2024 AHPA Awards honor industry advocates and herbal champions

March 19, 2024

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is pleased to announce the outstanding recipients of the 2024 AHPA Awards, recognizing individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the continued success of the herbal and dietary supplement industries.

2024 AHPA Award Winners

  • Herbal Hero Award: Will Woodlee

  • Herbal Industry Leadership Award: Pacific Botanicals

  • Herbal Insight Award: Sidney Sudberg

  • Herbal Diversity & Inclusion Award: Women in Nutraceuticals (WIN)

  • Environmental Impact Award: Susan Leopold

  • Herbal Advocacy Award: NOW Foods

  • Herbal Champion Award: Governor Bill Richardson (1947-2023)

From left: Sidney Sudberg, Heather Granato (WIN), Tony Martinez (on behalf of the late Governor Bill Richardson),
Katie Banaszewski (NOW Foods), Nate Brennan (Pacific Botanicals), Susan Leopold, and Will Woodlee

The AHPA Awards were presented during the AHPA Annual Member Meeting on March 13 at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA.

“Every year, it is our distinct privilege to honor a select group of the many individuals and organizations whose work has strengthened our industry and challenged us all to do and be better,” said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “We are grateful to the esteemed group of 2024 AHPA Award recipients for their contributions to AHPA and the wider industry, and we thank them for celebrating with us.”

AHPA Herbal Hero Award: Will Woodlee

Will Woodlee is a partner at Washington, D.C.-based Kleinfeld, Kaplan & Becker LLP and serves as general counsel to AHPA. Will has extensive experience with matters involving the federal, state, and local regulation of food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics, among other products, and was included in the 2021-2024 editions of Best Lawyers in America under the “FDA Law” category. AHPA staff and members alike commend Will for his subject matter expertise and thoughtful attention to supporting the association and wider industry.

“I am extremely grateful to my mentor Tony Young who taught me so much about this industry and about DSHEA and how to navigate the complicated world in which we have to compete. I am also extremely grateful to Michael McGuffin and all the different AHPA staff I have served over the years in this capacity…and to all my colleagues back at KKB in Washington who help support AHPA initiatives daily. The job of AHPA general counsel really belongs to our firm and we are extremely proud and privileged to have this opportunity. Serving AHPA has been the privilege of my career thus far. The work we do for AHPA is fulfilling, challenging, engaging…but the most important and most exciting thing about this work is the people. I've made great friends, I continue to develop relationships, and I can say, unequivocally…the herbal community is special. I look forward to earning this award eventually and I greatly appreciate the recognition.”

– Will Woodlee in his acceptance of the 2024 AHPA Herbal Hero Award

AHPA Herbal Industry Leadership Award: Pacific Botanicals 

Pacific Botanicals, a division of Herb Pharm, are growers and suppliers of high-quality herbs and spices. Located in Grants Pass, Oregon, Pacific Botanicals was founded by Mark Wheeler in 1979 and has upheld a passionate commitment to quality in everything they do – from the seeds they plant in their pristine growing environment, to the organic nutrients they add to the soil and their perfectly timed harvests. Certified organic in growing and processing by USDA and Oregon Tilth, Pacific Botanicals is committed to building trusted, lasting relationships with customers and growing partners, and their work to care for herbs and the earth is appreciated by and inspirational to many.

“We are very honored to be the recipient of the 2024 AHPA Herbal Industry Leadership Award. It is a true testament to the team that we have here at Pacific Botanicals, and the dedication of each person here from the farm team to the mill to the shop; we have people that are passionate about botanicals. Without them, and their dedication, we would not be the company we are today. It started with Mark Wheeler's vision of providing high quality botanicals to people in need, and his commitment to soil health which we continue to push forward today as a silver level Regenerative Organic farm. The cooperation, commitment, and passion that is throughout the herbal industry is something we are proud to be part of and look forward to continuing to lead into the future.”

– Nate Brennan, Senior Supply Chain Manager, on Pacific Botanicals receiving the 2024 AHPA Herbal Industry Leadership Award

AHPA Herbal Insight Award: Sidney Sudberg  

Sidney Sudberg, L. Ac. D.C., is a natural products scientist with emphasis on the discipline of pharmacognosy, the study of medicinal natural products. After many years as a clinician, Sidney combined his clinical knowledge and experience with his chemistry background to found Alkemist Labs, an independent contract analytical testing and research laboratory highly respected for its botanical testing expertise. Sidney has published several scientific papers on natural products and many articles on lab best practices to educate the herbal products industry, and his many contributions to advancing the science behind the herbal and dietary supplement industries are as numerous as they are impactful.

“I am honored to have been chosen for the 2024 AHPA Herbal Insight Award. This acknowledgment of my rewarding journey into the world of botanical or plant drug medicine, which began in 1965, is especially meaningful as it is from my AHPA peers, who have been on their own rewarding paths. It is my hope that what we have done at Alkemist Labs for nearly 30 years will continue to contribute to world health, by enhancing the quality of botanical and natural medicine.”

