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Sustainable Herbs Program Announces Inaugural Members of Advisory Group

AUSTIN, Texas (October 21, 2019) — The Sustainable Herbs Program (SHP) and the American Botanical Council (ABC) welcome 16 inaugural members to the new Advisory Group.

These highly regarded professionals bring many years of experience working on a wide range of relevant disciplines, including botanical raw material sourcing and sustainability, regenerative and sustainable agriculture, botany, ethnobotany, ethnobiology, horticulture, pharmacognosy, wild harvesting, and herbal medicine. 

SHP Director Ann Armbrecht, PhD, said: “I am so grateful to have the support and guidance of these individuals, all of whom are leaders in creating conversations about sustainable practices for the botanical industry.

We are greatly honored to have them join us to help guide the development of new programming and educational content…for the botanical community. We very much look forward to working with them to help us forward our educational and inspirational mission.”Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC, added: “We see SHP as a collaborative effort, and these SHP Advisory Group members represent a wide field of expertise and organizations in the botanical medicine and conservation communities.”

A more complete description of each member’s biography is available in the Advisory Group section of the SHP website.


Josef Brinckmann

Brinckmann has worked with medicinal plants since 1979 and serves as the Medicinal Plants and Botanical Supply Chain Research Fellow of Traditional Medicinals, Inc. (Sebastopol, California), a manufacturer of herbal medicinal products. He is also an ABC Advisory Board member and a contributing editor of ABC’s peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram. Brinckmann is a member of the Medicinal Plant Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Species Survival Commission and serves as vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the FairWild Foundation, a Switzerland-based nonprofit standards-setting organization for the sustainable wild collection of medicinal and aromatic plants. He received the 2013 American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Herbal Insight Award, the 2016 ABC Champion Award, and in 2016 was conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in Healing and Sustainability honoris causa from the California Institute of Integral Studies and American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Bill Chioffi

Chioffi has more than 21 years of experience with the production of herbal supplements, including vertically integrated manufacturing of botanical liquid extracts and concentrates. He also has experience in international and domestic regulatory and good agricultural and collection practices (GACPs) auditing, social responsibility/sustainability management and program development, agroforestry and supply chain development planning, political advocacy, clinical research guidance, and education. He is the director of Botanical Consulting International and has served on various boards, including the AHPA Executive Committee as vice chair and the AHPA Board of Directors for two terms. He is also a founding board member of the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition and a current advisor to the United Plant Savers, reflecting his commitment to conservation. 

Bethany Davis

Davis is the director of advocacy and government affairs of FoodState/MegaFood. She is the president of the Coalition for Supplement Sustainability, a group of supplement and ingredient companies that united to support a non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) and sustainable supply chain. She serves on the Board of Trustees of ABC and AHPA. Davis is deeply engaged with regenerative agricultural practices, sustainability, and transparency as they relate to the supplement industry. She holds a MS in Regulatory Affairs and Health Policy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston and is a certified coach with the Conscious Leadership Group.

Trish Flaster

Flaster, an ethnobotanist and botanical ingredients sourcing and sustainability expert, serves as executive director of Botanical Liaisons, LLC, an ethnobotanical consulting firm that focuses on new products based on traditional knowledge and development of authenticated botanical reference specimens. Flaster also conducts field studies on sustainable supplies. For more than 30 years, she has been the editor of “Plants and People,” the newsletter of the Society for Economic Botany. With extensive herb industry experience, including formerly working in the research department of Celestial Seasonings, Flaster is the cofounder of IDDI, She holds a master's degree in ethnobotany from the University of Colorado at Boulder and serves on the ABC Advisory Board.

Edward Fletcher 

Fletcher has worked in the horticultural industry for more than 35 years, starting with propagating and growing native American wildflowers for his family’s ornamental nursery business in North Carolina. He has extensive experience working with farmers, growers, and herb producers around the world and offers consulting services via his company Native Botanicals, Inc. Fletcher has been the chairperson and is a current member of the AHPA Board of Trustees and chair of the AHPA Botanical Raw Materials Committee. He has worked with the United States Agency for International Development as a medicinal plant expert on the Island of Dominica to develop a line of medicinal teas based on the traditional knowledge of the Kalinago people. Fletcher continues to work to improve the quality of botanical raw materials, focusing on cultivation and post-harvest handling techniques. 

