Our Team

MaziGhorbani 150x225

Mazi (Maziar) Ghorbani, Founder & CEO, Business Development

Mr. Ghorbani has been a serial entrepreneur and inventor, founding and leading several successful companies including being the founder and president of Advance International, Inc. and co-inventor of the Seavior System, Advance Protein Powder, and Super Omega 3 oil manufacturing. He is also the owner of a food ingredient products company, Red Gold Saffron. He is also the co-founder of Pledge to Humanity, a non-profit organization dedicated to humanitarian relief around the world. He has pioneered innovative companies in various fields, such as AVA (Advanced Vehicle Armory) inventing numerous unique manufacturing methods and devices for executive protection vehicle manufacturing and Diamond Seal & Keytronics Vehicle Security Systems. His main passion is his efforts in fighting global starvation and malnutrition among children around the world.


DrKhalidMentak200x275Dr. Khalid Mentak, Chief Technology Office, FDA Products Innovation, and Strategic Advisor to CEO.

Dr. Khalid “Kal” Mentak, is a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist. He studied quantum physics and advanced mathematics, and earned a Ph.D. in materials sciences and bioengineering from the University of Florida.

He has dedicated his professional career to helping prevent and cure blindness and holds twenty-three (23) patents in the ophthalmic field. He is the inventor of the most advanced polymer for intraocular lenses currently sold by Bausch and Lomb and Santen. Dr. Mentak has provided grants to support academic scientific research and received the University of Florida’s MSE Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. Dr Mentak has founded and led several successful medical device companies. He is actively involved in humanitarian efforts in Morocco and other African countries.


LSmith.colorLeighton J. Smith,  Financial Advisor / Interim CFO

Mr. Leighton J. Smith brings multi-industry experience in the Manufacturing, Banking, Telco and Tech sectors from over two decades of professional experience in Europe, Asia, Latin America and most recently in the Bay Area. Mr. Smith has been instrumental at many large multi-national corporations as well as a number of start-ups in setting up or streamlining back-office policies and procedures as well as the integration of cross-cultural teams in order to optimize performance, efficiency and profitability.

Leveraging know-how from mentoring a number of Bay Area Start-ups, Leighton Smith has already worked with Advance International Inc. as interim CFO, preparing all relevant financial models and investor communications required to close our recent Series A round and finalizing debt finance disbursement. He is preparing the foundation for the professionalization of back office procedures, as well as acting as advisor to the CEO on all financial and strategic matters.

Mr. Smith has been a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants since 2009 and holds the Chartered Global Management Accounting designation. He is also primary author of a software Patent (US 20160110591).


headshot-2-bw-copyArman Ghorbani, VP Corporate Development & Business Development

Arman Ghorbani has been involved in the growth and development of Advance International, Inc. since its inception as a Financial Analyst, meanwhile pursuing his academic career. Once he completed his schooling, he earned a more active role in the company as a Corporate & Business Development Associate.

Arman holds both a Bachelor’s in Finance from Santa Clara University and a Master’s in Finance from Santa Clara University. He has completed internships at Merrill Lynch & Morgan Stanley. Arman cofounded the award-winning organization Pledge to Humanity, and currently sits on its Board of Directors.

“At Advance International we are bringing nutrition, environmental conservation, and humanitarianism to the forefront of the food industry” – Arman Ghorbani


IMG_3934Maria Ruilova-Duval, Ph.D., Principal Scientist

Maria Ruilova-Duval earned a Ph.D. in Food Science from the North Carolina State University. Dr. Ruilova-Duval has over twenty years of experience in the food industry, specifically in the areas of Fish Protein & Sea Food, Process Development, R&D, Product Development, Quality Assurance, and Food Manufacturing and Production.

Dr. Ruilova-Duval has also played managerial, consulting, scientific, and technical roles. She has led several research initiatives at multi-national corporations and academic institutions. Her specialties are in protein chemistry/isolates/analyses/application, thermal process application, freezing technology, process development, R&D, new product development, food processing, safety, quality control, and HACCP plan design. She has direct experience working with fish processing in companies such as StarKist and Bumble Bee Foods.

As the Principal Scientist of Advance International, Dr. Ruilova-Duval is leading the innovative Process Engineering and R&D team, establishing the Food Safety and HACCP protocol, and providing the systematic framework to the development of our cutting-edge marine-based ingredients.


