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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Erin Leonard

Operations & Project Manager
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.
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Camila Flanagan

Member Relations Associate
Camila joined Mercaris from The National Wildlife Federation where she worked as a Program Coordinator for the Tropical Forests and Agriculture team organizing communication efforts across complex international cattle and soy supply chains.
Previously, Camila worked as a freelance writer for Political Hispanic, a U.S.-based English and Spanish media platform that aims to provide information to Hispanic voters in the U.S. She also worked as the Business Development Officer for the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, helping to advance leadership in international conservation through public and private partnerships.
Camila, who is from Bogota, Colombia, holds a B.A in International Relations with a focus on Latin American Politics from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She studied global development and international leadership in New Delhi, India in addition to Wildlife Conservation Science in Arusha, Tanzania.
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Ryan Koory

Director of Economics
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.
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Megan Thomas

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

8737 Colesville Rd Suite 220
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Contact Us

[email protected]
(312) 423-1875
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