Our Executive Team - Traditional Medicinals
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Our Executive Team

Garden geeks, free-thinkers, Harley riders, dog lovers, and deeply devoted, well-trained, passionate people.

bio_drake_sadlerDrake Sadler
Co-Founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Visionary Officer

In the early 1970’s, Drake Sadler was a community activist who believed that empowered people could change the world for the better. His mission was to promote the knowledge of Traditional Herbal Medicine, while creating fair and equitable trading relationships with the mostly impoverished people around the globe who collect and grow medicinal plants. For the past four decades, Drake has guided Traditional Medicinals through a time of incredible change, leading people to a newfound respect for herbalism.

As Drake said recently: “With the support of our health conscious consumers and the introduction of organic agriculture, we have developed a unique business strategy which reduces poverty and hunger, rebuilds families and restores their self-sufficiency, and provides economic stability in the rural indigenous communities where our herbs come from. Herbal experts from Traditional Medicinals are constantly working to improve herb quality and social conditions in these communities, but it isn’t necessary to travel to distant native villages to see that the entire planet desperately needs new social business models which are non-exploitive, free from discrimination, environmentally sustainable, nurture our spirits and serve humanity.”

Traditional Medicinals has pursued the rigorous process of getting nearly every product certified organic, and many also certified Fair Trade and now Fairwild. We’ve also built strong relationships with supply partners that affect real change.

For Drake, Traditional Medicinals is a vision realized, and after all these years, the ideals he started out with remain fundamental to the core values of the company.

 

bio_blair_kellison_skBlair Kellison
Chief Executive Officer

Blair is our first non-founder CEO, which means he’s had some big shoes to fill. He took the reins from co-founder Drake Sadler in 2008, feeling called to apply his business talents to products he deeply believes in.

A former CPA with Ernst & Young, Blair received his MBA from The University of Chicago in marketing and finance, and worked as a brand manager at Nestle Foods. In 1995, he took a 70% pay cut and a huge risk that would become the best decision of his career—leave his business development position for a mission driven, all natural food company called Fantastic Foods. That bold move started him on the path of working in what he most believes in: mission driven, health and wellness companies.

Blair has a history of strong leadership in companies whose mission is to bring health and wellness to our lives. He was CEO of Alternative Medicine, a multi-media publishing company. During his five-year tenure he transformed the company from an unprofitable fledgling organization, into a high growth and profitable enterprise. Before joining Traditional Medicinals, he co-founded and helmed Natural Snacks.

Blair had been drinking Traditional Medicinal teas for many years, but it was not until a visit to the company that he realized the extent of our commitment to our employees, to our farmers and collectors around the world and to instituting sustainability and social responsibility into every aspect of its business—from field to manufacturing.

Citing our reinvention of the standard business model as inspiration, Blair is excited to inherit nearly 40 years of commitment to product quality and consumer trust, and looks forward to continuing the company’s fulfillment of its mission: connecting people to the power of plants.

 

Vicki Isip
Chief Marketing Officer

Vicki has been making life a little more delicious for consumers for over 20 years. By tapping into insights from consumers, marketplace shifts, and culinary and visual trends, she’s developed a passion for creating new products and refreshing brands. Vicki is fascinated by the ever-changing communication landscape which enables more frequent connection to and engagement with consumers. There’s never been a more interesting nor complicated time to be in marketing.

Vicki has long believed in the power of plants to nourish our bodies, energize our souls and provide healing medicine. Eager to share the wisdom of plants with consumers, she joined Traditional Medicinals in May of 2017 to help communicate the company’s mission and bring beauty, joy, and wellness to consumers to positively impact their lives.

Vicki holds an MBA from University of Chicago and a BA from Cornell University. She began her marketing career at the E & J Gallo Winery, her entrée into the food and wine world. Over the years, she served as Director of Frozen Snacks for Nestlé Dreyer’s Ice Cream, where she lead branding for Häagen-Dazs, Skinny Cow, Drumstick and Outshine; most recently, she was the Vice President of Marketing at Ghirardelli Chocolate Company—talk about making life a little more delicious!

When she is not at work, Vicki enjoys traveling with her husband and two kids, yoga, photography, cooking, skiing, and outdoor time in the beautiful Bay Area with her crazy Viszla dogs.

 

bio_gary_gatton_skGary Gatton
Vice President of Sales

Gary leads a life on the move. A born traveler, Gary loves being out on the road (or the tarmac, or the trail, or the open sea). In addition to the fact that he and his wife have moved 11 times since getting married, he travels well over 100 nights per year—which pretty much sums up his dedication to our purpose.

