of specific groups—is fundamental to our thriving as a regenerative species on this planet.

Our Vision

Our vision is a world where food, beverages, supplements, and other natural products are a source of nourishment, health and wellness for everyone, not a source of injustice, inaccessibility or racist disparities in health outcomes. We envision a natural products industry that centers at its core justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion to ensure that:

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All people feel welcome in the natural products industry by being able to participate in and feel justly treated

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Communities that support the industry thrive

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Employees feel inspired
and valued

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Innovation is sparked by a diversity of identities and perspectives, which leads to growth and profitability

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Voices of marginalized communities are amplified in all conversations and decisions

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Products are accessible to those who most need them

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We understand how social and environmental justice are interconnected and work to address both

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companies serve as role models as a force for good in the world

Our mission is to transform the culture and systems of the natural products industry and fundamentally shift the opportunity calculus for BIPOC leadership and entrepreneurs, BIPOC retailers and consumers, and the worldwide BIPOC community that supports the industry.

Our focus in all of our work is the CPG, retail and food service sectors of the healthy food, beverage, supplements and other natural products industry. We seek to accelerate, amplify and transform the future for Black, Indigenous and Latino/a/x people, who have been disproportionately impacted by racism, and we address the unique ways that racism intersects with sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism and many other systems of oppression. The inclusion of BIPOC is critical to shifting the mindsets and systems that have perpetuated these issues to create a system that works for all people.

Our reason why we are driven to do this work is because we can’t achieve our vision of the natural products industry working toward an antiracist food system where everyone’s unique essence is honored, if some of us are systematically sidelined from the movement, its resources, and its opportunities.

Our Goals

  • That natural products industry leadership and workforce is inclusive of people with marginalized identities and therefore a better reflection the US population
  • That the natural product industry is accountable for a truly equitable and just culture where those who have been marginalized are centered in the industry
  • That the natural products industry is inclusive of a broader range of companies and organizations
  • That companies within the natural products industry influence their partners and their customers to embrace J.E.D.I values and practices
  • That the natural products industry becomes the J.E.D.I model for every industry
  • That by 2025, natural product companies have made 2,025 Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion commitments

Timeline

2019
Launch five company pilots and conduct an industry benchmarking study, and announce J.E.D.I Collaborative Commitment areas
2020
Launch 15 Early Adopter companies; host Industry Influencer Summit at Expo West; begin taking J.E.D.I commitments from the industry, and develop online resources to support J.E.D.I Collaborative work
2021
Industry-wide launch of the J.E.D.I Collaborative. 100% of OSC companies are working on J.E.D.I commitments.
2025
Natural products companies have made 2,025 J.E.D.I commitments
2030
10,000 J.E.D.I commitments made by natural products industry. Natural products industry is reflective of US population.

Our Team

J.E.D.I Core Team

Cynthia Billops
VP Operations, Membership & Belonging One Step Closer & J.E.D.I Collaborative
Grace Rusch
Project Manager & Marketing & Communications Lead One Step Closer & J.E.D.I Collaborative
Jazmine Cable-Whitehurst
Project Manager & Director of Institutional Giving One Step Closer

J.E.D.I Founding Team

Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin
Aparna Rajagopal
Trailblazer Pathway Facilitator/Founding Partner J.E.D.I Collaborative/The Avarna Group
Ava Holliday
Ava Holliday
Trailblazer Pathway Facilitator/Founding Partner J.E.D.I Collaborative/The Avarna Group
Carlotta Mast
Co-Founder/SVP Content and Insights J.E.D.I Collaborative/New Hope Network
Lara Dickinson
Co-Founder & Executive Director One Step Closer & J.E.D.I Collaborative
MaryAnne Howland
Co-Founder & CEO Action Learning Initiative Speaker/CEO J.E.D.I Collaborative/Global Diversity Leadership Exchange
Sheryl O’Loughlin
Co-Founder/Founder J.E.D.I Collaborative/Women On Boards Project

