Naeemah Leonard

Naeemah Leonard

Senior Brand Manager, Cultural Strategy & Events at Rémy Martin, Naeemah Leonard is responsible for cultivating strategic collaborations with media, influencers, celebrities, and other partners across relevant cultural pillars: music, film, fashion, culinary, and sports. Additionally, Naeemah spearheads the “Producer Series”, a national music platform which highlights the art of making music. Debuting in its 5th season, the program is designed to discover and celebrate emerging music producers. Through the strength of her relationships, her innovative thinking, passion, and dedication to building relevant marketing initiatives, Naeemah has shaped and shifted brand strategy at Rémy Martin. Her contributions have consistently championed the Rémy Martin portfolio on its journey to becoming the world leader in exceptional spirits.

Charles Duque

Charles Duque

Charles Duque is currently Managing Director, Americas for CNIEL based in New York, NY.  He also oversees the French Cheese Board, a retail and event space for promoting French cheeses in New York City.

For over two years, Charles’ main objective is to serve as the point of contact for the French cheese companies in the American continent and inform them of actions to promote their products as well as working with implementing agencies executing information provision and promotion measures in the USA and Brazil.

Previously, Charles worked for Savencia Fromage & Dairy, which is among the world’s leading milk processors, the No. 2 cheese group in France and the No. 5 worldwide, where he implemented a retail concept with US based supermarket chains to support quality cheeses.

Charles’ previous experiences took him to San Francisco to open the US subsidiary of Richart Chocolates and as the Director of the AgroTech sector of BusinessFrance: The French Trade Office helped over 300 French companies enter the U.S. market to do business.

Charles is a member of The Order of Agricultural Merit; an order bestowed by the French Republic for outstanding contribution to agriculture and an inductee in the International Cheese Guild.  Charles is fluent in four languages especially in cheese!

Sara Kotcher

Sara Kotcher

Sara Kotcher currently serves as the manager of Culinary Programming & Business Development for KAABOO LLC. She handles the talent buying for the PALATE Stage, featuring nationally acclaimed chefs. She has grown KAABOO’s culinary vendor and talent program from a small portion to a major amenity of this show. KAABOO currently has three music festivals annually, in San Diego, Grand Cayman Islands, and Dallas. KAABOO is a new kind of entertainment and arts experience designed around comfort and hospitality. It is uniquely curated to appeal to those who do not want to sacrifice comfort for a great all around experience. She graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Psychology, and previously worked for Bullfrog & Baum, a high-end hospitality communications firm in New York City. She currently resides in New York City.

Adam Hanft

Adam Hanft

This week Lonny speaks with Adam Hanft, CEO of Hanft Projects, a globally-known expert in marketing strategy, branding and messaging; he is also a prolific cultural critic and journalist. This combination of skills and experiences represents the confluence of disciplines that define the future of marketing.

Adam sits on the board of two public companies, Scotts Miracle-Gro (NYSE: SMG) and 1800Flowers (NASDAQ: FLWS); he also has a non-Board role at SMG as Chief Brand and Creative Adviser .

In addition, Adam sits on the board of two private companies – Sensory Cloud, a pioneer in the application of olfaction technology to the hospitality and wellness, and Parallax, an early-stage life sciences company focused on the development of safe nicotine delivery systems.

Adam is an active angel investor and served on the advisory boards of start-ups in agtech, cybersecurity, AI, fintech, foodtech and HRtech. Included among them are Hampton Creek (now JUST) who is valued at unicorn status for their plant-based food innovation and HiBob, which has been called the most revolutionary start-up in the HR space.

The range of well-established companies and start-ups where Adam has contributed strategic insights and creative leadership attest to the range of his talents. They extend from WeWork to Match.com and Tinder, to TAE Energy – a pioneer in nuclear fusion who has raised nearly $1B– to McKinsey and Life Biosciences, the world’s leading company in longevity research.

Adam was an unpaid digital strategy consultant to President Obama’s 2008 campaign, and has been advising Yair Lapid, who is now running with Benny Gantz on the “Blue and White” ticket to lead Israel, and is leading in the polls.

Adam is co-author of “Dictionary of the Future,” a best-selling book that was described by “Wired” magazine as a “mimetic encyclopedia of what's to come, an engaging crash course in bleeding-edge ideas and debatable issues...it's an entertaining and enlightening trip."

Called a “marketing guru by U.S.A. Today, Adam had a successful career as an advertising agency founder; before selling the company and starting his consulting practice, Adam won over 100 major awards – including an EFFIE for effectiveness – and was responsible for creating the “Flick Your Bic” campaign, named one of the 50 greatest ad campaigns of all time by Entertainment Weekly

Commentaries written by Adam on a diverse range of subjects appear regularly in the Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Fast Company, Atlantic, Slate and other publications. He is also a frequent commentator on public radio’s “Marketplace,” and has appeared on the “Today Show,” “The Daily Show,” CNBC, Fox News, and many other outlets. As an editor and contributor he has been on the masthead of five leading magazines, including “Worth” and “Inc.” – where he wrote the back-page column for five years – and “Civilization” – the magazine of the Library of Congress.

Adam began his career as a comedy writer for the legendary director Garry Marshall, writing scripts for “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley.”

