Founded in 2012, Fortify incorporated after incubation in the prestigious Social New Venture Competition at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The impetus for starting Fortify came after the organization’s founder and CEO, Nancy K. Martin, conducted research as a graduate student at the University of Chicago’s Harris school of Public Policy. She analyzed data on the variables affecting maternal health in developing regions of the world and the existing interventions. The research revealed four important facts: 1) Iron deficiency anemia is the largest public health disorder in the world 2) More women die from causes related to iron deficiency anemia during childbirth than any other cause 3) Existing fortified foods, primarily flours and cooking oil, rarely reached the most malnourished living in rural areas, and 4) Humanitarian nutritional interventions were targeted at children, not women.

In January 2012, Ms. Martin assembled a team of business and policy graduate students to work with her and to compete in Chicago Booth’s Social New Venture Challenge. The FeMME team won seed funding and an invitation to participate in the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurships Accelerator Program. Later that year FeMME became Fortify, a 501(c)(3). In 2014, Fortify was selected as a semifinalist in the Ashoka Changemakers Nutrients for All Competition. In 2016, Ms. Martin was selected to participate in the 7th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) hosted by President Obama. In 2019, Ms. Martin was invited to participate in a high-level meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, to define joint actions between government and business to transform the landscape for food and nutrition in advance of the 2020 Global Nutrition Summit in Japan.

Board ofDirectors

Fortify Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Nancy K. Martin

Nancy founded Fortify to address the insidious effects of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) on women of childbearing age and their children. Her dedication stems from personal experience with hemorrhaging 30 weeks into her pregnancy. In developing countries, iron deficient women who hemorrhage during pregnancy or in childbirth often die. Nancy recognized her good fortune in having access to high quality, lifesaving healthcare. She spent several weeks in a hospital on bedrest that resulted in the delivery of a healthy baby. This experience influenced her decision to enroll in a graduate program in public policy and focus on global health. She conducted research to find practical solutions that could improve maternal outcomes. Food fortification stood out as the most affordable and effective way to reach the most women and reduce iron deficiency anemia by adding small amounts of iron to commonly consumed foods. At that point, her research turned into a business plan, which led to an invitation to compete in the Chicago Booth School of Business’s Social New Venture Challenge Competition, and to prize money that seeded the founding of Fortify. Nancy earned her A.B. in Government & International Relations from Harvard University and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

Chief Technology Officer

Barbara Lyle

Barbara is a passionate advocate for the advancement of global nutrition and possesses extensive cross-functional expertise in nutritional R&D. Barbara has a background in research, product development and consumer foods and has published more than 15 scientific papers and hold several patents in food fortification. She is the founder of B. Lyle, Inc. a nutrition consulting firm and is an adjunct professor at both Tufts and Northwestern Universities. She serves on the board of the American Society for Nutrition and her prestigious career expands all facets of nutrition, including past roles as Sr. Nutrition Advisor for ILSA and Former Principal Scientist-Research, Kraft Foods Global. Barbara earned a M.S. and a Ph.D. in Nutrition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Chairman of the Board

Dan Conley

Dan is the founder & owner of Beacon Communications, a business-to-business public relations firm that has published more than five thousand articles in a variety of periodicals and has worked in partnership with publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Financial Times, and the American Bar Association. Dan has extensive experience in numerous categories including consulting, manufacturing (particularly medical imaging/medical device), governments (trade & investment), and healthcare. Dan has served on numerous boards including the National Governing Board of Common Cause and the American Health Information Management Association and is involved with student employment networking support for the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Additionally, Dan is a member on the American Council on Germany Network 2025 Transatlantic Working Group on the Pandemic Response. Dan earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan.


Michael Walsh

Michael is the Founder & Managing Partner of Kilkenny Capital Management, L.L.C. (KCM), a firm that invests in publicly traded biomedical technology companies. Prior to founding Kilkenny, he was a Vice President and Senior Biotechnology Research Analyst with Robertson Stephens & Company, where he was instrumental in raising capital for emerging biotechnology companies. Additional experience includes Director of Corporate Development at Dionex Corporation and Financial Analyst in the Corporate Finance Department at Drexel Burnham Lambert. Michael has a long history of with not-for-profit endeavors including serving as a previous chair of the Grants Committee for Friend of Prentice Hospital in Chicago. Michael earned an A.B., cum laude, in Chemistry from Harvard College and an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.

Board Secretary

Madhu Karamsetty

Madhu’s expertise includes healthcare consulting, business operations management and Madhu’s expertise includes both healthcare consulting and commercial business strategy and operations management. Currently she is the Senior Business Operations and Strategy Manager at Carrum Health, an innovative value-based healthcare company. Previous roles include Senior Associate, Kaufman Hall & Associates, LLC a leading healthcare advisory firm and Chief of Staff to the CFO of Bon Secours Health Systems. She has also held research roles at the University of Maryland Medical Center and UT Southwestern Medical School. Madhu earned a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Neuroscience and Management of Aging Services and a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

African Liaison Officer

Bryan Pearson

Raised in Nigeria and educated in the U.K, Bryan has spent his life working around the African continent. Bryan’s career includes having been the publisher of Africa Health journal for more than 40 years before transitioning it to a Ugandan NGO in 2018. Currently, Bryan holds numerous business and philanthropic positions; he is the Managing Director of Africa Confidential, a leading political and economic analysis subscription-based newsletter and is the Managing Director at FSG Africa Ltd consulting company. In addition to being on the Fortify Board he serves on the board of Penplusbytes, a Ghana based GNO specializing in governance initiatives and training of journalists across the African continent. He serves as the Board Chairman of Dream Big Ghana Foundation which provides EcoSan compost toilets, training in renewable energy opportunities and conservation activities. Bryan is a trustee of the Blood Care Foundation, a rapid delivery service of screened blood and is a member of the Steering Group of the Health Workers for All Coalition (HW4AC). Additionally, Bryan farms mango, pineapple, and coconut in Ghana’s Volta Region and is developing a standalone (hybrid solar/biomass) fruit dryer that will enable small farmers to participate directly in the fruit value chain. Bryan attended Birmingham City University and earned a degree in Communication Studies.

Board Member

James W. Blake

James (Jim) is a nationally recognized leader with a demonstrated history of working in the healthcare industry as a trusted advisor to many of the largest most sophisticated health companies. He has extensive experience in consulting, mergers & acquisitions, data science, and investment banking. Jim is the Managing Director at Kaufman Hall & Associates, LLC a US-based leading healthcare advisory firm. Jim is also a frequent speaker and author in the healthcare industry. Jim earned his A.B. from Harvard University in Mathematics.

Board Member

Ronke Champion-Adeyemi

Born in Nigeria, Ronke moved to the U.S. as a young adult. She began her nursing career in labor and delivery and is passionate about maternal health. Ronke has worked in various sectors of healthcare including palliative care and in 2006 she founded Peace Hospice and Palliative Care where she held the position of Founder/CEO until its acquisition in 2019. Currently Ronke is the Founder/CEO of Champion Sports Management and has enjoyed a diverse career including representing players in the NFL. Ronke returns to Nigeria often for philanthropic endeavors, and her medical training and familiarity with Nigeria make her an invaluable member of the Fortify Board. Ronke has a B.S. in Sociology from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria and has also earned a BSN from Loyola University Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and an MBA from the Quinlan School of Business also at Loyola University Chicago. She has been accepted to pursue her Doctorate Degree (EdD) in Organizational Change and Leadership at the USC Rossier School of Education in California.