2Alex Woo, Ph.D, Chief Innovation and Licensing Officer (CILO)

After earning a PhD in Food Science from University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Woo held various R&D leadership positions in companies including Pepsi, Starbucks, Cargill and Wrigley in the past 30+ years.  He led technical teams to achieve business results. Alex specializes in developing “better foods” with expertise in “taste and smell neuroscience and technologies”.  In his capacity of Chief Innovation and Licensing Officer, Alex is accountable for driving technology discovery, product development, food and beverage applications, and shaping IP licensing strategies.


2Fred Jewett, MS, Certified Food Scientist

Mr. Jewett has over 30 years of experience as a Food Scientist that includes quality management, food safety & microbiology, sanitation, and research & development of both food products and of manufacturing processes.  While Mr. Jewett has worked with products as diverse as mayonnaise, micro greens, mozzarella, and marshmallows; his expertise has been developed in food safety/microbiology, food-protein functionality, quality program development, HACCP, the Global Food Safety Initiative, Food Label Nutritional/Regulatory/Organic Compliance, and in all aspects of dairy product manufacture & QC.


Board of Advisors

Gaby Ghorbani 150x225Gabriela Ghorbani, Advisory Board – Humanitarian Relief

In 2009, Gaby launched Pledge to Humanity in an effort to organize efforts within her local area and in many different countries to reach out to people of all ages and provide aid for their needs She also has had the privilege of creating a philanthropy class in a local middle school. Through the philanthropy class and working with other private and public schools, she has the opportunity to instill a passion in children to creatively and practically assist people around the world who are less fortunate. Gaby also serves on the Advisory Board of Americans for Philanthropy. Gaby is deeply involved in creating the Stop Hunger campaign co-launched by Advance International, Inc and Pledge to Humanity.


2Larry Scott, Advisory Board

As the Pac-12 Commissioner, Larry Scott is an innovative leader whose vision for transformative change and firm belief that sport can be a force for positive change: Orchestrated a rebranding of the Pac-12 Conference, added Colorado and Utah, created a Football Championship Game, transformed the basketball tournaments, and secured an agreement for equal revenue sharing.  He has also delivered a landmark media rights agreement with ESPN and Fox Sports, and created Pac-12 Networks, the first-ever integrated media company owned by a college conference.


DrAndreasKamlot200x275Dr. Andreas Kamlot, Advisory Board

Andreas Kamlot, M.D. is a passionate and accomplished heart surgeon and serves as a board member of the Californian Society of Thoracic Surgery. He is the chairman of the Heart Institute in the East Bay Area of San Francisco. Dr. Kamlot has been published extensively and carries three patents about protection and preservation of the human cells and body. Dr. Kamlot is also a busy philanthropist and started the first Heart Surgery Program in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. He is also an active athlete and was a Vice World Champion martial artist.

Dr. Kamlot advises and collaborates with Advance International in the areas of development and delivery systems for RUTFs (Ready to Eat Therapeutic Foods). RUFTs are highly absorbable and essential food sources for quick recovery from illnesses and operations. Its application with the incorporation of Advance Protein Powder (APP) will be ground breaking in hospitals and in hunger relief food packages to be distributed through Advance International in cooperation with Pledge to Humanity and its network of established, on-the-ground non-profit organizations. Further, it has great potential in various sport, fitness, and health applications.


2Bob Falkenberg 

Mr. Falkenberg has an investment banking background, working over 25 years in structured finance.   His experience spans over $10 billion in transactions for the major US airlines, railroads and oil & gas companies.  Currently Mr. Falkenberg serves in CFO and board advisory roles for several organizations in both the profit and non-profit arenas.  Many years ago, he earned a B.S. In Business Administration from the University of Colorado and an MBA from Harvard Business School.


wood_robert25-1Robert Wood, FDA Advisor

Robert Wood has over 25 years of general management & operations experience within the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, including companies with biological based products and start-ups. Over his career, Mr. Wood has created and implemented successful business strategies, streamlined operations, launched new products, improved profitability, and helped transform corporate cultures into high performing, high morale organizations. Mr. Wood has led Operations, Supply Chain, Quality, and R&D management for large and small companies, including both startups and Fortune 500 companies. Robert Wood is currently the Vice President of World Wide Manufacturing for Varian Medical Systems Oncology Division where he has operational responsibilities over multiple sites.

Mr. Wood led a team of scientists in the creation of a human derived collagen protein and was a member of the team that built the factory, developed the process, and submitted to the FDA. The submission passed through the FDA in record time without the need for a full-scale clinical evaluation. Mr. Wood also started a biomaterial business based on collagen protein and oversaw the formulation of various variants of the protein into cross-linked, foam, bone substitutes, and even a closed-herd bovine thrombin product.


