Zach Martin has joined Growth Energy as the new director of government affairs. He previously served as Rep. Collin Peterson's, D-Minn., senior legislative assistant covering the portfolio for energy, environment, trade, military, and homeland security. In his seven years working for Peterson, Martin also comanaged the Congressional Biofuels Caucus.

zach martin growth energy

Zach Martin

Brian Ronholm has joined Consumer Reports as the new director of food policy. Ronholm, former deputy undersecretary for food safety at USDA under the Obama administration, previously worked at Arent Fox as a senior director of regulatory policy for the food and agriculture policy areas.

The Organic Farmers Association has hired Patty Lovera as its new policy director. Previously, Lovera helped start and grow Food & Water Watch, serving as the food and water program director for 14 years and representing FWW in the National Organic Coalition. Before joining FWW, she was the deputy director of the energy and environment program at Public Citizen and a researcher at the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice. 

The National Ocean Industries Association has hired Richard England and Ashley Parkins. England is now the vice president of government affairs and Parkins now works as the director of meetings and events.

Kevin Hourican has been named president and CEO of Sysco, a food service distribution company, effective Feb. 1. Hourican succeeds Tom Bené, who will step down from his role as president and CEO on Jan. 31 after two years at the helm of the company. Bené will stay on with Sysco as an executive adviser until March 1.

Kevin Hourican Sysco

Kevin Hourican

Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit that certifies fair trade products marketed in North America, has promoted Nathalie Marin-Gest as head of fresh goods, overseeing produce, floral and seafood. Marin-Gest joined Fair Trade USA in 2013 as the organization’s first supply chain manager for produce and floral.

Lucy Murfitt has been promoted to deputy staff director of natural resources for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark., on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She previously worked as the deputy chief counsel.

Renae Black has been promoted to staff director under Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She previously was the deputy chief counsel.

Martha Spiker is now the press secretary for Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. She previously served as the press secretary for Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif.

Connor Stubbs has been promoted to legislative director for Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash. Stubbs covers the portfolio of energy, environmental protection, foreign trade, and immigration. 

Steven Smith is the new press secretary for the House Republican Conference. He previously served as the communications director for Rep. French Hill, R-Ark. Jeff Naft is the new communications director for Rep. Hill. He previously served as the communications director for Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga.

Ben Jackson has added the title of deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas. He will continue to serve as the legislative director and cover the appropriations, public lands, natural resources, and transportation portfolio.

Andrew Robreno left the office of Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa., where he served as the deputy chief of staff. He now works for Ferrero USA Inc. as the institutional affairs manager of global trade and commerce. 

Bryan Bashur has been elevated to legislative aide for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Bashur handles the portfolio for animal welfare, commerce, and telecommunications.

Cody Sibulo now serves as the communications director for Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-Calif. He most recently served as the press secretary for Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. 

Holly Hinojosa has begun a new job on the Hill for Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., as a policy adviser covering the environmental protection, public lands and natural resources portfolio. Hinojosa previously worked at USDA as a policy and congressional adviser. Before that, she worked on the House Republican Conference for Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., as the deputy policy director.

Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas, has promoted Anne-Marie Boisseau to senior legislative assistant. She covers the portfolio for energy, environmental protection, foreign trade, telecommunications and labor. 

Ralph Jones now serves as the communications director for Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va. He previously worked as a public information officer for the City of Atlanta.

Martha Newell has left the office of Rep. Don Young, R-Ark., where she served as a legislative assistant covering the natural resources and energy portfolio. Kayla Rillo has taken over her responsibilities and issues. 

Julia Savel now works as the communications director for Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va. She previously worked as an associate account executive for BerlinRosen.

Kiran Mysore has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Mysore is a Noble Research Institute professor whose research focuses on finding new disease-resistant genes in plants to help reduce crop plant losses. Mysore was elected as a fellow for his contributions to the field of molecular plant-microbe interactions, particularly in the area of non-host resistance and for developing genetic resources for plant functional genomics.

The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee and Colorado Corn Growers Association have appointed Nicholas Colglazier as the new executive director. He succeeds Mark Sponsler, who has served as the organization’s CEO for the past thirteen years. Colglazier recently served as the director of the Colorado Competitive Council (C3), an affiliate of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. Prior to C3, he served as the director of public policy for state affairs at Colorado Farm Bureau, where he advocated for agricultural and rural issues. 

The Missouri Farm Bureau has hired Jennifer Poindexter to serve as director of promotion and education. Poindexter will lead MOFB’s efforts to increase agricultural education both inside and outside the classroom. Poindexter began her new duties Dec. 23. She succeeded Diane Olson, who retired Dec. 31 after 34 years with Missouri Farm Bureau.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has hired John Paul Fairhead as the department’s first Feral Hog Eradication Program Coordinator. The newly created position is part of a $3.4 million grant released by USDA’s Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. Fairhead has been employed with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission since 2008 as a natural resource program technician and field biologist. He has served as the feral hog eradication program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission since February of 2013, and has been involved in the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force since it was formed in 2017.

John Sullivan has resigned from his position as director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) under Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration. Pritzker asked for the director’s resignation following a 2012 email, which the administration says the then-state senator did not handle appropriately at the time. IDOA chief of staff Jeremy Flynn will serve as acting director of the department. 

The National 4‑H Council has announced the election of three new trustees to its Board: James Collins Jr., chief executive officer of Corteva Agriscience; Wade Miquelon, chief executive officer of JOANN; and Tennessee 4-H alumnus Justin Cross, Young Alumni Advisory Committee (YAAC) Representative. 

The National Conservation Foundation announced the names of the seven participants in the inaugural cohort of the Next Generation Leadership Institute. The participants are: Barbara Bleiweis from Charlotte, N.C.; Ryan Britt from Clifton Hill, Mo.; Phil Campbell from Luther, Okla.; Joe Caughlin from Tonkawa, Okla.; Mark Masters from Dawson, Ga.; Cassius Spears from Ashaway, R.I.; and Samantha Steiner from Franklin, Ohio. Chosen participants will learn NGLI's curriculum over the course of the next year to equip them with skills and resources related to personal, civic and organizational leadership development. This comprehensive training will help participants rise to meet the future needs of natural resources management.

Sam Willett 

Sam Willett

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has appointed Nick Fosheim to serve as the new director of member and industry relations at the organization’s office in Sioux Falls, S.D. Fosheim is a former executive director of South Dakota’s Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations.

Sam Willett is retiring from the National Corn Growers Association, where he works as the senior director of public policy. Willett has been on the NCGA staff since 2001, and his last day is Jan. 31. To learn more about Willett’s career, check out his Meet the Farm Hand interview here.

Chris Allen, senior adviser for benefits and exempt organizations on the Senate Finance Committee for Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., passed away last week. Before coming to the Finance Committee, Allen served as a legislative assistant for tax issues under Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., from 2011 to 2018. 

For more news, go to