A Team with High Standards
We employ the world’s leading farmers, scientists, engineers, chemists, formulators, and legal and regulatory experts to ensure that our processes are world-class and our products are of the highest quality.
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder
Kashif Shan is an entrepreneur and seasoned executive with more than 20-years of high technology experience shepherding all aspects of business, including finance, facilities, and HR. Throughout his career, his executive management skills have aided three public IPOs. On his entrepreneurial side, Kash is the founder of Equus Capital, a real estate investment company where he has flexed his real estate development skills over the last 10-years. In 2014, Kash founded Folium Biosciences, which has grown to become a global leader in supplying trusted hemp-derived cannabinoid ingredients and finished goods.
Upon graduating with a BS in Biochemistry at San Francisco State University, Folium Bioscience’s Co-Founder Quan Nguyen began his career in Lawrence Labs Berkeley, unraveling the secrets of life as part of the Human Genome Project. While Quan loved science, he quickly realized that he thrived even more on building new connections with people face-to-face. This led to a new role in sales with Qiagen, the leaders in DNA and RNA purification and automation.
Growing up, Quan was raised in a family of entrepreneurs and was always driven to start his own projects. A perfect example? In college, he leveraged his tuition money to create an events promotion and marketing business with his younger brother and friends. A company that is still succeeding today, the PLAN C Group and PLAN C Agency.
Leveraging that same entrepreneurial spirit and harnessing his knowledge in sales, Quan took a horizontal leap and dived into the world of real estate, starting his own brokerage, Prime Realty, and Financial Services. A decade later, the stars aligned, and fellow Folium Biosciences Co-Founder Kash Shan crossed paths with Quan, leading to their first endeavor together, Equus Capital, a real estate venture focusing on development projects.
It was at Equus that they learned of the magic and true potential of hemp and CBD. With his biochemist hat on, Quan used his knowledge to help create the extraction capabilities that Folium Biosciences is known for today.
EVP of Operations
Jenna Knapp began her career with Folium Biosciences in 2015, managing fulfillment, quality control, and product research and development. Her tenacity and ambition helped develop her departments into industry-leading operations, keeping Folium Biosciences ahead of the competition. Her success propelled her forward, and four years later, Jenna is now the company’s EVP of Operations. In this role, she oversees the entire organization’s technical departments, including production, manufacturing, and fulfillment.
Previously, Jenna managed the financials, personnel, brewery, and service operations at a local brewery. There, she gained a tremendous amount of operational insight working in a fast-paced and cutting-edge industry. Her hands-on experience in an ever-changing environment was a true asset when she joined Folium Biosciences. Before stepping into her role at the brewery, Jenna worked as a biochemist and inventory specialist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL). She used her education to streamline processes in the Environmental, Health and Safety Department. Jenna proudly graduated from the University of Colorado with a BS in biochemistry and a minor in mathematics. She graduated with her MBA in operations management at the same university.
Dr. Geert Feye Woerlee
Chief Technical Officer
Geert Woerlee is a serial entrepreneur. He holds a Master's in Physics and a PhD. in Applied Sciences. He founded FeyeCon in 1992, a company that develops products using carbon dioxide as a platform technology. He grew FeyeCon from a one-man show into an intellectual property venture, owning significant stakes in eight spin-off companies over 25 years. These companies make and sell products in medical diagnostics, textile dyeing, CO2 cleaning, food ingredients, and dried vegetables. The combined companies employ over a hundred people. He has held executive functions in most of these companies.
In 2002, Geert Woerlee brought FeyeCon into the cannabinoid space when the Dutch government created a legal supply of cannabis stative. He was one of the world’s pioneers in the extraction and puriﬁcation of different cannabis compounds. The products developed with FeyeCon formulation technologies led to the creation of Echo Pharmaceuticals BV in 2006, where he was CEO until 2010. In 2018, he co-founded Ocho Amsterdam BV, a company that uses cannabidiol for nutraceutical and cosmetic products. In 2019, he joined Folium Biosciences as Chief Technology Ofﬁcer to industrialize the production of cannabinoid products.
Geert Woerlee is the inventor of over 20 patent families, of which seven are in the cannabinoid space. He has the unique capability to combine technology and commercial aspects in a product for successful launches.
Vanesa Fernandez, PhD
Chief Science Officer
Vanesa Fernandez has a 12-year track record of business building in the cannabinoid industry ranging from processing, product development, cGMP production, clinical trials, and IP management all the way to sales. Vanesa’s career in the cannabinoid industry started in 2006 when she became a partner of Echo Pharmaceuticals BV as a Technical Manager. In 2010, she took the helm as the company’s CEO. Under her leadership, Echo grew from a start-up to a mature pharmaceutical company with an extensive clinical program that included 9(+) trials in the CNS and pain space. She developed an IP strategy to protect the company’s formulation technology, leading to two unique market-ready pharmaceutical products. Vanesa raised over 10-million euros of non-dilutive funds and secured new funding through a Series B investment.
