Meet Our Team
As much as we’re obsessed with our wild harvested coconuts, the most essential ingredient at Zuma Valley headquarters isn’t found amongst the trees—it’s in our team. A unique group of world travelers, compassionate citizens, big dreamers and tireless doers, our team reflects a beautiful spectrum of cultures and careers, connected by a common passion for creating positive impact. With varying diets from Paleo, Vegan, Flexitarian, Gluten Free, Dairy Free we all can agree on eating one thing… Coconut! Some might say that accepting a role at Zuma Valley is a fresh step in a new direction, but we’d like to think that everyone here has simply found their way home.
Founder & CEO
Julie truly lives and breathes our tagline – coconut is everything to her. She brings her infectious laugh and passion for coconut to make her dream a reality every single day. Most of all, she loves people and is laser focused on our customers (especially when that means helping them get more coconut!)
After coconut and its electrolytes helped her to recover from an accident, she realized her mission in life is to share the power of coconut with as many people as possible. Julie journeyed across 4 continents, countless jungles, and dozens of small fruit farms, as she searched the planet for the purest, most flavorful coconuts. She finally found them among the lush shores of the Philippine Islands, harvested from the wild and untouched by pesticides or industrial farming equipment. And in 2015 Zuma Valley was born in Malibu, California.
Julie’s path to wellness took her to Malibu, a tranquil oasis where the warm sands of Zuma Beach meet the sun bronzed hills and sea breezes of Zuma Canyon captivated and healed her. On the advice of her doctor, Julie began to incorporate pure coconut water and coconut foods into her diet and sensed a healing shift. Prior to Zuma Valley, she worked to preserve this magical place that nurtured her in her role as Director of Sustainability for The Malibu Country Mart, where she founded the Green Initiative Program and led its LEED certification. Before hearing the siren call of coconut, Julie was pursuing a globetrotting career in international diplomacy. After graduating from UCLA, she lived in Washington, DC, Brussels, and Madrid working on US-European relations in foreign governments.
Team Trivia: In addition to being a coconut whisperer, Julie is also fluent in Spanish. Todo Amor por el Coco! Julie continues to make frequent trips to the Philippines and her beloved coconut palms as often as possible.
Finance and Growth
Zuma Valley has a Jack-of-all-Trades, but he’s more accurately our David-of-all-Coconuts. As the guy we depend on to keep our bottom line in check, our operations on point, and our traction off-the-charts, David brings over a decade of diversified experience in the finance world to our table… as well as a healthy appetite for nourishing foods. In 2013, David switched to eating fresh produce and unadulterated foods instead of his Wall Street diet of takeout 3 times a day. Since then, he has been passionate about sharing the transformative powers of real food with others.
When not wrangling the books at Zuma Valley, David invests his time as a certified Human Potential Coach, helping clients flourish and achieve their own states of high performance. David is also a founding board member of 88 International, a nonprofit music organization whose mission is to create social impact through music. He holds an MBA from Columbia University, an MA from Johns Hopkins, and BAs in Engineering and History of Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Team Trivia: When his career took him to Singapore, David quickly fell in love with the tender young coconuts that could be found everywhere from food stands to luxury shopping malls. After asking for a fresh young coconut instead of morning coffee at the office (perfectly normal, right?) eventually his colleagues realized he wasn’t just making a playful joke and brought back a coconut from the convenience store next door to Starbucks. This became the start of a new morning tradition!
Luke is a titan in the food industry. Or as we like to refer to him as King Coconut. If you ever want to know if something is “good” or “worth” doing just ask Luke and you will have your answer. With the guiding principle of “Luke approved” If the answer is “yes” then you know the matter at hand will inherently be a winner. Always smiling and forever upbeat he brightens all our days with his vast experience and warmth!
Never happy with the status quo, he grew Radio Diego into a regional operation by the time he was 17 years old (he started it at 11). His next business was a portable canopy company that was not only profitable, it was successfully purchased and merged with a competitor.
Luke joined Monterrey Provision Company – a grocery & foodservice distributor – in their accounting department while earning his BS, Accounting degree and then later an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill . After rising the ranks not sure rising ranks to Financial Controller and then CEO he negotiated a leveraged buy-out with 100% company ownership in 2008. Under Luke’s leadership – they experienced 800% growth from 2008 to 2017 with expansion from 4 to 22 states.
In 2016 Luke was managing $250M P&L and 350+ nationwide staff with a reputation as an industry innovator. Luke then sold to KeHE Distributors and stayed on as President to ensure a successful post-acquisition integration.
In addition to being King Coconut at Zuma Valley Luke leads Vdriven Consulting and Venture Studio with investments in the cutting edge plant-based CPG space.
Team Trivia: When Luke was last on the Organic Family Coconut Farm in The Philippines, he didn’t have a spoon, or fork, or tool to eat the delicious coconut meat. What did he do? Luke used a piece of the husk and shell as his tool to enjoy it!
The driving force behind the Zuma Valley sales team, Lauren Cohen is a bundle of magnetic energy—to introduce our brand of nourishing, innovative coconut foods to everyone. Powered by a natural gift for networking and a bottomless mug of Fair Trade coffee (with a swirl of coconut cream, of course!), Lauren’s problem-solving resourcefulness and her passion for connecting people has helped Zuma Valley increase its distribution footprint from a few hundred local stores in Southern California to more than a thousand locations nationwide and online.
Lauren holds a BA in Linguistics from Northwestern University as well as a Certificate in Plant- Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and Cornell University. Is it any wonder that we trust her to pitch our coconut portfolio to high-powered buyers? Prior to joining the Zuma Valley team, Lauren worked in commercial real estate helping investors acquire and finance just the right property. She continues matchmaking among our coconut, buyers, stores and happy customers.
Team Trivia: When Lauren isn’t making sales calls for Zuma Valley, you’ll find her on a walk with her Goldendoodle, creating healthy creations for her family in the kitchen, or reading up on wellness or biohacking. And since criss-crossing the country selling coconut can really take a toll on your footwear, we support her guilty pleasure of surfing the internet for bargains on boots (size 8).
Our in-house expert on all things vegan, Jessica has embraced the plant-based lifestyle for over 10 years, long before quinoa became a household name and green (juice) was declared the new black (coffee). A lifelong student of holistic wellness, Jessica’s daily pursuit of optimal health and balance inspire us all to create a positive flow of energy around us. Luckily for us, Jessica keeps the operations at Zuma Valley flowing smoothly, too.
A champion of Mother Earth with a passion for protecting all the beings that depend on her, Jessica has embarked on a search for innovative ways to create a regenerative, zero waste way of living. Off the clock, you’ll find Jessica with her beloved doggies, friends and family, most likely exploring nature and breathing in the fresh, open air.
Team Trivia: A foodie at heart, when not exploring favorite and new eateries, Jessica loves spending hours cooking up new recipes from scratch. Zuma Valley Coconut Meat and Coconut Cream have been delicious add-ons to more than a just few recipes!