Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA’s deputy commissioner for food and veterinary medicine, says he’ll be retiring from the agency in January. Taking his place – but with a different title -- will be Frank Yiannas, Walmart’s vice president for food safety, who will join FDA as the deputy commissioner for food policy and response, heading the Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine.

Roger Lowe is leaving the Grocery Manufacturers Association, where he’s been serving as executive vice president for strategic communications since December 2014. Lowe says his departure is part of a series of changes going on at GMA. Watch for several new hires to be announced in coming weeks, including several in communications, he said in an e-mail. Geoff Freeman, former CEO of the American Gaming Association, was picked to head GMA in June following the retirement of Pam Bailey and the departure of several big-name member companies, including Campbell Soup, Mars, Tyson Foods and Cargill.

Karen Budd-Falen, a longtime critic of what she calls federal overreach over public land management, is joining the Interior Department as deputy solicitor for parks and wildlife. In her home state of Wyoming and elsewhere in the rural West, Budd-Falen has made a career of representing ranchers and local governments in property rights' disputes with federal land agencies. She has said she expects to work on legal issues surrounding the Endangered Species Act, the National Park Service and national monuments.

President Trump selected Aurelia Skipwith as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She currently serves as deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife in the Interior Department. Previously, she was an assistant corporate counsel at Alltech Inc. Skipwith began her career with Monsanto, where she worked her way up from a lab technician to sustainable agriculture partnership manager. When Skipwith left Monsanto, she briefly worked as a research and legal intern at the United States Department of Agriculture.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers hired Mike Lietke as senior director for statistics, and Sara Feuling as director, construction. Lietke comes to AEM after working in dealer development with Briggs & Stratton. Feuling, who has a master’s degree in civil engineering, previously was with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. She fills a position previously held by John Somers, who moved to a new AEM job as director of the utility sector.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appointed nine individuals to serve three-year terms on the Hass Avocado Board. Five of the appointees are from California. They are: Bob Schaar, Charley Wolk, Gahl Crane, Scott Bauwens and Paul Romero. Two Texans were also appointed – Aaron Hernan Acosta and Elizabeth Ayala. Another Californian, Dave Billings, was appointed to a two-year term to fill a seat that has been vacant since February. Perdue said the board “plays a very important role developing markets and uses for a projected volume of more than 2.4 billion avocados in the U.S. marketplace.”

Sarah Grace Edison joined the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture as manager of communications. The University of Florida grad comes to NASDA from CropLife America.

Zellwood, Fla.-based Anuvia Plant Nutrients selected Paul Duncan to fill the newly created position of Director of Sustainability. Most recently Duncan served as director of Business Development at Cargill Optimizing Services, a division of Cargill Engineering R&D. Duncan has a background that includes international journalism, having worked as an editor for publications including the Financial Times in London, China Daily in Beijing, and the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

Nannette M. Christ was named director of the Office of Investigations at the U.S. International Trade Commission. Christ has served as chief of the Applied Economics Division in the USITC’s Office of Economics since 2010. Before that, Christ was a business analyst with Mercer Management Consulting in Washington, D.C., and a paralegal supervisor with the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division’s Civil Task Force.

Entomology professor Gene Robinson, an international leader in honey bee research, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine which cited his “pioneering contributions to understanding the roles of genes in social behavior.” Robinson directs the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This honor follows Robinson’s receipt of the 2018 Wolf Prize in Agriculture earlier this year and his election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005.

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership has three new team members in its Washington office. John Felleman takes over as director of technology; Kevin Kundert’s new position is focused on water/wastewater grant activities and training activities; and Kinsey Brown is a communications and office assistant. RCAP is a non-profit network providing guidance to small communities to ensure access to safe drinking water and economic prosperity for rural America.

Coca-Cola Co.’s board of directors elected Brian Smith as president and chief operating officer effective Jan. 1. Smith is president of the company’s Europe, Middle East and Africa group. John Murphy, president of the Coca-Cola’s Asia Pacific group, will become senior vice president and deputy chief financial officer in the new year, and then be elevated to executive VP and CFO on March 16, following the retirement of Kathy Waller after 32 years with the company. Coke also announced Nancy Quan was elected senior vice president and appointed chief technical officer. She is currently a vice president for the company and chief technical officer for Coca-Cola North America. She’ll succeed Ed Hays, who will retire from the company on March 31 while maintaining a role as senior advisor. Finally, Barry Simpson, who serves as senior VP and chief information officer, is adding new duties that include oversight of portions of the company’s Enabling Services organization. Simpson will have the new title of senior vice president and chief information and integrated services officer.

The American Petroleum Institute named Rolf Hanson as vice president of state and government relations. Hanson has served as senior director of state government relations since 2011. Hanson joined API in 1999, serving as the associate director for the Minnesota/Wisconsin field office. In his nearly 20 years at API, he has also served as executive director in the Iowa/Nebraska and Pennsylvania offices.

U.S. Wheat Associates is sending Chad Weigand to Cape Town, South Africa, as assistant regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa, effective Dec. 1. Current market analyst Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann will replace Weigand as assistant regional director for Mexico, Central America and Caribbean, in Mexico City. USW also announced that Claire Hutchins will join the export market development organization as a market analyst on Nov. 30 in the organization’s Arlington, Va., headquarters. She is scheduled to graduate from a master’s program in agriculture economics at Utah State University in December.

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