David Hircock

Hircock is the executive director of corporate affairs of Estée Lauder Companies, having initially started with its subsidiary, Aveda. He has worked extensively around the globe on issues related to human rights and biodiversity conservation. He also has worked with indigenous peoples, particularly related to the supply chains of raw materials and services for essential oils. A passionate advocate for human rights, Hircock has worked since 2005 with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s teams committed to the eradication of child labor and slavery in India.

Holly Johnson, PhD

Johnson is the chief science officer of AHPA. She previously served as laboratory director of Alkemist Labs, an accredited natural product testing laboratory that specializes in botanicals. Johnson has a PhD in pharmacognosy and was awarded a US National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellowship for training at the University of Illinois at Chicago/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research. She did extensive ethnobotany fieldwork and botanical collecting and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Institute for Ethnomedicine in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Johnson is active in sustainability initiatives at AHPA and in standards-setting activities with AOAC International and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) for foods and dietary supplements. She is a member of USP’s Medical Cannabis Expert Panel, the Editorial Board of the Journal of AOAC International, and the Advisory Boards of ABC and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP). Johnson has more than 20 years of experience in the lab and in the field with natural products and botanicals and has spent many years conducting research and teaching at the University of Hawaii.

Sarah Laird

A forester and ethnobiologist by training, Laird has diverse interests, including forest-based traditional knowledge, livelihoods, conservation, governance, and the commercial use of biodiversity. Since the mid-1990s, Laird has collaborated with local communities around Mt. Cameroon in southwestern Cameroon on ethnobiological research and knowledge exchange programs to support and conserve threatened traditional management practices and cultural forests. Laird also works on the international trade of medicinal plants and other non-timber forest products, including their governance, certification, markets, and sustainability, and, since 1990, on the ethical and conservation implications of the commercial use of biological and genetic resources, including through the Convention on Biological Diversity. Laird is the co-director of People and Plants International, a bioeconomy research associate at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and the co-director of the Voices for BioJustice program.

Danna J. Leaman, PhD

Leaman, a conservation biologist/ethnobotanist, is an independent consultant and is affiliated with the Canadian Museum of Nature as a research associate. Leaman received her PhD in biology from the University of Ottawa, Canada, in 1996 based on ethnobotanical research in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. A member of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission, she is co-chair of the Medicinal Plant Specialist Group and the Red List authority for medicinal plants. She is a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the FairWild Foundation. Among her many affiliations, Leaman is a member of the ABC Advisory Board.

Susan Leopold, PhD

Leopold is an ethnobotanist and passionate defender of biodiversity. She is the executive director of United Plant Savers. She currently serves on the boards of directors of Botanical Dimensions and the Center for Sustainable Economy and is a board member of the AHPA Foundation for Education and Research on Botanicals (ERB Foundation), an Advisory Board member of ABC, and a member of the IUCN’s medicinal plant specialist group. She is a proud member of the Patawomeck Native American tribe of Virginia and the author of the children’s book Isabella’s Peppermint Flowers, which teaches about Virginia’s botanical history. She lives on and manages a productive farm, the Indian Pipe Botanical Sanctuary, with her three children in Virginia, where she raises goats, peacocks, and herbs. She is an avid recreational tree climber, in love with the canopy just as much as the herbs of the forest floor.

Sebastian Pole

Pole encountered the world of traditional herbal medicine in 1991, when he met an Ayurvedic doctor in India. Pole and Tim Westwell started Pukka Herbs in 2001 to connect people with herbs and do as much good as possible. Pukka Herbs is now one of the most successful organic herbal tea companies in the world. As well as formulating all of Pukka Herbs’ organic herbal teas and supplements, Pole has run his own herbal practice since 1998. He is a registered member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association, the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, and the Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners. Fluent in Hindi, a registered yoga therapist, an obsessive gardener, and passionate about running a business that benefits everyone it connects with, Pole wants to bring the power of plants into peoples’ lives. He is also an advisor to the FairWild Foundation and AHP.

