Numi Organic Tea names Brian Durkee as new CEO

Numi Organic Tea, leading purchaser of organic, Fair Trade Certified teas, has announced the appointment of Brian Durkee, Numi’s current president, as the company’s new CEO. He will take on day-to-day leadership of Numi, while co-founder Ahmed Rahim will assume the role of CVO (chief visionary officer), working closely with Durkee and his sister and co-founder, Reem Hassani, to set the vision and trajectory of the company.

A 25-year veteran of the natural and specialty food industry who has spent the last 17 of those years at Numi, Durkee has been instrumental in the company’s growth and organisational development. In addition to leading the Numi team and driving overall company strategy and culture, Durkee has managed strategic partnerships, financial planning and execution, sales and marketing initiatives, global supply chain developments, and product innovation. He travels abroad frequently and has worked intimately with customers and suppliers from more than 35 countries. Durkee holds an MBA from Saint Mary’s College and a BS in Systems Management from the University of San Francisco. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the DMBA programme at California College of the Arts.

Ahmed Rahim, Numi’s co-founder and new CVO, will continue his position as Board chair, guiding Numi’s regenerative work, innovation, and strategic partnerships. “Beyond the leadership and growth Brian has achieved, he has been critical in leading Numi through the difficult year of 2020,” said Rahim. “His skill at navigating Numi through the pandemic with grace and humbleness has kept the team focused on what matters. From the first day Brian joined us, he has embodied and helped co-create the vision of Numi. Brian holds our staff, customers, and collective stakeholders as the backbone of Numi, while driving forward the needs of the business. He approaches each day with a positive outlook and listens to the business’ needs with thoughtfulness and care.”

“Since Brian Durkee came to Numi as an Operations Director 17 years ago, he has grown professionally and developed personally into a remarkable, service-oriented leader,” said Reem Hassani, Numi’s co-founder and chief brand officer. “His passion and love for Numi and all it stands for has been the driving force behind our partnerships in Fair Trade and equity for workers, sustainability and climate action, and the strong team loyalty we’ve built over the years.”

Durkee has played a key role in several initiatives that Numi is known for. He led efforts to push the Non-GMO Project to change its standard on immersion packaging—which includes tea bags. Prior to that, only tea ingredients were included in the standard, allowing manufacturers of GMO-sourced bioplastic tea bags to claim Non-GMO Verification. In 2007, he helped co-create Numi’s Verified Fair Labor certification, a continuous improvement programme that ensures fair wages and safe working conditions where Numi’s tea is grown. He also worked with Ahmed Rahim to build OSC’s first Packaging Collaborative in 2013, setting Numi and other natural products brands on a path to bring compostable flexible film to market. Durkee’s focus on creating direct relationships that foster improved standards of living has led to deep and lasting partnerships, ensuring transparency and stability for Numi’s supply chain.

Durkee’s impact-driven leadership and advocacy will shepherd in a new phase of growth for Numi as it continues its work using business for good and Activating Purpose in the communities it touches. Recent milestones for the company include the launch of its first compostable tea wrapper, achieving Climate Neutral certification, and mobilising Numi Foundation for Covid relief—delivering over 350,000lbs of fresh produce to Bay Area families in need.

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