In 2018, Vanesa founded OCHO Amsterdam BV, a company that develops and produces high-quality cannabinoid products for the European market. Vanesa led sales, reaching USD 0.5 million in the first year. She also acted as an independent consultant in the cannabis field for the last two years, providing scientific advice on pharmaceutical developments to several European and American companies.
Between 2016 and 2018, Vanesa was a supervisory board member of DyeCoo Textile Systems BV with Nike and Ikea counterparts. The company manufactured the world’s first machines using carbon dioxide (CO2) for textile material dyeing. This company emerged as a direct result of her PhD-related work.
Previously, Vanesa worked as project leader for FeyeCon D&I, the leading company in carbon dioxide technology, creating sustainable products and processes in various verticals like pharmaceutical, pharma textile, food, and cosmetics. As project leader, she acquired and worked on different commercial development projects for international clients and set up the GMP quality system.
In 2005, Vanesa received her PhD. in chemistry at Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands) on textile dyeing with carbon dioxide. She holds an MSc degree in chemistry from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain) and moved to the Netherlands in 1998.
Vanesa has solid professional, scientific skills in R&D, chemistry, validation, GMP/GLP, and life science. She thrives in multicultural working environments and leads with conviction and vision. She has invented 12 patents and is the author of eight scientific papers.
Tricia DiPersio, PhD, RD
EVP of Quality, Compliance & Customer Relations
“We are committed to setting the CBD industry standard when it comes to quality, compliance, and customer relations,” explains Folium Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Kashif Shan. “That’s why we’re thrilled to welcome Tricia to our team. She’s led food safety, quality, and regulatory compliance for some of the largest and most respected food and retail brands in the world – an experience that will catapult our programs far ahead of any other CBD producer, manufacturer, or distributor. Her expertise will play an integral role in Folium’s industry leadership.”
Prior to joining the Folium team, Dr. DiPersio oversaw quality and compliance for food, beverages, and supplements at Wild Oats Markets (now Whole Foods), developed and led the Organic Produce Program and the Food Safety & Quality Team for Target’s private label products, and worked for nearly 10 years overseeing quality, regulatory compliance, and customer relations for Panda Restaurant Group’s 3,200 restaurants and 300+ suppliers worldwide.
“Putting my skills and experience to work to help Folium advance its unrivaled CBD products is exciting on both a personal and professional level,” explains Dr. DiPersio. “Personally, I’ve seen how CBD can be a life-changer. Ever since my niece was able to add CBD to the treatment regimen for her seizure disorder, she’s had fewer seizures and been able to reduce the need for drug therapies. So from that vantage point, nothing could be more rewarding than helping to advance a solution that has the potential to improve lives. But also professionally, it’s incredibly exciting to help an emerging industry lay a solid foundation for its expansion and growth, and even more thrilling to be doing so as part of one of the most respected companies in the industry.”
Dr. DiPersio completed her Dietetics degree at the University of Northern Colorado and earned her Master’s degree and PhD in Food Science, focusing on pathogenic microbiology from Colorado State University. Her credentials include certified HACCP, SQF auditor trained, certified quality auditor, PCQI, ServSafe, Blockchain expertise, and National Organic Program Certified. She also has extensive knowledge of regulatory requirements (FDA, FSMA, USDA, NOP/SOP), industry safety and quality standards and audits (GFSI, SQF, BRC, ISO), and program development (TQM, Specifications, PMP).
Associate General Counsel
Ricardo Calzada comes to Folium Biosciences from the Sunshine State with a wealth of legal experience. His areas of practice have included business transactions, corporate services, commercial and civil litigation, criminal, construction, family, and real estate law. From 2008 to 2017, Ric and his team battled the nation’s largest financial institutions during the height of the foreclosure crisis. They saved over 2,000 homes in the State of Florida from foreclosure by procuring permanent loan modifications, the majority of which were for Hispanic minorities disproportionately affected by the crisis.
Most recently, Ric was a partner for Ganja Law and My Law Solution. He was also the CEO of Emerald Seas Title, LLC and Cornerstone Insurance Group. Ric’s previous experience includes working for the Florida Department of Revenue, Florida Senate General Counsel’s Office, and the Economic Crimes Division for the Florida Attorney General in Tallahassee.
In addition to his impressive resume, his expertise has been featured on Court TV, iHeartRadio, and major network news coverage of high-profile celebrity cases. Ric has come on board to provide legal and corporate compliance in the ever-changing Hemp Law landscape. He is excited to bring his legal experience to our brand. He has already been a critical player in Folium Biosciences’ acquisition of new facilities and equipment that will soon double our production capabilities. He earned his JD and MBA from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Science in Multinational Business Operations and Bachelors of Science in Marketing.
