Companywide Innovation at Califia Farms Includes New “People Power” Department and Expanded Executive Team

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Karen Gifford, Jim Whitaker, Demir Vangelov and Vilma Livas join the team; new executives position natural beverage leader to meet, and extend, dramatic sales growth, distribution channels and employee development

Our people are our greatest asset and the deepening of our leadership team, including the appointment of a true human resources visionary, Karen Gifford, to lead our ‘People Power’ department, reflects this belief

Califia Farms today announced a significant expansion of its executive leadership team, as well as the creation of a new ‘People Power’ department focused on empowering and developing employees while attracting top talent to the company.

Named “Brand of the Year” in 2015 , Califia Farms is one of the US’ fastest growing natural beverage companies and the leading nutmilk and RTD coffee drink brand in the natural channel.

The new executives are Karen Gifford, Califia’s first ever Chief People Officer, who is charged with building Califia’s brand as an ‘employer of choice;’ Jim Whitaker, Vice President Sales, Immediate Consumption (IC), who will spearhead the building of Califia’s convenience, independent, drug store and food service business; Demir Vangelov, Chief Financial Officer, and Vilma Livas, Vice President, Marketing, both focused on meeting and extending Califia’s double digit growth, expanding its distribution channels and executing on the company’s strategic vision of being the food and beverage company of the future.

“Our people are our greatest asset and the deepening of our leadership team, including the appointment of a true human resources visionary, Karen Gifford, to lead our ‘People Power’ department, reflects this belief,” said Califia Farms CEO and Founder Greg Steltenpohl. “Califia is on a mission to transform food and beverage at the consumer and retail level, while contributing to a more sustainable planet. This mission can only succeed if passionate people across every department and level of our organization are empowered to build a brand and business that fulfills this mission.”

With more than 25 years of management and consulting experience, Gifford joins Califia from Virgin Galactic, where she was responsible for the strategic design and management of people and organizational programs that inspired a culture of fun, innovation and excellence. Prior to Virgin Galactic, Gifford held leadership positions in Human Resources at Riot Games, SpaceX, and Electronic Arts. “I’m very comfortable switching from hiring rocket scientists to being on board and helping build the Califia rocket ship,” said Gifford.

“I am also pleased to welcome Demir Vangelov, Jim Whitaker and Vilma Livas to lead finance, immediate consumption sales and brand marketing, respectively,” said Steltenpohl. “Their hands-on and extensive experience, affinity for our culture and passion for our mission will help us continue to grow sales and product innovation at a rapid pace.”

As VP Sales, Immediate Consumption (IC), Whitaker takes on a key role in expanding Califia’s growth into the convenience store, drug store and foodservice categories, and, with Califia’s line of RTD drinks, will focus on helping retailers meet increasing consumer demand for healthier, premium, but accessible, beverages. A veteran beverage leader, Whitaker joins Califia from Bolthouse Farms, and has also served at PepsiCo and Sara Lee Coffee.

Heading up Califia’s finance team as CFO, Vangelov adds further depth to the company’s strategic bench as the company continues to experience double-digit growth. Previously, Vangelov served as CFO at Oberto Brands, and as CFO at NBC News Digital. Vangelov’s extensive experience leading financial, accounting, business development and operational teams also includes tenures at Torstar Corporation, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Kraft Heinz. A member of the board of the YMCA, Seattle, Vangelov devotes much of his time to volunteering at charities that help children and families.

Livas brings decades of experience in CPG brand and trade marketing to her role as VP, Marketing. Livas is charged with building on Califia’s powerful brand identity and category leadership, further strengthening awareness and penetration of its over 60 SKUs from Cold Brew Coffees to Almondmilks to Agua Frescas. Previously, Livas served as Vice President of Marketing at leading premium nutritional pet food company Dogswell and as Creamer Category Brand Manager for Coffeemate at Nestle USA.

About Califia Farms (pronounced “Cal-ah-FEE-yuh”)

Los Angeles-based Califia Farms creates delicious plant-powered foods to provide mindful nourishment. The company is leading the way in the plant-based food and beverage revolution, creating innovative, healthy and great-tasting premium beverages that make it easy for consumers to go ‘plant-powered’ and live dairy-free, without compromise. The company is also leading the way in democratizing America’s coffee cups by delivering the next wave of delicious coffee innovation to every consumer: Califia Cold Brew Coffee with Almondmilk already outsells Starbucks in the specialty channel and is the best-selling natural cold brew coffees in the natural channel.

Founded in 2010 by a farmer’s co-operative based in the San Joaquin Valley and headed by beverage visionary Greg Steltenpohl, Califia Farms is one of the fastest-growing natural beverage companies in the U.S. In 2015, Califia Farms was named “Brand of the Year” by BevNet, and a “Breakout Brand” by Beverage World.

Join the conversation with @CalifiaFarms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Califia Farms Media Relations
mWEBB Communications
Melanie Webber, (424) 603-4340, melanie(at)mwebbcom(dot)com

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Melanie Webber
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