About Mercaris

Our market data and auctions are helping to grow organic and non-GMO agriculture in the U.S.

The development of sustainable agriculture is at a critical point. While some resources are in place to educate consumers, address public policy, and support scientific research on sustainable agricultural crops, far less emphasis has been placed on the market infrastructure upon which participants, from producers to retailers, depend.
Mercaris was formed to address this gap through two types of services. First, we provide up-to-date, accurate information on market conditions for organic and non-GMO commodities. Second, our trading platform allows buyers and sellers to meet on-line and trade physical commodities.
Mer•car •is
People ask us all the time about our name. Mercaris comes from two Latin words: Mercatus, meaning a gathering for the purposes of commerce or markets, and Mercari meaning ‘to trade.’

Who We Are

Meet the team behind Mercaris

Headshot kellee 94d37147b75446267b4a020cd3cf65c3f0b56407d4562c356f9514ab736083bb

Kellee James

Founder and CEO
Prior to Mercaris, Kellee spent five years at the start-up company Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the first electronic trading platform and registry for spot, futures and options on carbon, sulfur, clean energy and other environmental derivatives. In 2009 she was appointed by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow and was Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine ’40 under 40’ rising leader.
Previously, Kellee worked with commodity banks in Latin America on risk management and income diversification strategies. Kellee is an Aspen Institute Catto Environmental Fellow and has also served on the board of Net Impact, a membership organization of more than 12,000 MBA professionals committed to sustainability through corporate responsibility. Kellee received her MBA and MA in International Development from American University in Washington, D.C., and completed a BA in Spanish from the University of Kentucky.
Headshot chris 5092a73951c885539746f3b81d1de72bf1cb28d2c9c7517a80d0dbec38219796

Chris Duesing

Co-Founder and CTO
Chris Duesing has 15 years of experience in software development with a specialization in high throughput, distributed applications in the financial and retail industries. Most recently Chris served as the Director of Application Development for the Chicago Climate Exchange, where he led the development of trading platforms, market data feeds, settlement calculation, clearing integration and marketing websites. Prior to this Chris worked at Sears corporate on projects including terabyte scale data reporting and distributed, streaming order processing..
Chris has spent the last 6 years focusing on entrepreneurship and developing new businesses. His company Exchangery took part in Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago) 2011 class, before being acquired by Mercaris. Chris is active in the Chicago tech and entrepreneurship communities where he is an organizer of the Chicago Erlang Users group as well as a mentor for ScaleWell.
Headshot mike 4a0e17be43004469ec9ffd0955e6e1f5483aa58dadb85c96d4459821fabd1de6

Mike Kunz

Director of Engineering
Former Founder and CTO of an online supplement company, Campus Protein, and a life-long coder; Mike has spent his entire career in the tech start-up world. He graduated from Indiana University with a B.A in Economics. At Indiana University he was also the winner of the 2012 Indiana University 'Best' competition for aspiring start-ups.
Since starting his own company, Mike has worked for startups in various industries including Small Business Insurance and Real Estate. Mike was on the forefront of analytics on the housing market; even guest speaking at the University of Chicago for classes on Predictive Analytics.
Headshot lizzie d879cfb586d79e581890b8c0b11e2aa511be00307e127894ef8a2d495df9874b

Lizzie Ekeberg

Director of Market Operations
Lizzie has nearly 10 years of experience as a commodity trader. She got her start in the industry working for Cargill as a soybean buyer, which included dealing with NGMO and other specialty grains, as well as working directly with farmers and grain elevators. Most recently she spent 5 years working for Miller Milling Company selling wheat flour to tortilla companies and bakeries, and also dealt with organic wheat and flour. In her spare time Lizzie is an active fitness buff and enjoys running, cycling, lifting weights, and yoga. Lizzie graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota in 2006 with dual degrees in International Studies/Economics and French.
Headshot alex 2431250874c4c961dc4d791ba998a5676018c8e3327f7cd7c697a4f4d24d6e10

Alex Heilman

Director of Sales
Alex comes to Mercaris with a diverse food based background. Prior to pivoting his career into commodity markets, he was a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and spent more than 7 years working in some of the best restaurants in NYC including, Eleven Madison Park, and Spigolo. His sense of discovery and personal quest to study global food system and food justice issues, lead him back to school where he graduated with a B.S. in Food Systems with an emphasis on Consumers and Economic Markets, from the University of Minnesota. Most recently, Alex worked for Miller Milling Company in commodity sales and merchandizing.
Headshot julia 109c3ee46c49c111eba6fe718afdb3f791635a9641e3ab743d37f94c8e106330