Chief Commercial Officer
After two decades of global sales leadership in the specialty food and ingredient sectors, Kris High has joined the executive team at hemp-derived non-psychoactive cannabinoid manufacturer Folium Biosciences as the company’s first Chief Commercial Officer.
In her role, High will build out the company’s commercial strategy, drive sales growth in existing verticals, spearhead efforts to pioneer new markets, and help guide companywide strategy and vision.
“To harness the opportunity of today’s booming global CBD markets and rapidly expanding product applications, Folium needs a CCO that possesses both deep experience in the food, beverage, pharmacy, and pet verticals as well as proven success in worldwide markets. Kris brings precisely that rare blend of experience to our team,”
explains Folium Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Kashif Shan. “She has successfully developed and executed growth strategies for diverse global food markets through in-country distribution and expanded category sales via established channels, know-how that will be invaluable to Folium as we follow the sort of rapidly accelerating upward trajectory with which she is very familiar.”
Prior to joining the Folium team, High served a dual role as Head of Market Development, Americas and Global Commercial Effectiveness for collagen casing supplier Devro, Inc., was Vice President International for processed cheese manufacturer Whitehall Specialties and held various sales leadership roles at global food and energy company Archer Daniels Midland.
“The CBD industry is at an incredibly exciting stage of growth, with limitless potential to deliver beneficial results for people all over the world,” explains High. “Among all that promise, I was drawn to Folium as a company that is uniquely demonstrating real leadership in the sector, with the right people, science-based products, commitment to innovation, and unrivaled quality processes already in place as a springboard to global growth. I’m thrilled to be able to join an already advanced team and put my experience to work to drive existing markets, forge into not-yet-realized products, and deliver results for people all over the world.”
VP of Fulfillment
Ken Starzynski comes to Folium Biosciences after spending close to 20 years in the Semiconductor and Microelectronics Packaging industries. Ken’s main responsibilities include supply chain control and management, ﬁnished goods manufacturing and delivery, and implementing and maintaining Good Manufacturing Practices throughout the fulﬁllment department.
Ken brings a wealth of Process Control, Integration, and System Setup knowledge along with a strong background in Clean Room design, layout, and ISO standards. Ken’s previous experience comes from Samtec Microelectronics where he was the Technical Operations Manager responsible for day-to-day product management and sustainment as well as leading a new technology venture into Glass Core Interposer development. He has experience with new software development and introduction into manufacturing environments at the operations level and at the executive level.
Ken has a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Penn State University and is certiﬁed in Six Sigma with a Green Belt from Villanova University. He is very excited to join the Folium Biosciences family and was seeking a new career challenge that had a direct impact on an individual’s well-being and way of life.
Director of Engineering
Jeff Jacobs joined Folium Biosciences with over 30 years of experience in a number of analytical and engineering roles in aerospace, defense, and high-tech industries. Jeff’s main responsibilities include enterprise-wide process improvement initiatives, systems development and engineering, strategic planning and analysis, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
Jeff comes with a strong background in systems engineering and process improvement, market and business development, market analysis and forecasting, and strategic planning from previous scientific and engineering roles with Northrop Grumman Corporation, Corning Incorporated, and the US Air Force. At Northrop, Jeff was responsible for the Reliability, Safety, and Human Factors engineering of the Ballistic Missile Defense System protecting the US and our allies. At Corning, Jeff held a number of market analysis and strategic planning roles, including a Principal investor role in Corning’s venture capital business where he served on the board of five optical networking technology start-ups.
Jeff holds a B.S. in Spacecraft Science from the US Air Force Academy. He is extremely pleased to be a part of Folium Biosciences and the exciting future of the CBD industry and is looking forward to helping improve lives by contributing to the company and industry in meaningful ways.
Dr. Pravin Ninawe
VP of Production
Over the last four years with Folium Biosciences, head of R&D, and VP of Production, Dr. Pravin Ninawe has been an asset helping to meet client needs and consumer demand for safe, customized, stable cannabinoid solutions through innovative product formulation and manufacturing efficiencies.
In his early days with Folium, Dr. Ninawe managed research, design, development, and start-up activities toward Broad Spectrum Hemp Oil production. He also played an integral role as a team member in the design and construction of Folium’s state-of-the-art production facility at Pueblo West.
Dr. Ninawe has a PhD. in Chemical Engineering from Illinois Tech and spent the first several years of his career developing processes from proof of concept to commercial scale and commissioning production facilities. Equipped with training and experience working on several projects funded by the FDA, Dr. Ninawe continues to challenge the status quo at Folium. In his spare time, he enjoys working in the dirt and experimenting with seeds and plants in his garden.