NPA is excited to have industry experts, innovators, and esteemed educators speak at the 2024 meeting. Speakers include*:

Esteban Abascal, La Moderna

Veronica Colas, Hogan Lovells

Veronica Colas is outside counsel to the National Pasta Association. She is Counsel in Hogan Lovells’ Food & Beverage regulatory practice group, based in Washington DC.  For over 12 years she has helped food companies and their trade associations navigate the regulatory requirements that apply to foods from farm to table, both at the federal and state level.  Veronica works with her trade association clients to effectively advocate with regulatory agencies on behalf of their members.

Dr. Nyree Dardarian, Drexel University

Len DeFrancisci, Demaco

Kevin Kenny, Food Chain ID

Jim Meyer, Managing Director at Durum Milling Business Unit and VP at Richardson US Office Lead Richardson International

Upon Richardson’s acquisition of Italgrani USA in 2021, Jim was named Managing Director, Durum Milling Business Unit. Additionally, in response to the growth of Richardson’s American operations, a U.S. Country Office was built in St. Louis, MO, where Jim oversees the operations as Vice President, Richardson US Office Lead.

Jim joined Italgrani USA in 1988 as the Chief Financial Officer and was quick to be promoted to Executive Vice President in 1989. In 2006, Jim was named President of Italgrani USA. Italgrani USA (now named Richardson USA) is the largest durum milling company in North America, providing semolina and durum flour products to pasta manufacturers across the United States and Canada.

In addition to his work at Richardson USA, Jim is also on the Board of Directors of the National Pasta Association and has served as the Treasurer of the NPA for a number of years. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the North American Millers Association and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Grain Foods Foundation, where he serves on the Executive Committee and also acts as Treasurer. Jim graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Antonio Milani, GEA Pavan

Marco Niccolai, Niccolai

Jim Peterson, North Dakota Wheat Commission

Jim Peterson is the Policy and Marketing Director for the North Dakota Wheat Commission.  He is primarily involved with enhancing the international and domestic market opportunities for North Dakota wheat.  Peterson also conducts market, trade and transportation analysis, helps prioritize wheat research investment, and provides market insight to both producers and customers.  His efforts are focused on optimizing the market value and trade opportunities for producers, and working to ensure North Dakota grown wheat meets the quality demands of customers. Peterson currently serves as Chair of the Wheat Quality Council, and Co-Chair of US Wheat Associates Transportation Working Group.  He is a graduate of North Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics, and early in his career was a grain merchandiser for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).  Jim grew up on a small grains and livestock farm near Makoti, ND, and he and his wife reside in Bismarck.

Dr. Curtis Pozniak, Director of the Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Pozniak is currently the Director of the Crop Development Centre, and leads the durum and high yielding spring wheat breeding programs at the University of Saskatchewan. He and his team have developed 17 wheat varieties since 2003, and have published over 180 manuscripts, including publications in Nature and Science. His research publications have been cited more than 15,000 times by other researchers.  He is a world-leader in the application of next-generation genomic technology to wheat breeding and is currently leading his 3rd large-scale Genome Canada funded project “4D Wheat: Diversity, Discovery, Design, and Delivery”. His genomics work feeds directly into the UofS wheat breeding program, ultimately delivering more productive, disease resistant wheat varieties for western Canadian farmers.

Tom Quinn, Nuovo Pasta

Tom Quinn is President and Chief Operating Officer at Nuovo Pasta Productions, Ltd. and has been with the Company since 2004.  His experience and skills in both sales and operations over his 35-year career have included both retail and food service and has been instrumental in helping to guide Nuovo to its current level of success.

Tom’s responsibilities include overseeing all daily operations of the Company, high-level contacts with domestic and international equipment suppliers, senior management contacts of Supply Chain and Quality Assurance Departments, and interaction with regulatory and municipal officials.

 He is the chairman for the National Pasta Association’s Government Affairs Committee and the Membership Committees. Locally, Tom is the Chair of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council as well as being an active member of the Connecticut Business Industry Association. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Meals on Main Street, an organization fighting food insecurity in Westchester County, NY.  He holds a B.A. in Economics from Fairfield University.  Tom is also a published author and lives in Fairfield with his wife Linda of 36 years, and they have two children.   

