Panel: The Future of Food Safety: Building Leaders and Taking Ownership

  • Inspire ownership of Food Safety across your organization
  • Exploring the importance of timing, ongoing training, and strategyWhen change is necessary, how do we get the buy-in that
  • we need?
  • Decision-making in the Digital Age: Balancing innovation and efficiency
  • Leading a culture of Continuous Improvement


Maria Wedel
VP of Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory Affairs

Maria Wedel currently holds the position of VP, Quality & Regulatory (FSQR) for Cargill Animal Nutrition. Maria joined Cargill in August of 2000 in Cargill Kitchen Solutions (aka Sunny Fresh Foods) and worked in a variety of roles within the business prior to moving to Cargill Turkey & Cooked Meats. Throughout her time with Cargill she had a variety of roles spanning the multiple functions of FSQR, Operations and General Management. In 2014, she left Cargill and worked for a small baking company, Legendary Baking, as the business FSQR Lead and also with SunOpta as Director of FSQR & Global Supply QA, prior to rejoining Cargill in November of 2018. She holds a B.S. in Cellular Biology.


Don Jones
VP, Quality, Food Safety & Regulatory
Atkins Nutritionals

Don Jones is responsible for Quality, Food Safety and Regulatory compliance for Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. based in Denver, Colorado. Responsibilities include oversight of quality and food safety systems at co-manufacturers, regulatory/labeling, consumer affairs and the company call center.

Joining Atkins in 2012, he previously worked with ConAgra Foods for 25 years. He has held Food Safety, Quality and R&D positions supporting both retail and food service businesses at plant and corporate levels domestically and internationally with experiences across food categories that include: raw and ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry slaughter/processing, RTE seafood, dairy, snack foods, jarred sauces/preserves, frozen, canned and dehydrated foods, aseptic and near aseptic products, edible oils/margarine, flour milling, and animal feed production facilities.

Stacey Popham
VP Quality Assurance
Barry Callebaut

Stacey Popham serves as the Vice President, Quality, Food Safety, and Regulatory, Americas for Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading chocolate and cocoa company. She leads a 140-person team which develops and executes the Quality strategy for the region, which includes 16 company-owned plants in five countries that manufacture 550,000 tons of chocolate and cocoa products a year.

Previously Stacey was Vice President, Quality Systems for TreeHouse Foods, where she shaped and implemented strategy and teams for all systems pertaining to Global Supplier and Co-manufacturer Quality; developed integrated company-wide Food Safety and Quality Policy, Consumer Affairs and led the Customer-facing Quality teams.

Prior to TreeHouse Foods, Stacey was the Head of Research and Development for the $4 Billion Beverage and Snacking Business Unit at Kraft Heinz. In this role, she was responsible for the innovation, renovation and cost management for iconic brands such as Capri-Sun, Kool Aid, Maxwell House and Planters.

Throughout her 20+ year, Stacey has developed cross-functional expertise in Engineering, Research and Development and Quality. Stacey earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1999.

Donna Garren
EVP of Science and Policy
American Frozen Food Institute

Dr. Donna Garren is currently Executive Vice President of Science and Policy for the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI). She leads the Scientific and Regulatory Affairs and Legislative Affairs programs for AFFI. Her extensive background and expertise in food safety, food science, nutrition, and regulatory affairs are instrumental in building and enhancing strong and effective regulatory programs for the food and beverage industry.

Prior to joining AFFI, Dr. Garren held positions with NSF Agriculture, a business unit of NSF International, the Consumer Goods Forum, the National Restaurant Association, United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association and Boskovich Farms, Inc. Dr. Garren graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in food science and nutrition, with a minor in microbiology. She earned her doctorate degree in food science and technology with an emphasis in food microbiology from the University of Georgia.