Gil Gonzalez is back in the Rural Development business at USDA. Anne Hazlett, assistant to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue for RD, has named Gonzalez as her chief of staff. Gonzalez served as deputy undersecretary for Rural Development from 2001 to 2005. Afterward, he coordinated disaster response, recovery and long-term rebuilding efforts from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast. Most recently, he served as a senior consultant with the Rural Empowerment Advancement Program – an organization working with rural businesses, communities and economic development corporations in Texas. Gonzalez also was director of the Rural Business Program at the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Jack Gerard says he’s stepping down as president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute when his current contract expires in August. Gerard has been at the helm of the influential trade association for 10 years. API notes that since Gerard joined the association in 2008, membership has grown by almost 50 percent, with new members from every sector of the industry. Gerard joined API after serving as president and CEO of two large trade associations – the National Mining Association and the American Chemistry Council. He also worked for almost a decade in the U.S. Senate and House.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo named Maggie Sklar as his senior counsel. Sklar has been serving as an associate director in the CFTC’s Office of International Affairs. Before joining the Commission, the Georgetown alum represented financial institutions, banks, executives, and energy companies at the law firms of Paul Weiss, Greenberg Traurig, and Kobre & Kim.

Stephanie Addison has been hired as the communications director with the National Association of Conservation Districts. Addison has been serving as deputy press secretary with the House Agriculture Committee since September 2015.

Barbara Jenkins is the new executive director at the USPOULTRY Foundation where she’ll be in charge of day-to-day operations. She’ll also maintain her role as vice president of education and student programs for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Jenkins began her career with USPOULTRY as an administrative assistant in 2000, working in various positions in the Education Program.

Erin Nash has been named marketing and communications manager for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting where she’ll be spearheading farm radio research as well as external communications. Nash also will work on trade-show staffing as well as the annual NAFB Convention. The University of Missouri alum previously worked in public relations at Woodruff and held PR positions at Fleishman Hillard, McCormick Co. and Osborn Barr.

The National Corn Growers Association hired Marie Nelson, former CFO for Galen Insurance Co. in St. Louis, as its new director of accounting and administration. For the next few months, Nelson, a CPA, will be working with current director of accounting Darcy Wolf who is retiring in June.

Jeff Janas has joined North Bridge Communications as a senior account executive, to help manage the firm’s growing farm-bill-related portfolio. Janas had been working as communications manager for Western Growers since 2013. The Ohio University alum also was a staffer in the House of Representatives for 11 years starting in 1996. North Bridge says Janas will be working with several clients, including the American Sugar Alliance, National Crop Insurance Services and Farm Policy Facts.

The National Biodiesel Board is honoring Deputy Ag Secretary Steve Censky with its Pioneer Award for his work as the longtime president of the American Soybean Association. NBB notes that as ASA’s chief executive from 1996 to 2017, Censky “played a critical role in passing the biodiesel tax incentive in 2005, and the inclusion of biodiesel in the revised Renewable Fuel Standard.” The award is being presented today at the National Biodiesel Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

Four individuals were honored last week with the Soil Health Partnership’s inaugural Seeds of Change awards. The awards were developed to call attention to Partnership members “who go above and beyond” to advocate for soil health throughout the year. Andrew Reuschel, of Golden, Illinois, received the Super Spout award, for his use of cover crops and other conservation techniques on his farm. Mark Mueller was honored as Champion Communicator for telling the story in local media about what’s happening on his farm in Waverly, Iowa. Jack Hardwick, of Beardstown, Ill., received the Ace Agronomist award, and Tom Vaske, of Masonville, Iowa, was honored with the Data Digger award. The awards were presented at the Partnership’s summit in Chicago.