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Our Story

Advancing health and wellness through plant-based whole foods.

Our History

Continuing a Legacy

Considered pioneers of their time, the Barnard family started Vitamix with the goal of finding more accessible ways for people to consume a healthy, plant-based diet. The Vitamix Foundation was established in 2014 to carry forward the Barnard family’s commitment to promoting health through the consumption of plant-based whole foods.

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Our Commitment

Building Healthier Futures Together

With a vision of cultivating a nation free of diet-related diseases, the foundation places its focus on maternal and child nutrition, encompassing preconception, pregnancy, postpartum, and the crucial first 2,000 days of a child’s life. The foundation actively supports research efforts in this domain.

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Since 2014, the Vitamix Foundation has committed over $3 million in grants to a range of programs, community organizations, and academic institutions throughout the United States.

VISION FOR HEALTH

Our Guiding Purpose

The Vitamix Foundation aims to make a meaningful contribution to establishing a nation free from diet-related diseases by supporting initiatives that promote and improve access to plant-based whole foods.

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Meet Our Team

Natalie Haynes
Executive Director

Natalie Haynes

As Executive Director of the Vitamix Foundation, Natalie combines her lifelong passions for nutrition and well-being to advance the vision…

Abby Szabo
Program Manager

Abby Szabo

Abby is a dedicated Program Manager at the Vitamix Foundation, combining her expertise in project management with a deep…

Executive Director
Natalie Haynes
Meet Natalie

As Executive Director of the Vitamix Foundation, Natalie combines her lifelong passions for nutrition and well-being to advance the vision of the Foundation to enhance health and wellness through plant-based whole foods. After completing her master’s in nutrition, Natalie’s career journey began with her role as a WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) dietitian. This experience opened her eyes to the challenges of food insecurity, poor nutrition, and the impact of socioeconomic status and race on health and well-being, fueling her determination to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Prior to joining the Vitamix Foundation in 2021, Natalie played a key role in advancing groundbreaking scientific discoveries as part of the founding team of the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals. In this capacity, she focused on leading global grant funding and partnership development to transform academic research into cures for society’s most devastating diseases.

Throughout her career, Natalie’s dedication to overcoming societal barriers in healthcare and nutrition has been unwavering, making her a visionary leader. In shaping the Foundation’s strategy, Natalie has created a framework to advance scientific evidence, increase access to plant-based whole foods, and empower others through partnership and innovative programs. Her leadership has fostered several successful initiatives to improve the health and well-being of mothers and children. Natalie holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University, providing her with a strong academic foundation that has equipped her with the knowledge and expertise to address complex health and nutrition challenges.

Program Manager
Abby Szabo
Meet Abby

Abby is a dedicated Program Manager at the Vitamix Foundation, combining her expertise in project management with a deep commitment to the nonprofit sector. Her driving force is to "create access," ensuring that all individuals have the resources needed to thrive. Through attentive listening and collaboration with partners and grantees, Abby fosters an environment for growth and innovation among thought and action leaders in maternal and childhood nutrition, health, and well-being.

Her professional journey began in clinical research at the Cleveland Clinic, where she facilitated clinical trials for patients with blood cancers. Advancing her career, Abby managed enterprise-wide projects and led the Cleveland Clinic's Group of Aspiring Leaders (GOAL) organization. Subsequently, she served as the Foundation Relations Manager and Director of External Relations at a Northeast Ohio nonprofit, spearheading fundraising and marketing efforts to support families in crisis.

With a Master's Degree in Public Administration, specializing in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, from Cleveland State University, Abby possesses a strong educational background to complement her practical experience. Holding a Bachelor's of Science in English and Psychology from Baldwin Wallace University, she embodies a well-rounded approach to problem solving and community support.

Residing in Cleveland Heights with her husband, two children, and dogs, Abby's passion for making a difference shines through in her unwavering dedication to improving maternal and childhood health outcomes.

Meet Our Board of Directors

Steve Laserson
President & Chairman

Steve Laserson

Sujata Lakhe Barnard
Vice President

Sujata Lakhe Barnard

Loree Connors
Treasurer

Loree Connors