Our Team


Matt McFarlane, Co-Founder & President

I am a New York-based intellectual property attorney and social entrepreneur with a biotechnology background supported by more than a decade of academic research in physiology and neuroscience. Having worked in highly technical areas, I've interacted with recognized subject matter experts in a wide variety of fields and disciplines as mentors, professors, witnesses and consultants. In each situation, my job has been to understand, integrate, and communicate multiple complex concepts within the context of a single coherent research proposal, theory of the case or business plan.

Building on these skills, I co-founded GROUT—a social entrepreneurial platform that applies those skills to support and develop the bold projects of emerging thought leaders who aim to create value, community and impact in novel ways. We have conceptualized, incubated and designed several projects that share the goal of empowering community through cooperation and collaboration. We strive to create scenarios where individuals work together, sharing human and social capital as a common resource for shared benefit. 

I earned my law degree from Fordham Law School, a PhD from Stanford University School of Medicine (Molecular & Cellular Physiology) and ScB from Brown University (Biochemistry). In addition to my work at GROUT, I’m a partner at Matadero Capital, serve as a Trustee and Director of non-profit organizations, and am an an Advisor to the Cavendish Impact Foundation. 

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Erin Fairbanks, Co-Founder & Chief Operator

I am a convener and strategist who gets geeky about learning, launching new projects, and building community. Before joining GROUT, I was the first Executive Director of Heritage Radio Network, the word’s pioneer food radio station.

Through my work at GROUT I co-founded Women in Hospitality United, where I work to support female leadership, ideas, and voices in the hospitality space.  

I am deeply committed to public service and sit on the advisory council for Glynwood, an agricultural non-profit serving New York State’s Hudson Valley, and the Julia Child Foundation.  I am the Junior Board Chair for the Food Education Fund a non-profit that serves the students of Food and Finance High School. I am passionate about palliative care, building a world where women have power, and social justice. 

I previously spent several years developing programming and cooking in some of New York City's best kitchens and worked as a farmer with Flying Pigs Farm in Shushan, NY. I have a M.S. in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from The New School and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Michigan.  My work has been profiled in The New Yorker, The New York Times, CBS This Morning, Saveur, and Civil Eats.