The Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink

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Fortune and Food & Wine teamed up for the second year to bring you the dynamos bringing fresh ideas to everything from clean water and home products to goat cheese and wine—in ways that benefit the broader world. —By Beth Kowitt, Christine Quinlan, Lucy Madison, and Shadia Alame
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Kara Cissell-Roell

Managing Director and Co-Founder, VMG Partners
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Photo: Nancy Warner

Cissell-Roell was early to spot the convergence of wellness and food and has capitalized on the trend big time. Since co-founding private equity firm VMG Partners in 2005, she’s backed some of the food industry’s hottest names: KIND, Mighty Leaf, Bare Snacks, Pirate Brands (think Pirate’s Booty), and Justin’s of nut butter fame, just to name a few. In July, VMG closed its third fund—and its biggest yet—with $500 million in committed capital. The firm recently agreed to sell its portfolio company Vega, a maker of plant-based nutrition products, to White Wave for $550 million. But Cissell-Roell and her team provide a lot more than financing. They mentor and work closely with the entrepreneurs they’re backing.

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