Kirchner Food Fellowship Selects Three Inaugural Fellows

Toronto, Ontario and Birmingham, Alabama 16 October 2014 – The Kirchner Food Fellowship today announced the three inaugural Kirchner Food Fellows who will lead the FundtheFood investment fund. After careful review of over 75 applications and in depth discussions with the program finalists, the selection committee has made the final decisions for the 2014-2015 class of fellows.

Brianne Abramowicz is currently studying for her MBA at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina. She has volunteered abroad in a food cooperative, and has worked in the banking sector as well as the biotech industry. “The Kirchner Food Fellowship will force us to think outside the box and to be proactive in finding innovative business models to fund,” commented Brianne.

Erin Lenhardt is also studying for her MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She is already an established entrepreneur who runs her family’s farm and is passionate about integrating business, entrepreneurship and venture capital. “In my mind there are two ways to change the world; start a business that will disrupt the industry or invest in businesses that you believe are doing so,” added Erin.

Ryan O’Donnell is an entrepreneur and currently a senior at North Carolina State University. The founder of Pennies 4 Progress he is strongly committed to social enterprise and the important role of business for good in bringing about effective food security at home and abroad. He also led the world’s largest food drive in 2011 raising over 550,000 pounds of food in 18 hours. “Opening the impact investment process for ending hunger to young people is a bold undertaking by the Kirchner Food Fellowship.” added Ryan.

While continuing their current studies the fellows will start an unprecedented yearlong program to deploy capital provided by the Kirchner Group in for-profit companies which can accelerate the day when every person on the planet has reliable access to healthy food. Through this direct, guided experience they will develop the skills and attributes that will distinguish them as first class capital allocators supporting innovations in food security.

“The Kirchner Food Fellowship is a truly unique and necessary program that I believe will help prove that astute business investments and positive social change are not mutually exclusive ideals,” commented Kate Thornton, Director of Hunger and Sustainability Initiatives at Auburn University. “It is my hope that as this program grows, these fellows and their successors will build a legacy of investments that will embolden and challenge us all to realize the dream of a world without hunger.”

“Erin, Brianne and Ryan have the experience, passion and commitment to be able to take advantage of the unique opportunities presented by the Fellowship” stated Executive Director, Alastair Summerlee. “These Fellows come from varying backgrounds but have very complimentary skills. Their similar but different perspectives on food security and their firm belief that social enterprise is vital for creating and establishing sustainable change in food security worldwide make them an outstanding start to the program.”

About Kirchner Food Fellowship
The Kirchner Food Fellowship believes it is vital for the next generation of leaders to understand, get involved and aid in funding young entrepreneurial businesses which positively impact global food security. The Kirchner Food Fellowship will provide an opportunity for an elite group of student leaders to be engaged in investment decisions for agriculture-oriented businesses with ground-breaking technologies which can provide long-term sustainable solutions, both environmentally and economically. The students will receive high-level mentoring from networks of investors from across North America. They will also work directly with the Kirchner Group leadership team and its network of thought leaders.

Alastair Summerlee
Executive Director
Kirchner Food Fellowship Program
519.824.4120 x 52986

About Kirchner Group
The Kirchner Group believes that every business, and every portfolio of businesses, can be made more valuable and that none should become valueless, regardless of the circumstances. Kirchner Group’s proprietary platform is built on the premise that pairing deep domain expertise with process experts provides superior results. Kirchner Group has provided traditional merchant banking services since 1985 and offers advisory, operational and transactional support to companies as well as asset management services for institutional investors. The group’s clients and partners range from promising entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies and their investors. Kirchner Group also manages assets for some of the largest insurance companies, commercial banks and institutional investors in the world.

Kirchner Group’s Agriculture and Food team has more than 95 years of collective experience as operators, transaction experts and investors in the sector. Kirchner Group founded its agricultural social impact arm, Food Security Group, in 2011.

Steve Dauphin
Managing Partner
Food Security Group