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Our Herbal Experts

Our company treasure trove of herb nerds...

Actually, even though many of the experts profiled here describe themselves as “herb nerds,” we’re really proud of the expertise and depth of herbal knowledge represented by this amazing group of people. We rely on them for everything from product formulation to quality control excellence; herbal education, both internal and external, to sustainability initiatives to marketing of our products.

 

Katie Huggins
Vice President of Technical Services

If you want to understand Katie’s basic approach to life, all you need to do is read the bumper sticker that says, ” I am a tree hugging dirt worshiper.” Her interest in plants began in childhood, when she would spend time visiting the various plants in her backyard. Eventually, she went on to study plants through the lenses of a variety of scientific disciplines and through her work in the natural products industry.

Katie has been with us since 1997 and is definitely one of our preeminent herbal experts, as well as a key member of our management team. She has been responsible for developing our Quality Control testing laboratory and testing programs, as well as growing the QC department from a staff of 5 to 12. She’s been instrumental in our work to transition to mostly organic, pharmacopoeial ingredients. She’s also devoted time over the past number of years to an agricultural study of senna (the primary ingredient in our popular Smooth Move teas). Prior to her work with us, Katie spent a decade in the natural products industry at Celestial Seasonings and 4 Health.

Katie brings an exceptional level of knowledge and passion to her work in Technical Services, where she oversees our Quality Control, Legal & Regulatory, and Research & Development Departments. Katie’s advocacy for plants—whether that shows up in a commitment to pharmacopoeial standards, rigorous quality control processes, rational formulation approaches or sustainability efforts—has fundamentally influenced the culture of our organization and we are very grateful for her contributions.

When not in the lab, you can find Katie working in her organic garden, which she aspires to turn into a small scale farm, where she grows herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruit and nut trees on her urban lot.

 

 

Josef Brinckmann
Vice President of Sustainability

Having a conversation with Josef is like reading an encyclopedia, a map of the world and a compilation of medicinal plant history all at the same time. An extremely knowledgeable and dedicated professional, as well as one of our key herbal experts, Josef has spent the past 33 years working in the global herbal medicinal products trade. Currently serving as our VP of Sustainability, he spent the previous 15 years overseeing our Research & Development Department, where he was responsible for formulation and scientific substantiation of our products.

Josef is very active in the herbal industry and his work with medicinal herbs extends beyond the confines of our tea company. He is an Advisory Board member of the American Botanical Council (ABC), Advisory Board member of Biodiversity Watch Journal, Advisory Committee member of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), Contributing Editor of HerbalGram (Journal of the ABC), Editorial Board member of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM), member of the Medicinal Plant Specialist Group (MPSG) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC), member of the Medicinal and Essential Oils Crops Germplasm Committee (MEO-CGC), and member of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines Monographs Expert Committee.

Josef brings an intense rigor to his work and is a passionate champion for Traditional Herbal Medicine (THM) practices as well as sustainability initiatives. These, among many of his contributions, have had a deep and lasting influence on our culture.

 

 

David Hoffmann, B.Sc., F.N.I.M.H.
Medical Herbalist

David Hoffmann has traveled the world, run for Parliament on a Green Party ticket (yes, he’s English), and has been an activist in the Green and Peace movements for longer than he cares to remember. He is the author of 17 books, his latest is a textbook on science and clinical skills for phytotherapists entitled Medical Herbalism, published by Inner Traditions. These accomplishments aside, David, a Fellow of Britain’s National Institute of Medical Herbalists, has been a phytotherapist (that’s a practitioner of herbal medicine) for over 30 years.

David is passionate about plants. He promotes herbal medicine around the world, teaches at the California School of Herbal Studies, Bastyr University and the California Institute of Integral Studies, and, as previously mentioned, has authored many books about plants and plant medicine.

David’s extensive clinical and teaching experience bring a wonderfully human touch to the work we do with plants. His deep respect for the healing power and the mystery of plants coupled with his desire to share this knowledge with others is one of his great contributions to our culture and we are very honored to have him here with us.

 

 

Zoë Gardner
R&D Manager

Fascinated by the connection between people and plants, Zoë has been studying, researching, and teaching on the production, conservation, quality, safety and appropriate use of medicinal plants since 1998. After completing her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies at the Audubon Expedition Institute, Zoë helped to establish the Medicinal Plant Program at the University of Massachusetts, earning her Masters degree there in Plant & Soil Sciences.

