QCS employs a number of passionate, committed, and experienced folks ready to assist you on your path to certification. This page will help you get to know a few of them and why they are perfectly suited to this job.
Marty MeshFlorida Organic Growers Executive Director
Marty Mesh became committed to organic and sustainable agriculture while a farmworker in 1972.
In 1987, Marty helped form Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers (FOG), a nonprofit organization, and, in 1995, became FOG’s Executive Director. Under his leadership, FOG developed Quality Certification Services.
Marty has spoken at conferences around the world on the subjects of organic production, food security, farm and food policy and sustainable agriculture. He is also active in local, state and national policy and has served on the Board of Directors for many organizations, including multiple terms on the Organic Trade Association and the Accredited Certifiers Association as well as the Organic Steering Committee for the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. He served as a charter board member for the widely-utilized Organic Materials Review Institute. Marty was also on the steering committee that helped form the Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group and served on its board.
Marty has been listed by Natural Food Merchandiser as one of the “Top 25 People Who Have Most Influenced the Organic Industry” and was the recipient of the Organic Trade Association’s Growing the Organic Industry award. Marty was also featured in and co-produced the film What’s Organic About Organic?
Ramkrishnan BalasubramanianChief Operating Officer
Ramkrishnan (Ram) Balasubramanian earned his Ph.D. in Crop Sciences, Masters in Agricultural Engineering, and Masters in Ecological Agriculture. He also holds a Masters in Business Administration.
Ram is a ISO 9001 Lead Auditor with extensive food safety/GAP and organic auditing experience. Additionally, Ram specializes in organic aquaculture standard and curriculum development. He has collaborated with the Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative, Global Food Safety Initiative, and GLOBALG.A.P. scheme training material and small holder guides.
Ram is a FSPCA Lead Instructor for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program and Lead Certified Trainer for the Produce Safety Rule. Ram has served in on numerous boards of directors including serving as the Organic Material Review Institute Board Chair. He has has farming roots with experience in producing both crops and livestock. Ram is a firm believer in family values and family first and, in his free time, he loves swimming, spicy food, and organic gardening and growing rare exotic and medicinal plants.
Mario VelascoFood Safety/GAPs Program Director
Mario earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. Mario has more than 17 years of experience working in high managerial positions and commands a high level of experience in supervision and coordination of private/public and private/private collaborations, project/budget management, project development, R&D+I, and technical directing and marketing.
Mario enjoys collaborating in the food production sector working with vertically integrated companies and small producers in developed and emerging economies globally. He also has extensive aquaculture / food safety-GAPs and organic auditing experience in European, American and Asian countries including salmonids, tilapia, trout, pangasius, seabass, seabream, shrimp, and animal feed production processes.
He likes working at QCS because of its dynamism and the interaction between our two main divisions – Food Safety/GAPs and Organic – to better serve the food industry domestically and abroad. The department is willing to help everyone so every working day worth it at the office. He enjoys the outdoors and water sports.
Suzette EdwardsProcessing/Handling Certification Manager
A graduate from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Food Science and Technology and a B.S. in Microbiology, Suzette has more than 10 years of experience in quality assurance and food regulatory work both nationally and internationally. She has worked with the Bureau of Standards Jamaica as an Inspector/Analyst and Nestle Jamaica Ltd., as a Hygienist and Technical Training Officer.
Currently, Suzette oversees and approves the certification of some of the leading organic food processors in the country. Under her leadership, the food processing team at QCS provides service to numerous clients and performing multiple duties without sacrificing precision and quality. Suzette is one of the lead trainers in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Food Safety Preventive Control for Human Foods training in the state of Florida. Additionally, she is considered an expert in HACCP as well as a RABQSA QMS Lead Auditor. Her other credentials include ISO 1400 General Requirement and GLOBAL.G.A.P. Lead Auditor for Compound Feed Manufacturing. Suzette prides herself in being exceptionally motivated, friendly and passionate about her work and the importance of food safety.
Ryan BrouillardCrop/Livestock Certification Manager and Inspector
Ryan attended the University of Florida where he studied Journalism and Mass Communications with an outside concentration in Natural Resource Conservation. After college, he worked on several small vegetable farms and later became co-owner of an edible landscaping company. He has worked at QCS since 2008, starting as a crop and livestock inspector and certification reviewer. Ryan’s favorite part about working at QCS is having the opportunity to talk with farmers from all around the country on a daily basis. Ryan spends his free time working on his farm where he lives with his wife and daughter outside Gainesville, Florida.
