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Core Team

Michael Straus - President
Michael began his PR career in a field he knows best: organic foods and farming. He first guided the Straus Family Creamery to become one of the most well-respected and successful organic dairies in the nation. In doing so, he created an enduring brand that continues to command loyalty, good will, and steadily increasing sales, while maintaining its pioneering roots in organics and sustainable farming.

In 1999, Michael launched Straus Communications. Since then, he has worked with a vast network of businesses, community-based organizations, non-profits, foundations and other groups that work together to advance the cause of sustainability in food and agriculture. Along the way, he has earned a reputation as a credible and knowledgeable industry expert, gaining him access to major editors in the food, environmental consumer, and trade press.

Michael has also consulted on organic and sustainable agricultural marketing internationally, including the Republic of Armenia, Russia, and Ukraine where his Russian language skills come in very handy. He has served as a Board member for the Marin Conservation League, the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program, and serves on the Capital Campaign Committee of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. His professional affiliations include the San Francisco Professional Food Society.

Michael attended UC Santa Cruz, graduating with honors in Russian Studies.

Haven Bourque - Vice President
Not only does Haven bring her 16 years of experience directing marketing and communications programs to Straus communications, she brings with her the experience of growing up on her parents' organic farm in South Carolina.

Prior to joining Straus, she served as Director of Marketing and Communications for TransFair USA, the certification and marketing agency for Fair Trade food products in the United States. There she worked with leading companies, including Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, and Dunkiní Donuts to drive consumer awareness of the Fair Trade Certified label to an all-time high.

Haven has utilized her effective communication strategies to help revitalize the San Francisco Symphony by reaching new audiences for contemporary classical music. At 3Com Corporation, she was instrumental in bringing cutting-edge technologies to the global market. And in her early professional life, she guided several start-up companies from initial launch to category leadership.

She also has a long history of involvement with sustainable food and socially responsible purchasing and has lived and worked in Japan, Israel and Guatemala.

Haven holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Kansai Gaikokugo Daigaku of Osaka, Japan, and is a member of the San Francisco Professional Food Society, SLOW Food, and the marketing committee of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

Layla Azimi - Account Coordinator
Layla brings valuable knowledge of the food and restaurant industry from her PR and marketing roles at the San Francisco Symphony and Ketchum. And, like the rest of us, her passion for food guides how she spends her spare time and change. Coming to the foodie promise land from Kansas, Layla graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations from the University of Kansas. On campus, she was a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America and the director of Jayhawk Communications, the university public relations firm.

Nathan Beers - Account Coordinator
Nathan helps us coordinate and create communications work for magazine, newspaper and internet media. He is also the producer for our Beyond Organic radio show. His expertise includes building interactive web newscasts, writing outdoor pieces, and public relations account support. He has worked in direct action timber protection with the USDI, and experiential environmental education for high school students and adults. Originally from Vermont, he graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Jonathan Bendiner - Web Master
Jonathan is our resident renaissance man, having worked as a hypnotist, paramedic, massage therapist, health educator and web community builder. All reasons enough to have him around. But itís his long-held passion for organics and environmental awareness that brought him to Straus where he builds and maintains our clientís digital press rooms; he also designed and manages the Beyond Organic website.


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