OSC JEDI Board Committee

Carlotta Mast
Co-Founder/SVP Content and Insights J.E.D.I Collaborative/New Hope Network
Jose Corona
Vice President, Programs and Partnerships Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation
Lara Dickinson
Co-Founder & Executive Director One Step Closer & J.E.D.I Collaborative
MaryAnne Howland
Co-Founder & CEO Action Learning Initiative Speaker/CEO J.E.D.I Collaborative/Global Diversity Leadership Exchange
Sheryl O’Loughlin
Co-Founder/Founder J.E.D.I Collaborative/Women On Boards Project

Program Contributors & Leaders

Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin
Aparna Rajagopal
Trailblazer Pathway Facilitator/Founding Partner J.E.D.I Collaborative/The Avarna Group
Ava Holliday
Ava Holliday
Trailblazer Pathway Facilitator/Founding Partner J.E.D.I Collaborative/The Avarna Group
Derek Peebles
Managing Partner of Development J.E.D.I Collaborative
Inessa O-Childs
Head of Strategic Partnerships & Development J.E.D.I Collaborative
James White
CEO Action Learning Initiative Speaker/Board Chair J.E.D.I Collaborative/FairTrade USA
MaryAnne Howland
Co-Founder & CEO Action Learning Initiative Speaker/CEO J.E.D.I Collaborative/Global Diversity Leadership Exchange
Trisha Hutchison
Executive Recruiter/Co-Founder J.E.D.I Collaborative/GreenSight Executive Search

Investor Resource Council

Aner Ben-Ami
Candide Group
Adrian Rodrigues
Adrian Rodrigues
Managing Director/ Founder Provenance Capital Group
Arno Hesse
Co-Leader Slow Money Northern California
Brigette Wolf
Global Head of SnackFutures Mondelēz International
David Cooper
Senior Portfolio Advisor Mission Driven Finance
Don Buder
Partner Davis Wright Tremaine
Inessa O-Childs
Head of Strategic Partnerships & Development J.E.D.I Collaborative
Konda Mason
Co-Founder & President Jubilee Justice, Inc
Kyce Chihi
Principal AUA Equity
Laina Greene
CEO Angels of Impact
Noramay Cadena
Managing Partner Supply Change Capital
Ron Mackey
Pendulum Holdings
Shayna Harris
Supply Change Capital

Advisors

Ari Goldsmith
Vice President of Marketing KeHE
Arielle Moinester
Program Director Women’s Earth Alliance
Arno Hesse
Co-Leader Slow Money Northern California
Cameka Smith
CEO & Founder The BOSS Network and BOSS On Campus
Cassie Nielsen headshot
Cassie Nielsen
VP of Talent VMG Partners
Ciara Dilley
Vice President of Marketing, Transform Brands & Portfolio Innovation Frito-Lay North America
Gretchen Grani
Regeneration & Sustainability Cebadora Guayaki Yerba Mate
James White
CEO Action Learning Initiative Speaker/Board Chair J.E.D.I Collaborative/FairTrade USA
Jill Staib
Managing Director and Partner William Hood & Company
John Foraker
Co-Founder & CEO Once Upon A Farm
Konda Mason
Co-Founder & President Jubilee Justice, Inc
Joy Basu
Senior Advisor
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Lisa Curtis
Co-Founder & CEO Kuli Kuli
Magatte Wade
Founder & CEO Skin is Skin
Rebecca Messina
Senior Advisor McKinsey & Co
Sean Conner
Co-Founder & Chief Progress Officer Force Brands
Steven Naccarato
CEO Nutiva
Surbhi Martin
Vice President of Marketing Danone
Trisha Hutchison
Executive Recruiter/Co-Founder J.E.D.I Collaborative/GreenSight Executive Search
Valerie Red-Horse Mohl
CEO Red-Horse Financial Group, Inc.
Vincent Kitirattragarn
Founder & CEO Dang Foods