Our Team

David Howitt

Founder & CEO

David Howitt is an entrepreneur, operator, and innovator with over 20 years of experience providing business strategy, financial and legal counsel to global Fortune 100 companies and early stage start-ups.

His experience working with iconic consumer brands started in 1996 when he assumed the role of Corporate Counsel for adidas, a role he had for 4 years, during which time the company experienced explosive growth. He then moved into the Vice President position of licensing and business development where he oversaw a 250 million dollar licensing portfolio and supported several corporate acquisitions, including TaylorMade and Salomon.

Prior to his career at adidas, David and his wife launched Oregon Chai – an iconic and explosive growing brand that they sold successfully in 2004. Post adidas and the sale of Oregon Chai, David founded the Meriwether Group. As the company Founder and CEO, he has created a powerful private equity, business accelerator and advisory firm that is committed to change how human values are expressed in business by helping disruptive consumer brands and entrepreneurs “Fulfill their Journey.”

His career accomplishments include investing in, securing funding for, and helping to develop a business vision for successful brands like Oregon Chai, Stumptown Coffee, Pendleton, adidas, Voodoo Doughnut, Salomon, yogitoes, Klim, Bloch, Dave’s Killer Bread, ABC Carpet & Home, Living Harvest, and many others.

David is also the author of Heed Your Call. A modern-day manifesto that weaves together myth, science, spirituality and business, and applies these ideologies to real-world lessons, showing readers how to integrate soul and purpose with their professions.

He earned his B.A. from Denison University and his J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School and resides in Portland, OR.

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Mark Blake

Meriwether Family Office

Mark Blake is a proven financial executive and entrepreneur with over 20 years investment advisory experience working with high net worth families, individuals and small institutions.  Prior to joining the Meriwether Group to manage the Meriwether Family Office, Mark was with the Private Client Group at Wells Fargo Advisors in their San Francisco office for 20 years. Mark specializes in very high touch wealth preservation and growth by matching individuals and families with outside investment managers to preserve, grow and transition their wealth.  Mark does this work in a way that not only produces great financial results but also aligns with the client’s personal and philosophical goals. Mark also has founded and sold several domestic and international companies in the tourism and wine industry and is an avid cyclist, fly-fisherman, lacrosse player and coach.  Mark graduated from Denison University with a B.A. in Economics.

Mark and his wife live in Ross, California with their three children.

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Tyler Edwards

Principal, Mergers & Acquisitions

Tyler has over 15 years of investment banking and corporate development experience with a focus on mergers and acquisitions and capital raising. He has substantial transactional experience focused on buy and sell-side mergers and acquisitions, corporate divestiture, valuations, and capital raises of senior debt, mezzanine and equity securities. Tyler worked for D.A. Davidson and A.G. Edwards as an investment banker and during his tenure he completed over 50 transactions worth over $3.0 billion in transaction value.

Tyler also has Fortune 500 corporate development and corporate finance experience where he was responsible for M&A initiatives, venture capital investments, strategic planning, capital budgeting, product management, and other strategic projects. Tyler grew up actively involved in family owned, highly entrepreneurial businesses and has expertise in the consumer, manufacturing, distribution and retail industries. Tyler holds an M.B.A. from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a B.A. in Finance from the University of Montana.

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Tim Haney

Managing Director

Tim has 25 years experience in license related product development, branding, and go-to-marketing strategy development. As Senior Director of Licensed Properties at adidas, Tim was responsible for overseeing all of adidas licensed products and partnerships with the biggest of the big leagues, including the NBA, NFL, MLB, and over 100 NCAA collegiate institutions. From the licensing division’s start to Tim’s departure 2010, Tim grew it to $200 million in revenue. In addition to that department, Tim was also responsible for negotiating contracts for all of adidas’ athlete partnerships. Under his leadership, adidas leveraged these partnerships to significantly enhance the brand’s awareness and visibility. Tim graduated from Blossom Gulch Elementary School with honors and earned his B.S. in Financial Management from Oregon State University.

Tim has been married for over 20 years and is the proud father and sports coach to two very active teenage sons.

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Heather Howitt

Managing Director

Heather will go to any lengths for a great business idea—in some cases, even as far as the Himalayas. Heather discovered Chai while trekking in India and brewed the first batch of Oregon Chai in her kitchen in 1994. The company grew to 35 people and was distributed in all 50 states, Canada and Europe, growing to over $32 million in sales.  Within 10 years, the company sold for $75 million. Heather has been featured in numerous national business publications, including Forbes and Inc. Oregon Chai was consistently featured as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the United States, capturing over 80 percent of the Chai category and topping the list as the fastest growing company in the tea category.

