Anne Alonzo

Anne Alonzo

Anne Alonzo will join Corteva Agriscience as the company’s senior vice president for external affairs and chief sustainability officer, effective April 20. She will be based in Washington, D.C. She succeeds Dana Bolden, chief communications officer, who has been leading the team on an interim basis since February 2019 when Krysta Harden left the post. Most recently, Alonzo served as president and CEO of the American Egg Board. To read more on Alonzo, click here.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced on Twitter Monday that Assistant Interior Secretary Susan Combs is leaving the department April 25 to head back to her home state of Texas. Combs was confirmed by the Senate in June 2019 after waiting two years for her confirmation. Before joining Interior, Combs served as a Texas state lawmaker and the Texas agriculture commissioner. 

President Donald Trump announced many of the executives, economists and industry leaders who will form his Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, designed to help the White House chart the path forward after the CLOVID-19 pandemic subsides. Appointees include: American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, Cargill CEO David MacLennan, Corteva CEO Jim Collins, Grimmway Farms Co-owner Barbara Grimm, National Restaurant Association Interim CEO Marvin Irby, Deere & Company CEO John May, and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. For the full list, click here.

Hanna Abou-El-Seoud has started a new position with the Nestle corporate and government affairs team as a government affairs manager. She will manage trade and supply chain issues along with Nestle in the Market (NiM) issues. Abou-El-Seoud previously worked for the American Soybean Association as the director of international trade and public policy. 

Alexa Combelic has been hired by the American Soybean Association to be the new director of government affairs, effective May 4. Her portfolio will include biofuels and infrastructure. Combelic comes from Capitol Hill where she works in the office of Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., as a legislative director covering the agriculture, appropriations, environmental protection, public lands and natural resources, animal welfare, energy, and transportation portfolio.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) has hired Matt Herman to its industrial and environmental team as director of policy. Herman’s first day was Monday. He previously worked for the Renewable Energy Group as the manager of sustainability. Erick Lutt has been moved from the industrial and environmental team to serve as the senior director of federal government relations, leading BIO’s advocacy efforts on food, agriculture, energy, and environmental policy. Lutt has been with BIO for the past seven years. Connor McKoy has been promoted to director of communications for agriculture and environment issues. He first joined BIO in January 2018, having previously working for Reingold Inc.

Jacqueline Susmann has been temporarily moved to USDA’s office of communications in the role of senior adviser. She is providing additional assistance to the office during the COVID-19 pandemic. Susmann previously served as communications coordinator for USDA Rural Development.

Matt Herman

Matt Herman

National Sorghum Producers (NSP) have brought on Garrett Mink in the role of director of operations and promoted John Duff to executive vice president of NSP and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. Mink will oversee day-to-day operations for NSP and organize external board and committee functions. Duff will work with board and staff leadership to leverage existing networks and build new networks aimed at strengthening the sorghum industry.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance has elevated Casey Kinler to director of membership and marketing, effective May 1. Kinler previously served in the role of communications manager, and first joined the Alliance in 2015 as an intern. In her new role, Kinler will lead membership recruitment, member retention and industry engagement strategy and execution.

FLM Harvest has named a new executive leadership team. In the role of executive vice president, chief brand officer is Deron Johnson. He previously served as the agriculture domain leader and was a member of the senior leadership team. Before FLM, Johnson worked for Zoetis. Mitch Van Kampen is now the executive vice president, chief strategy officer; Steve Zabka now serves as the executive vice president, chief operating officer; and Jim Zumwalt is now the executive vice president, chief account management officer. 

The American Egg Board has selected Liz Gruszkievicz to lead AEB’s Consumer Marketing group as the new vice president of consumer marketing, effective April 20. Gruszkievicz has over 20 years of experience in the advertising industry. Gruszkievicz joins AEB from Energy BBDO, where she works at the senior vice president and client service director. She has also led the AEB account for the past three years.

Liz Gruszkievicz

Liz Gruszkievicz

The advisory committee of IFCO Group has announced the retirement of CEO Wolfgang Orgeldinger, with the succession of Michael Pooley. Pooley will take over the responsibilities as CEO effective July 1. Orgeldinger first joined IFCO in 2000 and will transition to the IFCO advisory committee. Pooley brings over 25 years in business management, sales and operations and is well-known for his digital knowledge on big data.

Emily Schneider now works in the position of receptionist and administrative assistant for the National Corn Growers Association and U.S. Grains Council in the organizations’ co-located Washington, D.C., offices. 

Lucy Murfitt has been promoted to chief counsel for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Isaac Edwards has been promoted to deputy chief counsel on the committee.

Lucy Koch has been promoted to a professional staff member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee under Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. Koch previously served as a research assistant on the committee.

Farm Journal has hired Tyler Smith as an enterprise account director. Before joining Farm Journal, Smith served as a national account executive for Meredith Corporation’s Agrimedia division. Before that, he was with Daymon Worldwide Inc., where he managed sales, marketing and promotional efforts for suppliers and supermarket chains.

The Northern Crops Institute has added Minwei Xu as a food scientist, and Mary Niehaus as a food technologist. Xu brings seven years of work experience, with five years spent in supervisory experience as a lab director in the area of food analysis. Niehaus brings 20 years of experience working at North Dakota State University's cereal and food science groups conducting service and research projects.

Far West Agribusiness Association (FWAA) has tapped Margaret Jensen as its new executive director, effective April 15. She succeeds Jim Fitzgerald, who retired Dec. 31 but stayed on as a consultant through April 2020. Jensen previously worked as an agriculture recruiter for Ag 1 Source. 

Nebraska’s Central Valley Ag and Farmers Ranchers Cooperative have voted to merge and have tapped Carl Dickinson to serve as president and CEO. Farmers Ranchers and CVA will officially unite into one cooperative on June 1.

Former CEO and chairman of the Hohenberg Cotton Company, Rudi Scheidt, passed away at the age of 95. Scheidt graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a chemical engineering degree. He began his career working at the Union Oil Company outside San Francisco, later taking a job with Shell Oil, which brought him to the company’s New York City headquarters. It was there that he met his wife, Helen Hohenberg, the daughter of a Memphis cotton merchant. After Scheidt’s father-in-law passed away, Scheidt and his brother-in-law, Julien Hohenberg, kept the Hohenberg family cotton business going. By the mid-1970s, Hohenberg Bros., had become one of the largest cotton merchandising firms in the world. They did business internationally, from Afghanistan to China, and also helped initiate international cotton trade with China. They were later acquired by Cargill Cotton. 

Ben Handcock, known as “Mr. Wheat” and former lead of The Wheat Quality Council, passed away on April 11 at age 75 after a battle with cancer. Starting his career returning to the family farm in South Dakota, Handcock was a proud cattle and wheat farmer. In 1984, Handcock sold his farm and ranch to begin his 10-year career as executive director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission. Through his strong passion for wheat growers and relationship-building skills, he was asked to serve on The Wheat Quality Council executive vice president. During his time as EVP, Handcock moved The Wheat Quality Council to the Denver area in 2013. He retired in 2017 as the longest-tenured EVP in Wheat Quality Council history.

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