Julia Hofmeister

Director of Member Relations
Julia comes to Mercaris after having worked with several food-tech startups. Her journey began at the University of Kentucky where she received a B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture with a focus on organic production systems. While a student, she launched a non-profit program to battle food insecurity and help family farms in Kentucky. She then went onto Babson College to pursue her M.B.A. focused on entrepreneurship. After discovering the world of social entrepreneurship she has worked with food-tech startups ever since. Most recently for AgLocal, a San Francisco based company that was helping sustainable family farmers better market their value-added protein products with a focus on animal welfare, environmental sustainability and consumer health.
Headshot erin 21cb47423d30ff4448fbde180624bd4ff66e970194d24c95142798e0f374b524

Erin Leonard

Director of Operations
Erin comes to Mercaris after a wide variety of experience in agriculture and sustainable development. Most recently Erin supported the operations of P4G, an organization which brings together business, government, and civic organizations to incubate and accelerate innovative public-private partnerships that support sustainable development. While there, she assisted with financial management, operational coordination and special projects for P4G. Previously, Erin spent 6 months in Sri Lanka as a LankaCorps fellow with The Asia Foundation. During the fellowship she worked as a research assistant for Sri Lanka’s leading economic policy think tank, IPS, focusing on Sri Lanka’s agricultural production and food security.
Erin graduated in 2016 with a B.S. in Culture and Politics with a focus on Sustainable Development from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. While in school she worked as an intern for ActionAid USA where she assisted with ActionAid’s food security and light rights work.
Headshot jessie cb4df988ac30359dcd90915e1a5a00df99bdc59b8cd5480f79b74aa6cd21b4f3

Jessie Bovay

Director of Business Development
Jessie joined Mercaris from The Howard G. Buffett Foundation where she was an Operations and Project Manager focused on the Foundation’s goals in food security, water security, conflict resolution and post-conflict development. Earlier, Jessie served as Executive Operations Assistant providing daily, on-site assistance to the CEO/ Chairman.
Prior to her role at the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Jessie was a Senior Transportation Analyst at Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM). In this position, she evaluated ADM’s entire supply chain financially and strategically, identified areas for improvement then developed and advanced changes. Earlier, Jessie was a Market Analyst in ADM’s international intermodal freight group. Jessie began with ADM in 2008 as a Commodity Merchandiser in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois.
Jessie holds an M.B.A from the University of Illinois and a B.A. in International Relations from the James Madison College at Michigan State University.
Headshot ryan 3bd1e1c9a65e331effe48b76fa6ef5e68a9badad877be17d261d9e72af1d121e

Ryan Koory

Senior Economist
With more than six years' experience providing custom market analytics and strategic pricing forecasts to stakeholders in the agricultural supply chain, Ryan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to the Mercaris team.
Previously with IHS Markit, Ryan developed econometric models forecasting US and global agricultural markets for top global agriculture businesses. While studying Agricultural Economics, Ryan joined IHS Markit as a graduate research assistant, before being promoted to Senior Economist, focusing on delivering livestock, dairy, and biofuels market analytics.
Ryan has also produced research focusing on the impacts of weather, technology, policy, trade, population demographics, and culture on global agricultural markets. Ryan studied economics at Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Headshot megan fed95370e0300a7244cbed987c47bf0b637cd34ed0d4daff4140050824310a64

Megan Thomas

Economist
Megan Thomas comes to Mercaris as a former USDA 1890 National Scholar with a background in small-scale farming and agricultural economics. She has worked with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service as an economic assistant for the Office of Capacity Building and Development, Office of Trade Programs, and the Office of Global Analysis where she assisted senior economists with data analytics of commodity markets. Megan has also completed the Summer Research Opportunities Program at The Ohio State University focusing on biofuel consumption with demand elasticities.
Megan received an M.S. in Agricultural Business and Economics from Auburn University and a B.S. in Agricultural Science with a concentration of Economics from Southern University and A&M College.

Locate Us

Mercaris
8737 Colesville Rd Suite 220
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Contact Us

[email protected]
(312) 423-1875
Street 369b1ba78be969ab2e86e6f732c11f191dbe5b40d1cf6f4f7ae85629aa4a191d