Scandal-plagued EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s top communications aide has resigned, following the recent departure of several other high-level staffers. Liz Bowman, who joined EPA last March as the associate administrator for public affairs, is joining the staff of Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, as communications director.

There’s also been some high-level staff changes at USDA. Mindy Brashears, the director of Texas Tech’s International Center for Food Industry Excellence, has been nominated by President Trump to serve as the department’s Undersecretary for Food Safety. While the undersecretary is the government’s highest-ranking food safety official, the position has been vacant since Elisabeth Hagen resigned in 2013… Meanwhile, USDA is losing the services of Sam Clovis, the former Trump campaign aide who had been serving as the department’s liaison to the White House. Trump nominated Clovis to be USDA’s top scientist, but the former radio talk show host withdrew his name from consideration in November amid criticism from Senate Democrats. Clovis said he was heading home to Iowa.

Sonny Ramaswamy is moving on after completing a full six-year term as director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. In July, he’s scheduled to become CEO of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, based in Redmond, Wash. Taking over as acting director at NIFA is Thomas Shanower, who comes to the post from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, where he served as the associate area director for the Pacific West Area. From 2007 to 2015, he was director for ARS’ Center for Grain and Animal Health Research in Manhattan, Kansas.

Mike Sommers, a former top aide to then-House Speaker John Boehner, has been chosen as the next CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. Sommers, who currently runs the American Investment Council, a private equity industry group, will replace Jack Gerard, who is stepping down as API’s president and CEO at the end of August. Before heading to K Street, Sommers spent nearly his entire 20-year career in Boehner‘s office, starting as an intern and eventually rising to be the Ohio lawmaker’s chief of staff. Sommers also had a one-year stint in the George W. Bush White House in 2005.

Friends gathered last night on Capitol Hill to celebrate Ed Barron, a director for Bayer AG, who is retiring. He’s had a distinguished career in D.C.,  serving as deputy chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, deputy chief of staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and deputy chief counsel and chief of staff of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He also served as a U.S. representative at several World Trade Organization ministerial conferences and at both World Food Summits. In addition, he was a partner at The Russell Group and with Greenberg Traurig.

Growth Energy appointed Craig Willis as its senior vice president of Global Markets, effective June 1. Willis joins Growth Energy after more than 25 years at ADM, where he served as president of the Ethanol Business since 2015.

Corey Brown has returned to the staff of Sen. Thom Tillis, this time as the North Carolina Republican’s legislative assistant. She had been serving as domestic policy counsel at the National Pork Producers Council. This is Brown's third time with the Tillis office. She interned with the senator while a student at the University of North Carolina School of Law and served as his law clerk after graduating.

Alexander Ott will become executive director of the American Pecan Council as of July 1. Ott currently serves as executive director of the California Apple Commission, the California Olive Committee and the California Blueberry Commission. He’ll be relocating from California to Texas to lead the APC. Prior to his work with the commissions, Ott did a stint on Capitol Hill, serving on the staff of then California Rep. John Doolittle, focusing on agriculture and natural resource issues.

The American Feed Industry Association hired Bridget Rinker as a new development assistant. Rinker joined AFIA from the National Parent Teacher Association, where she focused on strategy and stewardship of the association’s national sponsors and worked with grant contracts. She also has prior experience with the National 4-H Youth Conference Center.

Congratulations to Soheila Maleki, a USDA scientist with the Agricultural Research Service in New Orleans, on being named a finalist for a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal. The awards, known as the “Sammies,” are given each year to federal employees who have distinguished themselves by making our country safer, healthier and stronger. Maleki, a chemist, is being recognized for research – particularly in the areas of peanuts and the allergies they can cause – which has significantly impacted scientific knowledge, commercial processing and regulation in the U.S. and worldwide

Cibus, a California-based advanced plant-breeding company, appointed Jim Hinrichs as its chief financial officer. Most recently, Hinrichs served as the executive vice president and CFO of Alere Inc., which was sold to Abbott Labs last year for more than $7 billion.

Corteva Agriscience, the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, named Kacey Birchmier as its media relations manager. Birchmier previously was the agronomy and conservation editor for Successful Farming.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, and beach volleyball legend Misty May-Treanor are just a few of the famous names from the world of sports whom President Trump has named to the White House Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. Some other names you might recognize: New York Yankee pitching legend Mariano Rivera, bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, the LPGA’s Natalie Gulbis Rodarmel and baseball great Johnny Damon. Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is famous – some would say infamous -- for his daytime talk show, The Dr. Oz Show, also made the list.

For more news, go to