Anant Darshan Shankar

 Shankar is the managing trustee of the Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) and vice chancellor of the University of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology (TDU) in Bengaluru, India. Since 1991, FRLHT has overseen the creation of the largest in situ conservation program consisting of 110 medicinal plant conservation areas (MPCAs) for conserving wild gene pools of threatened medicinal botanicals of India in the country. TDU also leads translational research in the field of Ayurveda-biology, a new transdisciplinary domain that combines systemic perspectives of Ayurveda with the molecular approaches of biology. Shankar’s work has received several national and international awards, including the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application from the Rockefeller Foundation (1998), Columbia University’s Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s International Award (2003) for revitalization of traditional systems of health care in India, and the Padma Shri by the Government of India (2011). 

Erin Smith

 Smith is a clinical herbalist and ethnobotanist who has been working with medicinal plants for more than 30 years. She has worked internationally with indigenous communities on traditional medicine, natural resource management, community-based conservation, and traditional knowledge preservation, including with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and as the former managing director of Global Diversity Foundation – North America. She has taught internationally on herbal medicine, ethnobotany, and the human/nature relationship for more than 15 years. Passionate about botanical sourcing, social impact, and sustainability issues in the natural product industry, Smith is co-chair of AHPA’s Sustainability Subcommittee and currently oversees education and sustainability at WishGarden Herbs in Colorado.

Anastasiya Timoshyna

 Timoshyna is TRAFFIC’s senior program coordinator for sustainable trade. She is based in Cambridge, UK, and has more than 10 years of experience working on issues of wildlife trade, with a focus on implementing best practices in sustainability of harvesting and trade in wild-collected plants in the source and consumer countries. This involves engagement with companies from around the world and relevant policy work, including in the contexts of implementing Conventional in Trade in Endangered Flora and Fauna (CITES) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Timoshyna has experience with standards and certification schemes, in particular the application of the FairWild Standard for harvesting/trade in wild-collected plants. She is a co-chair of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission, Medicinal Plant Specialist Group, and a member of the Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group.

Anne Wedel-Klein

Wedel-Klein grew up with a passion for botanicals as a fourth-generation member of the Martin Bauer family. Founded in 1930, the Martin Bauer Group sources more than 200 cultivated and wild-collected botanicals from more than 80 countries, supplying ingredients to provide solutions for the food, beverage, and dietary supplement industries. More than a decade ago, the Martin Bauer Group developed its own sustainable sourcing standard and has implemented it with like-minded customers and partners. Many of the company’s projects are designed to help improve the living standards of local peoples and maintain biodiversity. Wedel-Klein holds an MBA and is heading the sustainability strategy of the Martin Bauer Group.

Steven Yeager

 Yeager is trained as a field botanist and wild harvester. He is the director of quality at Mountain Rose Herbs where he oversees laboratory operations, including the company’s identity program as well as assuring good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and Food Safety Modernization Act compliance. He serves on multiple organizations’ boards of directors, including AHPA, AHPA’s ERB Foundation, United Plant Savers, and the Native Plant Society of Oregon. Yeager is co-owner of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies in Eugene, Oregon, and has been an instructor with the school since 1997.



About the Sustainable Herbs Program

SHP was initiated with the invaluable support of 18 inaugural underwriters that represent leading stakeholders in the herbal supplement and natural products industries. These underwriters include botanical ingredient suppliers, branded product manufacturers, and a leading dietary supplement trade association. ABC and SHP are grateful to these underwriters for their generous and timely support:

  • Ingredient suppliers: Applied Food Sciences, Euromed, Indena, RFI, Valensa, and Verdure Sciences
  • Herbal product manufacturers: dōTERRA, EuroPharma/Terry Naturally, FoodState/MegaFood, Gaia Herbs, HumanN, Integria/MediHerb, Nature’s Way, New Chapter, NOW Foods, Standard Process, and Thorne
  • Industry trade association: United Natural Products Alliance

More information about the Sustainable Herbs Program can be found at