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Management Team

Robert Smith PhD, CEO & President

Dr. Smith brings over 20 years' experience managing research and development programs in both academia and the private sector, and developing product and business opportunities for botanical ingredients and plant-derived molecules in the agricultural, human and animal nutrition, and pharmaceutical industries.

Previously he served as Director of Business Development at HerbalScience Group, a leader in the development of evidence-based functional ingredients from botanicals. Dr. Smith has also directed research and development programs at Global Protein Products Inc. and PhycoGen Inc., and has led research projects at Dekalb Genetics, a Monsanto Company.

Dr. Smith served as Research Assistant Professor at the AgBiotech Center at Rutgers University and did Post-Doctoral work in Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Dr. Smith holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology, both from the University of Chicago

Brent R. Rystrom, Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Rystrom brings over 25 years of business finance experience, including over 20 years of service as a Director of Research and Senior Financial Analyst for several prominent investment banking firms, including Piper Jaffray and Feltl & Company. From 2009 until joining RiceBran Technologies, Mr. Rystrom served as Director of Research for Feltl & Company, a regional investment banking firm headquartered in Minnesota. While at Feltl, he managed the firm’s research, institutional sales, and trading departments while providing research coverage on consumer products, retail and agriculture companies ranging from micro to large capitalization. Over his 11 years of service at Piper Jaffray he was named a Wall Street Journal “Best on the Street” analyst and a “Top 10” Retailing Industry Analyst from Reuter’s. Since 1997, Mr. Rystrom has also successfully acquired and managed a large portfolio of personal agricultural real estate assets, and from 2011 through 2015, he served on the Customer Advisory Board of AgStar, a $10 billion agricultural bank based in Minnesota. Mr. Rystrom holds a Degree in Business-Finance from St. Thomas University.

J. Dale Belt, Executive Vice President of Special Projects

J.Dale Belt, CPA brings over thirty years of experience in finance and accounting including strategic planning, due diligence, cash flow analysis, financial forecasting, and SEC reporting issues. Prior to joining RiceBran Technologies on June 15, 2010, Dale was the Managing Director of Sierra Consulting Group’s restructuring practice based in Phoenix, Arizona. Prior to that he was a Director and Managing Director in the restructuring practices of PricewaterhouseCoopers and FTI Consulting, Inc., respectively.

Before beginning his consulting career as a turnaround and restructuring professional, Mr. Belt spent over fifteen years in the private sector where he held various senior management positions including treasurer, CFO and president. His significant industry experience includes, among others, heavy manufacturing industries, wholesale/retail food manufacturing and beverage marketing and distribution.

Mr. Belt has a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Kentucky. He is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in Kentucky, as well as a Certified Turnaround Professional and Certified Insolvency and Restructuring Advisor. He is a current member of the Turnaround Management Association and served as the Arizona Chapter President in 2007 and 2008. He is also a member of the Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Advisors.

Michael Goose, President of Ingredient Sales & Marketing

Michael Goose brings over 13 years of consumer package goods experience as a new product innovator and leader. He has worked on numerous industry leading categories, including snacks, meat alternatives, packaged produce, crackers, kosher and poultry.

Mr. Goose has held a variety of positions at the Hain Celestial Group, the latest being Director of Marketing for strategic brands. In 2007 he was also general manager and founder of the Kosher Valley Poultry, a joint venture between Hain Celestial and Pegasus Capital. Mr. Goose was instrumental in brand development, sales strategy, production planning and the overall startup of Kosher Valley. In 2009 Kosher Valley was acquired by Empire Kosher.

Mr. Goose graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Robert DePaul, Vice President, Operations

Mr. DePaul comes to RBT with 22 years of food processing, distribution and inventory management. In addition serving nearly seven challenging years with RBT with supply chain, procurement, logistics and operational capacities.

Mr. DePaul previously served at Plumose USA owned by Danish Crown, Copenhagen, mainly in the food service and retail meat business, last capacity as VP of Inventory and Supply Chain management.

He attended Middlesex County College for Marketing and Distribution and has experience in operating his own businesses.

Cherie Pollak, Vice President of Compliance, Regulatory & External Affairs

Cherie Pollak brings over 20 years of experience in Food Safety, Quality Assurance and Regulatory Compliance. Her career spans food manufacturing; food safety auditing for manufacturing, distribution and retail; food and pet food retail and foodservice.

Previously she served as Quality Assurance Manager for PetSmart’s own food and treat brands, Director of Technical Services for MarketFare Foods, as Quality Assurance Manager for other meat and RTE refrigerated and frozen food processors, and as a food safety auditor.

Cherie has an MS in Food Science from Texas Woman’s University; Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado; certifications as PCQI for human and animal foods; and is a certified SQF Practitioner. 

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