Brian RakitaInspection Manager/Certification Reviewer
Brian has been working with organic farming for the past 30 years in all capacities – from working for an organic nut butter producer in the Ozark Mountains in the early 1990s to running a Community Supported Agriculture program which supplied fresh organic veggies from his farm to local families. In 1998, Brian took over management of an organic catalog and then proceeded to spend years working for the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association where he trained farmers to raise organic seed.
Brian has been with QCS since 2009 and has enjoyed working with organic farmers to ensure organic integrity is maintained in the marketplace.
Beth RotaPolicy and Quality Assurance Manager
Beth earned her Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana where she served as a research fellow with the Grow Montana project. Her thesis explored the potential of producer owned cooperatives to grow local food systems beyond direct farm-to-consumer markets. Prior to working in organic certification, Beth directed the education program at the Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society (PEAS) Farm in Missoula, Montana where she helped area youth explore connections between agricultural and their everyday lives.
Over the years, Beth has engaged her passion for sustainable agriculture outside the office as a volunteer with local food and agricultural organizations and as a board member for the Community Garden Coalition in Columbia, Missouri. Working at QCS provides an extraordinary first-hand look into diverse organic production systems around the country and internationally; and affords the opportunity to meet and work with some remarkable farmers, producers, and team-members. Beth enjoys spending free time with her husband and two children in the garden, the kitchen, and exploring the outdoors.
Katherine AyersFood Safety/GAPs Senior Coordinator
Katherine Ayers has more than 20 years of experience working for the state of Florida and other small nonprofit organizations. She loves providing great customer service and care to producers (USA + International) from start to finish and beyond and for all of schemes and scopes. Katherine enjoys the learning opportunities and challenges that come with working for a certification body. She likes to grow her own food and enjoys learning about farming. A fun fact about Katherine: during the 1990’s, she was a sword-fighter & performer in medieval faires.
Cesar CartagenaCertification Reviewer
Cesar is an experienced globetrotter from Newark, New Jersey. A biologist from The University of Chicago specializing in animal behavior, as well as in ecology and evolution, Cesar has found practical ways to translate his passion for wildlife conservation into travel. After working for The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, the U.S. Forest Service in Maryland, biopharmaceutical labs in Florida, and being the former QCS-Ecuador manager, Cesar now works in QCS’s main office as a certification reviewer focusing on livestock and as support for remote offices and Spanish-speaking clients. Cesar enjoys that QCS challenges him daily and that he is able to use most of his skills in an all-inclusive, ever-changing role for a promising company. In addition, Cesar’s other passion, music performance, has led him to play his saxophone on many important stages around the globe to later become the musical director for a major cruise line based in Miami, Florida.
Robert ChapaCertification Reviewer
Robert first gained an interest in agriculture when he was a member of the 4H club in high school. From there, he attended the University of Florida and achieved his bachelor’s degree in Horticultural Sciences. While at UF, he was involved with several research projects involving organic land management, blueberry production, and bean production. After graduation, Robert helped conduct research on efficiency of protected agriculture structures in relation to pepper, squash, and strawberry production at the UF/IFAS extension office in Hastings, Florida. Prior to working at QCS, he also had the opportunity to work at an alfalfa research facility as well as manage several organic gardens. Robert feels it is rewarding to work for QCS as they join with farmers in sharing a passion for sustainable farming. Since youth, Robert has always enjoyed surfing at the beach.
Kelli DiazCertification Reviewer
Kelli received her B.S. in Agricultural Economics and a minor in Civic Agriculture & Food Systems from Virginia Tech in 2015. During her studies, she was an apprentice for Kentland Farms, a six acre farm that grows fruits, vegetables and herbs specifically for Virginia Tech Dining Services. After receiving her degree, Kelli worked for a community garden nonprofit in Alamosa, Colorado where she managed the garden space and developed youth educational programming. After the growing season, she realized her passion for teaching and transitioned to a position in rural western Colorado as a full time elementary school garden teacher. Kelli enjoys working for QCS because she is passionate about the future of sustainable agriculture and she loves connecting with dedicated farmers across the country.
After studying accounting in college, Sherry started as a bookkeeper for an automotive dealership. Over the past 40 years, Sherry has held accounting positions of increasing responsibility in small businesses, accounting firms and non-profit organizations. Sherry loves the non-profit field and QCS because there is a mission behind the business. Sherry and her husband live on a four acre mini-farm and over the past 20 years have raised pot-bellied pigs and had goats and a pony as pets.
