The U.S. Grains Council named its Mexico council director Ryan LeGrand as its new president and CEO. LeGrand succeeds Tom Sleight who has served as president and CEO since 2012. LeGrand has been with USGC in Mexico since 2015, and has served as the director of the Council’s Mexico City office since 2016. Before joining USGC, he worked for Gavilon as the director of ingredients in Mexico, located in Guadalajara. LeGrand also served as the director of exports for Hawkeye Gold, LLC, exporting DDGs to Latin America and Asia.

Constance Cullman

Constance Cullman

The American Feed Industry Association picked Constance Cullman to succeed Joel Newman as its new president and CEO, effective July 2019. Cullman previously served as president of the Farm Foundation, a role she has served in for the past three years. Before that, she worked for Dow AgroSciences as their government affairs leader and as the senior director of regulatory, technical and international affairs at the Corn Refiners Association. She also spent time working at USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service and was the vice president of agricultural ecology at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

Tracey Massey has been promoted to global president of Mars Pet Nutrition, effective June 3. She previously served as Mars Wrigley North America regional president and has been with the company for over 20 years. Anton Vincent has been chosen to succeed Massey as the regional president for Mars Wrigley North America, bringing along over 20 years of experience in the U.S. food industry and most recently working for Greencore Group plc. where he was CEO.

President Donald Trump nominated Rob Wallace to serve as assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. The Wyoming native has over 45 years of experience, having served as a seasonal ranger, assistant director of legislative and congressional affairs for the National Park Service, chief of staff to former Sen. Malcolm Wallop, R-Wyo., and Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer. He served as government relations manager for GE Energy, and currently works with ranchers, energy companies, conservationists and regulators to balance the needs of conservation and energy development in the West.

Ephraim Leibtag has been appointed to take over as the acting administrator for the Economic Research Service. He steps in to take over after Chris Hartley stepped down due to tenure limits.

Charlie Vogel is the new executive director for the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers and the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council. He currently serves as the sales and marketing manager for Legacy Cooperative in Bisbee, North Dakota, and will assume his new responsibilities on June 1.

Charlie Vogel

Charlie Vogel

Arun Baral becomes HarvestPlus’s new CEO. Baral was promoted from CFO and will assume his new responsibilities on July 1. He succeeds Howarth Bouis who is stepping down to retire. Bouis founded HarvestPlus and was awarded the World Food Prize in 2016 for his work on biofortification.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture promoted Aline DeLucia to senior director of public policy. Before joining NASDA, DeLucia served as a manager of federal government relations for Syngenta. She succeeds Nathan Bowen who served as executive director of public policy and has been with the organization for 10 years. Bowen will depart NASDA on May 31 to grow a career in the food and agriculture sector in London.

Jeff Sands is the new director of government affairs for USA Rice. He will manage policy issues affecting the rice industry as well as facilitating the day-to-day operations of the USA Rice Political Action Committee. Before joining USA Rice, Sands worked for the Agricultural Retailers Association and Syngenta. He also was a senior agriculture adviser at the Environmental Protection Agency under the current administration, and worked as a policy and communications adviser for Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., and Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) promoted Wendy Brannen to senior director of marketing and communications and Abby Podkul to director of the newly created department of meetings and conventions. Brannen joined ASA in June 2018 and previously served as director of policy communications. Before joining ASA, Brannen served as executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission in California and spent several years with U.S. Apple Association. Podkul has been with ASA for more than 11 years, most recently serving as the organization’s Commodity Classic director.

Courtney Knupp is now the chief of staff for USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area. She previously served as a senior policy adviser to the Foreign Agricultural Service. 

Courtney Knupp

Courtney Knupp

William Sauer joined Duke Energy as its new director of federal regulatory affairs. Sauer previously worked at the National Economic Council as a senior adviser. Before that, he was a policy adviser and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission fellow for Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

Darin Miller is now in the office of Vice President Mike Pence, as deputy press secretary and director of strategic communications. He previously was the communications director for the House Freedom Caucus.

Anne-Marie Boisseau is the new legislative assistant for Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas, covering the energy, environmental protection, foreign trade, telecommunications, and labor and employment portfolios. She previously served in the office of Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., as a legislative correspondent.

