Our Team

The Better Meat Co. shipping out a pallet of our delicious plant proteins to customers.

The Better Meat Co. shipping out a pallet of our delicious plant proteins to customers.

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Paul Shapiro, Chief Executive Officer

Paul is the author of the national bestseller, Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, and the host of the Business For Good Podcast. A four-time TEDx speaker, he has twenty years of experience as a nonprofit executive and has published more than a hundred articles on food sustainability, from daily newspapers to academic journals. In addition of course to his wife, Toni Okamoto, he’s an avid lover of three As: animals, astronomy, and athletics.


Gus Pattillo, Chief Technology Officer

Gus is a microbiologist with a burning passion for ecological entrepreneurialism. He's worked to harness the massive potential of microorganisms to create technologies that address global food, water, and energy security issues. From working on bio-remediation projects in the Amazon to bio-materials at the Department of Energy to sustainable protein, Gus has run a gamut of applied biotechnology. In his spare time, Gus loves tinkering in the lab making energy-harvesting devices, listening to music of all varieties, and exploring the depths of nature. 

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Doni Curkendall , Vice President of Operations & Logistics

Doni's driving passion in life is to use the power of business to help solve social problems. As Vice President of Operations of Goodwill Industries of Sacramento Valley and Northern Nevada, Doni worked to help people with disadvantages achieve self-sufficiency. By the end of her nine years at Goodwill, she was managing operations for $10 million in annual revenue and oversaw a team of 250 employees. She earned her MBA from California State University, during which time she also served as a career mentor for Women's Empowerment, an organization helping homeless women gain meaningful employment. In her spare time, Doni reads Spanish literature, hikes with her dog Penny Lane, and, as her dog's name implies, loves listening to The Beatles.


Adam Yee, Food Scientist

As a former product developer for both Isagenix & LeClerc Foods, Adam’s passion for food dates back to his childhood, where he’d ask to buy groceries and cook for his parents. With a degree in food science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Adam’s helped spread awareness of the benefits food science brings to the world via the popular podcast he hosts, My Food Job Rocks. Adam’s love for food spans all cultures, but he’s a particular expert in Chinese cuisine, and is a fan of eating at the coolest restaurants in the world.

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Katherine Ruwe, R&D Technician

Katherine is a chemical engineer who’s excited about using her R&D skills to make food products that will benefit the world. In her previous roles with Arkema and DSM Nutritional Products, she gained experience in engineering problem-solving and laboratory processes. She appreciates the opportunity to combine these skills with her passion for sustainability. In her spare time, Katherine enjoys spending time outdoors and playing board games.


Board of Directors

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Milena Esherick, PhD, Board Member

Dr. Milena Esherick is a licensed clinical psychologist and the director of counseling psychology at the Wright Institute. A passionate advocate for a better food system, she’s a frequent speaker on the psychology of dietary and social change. Dr. Esherick also co-founded the Bay Area's Plant-Based Food Professionals Networking Group. In addition to her doctorate in psychology from the Wright Institute, Dr. Esherick holds a B.A. in Economics and Women’s Studies from UC-Berkeley.


Brian Ottens, Board Member

Brian Ottens has served as an engineer at NASA since 1997, largely in the field of astrobiology. He's Chief Engineer for the U.S.’s scientific contributions to the Rosalind Franklin rover, which will launch to Mars in 2020. Additionally, Brian is the Lead Systems Engineer for In-Space Resource Utilization on Earth’s moon and Mars, turning ice, regolith, & atmosphere into propulsion fuel. Prior to these positions, he was a key engineer on the James Webb Space Telescope for a MEMS component that increased the observatory’s operational efficiency by several multiples. In addition to being an early investor in The Better Meat Co., Brian has designed new minivans at Ford, reduced the operating cost of a wastewater treatment plant, and is passionate about protecting our planet—and solar system.

Paul Shapiro
Board Member