Michael Reimer, Corteva

Michael Reimer combines his passions for agriculture and food sciences with management, research, and marketing expertise as an Innovation Manager for Grains, Oilseed and Protein at Corteva Agriscience. He has a deep knowledge of wheat end-use quality, plant proteins and pulse flour and specializes in market development and customer relationship management. As a member of the Quality Evaluation Team for The Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye, and Triticale (PRCWRT), Michael plays a crucial role in evaluating candidate cultivars of wheat and making pivotal recommendations for their registration in Canada. His work is instrumental in fostering public-private collaborations that drive innovation in agricultural practices. Michael has an MBA, BS and MS in food and human nutritional sciences from the University of Manitoba.

Chef Rosario Del Nero, NPA Chef Spokesman

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, appetizer, and entrée recipes. Rosario has also led product development teams for several prestigious companies, including Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta, Buitoni, La Pasta, and Nuovo Pasta Productions. 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 from all over the world. Rosario was appointed spokesperson for the National Pasta Association in 2020 and has enjoyed getting people enthused about cooking and eating pasta every day. 

Noelle Ryan, FAVA S.p.A.

Jeff Schryver, De Mari

Kristie Sigler, Global Lead – Food, Agriculture and Beverage, FleishmanHillard

Kristie Sigler is a seasoned food marketing professional with more than 25 years of marketing strategy experience in both the retail and foodservice spaces. She is FleishmanHillard’s global leader for the food, beverage and agribusiness sector, helping clients uncover and translate consumer insights into profitable programs and products, specifically within the ingredient and nutrition industries. A food scientist by training, Kristie also provides senior counsel for 12 of the firm’s largest food and agriculture clients, ensuring the teams deliver insight-driven programming. Prior to FleishmanHillard, Kristie worked in both product development and brand management at Kraft Foods and menu marketing at Applebee’s. An avid volunteer in the food equity and education spaces, she has an MBA from Northwestern University and a BS in food science from Iowa State University.

Nora Stabert, Philadelphia Macaroni Company

Melissa Tendrick, Barilla

Melissa Tendick, President of Barilla Americas, is responsible for the regional operations of one of the largest Italian food companies in the world.

Melissa joined Barilla 20 years ago; prior to her current role, she held the position of Vice President of Marketing for the region.  The ever-changing marketplace of today has challenged her to remain agile and adapt quickly to meet customer and consumer needs. As a steward of strategy creation, she has contributed to driving both top- and bottom-line growth. 

Her previous experience at Andersen Consulting and Accenture readied her for the fast-paced environment of consumer goods. Melissa has been steadfast in her leadership and her support of diversity, equity and inclusion through executive sponsorship of employee resource groups including a focus on gender equality.  She demonstrates her dedication to mentorship programs both internally and externally.

Melissa was born and raised in the Chicago area where she currently resides with her husband and two daughters.  She holds a Master of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a minor in Spanish.

Carl Zuanelli, Nuovo Pasta Productions

Carl L. Zuanelli is the current President of the International Pasta Organisation (IPO), past Chair and Board Member of the National Pasta Association (NPA), and the Founder/CEO of Nuovo Pasta Productions, Ltd., a leading producer of premium refrigerated pasta, sauces and meal kits.  Carl founded Nuovo in 1989 after leaving a successful career in investment banking.  Nuovo employs over 300 people and maintains over 160,000 sq ft in Stratford, CT and in Cleveland, OH facilities.  Currently Nuovo produces over 25,000,000 pounds of fresh refrigerated pasta, sauces, and meal kits per year.  Nuovo’s products are sold in specialty stores, supermarkets, national accounts, and warehouse clubs in all 50 states, Mexico, and the Caribbean.  Carl received a BA from Pace University in Marketing and Finance then went on to have a successful career in the financial services industry with Citibank NA and Merrill Lynch.   In his roles at the IPO and NPA, Carl held the responsibilities of directing new initiatives and implementing its strategic plan.  Carl is also a member of Connecticut’s New Haven Manufacturing Association.  He is on the Board of Directors of Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI), a refugee and immigrant advocacy and services nonprofit. Through Nuovo sponsorships, he supports the AC Connecticut youth soccer program and Connecticut’s USSL professional soccer programs.  He is an active member and Trustee of the Notre Dame Catholic Church and has served on the parish council.  Carl, a native New Yorker, is a current resident of   Easton, CT where he, together with his wife Karen have raised 4 children.   

*Speakers are subject to change