TomFrench 150x225Tom French, Supply Chain Logistics & Distribution

Tom French is a supply chain logistics and distribution expert with over 35 years of experience in multiple industries from star-up’s to billion dollar companies. In the process, Tom had numerous successful exits including an acquisition of his first start up by Raychem. Tom experienced the transformation in logistical management from old manual systems to the impressive progression of supply chain management technology so Tom wanted to bring this technology to his clients. In 2007, he started his existing company Supply Chain Coach Inc. The mission of Supply Chain Coach Inc. is to teach corporations how to better manage their supply chain using innovative cloud technology and hence maximize corporate value. Tom was instrumental in orchestrating and executing the distribution plan for CytoSport/Muscle-Milk that was recently acquired by Hormel Foods.


IMG_0170 (3)David WeberFood Industry Advisor

David Weber has over 30 years of CPG experience in the food, beverage, and confections categories across multiple sales channels with several successful entrepreneurial businesses. He has held senior financial and operational positions.  Most recently, for CytoSport Inc./Muscle Milk as the CFO and then later, COO.  Mr. Weber has also participated in IPO and M&A processes and was a key contributor to the successful sale of CytoSport, Inc. to Hormel Foods.


Steve Wizniewski 150x225Steve Wisniewski, Sports Nutrition & Investments

Steve is a former All-Pro offensive guard with the Oakland Raiders. Over his 13 year professional career Steve has won many athletic and humanitarian honors including being named to the NFL Pro Bowl eight times, NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year, and team captain. Steve also coached football collegiately at Stanford University and at the Oakland Raiders. While in college, Steve was twice named to the All-America football team and was a team captain for Penn State’s legendary coach Joe Paterno. He was a starter on the 1986 National Championship and graduated with a B.S. in Marketing.

Since the early 1990’s Steve has been an active private equity investor and has prior success and knowledge in the sports nutrition sector. As well as business, Steve has a genuine passion for humanitarian outreach and community involvement. He has traveled extensively and donated countless hours of his time speaking, teaching and serving the needs of others. Steve is married and has three grown children.


Julie Spero 200x275Julie Rauch, MBA, NC

Julie Rauch, MBA, NC is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and President of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. She is owner of Eclectic Wellness, LLC, a private practice, in Emeryville, CA, specializing in nutritional evaluation and support for individuals who have seen other health professionals and still have persistent and unexplained health issues. She is a Nutritional Kinesiologist and an expert in Zyto Biocommunication Testing.


Board of Directors

MaziGhorbani 150x225Mazi (Maziar) GhorbaniChairman

Mr. Ghorbani has been a serial entrepreneur and inventor, having founded and led several successful companies including being the founder and president of Advance International, Inc. and co-inventor of the Seavior System, Advance Protein Powder, and Super Omega 3 oil manufacturing. He is also the owner of a food ingredient products company, Red Gold Saffron. Also he is the co-founder of Pledge to Humanity, a non-profit organization dedicated to humanitarian relief around the world. He has pioneered innovative companies in various fields, such as AVA (Advanced Vehicle Armory) inventing numerous unique manufacturing methods and devices for executive protection vehicle manufacturing and Diamond Seal & Keytronics Vehicle Security Systems. His main passion is his efforts in fighting global starvation and malnutrition among children around the world.


DrKhalidMentak200x275Dr. Khalid MentakBoard of Directors

Dr. Khalid “Kal” Mentak, is a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist. He studied quantum physics and advanced mathematics, and earned a Ph.D. in materials sciences and bioengineering from the University of Florida.

He has dedicated his professional career to helping prevent and cure blindness and holds twenty-three (23) patents in the ophthalmic field. He is the inventor of the most advanced polymer for intraocular lenses currently sold by Bausch and Lomb and Santen. Dr. Mentak has provided grants to support academic scientific research and received the University of Florida’s MSE Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. Dr Mentak has founded and led several successful medical device companies. He is actively involved in humanitarian efforts in Morocco and other African countries.


Verne Murray PhotoVerne L. Murray, Board of Directors

Mr. Murray, managing director, is responsible for originating new loan production for Walker & Dunlop in California and the Western United States. He specializes in multifamily financing for both Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, and has been a production leader during his 30-year career. Mr. Murray joined Walker & Dunlop in February 2009 in conjunction with the firm’s acquisition of Column Guaranteed, and had previously been with Column Guaranteed since October 2005. Prior to this, Mr. Murray worked for Deutsche Bank Berkshire Mortgage, and Bankers Mutual for almost 25 years with over $6 billion in originations during his career.

Mr. Murray attended the University of Southern California and previously served on the Freddie Mac Advisory Council and is located in Northern California in the San Francisco Bay area.