Jim Gossen, President – Chairman, Sysco Louisiana Seafood – Houston, Texas

Jim Gossen, Chairman, Sysco Louisiana Seafoods – Houston, Texas

Jim Gossen has been an innovative and tireless leader for the recovery and improved sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico’s seafood industry.  His 45-plus-year career in the restaurant, seafood processing and distribution business includes owning and operating six restaurants in Louisiana and Houston and founding Louisiana Foods Global Seafood Source, Texas’ largest seafood processing and distribution Company. Since the purchase of his company by Sysco Corporation, Gossen serves as chairman of Sysco Louisiana Seafood.

Gossen has been the  recipient of numerous accolades including; EPA’s Gulf Guardian Award, My Table’s Legends of the Industry, Southern Living’s Heroes of the New South Awards and is one of Cooking Light’s 20 Food Heroes in America.

Gossen is a member of Southern Foodways Alliance and a founding member of  advisory board of Foodways Texas an of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

Harlon Pearce, Vice-President – Owner of Harlon’s LA Fish – NOAA Advisory Council Member – New Orleans, Louisiana 

Harlon Pearce, Owner, Harlon’s LA Fish – New Orleans, Louisiana

Adversity is no stranger to Harlon Pearce. As the former chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board he successfully navigated disaster after disaster for the state’s 12,000 commercial fisherman, seafood processors and the Louisiana Seafood Brand. He has been a powerful force in unifying the diverse interests of Louisiana’s commercial fisheries and ensuring their future prospects in the marketplace.

The Louisiana native has worked tirelessly in the position as co-chair of the Louisiana Fishing Community Recovery Coalition since Hurricane Katrina, securing aide and funding for restoration of the seafood industry, and its fishermen, in the state of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

Pearce is the managing member of Harlon’s LA Fish in New Orleans. He serves on the executive committee of the Gulf Coast Marketing Coalition. He is also the acting Chair of the Friends of the Fishermen’s Foundation, a trustee for the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation as well as a Louisiana designee on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

Frank Randol, Secretary  –  Owner of Randol’s Restaurant and Seafood Processing – Lafayette, Louisiana 

Frank Randol, Owner, Randol’s Restaurant and Seafood Processing – Lafayette, Louisiana

The spirit of Randol’s Restaurant is deeply rooted in the values and traditions of Cajun culture and known worldwide as a Gulf Seafood haven. Accord to Frank Randol, taking care of the food we eat takes cares of us. Each day trucks deliver fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico and Randol’s raises its own crawfish and crabs.

Randol currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Crawfish Processors where he has  very involved with H-2B legislation. He has also served on the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board representing the crawfish, as well as the boar of the Gulf Seafood Institute.

Jennifer Jenkins, Treasurer – Manager, Crystal Seas Seafood – Pass Christian, Mississippi

Jennifer Jenkins, Manager, Crystal Seas Seafood –  Pass Christian, Mississippi

As manager of Crystal Seas Seafood in Pass Christian for the past 12-years, Mississippi, Jennifer Jenkins knows seafood – especially oysters. Her fast-growing business, which has operations in both Mississippi and Louisiana, processes oysters to sell to distributors both nationally and internationally.

Since Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, she has been a strong voice for her industry and Gulf of Mexico seafood.   Whether testifying at town hall meetings held by Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker or giving interviews to National Public Radio, Jenkins know the importance of keeping the Gulf seafood messaging on track and in the public eye.

Jenkins spend time working on H2B legislation, the U.S. program for temporary employment by foreign nationals, what she calls “her passion”. She is graduate of East Carolina University and has served on the Pass Christian Chamber of Commerce.

Ed Lallo – CEO, Newsroom Ink – Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Ed Lallo, CEO of Newsroom Ink and a Partner in Lallo Communications –  Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Ed Lallo, CEO of Newsroom Ink and a Partner in Lallo Communications, has traveled to places search-engine companies have yet to find – let alone map. An award-winning journalist for major publications the majority of his career, he became one of the founders of brand journalism and established Louisiana Seafood News for the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to give a voice to the Louisiana seafood industry during the height of the BP Deepwater Horizon Crisis.

Most recently Lallo was the Public Relations and Editorial Director for the Gulf Seafood Institute. He was instrumental in helping the startup organization become one of the most respected voices in the nation, as well as on Capitol Hill, for Gulf seafood. Lallo currently resides in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Raz Halili – General Manager, Prestige Oysters – Dickinson, Texas

Raz Halili, General Manager, Prestige Oysters – Dickerson, Texas

As general manager of Prestige Oyster, the world’s largest oyster shipping company located on the waters of Galveston Bay in Texas, Raz Halili operates a business that grew from a one-boat operation into a successful seafood distribution business with a focus on oysters.

Halili, a graduate of Houston Baptist University, works with an in-house team of more than 50 professionals, spread between two processing plants and several dock operations. Prestige offers fresh and frozen oysters to customers all over the United States, and sells oysters under the company’s flagship brand, as well as to other processors.

Over the years, Prestige had developed a reputation for taste, quality and food safety.

Joanne McNeely Zaritsky  – Director of Business Development for Captain’s Fine Food – St. Petersburg, Florida

Joanne McNeely Zaritsky – Director of Business Development for Captain’s Fine Foods– St. Petersburg, Florida

Joanne McNeely Zaritsky has been a diligent supporter of the seafood industry for years. Zaritsky ran the Fresh from Florida Seafood & Aquaculture Marketing Bureau coordinating programs to increase Florida’s seafood and aquaculture market share, both domestically and internationally, through the use of a variety of marketing techniques, including trade missions; trade shows; print campaigns, special promotional activities and media advertising.

After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Zaritsky worked for the Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation and Gulf of Mexico state stakeholders to educate consumer, retailers, chefs, restaurants and non-profit organizations about the testing and safety of Gulf of Mexico seafood through the www.eatgulfseafood.com program.

Presently, Zaritsky is the Director of Business Development for Captain’s Fine Foods a seafood processor in Saint Petersburg, Florida with a focus on value added items and wild-caught domestic shrimp. Joanne is a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration.

Geoffrey Stewart, Ph.D – The Moody Company/BORSF Endowed Chair – Moody College of Business – University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Geoffrey Stewart, Ph.D – The Moody Company/BORSF Endowed Chair – Moody College of Business – University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Geoffrey Stewart is The Moody Company/BORSF Endowed Chair in Regional Business Development in the Moody College of Business at the University of Louisiana. His research includes public-private partnerships, customer value determination, business relationship development, and the role of marketing in economic development.

In 2010, Dr. Stewart received the Hormel National Meritorious Teaching Award from the Marketing Management Association and the 2009 John T. and Sandra B. Landry Endowed Teaching Award in the Moody College of Business. A native of Lafayette, LA., he received his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee and his B.S. and M.B.A. from the University of Louisiana.

He is a co-founder of the National Incident Management Systems and Technology Institute  and leveraged service learning projects to assist in post hurricane recovery efforts in Louisiana.

Ewell Smith  – Former Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board – New Orleans, Louisiana

Ewell Smith – Former Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board – New Orleans, Louisiana

As the former executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, Ewell Smith has found himself in the eyes of hurricanes and the public eye for the last 12 years.

Large-scale crisis communications. High-profile issues management. Post-disaster rebranding. Smith has handled them all.

His expertise is sought by government officials, industry leaders, business people – and on occasion, even royalty. Sometimes, they travel thousands of miles to Louisiana to learn firsthand.

He has served as a legislative liaison among industry, state and federal officials and holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from Louisiana State University.