Zoë came to Traditional Medicinals in 2011 where she has eagerly been applying her knowledge and skills to working with the cross-functional new product development team, maintaining scientific and traditional evidence for all of our ingredients, and overseeing clinical research on our products.

A self-proclaimed herb nerd (you should see her in her thick glasses, drinking out of her beaker mug), Zoë is Research Editor of the second edition of the Botanical Safety Handbook and a recipient of the American Herbal Products Association’s Herbal Insight Award. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in medicinal plant quality and safety.

She is a keen identifier of plants (we try to stump her with photos and found plants) and a lover of digging in the dirt. She’s got her own home garden, which is full of unusual varieties of veggies (especially tomatoes!), and recently added some chickens to the mix, joining the company’s ever-expanding group of suburban farmsteaders.

 

 

Zoe Kissam
Associate Brand Manager and Herbalist

Like many of the herbalists at the company, Zoe discovered her passion for plants at an early age and was fascinated by weeds that grew in the garden. Her mother was a garden lover and indulged Zoe’s insatiable curiosity for the names of the plants. By the time she was six, she’d already, in her words, “found many of her plant friends,” especially Scarlet Pimpernel, Forget-me-Nots and Black Eyed Susans.

Our teas were a staple in her household and she experienced firsthand the benefits of herbs at that time, which fueled her continued interest in plants. She studied cultural and physical anthropology in college, and became passionate about learning about what makes people and cultures tick (she has been known to ask her marketing colleagues for their Myers-Briggs personality profile in order to work better with each person’s style). Zoe obtained a BA in Cultural Anthropology while also beginning her career in the Natural Foods industry in 1999 at Whole Foods Market. There she worked with people, herbs and supplements. Zoe got really good at telling people how to use the the herbs and supplements she was selling, but wasn’t sure what those herbs looked like. Triggering that childhood curiosity, she became inspired to attend the California School of Herbal Studies from 2003-2004 and obtained a certificate as a Certified Clinical Herbalist.

After all those years drinking our teas, and even studying with one of our herbalists at the Herb School (as we call it around the company), Zoe joined our marketing team in 2006. She’s held a variety of marketing roles since then and currently serves as an Associate Brand Manager. She provides an important herbalist voice within the marketing department, often helping to bridge the herbalist and marketing worlds, so each can understand the other better. She currently leads the innovation/new product development process, manages all changes to packaging and serves as the marketing department’s herbal expert.

 

 

Geoff Broll
Quality Assurance Supervisor and Herbalist

When you work in Quality Assurance you’ve got to be a stickler. Geoff is certainly that. A stickler for good grammar (we often consult him with grammar questions) who started his career as a middle school teacher, Geoff currently applies his attention to detail and love of intricacy to his work as Quality Assurance Supervisor, where he contributes to the overall quality evaluation of raw materials, blends and finished product. Through disciplined documentation, Geoff helps our Quality Assurance department demonstrate how all of our products meet the highest standards for purity, identity, composition and strength.

Geoff has a fascination and wonder for the plant world, which eventually led him to study herbalism at the California School of Herbal Studies. He completed his studies in 2011 and came to work with us at that time. Proud to be part of our talented and passionate team of plant people, Geoff enjoys spending his time continuing to unfold the mystery of the plant world.

 

 

Kirsten Tripplett
Microscopist

Kirsten’s interest in plants and animals became apparent when she was 3. She was dissecting hibiscus and phlox flowers by 6 and already wondering what chemicals make mints smell so good! Her innate curiosity led her to seek more information through her studies. She graduated from the College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a B.A. in Human Ecology. She then went on to earn her Ph.D. in Mayan ethnobotany from the University of Texas, Austin (Botany), and to hold a post-doctoral research position in archaeological ethnobotany in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley.

While managing a health food store before college, Kirsten discovered our teas (not to give her age away, but they were still sold in paper bags at that time) and thus began her self-described love affair with our teas. Later, her pursuit of ethnobotanical studies led Kirsten to the study of medicinal herbs in indigenous societies, all the while still drinking our teas. Kirsten harbored a small hope that she might work for us one day. And now, she finds herself contributing to Quality Control by serving as a Microscopist. Kirsten studies most of the herb ingredients that will be made into TM teas: she verifies the herb’s botanical identity and ingredients, using plant anatomical techniques and microscope technology. And she manages our new herbarium. Kirsten loves her job at TM, where she gets to be a science geek and work with plants. She often shares the amazing microscopic world of plants with us with photos that we post on our Facebook page or here on our web site.

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