The Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) announced the appointment of Johan “Jo” Swinnen as the institute’s next Director General, effective January 2020. He will succeed Shenggen Fan, who is completing his term. The ag economist is currently serving as a professor of economics and is the director of the LICOS Center for Institutions & Economic Performance at the University of Leuven.

Darigold has hired Richard Scheitler as the new chief information officer and Monica Johnson as its new general counsel. Scheitler most recently served as the Chief Information Officer at The Wonderful Company, in Los Angeles, Calif. Johnson most recently served as the general counsel for Bonduelle Americas, in Irwindale, Calif. Prior to joining Bonduelle, Johnson held legal roles at Ventura Foods, LLC, Western Digital Technology, INC., and Deutsche Bahn/DB Logistics/Bax Global.

American Farmland Trust (AFT) hired Tim Fink as its new policy director. Fink will oversee AFT’s policy direction and strategy. He comes to AFT from the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation where he served as the director of research and policy analysis, overseeing federal relations and science policy.

Tom Driscoll is stepping down as the director of the National Farmers Union Foundation, effective September 12, to open a consulting business called TMD Farm and Food Strategies. He is taking this step to allow more flexibility in his schedule and to start as a project manager to the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, where he will work on projects in the farming, conservation, and environmental space. 

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue appointed three newly elected individuals to serve on the National Peanut Board. Gregory Baltz will represent Arkansas, Bruce Lee will represent New Mexico, and Steven Neal Baxley Jr. will represent South Carolina.

Molly Block

Molly Block

Former Department of the Interior press secretary Molly Block has rejoined the Environmental Protection Agency as senior adviser for strategic communications and policy. Block joined Interior in March, after working in EPA's press office since December 2017.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers hired Wade Balkonis as grassroots advocacy manager. He previously was federal government relations manager for Walgreens.

Paul Schickler has joined the leadership team of the advisory board of ZeaKal. Before joining ZeaKal, Schickler served in various leadership roles over a 40-year tenure at DuPont Pioneer, serving as the former president of DuPont Pioneer. 

As the company focuses on streamlining and cost cutting, Bayer announced that management board members Hartmut Klusik and Kemal Malik will leave at the end of the year without a replacement, as the company reduces its board to five seats. Malik is responsible for innovation as well as the Asia Pacific region while Klusik holds the position of labor director and is responsible for technology and sustainability. The firm also announced up to184 layoffs at the crop science unit in Durham, N.C. - once the U.S. headquarters for the division.

The Energy Storage Association has hired Anthony Viardo to serve as the new vice president of strategic marketing. Most recently he served as the director of marketing and communications at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).

Megan Striegel has been hired by the Environmental Protection Agency as the special assistant to the associate administrator for public engagement and environmental education. Striegel previously served as an intern on the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition Committee…Thomas Mills has been promoted to director of the Office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education, in addition to his role as deputy director for Agricultural Outreach at EPA.

Chris Kidd has joined USDA’s Office of Congressional Relations as a new administrative specialist. Kidd previously served as an intern in the office. He succeeds David Sindall.

Samantha Medlock joined the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis as a senior counsel. She will focus on climate adaptation and resilience. In her career, she served as a senior adviser of the Office of Management and Budget and was the deputy associate director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality under the Obama Administration.

Bijan Koohmaraie has been promoted as the deputy chief counsel for the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. Koohmaraie previously served as a counsel. 

Settling in as the legislative assistant covering agriculture, food, transportation and the animal welfare portfolio for Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., is Amanda Wyma-Bradley. She just finished her Master of Public Policy Program at Georgetown … Justin Weiss is Smith's new communication director. He most recently served as a senior associate at Rational 360 and replaces Rebecca Bryant, who is now at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Brittany Moore is Sen. Joni Ernst’s, R-Iowa, new mailroom coordinator. She previously served as an intern in Ernst’s office.

Alejandra Leynez has joined the staff of Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Calif., as a legislative assistant covering the immigration, labor, and employment portfolios. 

Cally Perkins has been hired as a staff assistant for Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss. She previously worked at BGR Group as a research clerk.

Covering the small business and foreign trade portfolio for Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., is Daniel Dick. He previously served as a fellow for Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz.

Joseph Newman has been promoted to policy adviser covering the foreign trade and technology portfolio for Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y. He previously served as a legislative correspondent.