Ian Lee is now the communications director and senior adviser for Rep. Josh Harder, D-Calif. He previously served as the communications director for Rep. Sean Maloney, D-N.Y. Maloney’s office is currently searching for a new communications director.

Matt Simon is the new chief of staff for Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz. Simon will also cover the portfolios of energy, commerce, foreign trade, natural resources, and environmental protection.

Riya Mehta has left the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee where she served as a fellow to start a new position in Rep. Jimmy Panetta’s, D-Calif., office as his new agriculture legislative assistant.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has hired Julia Rossman to serve as her staff assistant for the Senate Agriculture Committee. Stabenow has also promoted Rosalyn Brummette to policy analyst, where she will focus on conservation and climate issues.

Danielle Smotkin left the office of Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., where she served as senior adviser and communications director to begin a new role with the American Beverage Association as senior director of communications … John Elizandro takes over as communications director for Rouzer. He comes from Rep. Dan Meuser’s, R-Pa., office where he served as communications director. Meuser’s office has not yet hired a replacement.

Sean Solie left the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as a staff assistant for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark. He has been in this position for the past two years.

Meghan Perez-Acosta is now the deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas. She previously served as deputy chief of staff for Rep. John Joyce, R-Pa. and Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J.

Eric Arndt is covering the agriculture and food, energy, and foreign trade portfolio for Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., as his new legislative director. He was promoted from senior legislative assistant.

Joanna Rodriguez is now with the National Republican Senatorial Committee as their press secretary. Rodriguez previously served in Rep. Michael Waltz’s, R-Fla., office as communications director. … Allison Nielsen takes over responsibilities as Waltz’s communications director. She comes from the office of Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa., where she served as communications director. Smucker’s office has not yet named her replacement.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., promoted Emily Lavery from deputy legislative assistant to legislative assistant. She is handling the agriculture and food, energy, environmental protection, and public lands and natural resources portfolios.

Tanya Bradsher is the new chief of staff for Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. She’s previously worked at the White House in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and at the National Security Council.

Ben Merkel was promoted to legislative director for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. He has worked for Murray since 2012 and covers the portfolios for science, technology, defense and telecommunications.

John Abegg left the office of Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as chief counsel to head to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform as their new executive vice president.

Meredith Blanford is the new communications director for Rep. Markwaye Mullin, R-Okla. She previously served in the office of Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., as his press secretary. 

Angela Brown is now with the office of Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., as his new scheduler. She previously worked for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee as a legislative assistant for Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Aaron Morales is the new press secretary for Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. He previously served as press secretary for Rep. Vincente Gonzalez, D-Texas.

Reisha Buster is now the legislative director for Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. She replaces Matt Weisman, who has moved to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as a counsel.

Omar Guzman-Toro now serves the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Energy Subcommittee as the policy analyst for Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. He previously served as a legislative assistant for Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.

Olivia Hussey joined the staff of Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., as a legislative assistant. She previously served in the office of Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, as a legislative correspondent.

Ariana Valderrama is now communications director for Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va. She previously was a communications associate with Everytown for Gun Safety and succeeds Jamitress Bowden who now serves as press secretary for the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, hired McKenzie Johnson as his new deputy press secretary. Johnson previously worked as a web producer for Smithsonian Enterprises and has served in various marketing roles.

Covering the environmental protection portfolio as the new legislative assistant for Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., is Jessica Seigel. She previously worked for the National Rural Health Association as an advocacy communications manager.

David Beckmann

David Beckmann

Rev. David Beckmann announced he will retire as president of Bread for the World and the Alliance to End Hunger in June 2020. Beckmann has served at the helm for 27 years and was awarded the World Food Prize in 2010 for his work to bring people out of poverty.

Allen Moczygemba announced he will step down as CEO from the American Angus Association beginning May 15. He has been with the association for three-and-a-half years and as of now they are in the process of searching for a replacement. Until then current COO Chris Stallo will step in to fulfill CEO duties.

Dave Drennan retired from the Missouri Dairy Association (MDA) after 23 years, where he served as executive director. Drennan came to MDA in 1995 after serving 11 years with the National Corn Growers Association and eight years with the American Soybean Association.

Correction: In last week’s Farm Hands on the Potomac we stated Misty Ann Giles has been with USDA since 2007, when it should have stated 2017.

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