Since the launch of Oregon Chai, Heather has shared her expertise on the Board of Advisors of several natural product companies including Living Harvest/Tempt and Kombucha Wonder Drink. Heather currently holds a position in Leadership Council for the Portland Children’s Museum.

Heather earned her B.A. in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and completed many urban planning courses through Portland State University before devoting all of her time to Oregon Chai and its rapid growth.

When Heather is not working or juggling her children’s busy calendars, she is likely jogging through Forest Park or doing something outside.

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Jenson Tuomi

Director of Business Development

Our resident young blood, Jenson is a renaissance man of sorts, and the full embodiment of the term “go-getter”, bringing innovation, enthusiasm, and a unique millennial perspective to the office.

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Jenson attended both the Honors College at Oregon State University, and Claremont McKenna College, graduating in 2014 with B.A. degrees in Economics and Philosophy, and a minor in Leadership Studies. During college, Jenson was a three-time Academic All-American, as well as a NCAA Division III Champion in Men’s Water Polo while launching multiple entrepreneurial ventures from campus. Since graduating, Jenson has worked in the music/entertainment industry both on the business and in the art itself – fronting the band “Les Gold”, who can be found performing all over the West Coast. In addition to bridging the gap between the artistic and athletic communities locally, Jenson has consulted for and worked with a variety of growth-stage organizations in industries ranging from tech, to finance, to business development.

Beginning here as an Associate and working his way up, Jenson now leads Business Development efforts at the Meriwether Group, supporting the Accelerators and Advisory divisions. During his time at Meriwether, Jenson has been able to assist companies in a massive range of sizes and industries, from Jones Soda, to Voodoo Doughnut, to Otterbox and Airstream. Jenson and his gregarious personality are central to maintaining client relationships and finding new, disruptive, and game-changing companies to add to the Meriwether portfolio.

Jenson has a deep passion for music and the creative arts, as well as for integrating creativity into business. Outside of the office he can be found writing music, traveling, exploring Oregon’s waterways in search of a good fishing spot, and cheering for the Portland Trail Blazers, all the while keeping his finger on the pulse of innovation and developing trends in business and popular culture throughout the world.

 

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Rob Wright

President, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions

Rob has 15 years of experience as an investment banker with a focus on mergers and acquisitions and capital raising. He has significant transactional experience in a financial advisory role to private and public companies providing a full range of corporate financial services including public and private equity offerings, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, exclusive sales, valuations, poison pills and fairness opinions.  Prior to joining Meriwether Group, Rob spent over 7 years (2006 – 2013) with D.A. Davidson, a full service middle-market focused investment bank headquartered in Portland, Oregon.  Prior to D.A. Davidson, Rob spent 6 years (2000 – 2006) with Needham & Company, a leading New York City based full service investment bank focused on growth companies.  During his career as an investment banker Rob has completed over 50 financial advisory transactions worth over $4 billion.  Rob holds an M.B.A. from the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University and a B.A. in Finance from Pacific Lutheran University.

Rob and his wife Christina have two daughters, Taylor and Hailey.

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Maggie Davis

Principal

Maggie brings a variety of experiences from around the coffee industry to the Meriwether Group.  Over her 11 years in coffee she has held roles ranging from barista to Director of Coffee, café manager and owner to Coffee Educator and trainer. This variety of experience has given her a broad understanding of the coffee industry, and food and beverage world at large. Applying her liberal arts education from Colorado College by thinking critically, analyzing challenges and working to find solutions she works to maximize organizational potential. 
 
Maggie is passionate about sustainability, quality, integrity, and facilitating personal development.  When she’s not helping people grow, she enjoys running, yoga, and hanging out with her cat Hobbes.

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Rebecca Huston

Director of Brand Strategy

Brand Therapist, with a minor in information synthesis. Rebecca approaches projects with a mix of business savvy, intuitive leaps and willingness to voice the occasional uncomfortable truth. Rebecca made a left turn in her career after 15+ years as a creative director, discovering an obsession for consumer and brand strategies. Her primary focus is helping founders and brands clarify their purpose, communicate with audiences and stand out in the market.