Robert Lynch has been named president and CEO of Papa John’s International, Inc. He succeeds Steve Ritchie, who had led the company since January 2017. Lynch brings more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant and consumer packaged goods industries, most recently serving as president of Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. He earlier spent four years as brand president and chief marketing officer at Arby’s, where he was responsible for creating the “We Have the Meats” campaign. Before joining Arby’s he was vice president of marketing at Taco Bell.

John Demerly is the new CEO of CommoditAg. In his 22-year career, Demerly has held leadership roles at Corteva AgriScience, Adayana Agribusiness Group and the Indiana FFA Organization.

Beth Terrell has been named the new president of Public Justice. Growing up on a farm in Idaho and graduating from UC Davis School of Law, Terrell cofounded the Terrell Marshall Law Group with Toby Marshall and Jennifer Murray. One of her earliest cases she worked on was Barnett v. Walmart Stores, Inc.

Lisa Nichols has been promoted to senior manager of issues and reputation at Nutrien. She previously served as manager of regulatory and seed of the Western region.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced Maury Noonan has been hired as the regulatory division director at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Noonan will oversee the food safety and animal health and consumer protection and industry services divisions. Noonan previously practiced law agriculture and environmental law in Iowa and Minnesota. Prior to practicing law, he held positions at the Kansas Department of Transportation and the USDA General Counsel’s office. 

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) announced the reelection of several board members and the election of two new representatives to the organization’s board of directors. Reelected members include: Duane Kristensen, representing Chief Ethanol Fuels; Scott McPheeters, representing KAAPA Ethanol; Dan Root, representing Minnesota Corn Growers Association; Rick Schwarck, representing Absolute Energy; Dave Sovereign, representing Golden Grain Energy; Chris Studer, representing East River Electric Cooperative. Two new members elected for a three-year term include: Troy Knecht, representing Redfield Energy and Owen Jones, at-large member.

Corrine Gould

Corinne Gould

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is recognizing four individuals at its annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico this week. Receiving the Ambassador’s Circle Award is awarded to Congressman Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., for his work in forging new partnerships for sound agriculture policy. Jennifer Trodden, deputy commissioner for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, received the James A. Graham Award for her work in providing service to agricultural producers. The NASDA Communications Award went to Corinne Gould, assistant commissioner for public affairs for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. The Douglass-Irvin Administration Award goes to an individual for outstanding contributions within a state agency resulting in improved efficiency and impact. This year’s recipient is Jenifer Gurr, chief administrative officer & director of human resources for the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

The National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas system division of agriculture has added staff attorneys Christina Cole and Brigit Rollins to its team. Cole, a Little Rock native, brings a degree from University of Arkansas School of Law as well as three years of experience as a part of Walmart’s International Ethics and Compliance team, where she worked with associates in 11 international markets on a variety of issues ranging from trade, food safety and safety regulations. Rollins graduated from Lewis & Clark School of Law and previously worked as a research fellow as a part of the Center’s partnership with the Western Resources Legal Center. Rollins is a native from Sonoma County, California, and will focus on environmental law.

The World Food Prize Foundation has selected Hale Ann Tufan, of Turkey, as the 2019 recipient of the Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation. She is recognized for ensuring women farmers and scientists are fairly represented in the lab, in the field and at the table. 

Cotton Incorporated has announced two honorees for the 2019 Cotton Research and Promotion Hall of Fame: the late Ruth Benerito of Louisiana, and Johnie Jenkins of Mississippi. Benerito was crucial in leading the development of wrinkle-free cotton during her time as a USDA chemist in the 1960s. The New Orleans native, received degrees from Tulane University and the University of Chicago before beginning her work for USDA in 1953. She retired in 1986, and during her career she received 55 patents and led a team at the Department’s Southern Regional Research Center. Jenkins has dedicated 55 years of his career to the research of cotton breeding. The plant geneticist helped make Bt cotton, and in 2007 was inducted into the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Science Hall of Fame. The following year, the Arkansas native was honored with the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Senior Professional by President George W. Bush.

Previous CFO of Georgia-based Harrison Poultry, Curtis Pruett, died on September 5. Pruett became Harrison Poultry’s first employee in July 1959, and he served as CFO until he retired in February 2010. He was a lifelong friend of Harrison Poultry’s founder, R. Harold Harrison. He was known in his community not only for his financial expertise but his kind, humble and loyal demeanor.

Karl Norris, a former instrumentation engineer at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center for USDA, died July 17 to renal failure. Norris first joined USDA in 1950 and retired in 1988, later working as an agricultural consultant. A service of remembrance will be held Saturday, October 5, 2019 at noon, at Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 11416 Cedar Lane, Beltsville MD 20705.

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