The Return of the Buffalo with TANKA Bison Bars

Time: Thursday, Oct 22nd from 9:15 - 10:15 AM (PST)

Location: MAIN STAGE

Speaker(s): Dawn Sherman, CEO of Native American Natural Foods; Kerri McClimen, VP of Communications, Niman Ranch; Marilyn Noble, award-winning, independent food and agriculture journalist; Moderated by Annie Hoy

Native American Natural Foods, an innovative, Native American owned and operated company that produces the highly acclaimed TANKA Bar, recently announced the closing of a multi-million-dollar equity capital investment. This positive news stands in stark contrast to their position one year ago when Tanka was on the brink of losing everything due to larger competitors with deeper pockets squeezing them out of the market. The brand’s comeback and exciting trajectory are thanks to a diverse set of partners—including investigative food journalist Marilyn Noble, sustainable meat company Niman Ranch, impact investors, and others who believe in Tanka’s mission. This panel will discuss these developments from Tanka and share resources on their lessons learned while building partnerships across sectors to build a regenerative Native-owned business.


Dawn brings over 25 years of business expertise and entrepreneurial skills to her role as CEO of Native American Natural Foods’ Tanka bar.  A member of the Lakota, Shawnee and Delaware tribes, Dawn is keenly aware of the fundamental needs facing individuals at the community level on the reservation
. Her South Dakota roots inform her decision making and she is dedicated to seeking improvements in the food systems that benefit the health and wellness of her indigenous community as well as the community at large. Dawn believes teamwork and meaningful collaboration are essential to success and look to the operational Niman Ranch partnership as key to continuing the Tanka vision.

She is a founding member of Tanka Resilient Agriculture Coop a South Dakota collective dedicated to returning bison to lands and improving the lives and economies of Native Communities.  She is also a founding board member of The Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, an ecosystem of people and organizations committed to making sustainable ranching and farming a collective norm. She is also a board member of the Tanka Fund, a not-for-profit that supports tribal bison caretakers with direct grants for ranch planning, finance, and operations.

As the second generation of Native Leadership and as a Native woman, Dawn’s unique vision combined with her deep experience in the food industry allows her the opportunity to give back to her own community and further her vision of food sovereignty for all. 

Kerri serves as vice president of communications for Perdue Premium Meat Company overseeing public relations, media, events, and thought leadership for five niche brands: Niman Ranch, Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Meats, Coleman Natural, Sioux Preme and Alexander & Hornung. McClimen promotes great-tasting, quality meats raised humanely and sustainably without antibiotics or added hormones by a community of independent family farmers and ranchers. Prior to her work at Perdue, she spent more than six years with The Pew Charitable Trusts (PEW), focused on advocating for meat and poultry raised without antibiotics as part of the Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming and the Antibiotic Resistance Project. Highlights of her work with PEW include the national launch of Supermoms Against Superbugs in Washington, DC and coordinating with the Chicago Public School system to serve chicken raised locally without antibiotics as part of their formal school lunch program.
McClimen received a Master of Science in Communication from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa. Currently serving on the board of Native American Natural Foods and Food Tank, she enjoys working to help preserve a sustainable food system. She lives in Chicago.

Marilyn Noble –
Marilyn is an award-winning, independent food and agriculture journalist and contributing writer for The Counter, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom investigating the forces shaping how and what America eats. Her work also appears regularly in many Edible publications, among others, and one of her articles was selected for inclusion in the 2019 edition of The Best American Food Writing, edited by Samin Nosrat. She has also done communications work for several non-profits in the food and agriculture industries and currently serves as a regional governor for Slow Food USA.


Annie HoyAnnie Hoy grew up in the back rooms and aisles of Food Mart grocery stores in El Paso, Texas, where her father was an executive of the small regional chain. Her childhood joy was to be in the main office’s art room where sale signage was created for all locations. No wonder she served 25 years as the Marketing and Education manager at Ashland Food Co-op, located in Ashland, Oregon. Hoy championed the conversion of the former mutual benefit corporation to a true Co-op and developed robust education programs about food, nutrition and health using local and regional experts as instructors. After retiring in 2018, she was elected to the Co-op’s Board of Directors in June 2019. She currently chairs the Owner Relations Committee and serves on the Executive Committee as Board Secretary .