Stephen ForbesCertification Reviewer
Stephen graduated from the University of Rochester with a B.S. in Microbiology, and a Certificate in Biotechnology. Additionally, Stephen has a M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Science (Immunology and Infectious Disease tract) from the University at Albany State University of New York (SUNY). His dissertation research was performed at Wadsworth Center with the New York State Department of Health. Stephen enjoys the regulatory aspects of the position and has spent the past six years in research involving microbiology, immunology, and vaccinology. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Brie MedinaAdministrative Assistant
Brie received a B.A. in Visual Art as well as a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Florida. She enjoys working for QCS because she is able to work with great people who are passionate about what they do and because there is always something new to learn.
Mark OsborneCertification Reviewer/Inspector
Mark is an alumnus of Virginia Tech and an Army veteran. Having farmed in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, Mark became interested in organic farming five years ago when he learned about organic certification from a friend who has a nursery selling organic seedlings. A father to four wonderful children, Mark is blessed to work with QCS and excited to be part of the staff.
Jennifer RoccoCertification Reviewer/Inspector
Jennifer has a B.S. from The Ohio State University and is an IOA trained organic inspector. She is the co-owner of BlueLoon Farm, a diversified small farm in Northeast Ohio. She enjoys farming and likes to send pictures of her cows to her co-workers.
Cesar RodriguezFood Safety/GAPs and Organic Inspector
Cesar earned a M.S. in Environmental Engineering Science-Water Quality Management from State University of New York at Buffalo, New York. He also has a B.S. in Chemistry from Inter-American University of Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico and a degree in Agriculture Engineering from the National University of Honduras in Honduras.
Cesar has more than 12 years of experience facilitating, implementing and sustaining International Food Safety Standards for leafy crops and sustaining Organic Grower-Handling Programs of leafy greens. He also has experience facilitating, implementing and sustaining the ISO 14001 on fruit crops at an international agriculture organization in Honduras, Central America. Cesar has more than 20 years of teaching experience instructing college students in the field of chemistry at the National University of Honduras. Cesar enjoys working for QCS because provides the opportunity to meet and engage with professional people of different backgrounds.
Casey SchmidtAdministrative Assistant
Casey earned an A.S. degree in Criminal Investigations and has 15 years of administrative experience. She enjoys working for QCS as it has allowed her to encounter relationships with many different people. She has enjoyed working with the Amish community and learning about their culture. Casey is a sports fanatic and roots for the Florida Gators.
Irina ShapiroProcessing/Handling Certification Reviewer
Irina earned her B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy with a minor in Spanish Language from University of Maryland, College Park. She also earned her M.S. in Entomology from University of California, Davis. For nine years, Irina conducted agricultural research related to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and biotechnology. She enjoys working for QCS because she is able to learn about agriculture and food systems from the regulatory perspective. Irina’s favorite insect is the Phylliidae (the leaf insect).
Skeet SurrencyCertification Reviewer/Inspector
Skeet earned a B.S. in Horticultural Sciences from the University of Florida specializing in Organic and Sustainable Crop Production. He has several seasons of experience on diverse vegetable Community Supported Agriculture programs in Florida and Massachusetts including working at an urban agriculture organization in Holyoke, MA. Skeet is an avid home gardener and backyard chicken producer.
Skeet enjoys working for QCS because of all the wonderful, interesting, talented, and inspiring people I get to meet, and all of the beautiful and productive farms I get to travel to. One of Skeet’s hobbies is Sacred Harp Singing.
Valerie TorresCertification Reviewer/Inspector
Valerie graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A.S. in Agribusiness Organization Management and an A.S. in Environmental Studies. A veterinary technician for 15 years, Valerie enjoys working with the livestock producers and especially the Amish and Mennonite clients. She also likes meeting farmers at inspection and working tradeshows. Valerie loves to work on cars and she does most of the repairs on her own vehicles.
Chris VigilanteFinancial Administrative Assistant
Chris studied Economics and Business Administration at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. His favorite thing about QCS is the excitement each new day brings. He is a lifelong drummer, lover of animals (especially pups), and spends his free time cooking and enjoying live music.
Sean SpringfieldFood Safety / GAPs Program Junior Assistant
Sean has a lifelong interest in biology and food systems. Since his childhood in South Florida he has spent his time cultivating fruits, vegetables and exotic ornamentals. Sean received a B.S. in Horticulture at the University of Florida. As Farm Manager at Forage, he gained hands-on experience as well as insight into the joys and challenges of organic farming. Sean enjoys learning about the variety of services provided by QCS and is enthusiastic about growing with the food safety department. As a hobby he breeds Nepenthes pitcher plants.
