40 Rising Stars 40 & Under

KelleeJames_adj(creditCrainsChicagoBusiness)

Kellee James, 35

Principal

Organic Futures Group


James is the founder of the Organic Futures Group, a startup venture with the goal of providing market intelligence, as well as launching spot, futures and options markets on organic agricultural commodities. Previously, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as a 2009-2010 White House Fellow. Her responsibilities included development of environmental markets such as tradable fishing quotas (catch shares), water quality trading programs, and other natural resource valuation techniques. 


Prior to her work as a Fellow, James spent five years as an economist at the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), an electronic trading platform and registry for spot, futures and options on carbon, sulfur, clean energy and other environmental derivatives. 


Earlier she worked with cocoa and coffee farmers, as well as commodity banks in Latin America, on risk management and income diversification strategies. James received her M.B.A. and master’s in International Development from American University in Washington, D.C., and completed a bachelor’s in Spanish from the University of Kentucky.


Role model: "I’ve long admired Gwen Ifill as someone who is at the top of her profession, incredibly smart, and really down to earth as well."


Dream vacation: “Vacation? What’s that?  I’m going to Kenya and Tanzania soon, but it’ll be a bit of a working Vacation since I’m hoping to talk with some folks in the organic coffee business while I’m there, and participate in an environmental leadership forum as well.”


Dream car: “One that’s fuel-efficient!”


Phone: “Blackberry at the moment but I’m going back to my ‘droid.”


Laptop: Macbook pro


Other tech tools? Kindle


Favorite store: “I do love a good farmer’s market.”


Favorite beverage: “Really good coffee.”

Kellee James, 35

Principal

Organic Futures Group

James is the founder of the Organic Futures Group, a startup…