– Sidney Sudberg on receiving the 2024 AHPA Herbal Insight Award

AHPA Herbal Diversity & Inclusion Award: Women in Nutraceuticals  

Women In Nutraceuticals (WIN) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on unlocking the professional and personal potential of women. The organization is igniting a movement to build support for women across the nutraceutical supply chain to help increase the percentage of women holding leadership roles, funding for female-led businesses, and women's participation in research. AHPA is a proud partner of WIN and supporter of the organization's efforts to advance women in the industry.

“WIN leadership is honored and grateful to AHPA for this recognition of our role in advancing diversity and inclusion in the nutraceuticals industry. Women In Nutraceuticals (WIN) is a non-profit spearheaded by a cohort of global nutraceutical leaders, with a mission to inspire, empower, and motivate women in our industry to achieve personal and professional success. Achieving economic and societal gender equity will have a positive impact on our industry, as increased diversity improves business outcomes and innovation. It's notable that AHPA itself has a diverse staff, including several women in high leadership positions, and is a partner of WIN. Being recognized by AHPA is particularly meaningful because of how much thought and discussion go into their selections. Thank you.”

– Heather Granato, President, on WIN receiving the 2024 AHPA Herbal Diversity & Inclusion Award

AHPA Environmental Impact Award: Susan Leopold 

Susan Leopold is an ethnobotanist and conservation biologist known for her work in the fields of plant conservation, sustainable agriculture, and ethnobotany. She is the Executive Director of United Plant Savers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their habitat. Susan is an advocate for ethical wildcrafting practices, community-based conservation initiatives, and the preservation of traditional plant knowledge.

“Thank you so much, I am so honored to get this Environmental Impact Award. One thing I really want to highlight is that conservation, commerce, and cultivation of these plants are intricately connected, and we can't have commerce without conservation. The conservation piece of this work in the American herbal products world is critical, so there's no better time to partner with United Plants Savers and to partner locally with conservation efforts to ensure a future for our native plants that really provide the backbone to this industry. As we heal ourselves, we heal the planet, and vice versa – so we each have a very important role to play. Something I often say is, ‘herbs are the gateway drug to activism.'”

– Susan Leopold in her acceptance of the 2024 AHPA Environmental Impact Award

AHPA Herbal Advocacy Award: NOW Foods 

Founded by Elwood Richard in 1968 on the belief that natural is better and still a family-owned company today, NOW Foods provides customers with a comprehensive approach to wellness by offering products and services that empower people to lead healthier lives. NOW is committed to offering safe, affordable products of the highest quality and is a highly regarded advocate in the natural products industry. In 2017, NOW started its award-winning industry self-policing program of testing unfamiliar brands found on Amazon with the goal to provide consumers with knowledge on quality and testing of supplements so they can make informed purchases.

"NOW is honored to receive this special AHPA award for Herbal Industry Advocacy in recognition of our efforts in documenting the poor quality of ‘ghost brand' supplements available on Amazon and advocating for better policing. NOW started this testing program in 2017 when family owner Dan Richard decided it was important to document the problems he was seeing with many supplements for sale on Amazon. We will continue to use the tools we have to ensure the safety and quality of NOW products to also monitor unfamiliar brands found on Amazon. And we will continue to advocate for Amazon to take action against dishonest brands, and for regulatory agencies to enforce existing quality requirements."

– Katie Banaszewski, Senior Director of Quality, on NOW Foods receiving the 2024 Herbal Industry Advocacy Award

AHPA Herbal Champion Award: Governor Bill Richardson (1947-2023)  

For more than 30 years, Bill Richardson led a distinguished public service career, serving as a U.S. Congressman, a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton, as well as receiving four Nobel Peace Prize nominations. As Governor of New Mexico, Richardson's bold governing style moved New Mexico forward in several important areas, including clean energy, education, transportation, healthcare, immigration, and environmental protection. Among his many great achievements and public service contributions, AHPA is most grateful for Governor Richardson's sponsorship and support of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), which he helped maneuver through the House of Representatives and eventually get passed, establishing the foundation for the robust dietary supplement industry we know today. Governor Richardson passed in September 2023. His legacy of diplomacy continues through his nonprofit, The Richardson Center.

“What can I say about Bill Richardson, who, for me, was a mentor and a great man. He was a wizard. His gift was he had the ability to look at a situation and to say, ‘How do we connect?'…and he would use this in the most difficult situations. In fact, there is a lot of great political theater with Bill Richardson when it comes to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act – which, going to congressional tradition, if DSHEA were to be named after the legislators primarily responsible for that act, DSHEA would be called the Hatch-Richardson Act…In August 2023, I was with him and we were talking about him coming to Expo West – he loved the show, loved the people. He would say, if he was here today, ‘Go connect and develop new champions.' He would also say, ‘Run for office.' Why shouldn't someone in this industry be in Congress? That would be the best champion we could have…He was larger than life, he was a good man, and I miss him.”

– Tony Martinez in his acceptance of Governor Richardson's 2024 AHPA Herbal Champion Award on behalf of and at the request of the Richardson family




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