Gary started with us in January, 2013. After spending more than 25 years cultivating sales experience at national food and consumer goods companies, including a 10-year stint selling Kashi brand in the U.S. and Canada, Gary found he wanted to use that experience for a more purpose-driven business in the health and natural foods sector. Seeking an opportunity to help build and grow a business while maintaining the highest social and environmental standards, he believes that he could not find a better example than here at Traditional Medicinals.

His past positions have included leading Kellogg’s global Walmart business, leading sales for Canada and running Trade Marketing and Shopper Marketing. He has also held several positions in sales for both Procter and Gamble and Pillsbury.

In addition to traveling, he enjoys running, reading, time at his lake cottage and a nice warm cup of herbal tea before bed.

 

Kevin Haslebacher
Chief Operations Officer

Being raised on a family farm in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley gave Kevin Haslebacher a sense of passion and responsibility for putting great food on people’s table. Ever since, he’s spent his wide-ranging career in the food industry, working for large CPGs to small companies in the HNF sector. “Food is a gift you give to people,” he explains. “The work you do in a factory ends up becoming a personal experience for someone. That’s a very personal thing, and it should both nourish and satisfy.”

While working for large CPGs like Del Monte, Nabisco and Hunt Wesson Foods, Kevin gained invaluable experience in all facets of operations, where he earned his reputation as a natural problem-solver. Rolling up his sleeves for every job from the production line to management and then in senior leadership positions, he has found countless ways of improving business and systems performance, operational efficiency, company culture, and profitability. But it wasn’t until he began working in the health and natural foods world that he began to find greater alignment with his values. Seeing the benefits of sustainable and organic supply chains and their social impact on sourcing communities gave him a higher sense of vocation. “This is where food should be coming from and how we should be delivering it,” he said.

Since entering the health and natural foods arena, Kevin has tapped into his larger CPG experience to transform small-to-midsize businesses both as a leader and consultant partner. Since joining TM in 2018, he’s put his natural problem-solving abilities to work, explaining, “Traditional Medicinals is my end game,” he says. “Here, I get to use all that I’ve learned to help us grow to the next level.”

Kevin lives outside Sebastopol with his wife, Karen, and spends his free time cycling, wine tasting, and gardening.

 

Gary Cunningham
Chief People Officer

Gary credits his core values for guiding him to Traditional Medicinals. Born in Houston, TX and raised throughout the South, Gary learned early on from his family the importance of hard work, a healthy sense of humor, and the satisfaction derived from putting others first. Although he began his career conducting cancer research as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research fellow, it wasn’t long before his passion for helping others led him to working with people and organizations.

As a values-driven leader, Gary has positively impacted complex businesses undergoing growth and transformation in the tech, manufacturing and CPG sectors for over 20 years. Gary always emphasizes the value of putting people first while building a great culture, relentlessly managing talent, and creating high performance teams coached by authentic leaders.

Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science from Texas A&M University, and he graduated magna cum laude with his master’s degree in Management from North Park University. In 2013, he completed his executive education in General Management (GMP14) at Harvard Business School where he is an active alumnus. Gary holds various professional certifications including a certification in mediation & negotiation from Harvard Law School’s Negotiation Institute. Gary is also a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and a trained executive coach.

Excited to have made the leap to a purpose–led, social business, Gary is a strong proponent of people aligning their careers to best match their core values. Gary spends his free time meditating, being active outdoors, working out, traveling, and enjoying a laugh over a glass of wine with friends.

 

bio_katie_huggins_sk

Katie Huggins
Vice President of Technical Services

If you want to understand Katie’s basic approach to life, all you need to do is read the bumper sticker that says, ” I am a tree hugging dirt worshiper.” Her interest in plants began in childhood, when she would spend time visiting the various plants in her backyard. Eventually, she went on to study plants through the lenses of a variety of scientific disciplines and through her work in the natural products industry.

Katie has been with us since 1997 and is definitely one of our preeminent herbal experts, as well as a key member of our management team. She has been responsible for developing our Quality Control testing laboratory and testing programs, as well as growing the QC department from a staff of 5 to 12. She’s been instrumental in our work to transition to mostly organic, pharmacopoeial ingredients. She’s also devoted time over the past number of years to an agricultural study of senna (the primary ingredient in our popular Smooth Move teas). Prior to her work with us, Katie spent a decade in the natural products industry at Celestial Seasonings and 4 Health.

Katie brings an exceptional level of knowledge and passion to her work in Technical Services, where she oversees our Quality Control, Legal & Regulatory, and Research & Development Departments. Katie’s advocacy for plants—whether that shows up in a commitment to pharmacopoeial standards, rigorous quality control processes, rational formulation approaches or sustainability efforts—has fundamentally influenced the culture of our organization and we are very grateful for her contributions.

When not in the lab, you can find Katie working in her organic garden, which she aspires to turn into a small scale farm, where she grows herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruit and nut trees on her urban lot.

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