The Grocery Manufacturers Association named Geoff Freeman as the organization’s new president and chief executive officer, effective Aug. 1. For the past five years, Freeman has served as president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, the trade association for the U.S. casino gaming industry. Freeman will replace Pam Bailey, who in February announced her plan to retire after nearly 10 years as GMA’s top executive.

Land O’Lakes is looking for a new CEO following its announcement that Chris Policinski is retiring as president and chief executive at the end of the month. Policinski joined the farmer-owned cooperative in 1997 and was appointed to the top position in 2005. Land O’Lakes noted that the company is now twice the size it was when he took over as CEO 13 years ago. Peter Janzen, Land O’Lakes senior vice president, general counsel and chief admin officer, will serve the company as interim CEO until the board selects a new CEO. 

The National Sorghum Producers is welcoming two new staff members: Jamaca Battin will be NSP's new industry relations director, and Amanda Flores will be the new administrative manager. Battin joined NSP part-time in November as the Sorghum PAC Coordinator. Before NSP, she owned her own business and worked for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Kansas for 10 years. Flores has "multiple years of experience in office management and business organization," NSP said, and has provided office oversight for several businesses within the Texas Panhandle over the past nine years. 

Blake Rollins is settling into his new job as deputy chief of staff for operations in the Office of the Secretary at USDA. The University of Arkansas Law School grad had been serving as director of the department’s Office of External and Intergovernmental Affairs since May 2017. Before joining USDA, Rollins worked as a legislative assistant and counsel to Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., has a new deputy communications director. She’s Hannah Smith, who previously ran communications for Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan … In other news from Capitol Hill, Michael Comer is joining the staff of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., as a digital assistant. The James Madison University grad formerly worked as deputy press secretary for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce handling digital communications.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health last week officially launched its Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, which is being led by former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. C-HANGE, which is shorthand for the center, “will ensure that cutting-edge science produced by Harvard Chan School is actionable — that the public understands it, and that it gets into the hands of decision-makers so that science drives decisions,” McCarthy said at the launch.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture board of directors recently elected North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture Doug Goehring, Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn, and Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture Andy Gipson to fill vacant board positions. Goehring will serve as second vice president for the association and will host the NASDA Annual Meeting in 2020. Chinn will hold the At-Large position and Gipson will serve as the Southern representative on the board … Chinn, meanwhile, says she plans to stay on as director of agriculture in the administration of Missouri Gov. Michael Parson, who took office last Friday. Parson had been lieutenant governor under Eric Greitens, who resigned as governor amid allegations related to an extramarital affair and use of a charity donor list for political fundraising.

South Dakota Agriculture Secretary Mike Jaspers is stepping down on July 1 to become business development director for East River Electric Power Cooperative, based in Madison, S.D. He’s been serving as ag secretary since 2016. State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven will be interim secretary for the rest of Gov. Dennis Daugard’s term, which ends in January.

Family Farms  LLC appointed Shari Rogge-Fidler as its new CEO, effective immediately. The company describes the Nebraska native as a fifth-generation farmer with extensive experience in national and international agribusiness. Most recently, she served as president of Cambium Strategies. She replaces founder and CEO Allen Lash, who previously had announced plans to retire upon appointment of his successor.

Michael Nepveux will join the American Farm Bureau Federation as an Economist on June 7. Michael comes to AFBF from Informa Economics’ Agribusiness Consulting Group, where he was a consultant charged with conducting market, policy and economic research and analysis in several fields including agriculture, agricultural risk management, transportation and renewable energy.

David Ward is the new director of public affairs for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Ward joins AEM after a year with General Electric, as external affairs manager for its oil and gas subsidiary Baker Hughes. Before that, Ward spent five years as the American Wind Energy Association’s director of public affairs.

The World Food Prize Foundation hired Ellen Franzenburg as its new director of secretariat operations. The Iowa State alumna will work directly with World Food Prize President Kenneth Quinn and the director of planning to organize the annual World Food Prize Laureate announcement ceremony and Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium. Franzenburg replaces Judith Pim, who retired from the Foundation on May 31 after 18 years of service.

Mary Russell started her one-year term as president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Russell is senior manager of U.S. nutrition medical affairs at Baxter Healthcare and a lecturer at the Rosaline Franklin School of Medicine and Science. Russell, of Chicago, served as the Academy’s president-elect during 2017-2018. The Academy also named the 19 national leaders in nutrition, health and business who will serve as the group’s board of directors for 2018-2019. Click here to see the board members and their affiliations. They include Kevin Concannon, who served as undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer sciences at USDA from 2009 until 2017.

President Trump nominated Geoffrey Starks to be member of the Federal Communications Commission for the remainder of a five-year term expiring June 30, 2022. Starks currently serves as assistant bureau chief of FCC's Enforcement Bureau. Prior to joining the agency, the Yale Law School grad served as senior counsel to the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department. On the FCC, he’s meant to replace Mignon Clyburn, whose term has expired. The nomination went to the Senate for confirmation earlier this week.

Congratulations to Jaelith Hall-Rivera, who’s been named associate deputy chief of the USDA Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry programs. Hall-Rivera most recently served as State and Private Forestry's budget coordinator. Before that she held analyst positions with the Government Accountability Office and The Wilderness Society.

Andrew Schmidt is moving from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, where he’s the agriculture policy program manager, to Ducks Unlimited where he’s got the same job title. He starts in his new role on June 11. Schmidt has been with AFWA for the past two and a half years.

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