A team of experienced consultants in the field of food, science and communications is responsible for the coordination of all activities and communication of Choices International, consisting of an international secretariat and a regional East Asian Secretariat.
The International Secretariat consists of:
- Rutger Schilpzand
- Herbert Smorenburg
- Sylvie van den Assum
The East Asian Secretariat consists of:
- Snigdha Misra
- Pratiwi Hartono
As Managing Director of Choices International, Rutger Schilpzand supports national healthy food choice initiatives, based on the Choices program, worldwide. Rutger (1953) studied Human Nutrition at Wageningen University and has worked as a freelance science writer, a campaigner for OxfamNovib and for consumer organisations. As such, he was the initiator of the Clean Clothes (Schone Kleren) Foundation and member of the board of the Max Havelaar Foundation. Rutger Schilpzand is co-founder of the Ghana Schoolfeeding Programme that now serves 1,5 million meals daily to Ghanaian school kids. He has worked as a strategic consultant in nutrition at Schuttelaar & Partners, where he initiated two business units with 1M€ annual turnover. In 2005 he initiated the Future of Food seminars initiative, a series of international high level seminars about future developments in the global food system. Rutger is co-author of “De strategische Stakeholderdialoog”, the first study into experiences and expectations from business and with stakeholder dialogue in the Netherlands.
Dr. Herbert Smorenburg is Choices’ Director Country Programs to further build and strengthen Choices’ presence and partnerships in Asia, Africa and Europe.
Herbert founded Partnering with Purpose, a consultancy to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public-private partnerships, especially in the food - and nutrition sector in 2018. He started his career at Unilever and worked there for 17 years in product development and nutrition & health. His last positions were Nutrition and Health Director Europe and Director Unilever Health Institute Africa, for which he was based in Ghana and South Africa. He joined The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition as Senior Manager of the Netherlands office in 2014. In the last 23 years he has been building bridges between private and public organizations in developing and developed markets, all partnerships with a focus to improve the food system for healthier diets.
Herbert holds an MBA from the Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and a PhD in physics (Delft University of Technology). Further information can be seen here.
Sylvie van den Assum
Sylvie van den Assum is the Scientific Secretary of Choices International. She coordinates the science-based secretariat actions, supports the use and development of the international Choices criteria and takes care of the communication towards external stakeholders.
Sylvie graduated from Wageningen University in 2013 where she studied Nutrition and Health. For two years, Sylvie worked as a scientist at Danone Nutricia research in The Netherlands and Singapore, studying the effects of early life nutrition on growth and development. At Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam, NL), Sylvie has worked as Communication Officer for the Generation R study and was project manager for an international EU funded project. She was on the organizing committee of DOHaD 2017, a congress on the developmental origins of health and disease.
Snigdha Misra is the Senior Advisor to the Choices regional secretariat for East-Asia, covering China and the ASEAN region. She will collaborate closely with the Choices regional secretary for East-Asia and East-Asia Industry Support Group. Snigdha has a Masters and an MPhil in Food Science and Nutrition. She has been awarded a PhD in Nutrition from India. She has a vast experience in academia spanning more than 25 years.
Her research interests are in Public Health Nutrition inclusive of Maternal and Child Health and Geriatric Nutrition. She is engaged in active research and supervised many undergraduate and postgraduate students. She has worked with the food industry to improve the health of the community. She is committed to a strong foundation for a transformational change in the health of the community through professional and personal rapport. She is currently the Head of Nutrition and Dietetics, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Karen Mok is based in Singapore and is Project Manager in the Choices East-Asia team. She studied Sociology and Communication, as well as Food Science and Nutrition.
Karen has worked as a Senior Executive with the Health Promotion Board (HPB), in Singapore. In her decade with the organisation, she was the Secretariat for the War on Diabetes workgroup (Healthy Living and Prevention). Specific to healthier food, she employed multi-pronged approaches of policy measures and public campaigns, to push for the supply and demand of healthier foods in the nation. Karen has also organised over fifty regional and international dialogues, workshops and conferences, including the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health. Before working with HPB, Karen was attached to the international flavour company, Givaudan, where she learnt the ropes for savoury applications in food. In her free time, Karen enjoys growing herbs and adding them to new recipes.
Pratiwi is representative of Choices International for Indonesia. She graduated from Wageningen University, The Netherlands with a Master Degree in Epidemiology and Public Health Nutrition. She had been a staff of the Indonesia Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Secretariat in the Ministry of National Development Planning. She also worked on research in the area of micronutrient deficiencies, stunting, and IYCF practices.
Having started in the area of fighting undernutrition, she is aware that the challenges of the double burden of malnutrition are approaching. Joining Choices International as an independent consultant, she wants to work together with Indonesian stakeholders to not only tackle malnutrition problems but also improving society’s healthy diet.
Semnen is the representative and consultant for Africa. She is a medical doctor with a masters specialization in International Public Health. Based in Lagos, Nigeria, her job will be to act as the liaison between Choices based initiatives in Africa and the global secretariat. This includes collaborating with existing national programs in Africa to foster healthier food choices to relieve the double burden of malnutrition. In addition, Semnen supports new initiatives in Africa to promote healthier food.