2021 Expo West Virtual NEXTY Judges

Preliminary Judging: The first round of judging takes place in the New Hope Network office in Boulder, Colorado. Conducted by members of the New Hope Network content team, standards team, marketing team and NEXT Data & Insights team, our-in-house expert judges review hundreds of nominated products using these criteria to select 2-5 finalists in each category.

Final Judging: The final round of judging is conducted by a panel of invited industry experts, spanning specialties such as investment, retail, brokerage, social media influence, sustainability and more. These judges join the New Hope Network content team, standards team, marketing team and NEXT Data & Insights team to select the single winners within each category!

Allie Brimlow

Corporate Development Manager, Fresca Foods

Allie Brimlow is the corporate development manager at Fresca Foods, an innovation and manufacturing partner to category leading brands and some of the world’s largest food companies. Allie is on the front end of growth at Fresca, leading the evaluation and onboarding of new partnerships and projects for the natural food manufacturer. Born and raised in the natural food movement, she grew up roaming the aisles of Ideal Market, her father’s natural grocery store and local favorite of Boulder, Colorado. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Communication from the University of Vermont. 

Stephanie Bublitz

Grocery Manager, Mountain Avenue Market 

Stephanie is one of three women co-managing the Mountain Avenue Market, historically known as the Fort Collins Food Co-op in Fort Collins, Colorado. The last food co-operative and one of the only non-corporate grocers remaining in Northern Colorado, it has been serving the community for 49 years.  It began as a small buying club and grew into a community-owned natural grocer specializing in bulk, local and all things co-operative. Stephanie has worked there for 12 years and feels passionate about voting every day with your food dollars. 

Kate Christian

Corporate Sustainability Manager, Eco-Cycle

Kate is the corporate sustainability manager for Eco-Cycle and a zero waste authority on working with businesses and leading the charge on innovative projects around hard-to-recycle materials. She manages the organization’s Green Star Business program that moves industries toward greater sustainability by working with early adopters to share their knowledge and best practices to engage and encourage their peers. With a Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems, Kate is also Eco-Cycle’s in-house authority on food loss, food waste and packaging. Kate is a staunch believer that lost food and wasted resources are lost and wasted connections and it is her passion to create lasting sustainable change in our food systems.  

Susan Fecko

Owner, Black Dog Studio

Susan combines over 20 years of marketing expertise with a deep understanding of the healthy, active lifestyle consumer. A master storyteller with strategic vision, Susan’s approach is to take a hands-on role in the creative planning, strategy, development and growth of mission-driven brands. Susan has been actively engaged in the natural products, personal care and nutrition categories and has worked at New Hope Natural Media, Vitamin Angels and Holistic Primary Care among others. She is intimately involved with the key players and issues in the healthy living space. Susan lives in Boulder, CO with her dog Nathan. She is an avid cyclist, chocolate and wine connoisseur, world-traveler and healthy lifestyle advocate. She is passionate about making the world a better place and supporting female entrepreneurs by helping them find their purpose and own their power. Susan is the founder of the marketing and communications agency, Black Dog Studio and co-founder of the full-service marketing agency, Red Sandbox. 

Mara Fleishman

Chief Executive Officer, Chef Ann Foundation

After becoming involved in school food as a concerned parent, Mara Fleishman served on the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) board of directors from the very beginning, then transitioned to executive director in March of 2013. She is now the chief executive officer of the Foundation. Mara has nearly 20 years of experience working in natural products including 12 years with Whole Foods Market where she served most recently as national director of partnerships. She is dedicated to educating people regarding the benefits of healthy food and has spoken about sustainable business practices on panels at Yale University and at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business where she was a guest lecturer. In addition to CAF, she has held board seats at The Growe Foundation, the Kitchen Community, and Naturally Boulder. Mara’s background in marketing and partnerships, combined with her expertise in natural and organic food and her advocacy efforts to improve school food, uniquely position her to lead CAF through its growth and expansion in the coming years. 


Duane Primozich

Co-Founder & Managing Partner, BIGR Ventures

Duane began his career in natural foods over 20 years ago. In that time, he has served in management positions for several prominent natural foods companies, including Frontier Natural Products Co-op and WhiteWave. In 2004 Duane co-founded Pixie Mate, a specialty tea business, and from 2007 to 2015 he held several senior management positions for Boulder Brands, ultimately serving as the Executive Vice President of the Balance segment for Boulder Brands, responsible for three of the six businesses in the portfolio. Concurrent to this, Duane was the Managing Director of the Boulder Brands Investment Group from 2013 to 2015, before co-founding BIGR Ventures in 2015. Duane’s general business management and entrepreneurial experience make him well-suited to assist portfolio companies in their business operations, strategic planning and marketing and sales initiatives. Duane currently sits or has sat on the board of directors of Suja Juice, EPIC, Temple Turmeric, Primizie, Live Soda, Bonafide Provisions, Rebbl, Bobo’s Oat Bars, High Brew Coffee, Soozy’s Grain-Free, FatSnax, Hope Foods and Thorne Nature Experience, a Boulder-based environmental education non-profit.