Adam is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of New York University

Lana Trevisan

Lana Trevisan

During this week’s episode, Lonny speaks with Lana Trevisan, Vice President of Restaurants, Bars and Nightlife for Two Roads Hospitality. She currently oversees 20 hotels and resorts, and has successfully opened several notable Two Roads properties, including Chicago Athletic Association, Thompson Playa Del Carmen and The Beekman. Prior to her tenure at Two Roads Hospitality, Trevisan was Corporate Food and Beverage Director of Gansevoort Hotel Group, where she managed all aspects of Food and Beverage operations at existing properties, as well as new projects under development. Trevisan served as the opening Director of Food & Beverage at Standard High Line Hotel NYC, and assisted on concept and development at Andre Balazs Properties. She managed pre-opening and daily operations at nine of the company’s outlets, including the Standard Grill, Boom Boom Room and The Biergarten. Trevisan also spent seven years with B.R. Guest as a Director of Operations/Partner, where she was responsible for the company’s daily operations and also oversaw opening ten restaurants, including Blue Fin, Blue Water Grill, Dos Caminos and Primehouse. Trevisan began her career with Wolfgang Puck, for which she opened and managed five restaurants in Las Vegas and Chicago, including Spago, Chinois, Lupo and Fiamma. Trevisan holds a B.A. in Hospitality Management from Hotel and Restaurant School at the Northern Arizona University.

DeLu Jackson

DeLu Jackson

In this episode, Lonny speaks with DeLu Jackson, Vice President of Precision Marketing at Conagra Brands. DeLu leads the company’s marketing transformation and demand acceleration through increased data intelligence, agility, always-on content and dynamic measurement. He is responsible for various facets of integrated marketing for the organization, including design, advertising, media, e-commerce, agile content and consumer data.

DeLu has over 20 years of marketing experience with well-known consumer brands. Prior to joining Conagra Brands, he was vice president of digital acceleration for Kellogg Company and previously served as corporate vice president of global marketing at McDonald's Corporation where he led marketing, social media and customer engagement. DeLu has also served in leadership roles in marketing for Nissan, Audi, Subaru and Ford.


He grew up in Dallas and has lived in Princeton, NJ, St. Louis, Kansas City, New York City, Detroit, Philadelphia, Tokyo and now Chicago. He has been married to Anna for 13 years and has two daughters, Mia (12) and Harper (8), and one son, Nikko (5).

Matthew Lalin

Matthew Lalin

This week's episode features Matthew Lalin, founder of starpower, an entertainment marketing agency that connects brands with entertainment, sport, music, fashion, beauty talent, influencers and content.

Matt launched starpower from the ground up with his long time colleague and friend Jared Weiss. By leveraging his extensive network of relationships, Matt created a trustworthy, dynamic and unique entertainment marketing agency that “flipped” the model on its head. After graduating from the University of Albany business school in 1998, Matt began his marketing career at Omnicom Group’s Steiner Sports where he rose to Executive Vice President before leaving in 2007 to launch starpower. with offices in New York and Los Angeles, starpower has global capabilities and is a trusted advisor to best in class brands and their partners in the U.S., U.K., Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific.

Matt has conceived, negotiated and executed marketing campaigns for a world class roster of brands including Colgate-Palmolive, Diageo, Novo Nordisk, Nestle Waters, Bayer and JDRF. His over 15 years of experience, unwavering loyalty to his clients and his intuitive negotiation abilities have resulted in over 200mm worth of entertainment, music and sport partnerships.

Starpower is built on matthew’s passion for creating an innovative and fun agency culture which is based on loyalty, trust and a strong work ethic. Matt’s work hard, play hard philosophy drives starpower in both the boardroom and behind the scenes. This is evident by his far-reaching network which he views as friends and family at the top level of business, entertainment, music and sport.

Matt was a keynote speaker at the WTA Tour conference where he discussed “monetizing your personal brand” and has also counseled Hunter College students on entertainment marketing. He is highly respected in the industry and has been widely quoted and referenced in the Wall Street Journal, Brandweek, Sports Illustrated, Sports Business Journal as well as on CNBC, CNN and ESPN.

Matt is equally passionate about life outside of work. Whether he is reading with his children, Scarlett and Mason, or engaging in entrepreneurial discussions with his wife Stephanie, who is an accomplished jewelry designer and founder of Jemma Wynne, Matt is a devoted family man. He is a board member of the JLS Foundation and also has a personal affiliation with breast cancer organizations.

Peter Flesvig

Peter Flesvig

Lonny interviews Peter Flesvig, GM, The Culinary Group at Intersport. Peter leads Intersport’s culinary activation platform, inclusive of a multi-year partnership with the James Beard Foundation. Prior to Intersport, Peter’s career included a diverse set of consulting, strategy and sales roles in the CPG industry. Notably, that experience included 15+ years in sales and strategy with PepsiCo where he held executive leadership roles leading multiple customer teams. Peter is a graduate of DePaul University and resides in Chicago.

Jeff Fernandez

Jeff Fernandez

In this episode Lonny speaks with Jeff Fernandez, VP Corporate Partnerships and New Business Ventures with the New York Jets. In his 15th year with the Jets, Jeff is responsible for leading the partnership sales team that creates strategic corporate alliances, driving revenue for the organization and developing new business ventures and innovative projects that enhance Jets fan engagement. 

Fernandez previously served as director of marketing partnerships for the Buffalo Bills from 1999-2001 and at Huizenga Sports & Entertainment Group in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, from 1995-99, where he sold sponsorships for the Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, Florida Marlins and SportsChannel Florida. Fernandez also served as vice president of marketing partnerships for Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500 from 2001-03. 

Welcome to Food Connected!

Food Connected is an interview-style podcast hosted by Lonny Sweet, CEO of The Connect Group. Lonny will speak with executives on the brand, agency and influencer side who are leading the charge within the culinary marketing vertical to provide an in-depth look at how these talented individuals are leveraging the food connected consumer passion to drive their brand’s sales and marketing objectives forward.