With over 30 years in the business, Rebecca is still ridiculously excited about the work Meriwether does. She’s a frequent speaker, guest lecturer in academic settings, and often leads workshops for brand leaders and management teams. Her deepest conviction is that every interaction with a client should generate learning, teaching and, most of all, inspiration for everyone involved. Rebecca works with founders, emerging brands and global category leaders including Nike, adidas, Sephora, Kaiser Permanente, Apple, Airstream, Williams-Sonoma and Teva.

Rebecca studied at UC Berkeley, where she earned her BA in Dramatic Arts, with a concentration on research and critical writing. Subsequently, she studied at Art Center in Los Angeles, graduating with a BS in Environmental Design.

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Zalena Carr

Director of Finance and Operations

Working in a small office, we all wear many hats. Zalena’s role at the Meriwether Group ranges from overseeing the day-to-day execution of administrative tasks to supporting consultants with project based work. In addition, Zalena coordinates meetings, sends out invoices, processes payments, and even has time to greet clients and visitors with a smile. There isn’t a hat that doesn’t fit, she wears them all, from the in-office DJ to creating and distributing social media posts.

Zalena graduated from the University of Portland with a degree in Business Administration with a focus on finance.

When she is not in the office she is spending time with her family. She and her husband have a son who loves all things sports and a feisty little girl.

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Dana Solof

Principal

Dana brings an extensive background in marketing and entrepreneurship to the Meriwether Group.  She has held marketing and sales positions in both for and non-profit organizations – from small legal and consulting firms to Merrill Lynch, Nike and the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Foundation.

On top of working at Meriwether, Dana also owns and operates a boutique commercial real estate brokerage with a business partner that specializes in retail, restaurant and hospitality. Their client roster includes Life of Pie, Coava, Tea Bar and Pine State Biscuits. In addition, Dana has also founded and run two of her own food companies:  Sift Bakery, a wholesale gluten-free cookie manufacturer (sold in 2009) and Dana’s Healthy Home, an internet retailer specializing in gluten-free natural foods.

Dana attended the University of Puget Sound and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in International Political Economy, as well as minors in Economics, Environmental Studies, and Latin American Studies.  She later earned her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Portland. Dana was an elite collegiate distance runner, winning national titles in track and cross country, competing for the US national team at the World Cross Country Championships, and earning a postgraduate scholarship from the NCAA.

When Dana is not working, you can find her enjoying the outdoors (especially running through Forest Park), traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.

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Foster Langsdorf

Associate/Analyst

Foster graduated early from Stanford University in 2018 with a B.S. in Management Science & Engineering with a focus in Decision Analysis. On The Farm, Foster excelled in the classroom garnering the Class of 2018 Stanford Award of Excellence, awarded to 10% of graduating seniors by faculty for dedication in all areas of academics and community involvement. His research and presentation for his Senior Project earned runner up and was highlighted by the engineering department.  Outside the classroom, Foster was a two time All-American and three-time NCAA Champion in Men’s Soccer while teaching a 1-unit class, participating in several clubs, and working in the cafeteria.

Born and raised in Portland meant trips to Voodoo Doughnuts after Portland Timbers games, eating Tillamook Cheeseburgers from Burgerville, and bundling up in Pendleton blankets on rainy days – all native companies Foster grew up on and which Meriwether advised. So when an opportunity arose to work at a consulting firm that was prudently growing Portland’s iconic brands it was a no-brainer for Foster.

Joining the Meriwether Group in 2018 as an intern, he quickly accelerated into the Associate/Analyst position and continues to earn his stripes working on projects for West Elm, Honey Mama’s and Woodblock Chocolate. Foster balances working at the Meriwether Group with playing for the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer.

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Our Board of Advisors

We have our own mentors — here are a few of them.

Brett Joyce

President, Rogue Ales

Jeffrey Kohn

Vice President, Acadia Realty Trust

Clare Hamill

Vice President of Nike Global Growth Initiatives, Nike, Inc.

Steven Wynne

Executive Vice President, JELD-WEN

Our Extended Family

We have an extensive network of specialists and subject experts who we call on to support our work.

bailey speed

Bailey Speed

General Manager of Moon Climbing NA

Dana Riggio

Business Consultant

Bailey Speed

Boone Speed

Boone Speed Photography

These prior partners are now pursuing their own journeys.

Kerri Kent

President, Kerrits Activewear Inc.

Tripp Baird

Managing Partner, Cloud Mountain LLC

Butch Bannon

Partner, Curious Beast

Joe Flannery

President, Canadian Mountain Holidays

Curt Mudd

Director of Human Resources, Johns Lyng Group

Kim Parker

Vice President of Womenswear, Pendleton Woolen Mills