The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance selected Erin Fitzgerald to lead the organization as its next chief executive officer, starting on July 16.

Fitzgerald formerly served as senior vice president, global sustainability, for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, a part of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which is a forum for the dairy community to address the needs and expectations of consumers. Prior to serving as a senior vice president, she held various positions at the Innovation Center, worked for Dairy Management Inc. as director of strategic planning from 2007-2008, and at the Lowendal Group as a senior manager for business development.

“The USFRA Board of Directors is pleased to hire Erin Fitzgerald as our new CEO,” said Chip Bowling, USFRA vice chair and chair of the CEO Search Committee. “With an outstanding number of qualified candidates for the CEO position, Erin was the obvious choice to lead our organization through the next chapter of its history, and it was a unanimous decision by the board.”

Now in its eighth year as an organization, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is a coalition of 100 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners, working to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today's food is grown and raised.

“American farmers and ranchers have an incredible legacy and will define the sustainable food systems of the future. I am grateful for the privilege to continue to work for the farmers across the United States who are committed to stewardship and inspire a sustainable future,” said Fitzgerald.

USFRA said that while leading the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, Fitzgerald enhanced the industry’s contributions to a more sustainable food system by exploring the intersection of nutrition, health, hunger and food waste. In her role, she conducted an environmental impact assessment that led to an industry-wide voluntary carbon reduction goal of 25 percent by 2020.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Fitzgerald also led several other successful industry efforts at the Innovation Center, including:

★ INITIATING 10 ENVIRONMENTAL MIGRATION PROJECTS — VALUED AT $250M+— across the value chain, playing a key role in advancing sustainability through the commitment and efforts of 800 active volunteers.

★ SIGNING A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND PARTNERSHIP FOR SUSTAINABILITY with the Secretary of Agriculture, presenting at the United Nations in Copenhagen — during COP 15 — on the subject of voluntary leadership.

★ LEADING A BIOGAS ROADMAP FOR THE DAIRY INDUSTRY; examined cost-effective solutions for combining food waste and manure for renewable energy, co-products, and improved water quality valued at $3B. Efforts resulted in White House support and recognition for championing the sole voluntary carbon initiative for Climate Change.

★ HOSTING A SUSTAINABILITY SUMMIT WITH 250 DIVERSE STAKEHOLDERS, resulting in an industry vision, guiding principles, goals, and an action plan to reduce greenhouse gases and improve economic value.

★ RAISING $11.1M IN GRANTS FROM THE WALTON FAMILY FOUNDATION, PACKARD, AND THE USDA, fueling mission-critical projects, programs, and initiatives to propel sustainability efforts forward.

★ LAUNCHING THE FIRST SUSTAINABILITY AWARD PROGRAM, generating $250K in program support and 3M+ media impressions, serving as a key tool in recognizing efforts that improve communities, the environment, and bottom lines.

★ DESIGNING, FACILITATING, AND LEADING THE SUSTAINABILITY COUNCIL—comprising125 organizations—to achieve common industry goals; hosting two Sustainability Council meetings at the White House.

The Notre Dame graduate has been recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture, an Aspen Institute First Movers Fellow, and a Crain’s Chicago 40 under 40 honoree.

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