Ruby A. Montoya-OspinaMaterial Review Specialist
Ruby is highly experienced in marine/aquatic field conservation research and use of low impact sustainable aquaculture practices to alleviate pressure on natural resources by local communities. She has over 15 years experience in project development, coordination, and budget management, and over 10 years experience in teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels, using hands-on approach at the field and lab settings. She has been highly successful in planning and coordinating courses/research programs in tropical ecology and aquaculture in Puerto Rico and other Spanish speaking countries.
Ruby earned her Master from University of Puerto Rico on Marine Sciences and Aquaculture. Then she earned her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University on Wildlife and Fisheries Science, with a specialty on Ecological Modeling applied on intensive aquaculture to search for balance between production and responsible environmental management of nutrient outputs.
Ruby has experience working on private, academic, government and ONG organizations in Latin American countries and the USA. Ruby has worked with aquaculture species including tilapia, cachama and shrimp, native species as Bocachico and even endangered species such as manatees.
Emily ThompsonInspection Coordinator
Emily earned her B.S. in Family, Youth and Community sciences with a focus in Community Development and minors in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture and Nonprofit Management from the University of Florida. While at UF she was part of a variety of environmentally focused clubs, eventually becoming the Director of Environmental Concerns for the housing department on campus. After graduating, she worked for the Community Development sector of Girl Scouts, honing her agricultural skills by teaching the girls about organic and sustainable gardening.
Emily has always had a passion for the environment and agriculture and is excited to work with all the wonderful people at QCS.
Sienna HortonAdministrative Assistant
Sienna Horton is an Alachua native and was raised on a small cattle operation. She received her Associates of Arts in Business Administration. She is currently furthering her education by pursing a Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Management at Santa Fe College. Sienna enjoys working at QCS because of all the wonderful and diverse people she gets to meet. In her free time, Sienna reads science fiction novels and paints.
María Pía Haro BenítezMarketing Coordinator
María received a degree in Engineering in Foreign Trade from Polytechnic School of Chimborazo (ESPOCH) in Ecuador. Her experience includes working at the BCS ÖKO Garantie regional office and responsibilities including the Certificate of Inspection for Import of Products from Organic Production and Flows of Export Volumes for the projects of: Ecuador, Perú, Colombia, Uruguay and Paraguay. She also worked at BCS ÖKO Garantie Ecuador and was responsible for external training and events.
María likes working for QCS because it is a fair alternative for organic producers and QCS prides itself in high standards and customer service. She loves her family with all her heart and that includes her dogs. She enjoys traveling, especially time spent outdoors.
Belen HaroCertification Reviewer/Inspector
Belen studied Agroindustry. Her experience includes being part of an exchange program in the United States where she learned about sustainable agriculture and volunteering in a high school working in organic gardens with students. Belen worked in a NGO for rural development in the communities around the volcano Chimborazo. She then studied Agroecology in Spain.
Belen likes working for QCS because there is an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. She also meets different people and works on projects that are really interesting. She believes that small acts and decisions can make a big difference especially when it comes to caring for the environment. She believes agroecology is a response to the challenges faced today with the increasingly limited resources.
Mabel BarinasQCS Caribe Representative
Mabel graduated from the Instituto Politecnico Loyola in Dominican Republic and began her career as an Agronomist. She then went to Zamorano University in Honduras to obtain a degree in Rural Development and Environment.
Mabel experience includes a stint as a research assistant at The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). She supported a food safety project to address produce safety among Amish communities in Ohio. Mabel was also part of the Farmer to Farmer program sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Partners of the Americas in the Dominican Republic. After years of field work, she pursued a Master Degree in Project Management at EAE Business School in Madrid, Spain.
In 2014, Mabel founded her own company, Pro-Organica Dominicana, which represents and distributes an exclusive organics inputs brand. The brand was since sold to an international company and currently Mabel operates the QCS Caribe office in the Dominican Republic.
Melina MarcelinoQCS Caribe Representative
Born and raised in Dominican Republic, Melina attended a bilingual school and then studied Marketing at Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM). Melina worked at an organic banana farm for several years as a bilingual administrative manager and then worked as an executive director of a grower group of banana producers.
Melina enjoys working at QCS because it has been a new challenge as a professional and she has been able to apply her skills and learn new ones working in a friendly work environment where everyone is part of a great team. Her mantra is “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”