Meet the Northland Laboratories’ management team, committed to ensuring “your matters matter most”, everytime.
Our Management Team
With over 20 years of background in the food industry, D.J. graduated from DePaul University with a B.S. in Management, and from Illinois Institute of Technology with a M.B.A. He joined Northland Laboratories in 1995 starting out in Operations and quickly increasing responsibility in strategic development and executive management.
In previous capacities at Northland Laboratories, D.J. oversaw all aspects of operations in each department of expertise. Throughout Northland’s growth, D.J.’s responsibilities grew and changed. In 2005 he assumed the role of Vice President of Northland Laboratories, concentrating on shaping a corporate culture which allows individuals to flourish in their positions and empowers them to provide the highest level of service possible to Northland’s clients. As the company grew in size, services, revenue, and maturity, D.J. recruited and hired the talent needed to sustain the highest quality services for successful delivery in the rapidly changing marketplace.
D.J. is an executive manager who empowers others to succeed. He hires talented and capable people, then provides the environment and motivation to help them excel.
Kami Fusco, Vice President – Operations
Kami has worked in Food Safety and Quality roles for over twenty years, much of that time working in the food manufacturing plant. She is HACCP certified, and a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual trained under the FDA curriculum. Since joining Northland Laboratories in 2005, Kami has remained committed to providing outstanding service to clients, and has spent much of her time at Northland helping clients investigate and solve food safety and quality concerns, developing and enhancing environmental monitoring programs, and providing on-site training programs in areas ranging from Good Manufacturing and Laboratory Practices to sample collection to laboratory safety.
Gretchen Gutierrez, Technical Director
A graduate of DePaul University, Certified Food Scientist (CFS), and Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI), Gretchen has worked in the independent food testing laboratory industry since 1999 in a variety of roles including analytical chemistry, quality assurance, microbiology, and management. In her current role as Technical Director, she oversees a variety of project work including method validations and challenge studies, client consulting, regulatory support, and sensory services, as well as serving as principal investigator for federally funded contracts. She is an active professional member of IFT and has held several volunteer positions in food industry organizations. Gretchen currently serves as IFT AMSPAP (Annual Meeting Scientific Program Advisory Panel) Past Chair and FaBsafe Co-Chair. She is an active member of ISO Technical Committee 34/Sub-committee 9 for food microbiology and serves on working group 19 developing ISO standards for conducting challenge studies.
Iryna Sybirtseva, Ph.D. – Laboratory Director, Northbrook facility
Iryna is an innovative and versatile food industry professional with experience in quality, production, and research. Iryna received her Ph.D. in Food Science from North Carolina State University and worked in meat processing and ready-to-eat facilities as well as cheese production before joining Northland Laboratories in 2013. Iryna is a certified HACCP trainer, SQF practitioner, and active member of IFT and IAFP.
Karrie Bierhals, Laboratory Director – Green Bay facility
Karrie Bierhals has been with Northland Laboratories since 2004. Since then, she has worked every position in the lab and has been the Laboratory Director in Green Bay for the past six years, managing all operations and 30 employees at the location. Karrie is a member of Eastern Wisconsin Cheesemakers and Butter Makers’ Association, Wisconsin Lab Association, and FaB Wisconsin and serves on the advisory committee for the Laboratory Technician program at Fox Valley Technical College. Karrie is HAACP certified and has consulted for numerous clients developing their environmental monitoring and sanitation verification and validation programs. Karrie is experienced in performing both cultural and rapid methods for pathogens of concern in the food industry.
Guohong Zhao, Ph.D. – Senior Research Chemist
Guohong received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne in Switzerland. He worked as a research scientist at Environmental Analytical Research Laboratory, Texas A & M University at Galveston, and at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Before joining Northland Laboratories, he worked as a senior research scientist at Unilever Home and Personal Care Company. Guohong has a broad background in analytical/physical chemistry and biochemistry. He is an expert at problem solving and method validation, especially with modern analytical techniques, such as HPLC, GC, LC/MS and GC/MS. He is a member of American Chemical Society (ACS), American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) and Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).
Krysta Renier, Corporate Quality Assurance Specialist
Working at Northland Laboratories since 2008, Krysta started as a Laboratory Assistant going to school to be a Medical Laboratory Technician. After learning more about the food industry, she decided to switch her field of study. Since then, she has earned her Associates degree in Laboratory Science through Fox Valley Technical College and has become the Corporate QA Specialist for both Northland facilities. In her current role, Krysta manages all the procedures related to testing and ensures continued adherence to ISO 17025 accreditation standards. She ensures all regulatory requirements are met and exceeded in everything we do. Krysta has a strong desire to do things correctly—accuracy and precision are very important to her as she always aims for perfection, making her very good at leading the quality department and management systems at Northland Laboratories.
Kathryn Engle, Client Consultant
Kathryn Engle serves as the Corporate Client Consultant for Northland Laboratories. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Illinois State University and her Masters of Public Health in Community Health Education from the University of Illinois. Previous job experience includes serving as an Environmental Health Specialist with the Illinois Department of Public Health, in which she conducted a variety of state and FDA-contracted inspections of food manufacturing facilities throughout Illinois. Kathryn utilizes her extensive food safety knowledge, coupled with a high level of enthusiasm for exceptional customer service, to assist Northland’s clients in achieving their companies’ strategic goals and meeting or exceeding customer and regulatory expectations.
Jonathon Day, Microbiology Manager – Northbrook facility
Jonathon has been working in the food microbiology field since 2010. He has worked with a variety of products including raw beef and chicken, spices, candy, powders, flavorings, lunch meat, frozen meals, nuts, produce, and even cosmetics. Jon has extensive experience with laboratory quality control and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from DePaul University.
Kayla Simon, Laboratory Supervisor – Green Bay facility
Kayla graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology: Healthcare Sciences emphasis and a minor in Microbiology. She started working as a laboratory technician at Northland in 2012. Over the next three years, she moved through every position available in the lab, and became the Laboratory Supervisor in 2015, supervising 16 laboratory employees. She maintains her Milk, Food & Water Analyst Certification through the State of Wisconsin, is a member of the ISO 17025 internal audit team at Northland, and is an active board member of the Wisconsin Lab Association. Kayla is dedicated to providing and producing the highest quality results to Northland clients.