Wisconsin native Kelliann Blazek has been brought on to the Biden administration as a special assistant to the president for agriculture and rural policy. Most recently, Blazek worked in Wisconsin’s Office of Rural Prosperity under Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. To read more on Blazek’s career, click here.

The administration also appointed Libby Washburn as special assistant to the president for Native affairs. Washburn most recently served in senior leadership roles at New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico, focusing on building compliance structures and strengthening ethics requirements and Title IX processes. She previously worked in the Obama administration at the Department of the Interior. To see a list of other appointments made by the administration, click here.

Kalera, a vertical farming company, has added former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to its board of directors. Perdue, who has also personally invested in the company, served as secretary of agriculture from 2017-2021 and was also the Georgia governor from 2003-2011.

Greg Ibach, former USDA undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs, has joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources as the institute’s inaugural undersecretary-in-residence. He will help advance the institute in agricultural biotechnology policy, agricultural biosecurity and workforce training, and help build the partnership between the National Institute of Antimicrobial Resistance Research Education and APHIS. Prior to joining USDA, the Nebraska native was the state's agriculture director. 

Richard Fordyce has joined Osborn Barr Paramore (OBP) as business growth director. Fordyce previously served as the administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency. At OBP, he will focus on strategic business development and will represent the agency in roles with various local, regional and national agriculture industry organizations.

Kelliann Blazek

Kelliann Blazek

Steve Adair has been selected as Ducks Unlimited’s chief scientist, assuming the role as DU’s leader on waterfowl and habitat science. The transition will occur following the retirement of Tom Moorman. Adair most recently was DU’s national director of conservation strategy. He also served as the Great Plains Region director of operations in Bismarck, N.D.

The White House has brought on Noah Kaufman as a senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers. Kaufman previously worked at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs' Center on Global Energy Policy. During the Obama administration, Kaufman was a deputy associate director of energy and climate change at the Council on Environmental Quality. He will take leave from Columbia to fill the White House role. Jane Flegal will also join the administration as senior director of industrial emissions at the Council on Environmental Quality. Flegal is a program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, where she has worked on grant-making for climate and clean energy issues. She is taking leave from the foundation to fill the White House role.

The Department of the Treasury has brought on Catherine Wolfram as the deputy assistant secretary for climate and energy economics in the office of economic policy. Wolfram most recently served as associate dean and Cora Jane Flood professor of economics at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. She also served as the program director of the environmental and energy economics group at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., has added one new staffer and promoted another on the Democratic staff of the House Agriculture Committee. New to the committee staff is Joshua Lobert, who will serve as counsel. He previously worked at the Congressional Research Service, where he advised members of Congress and their staff on legal issues related to financial regulation, securities law, and national security law. Emily German has been promoted to subcommittee staff director for the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit. German currently serves as a policy analyst for the committee.

Wilson Orvis has been hired by Friant Water Authority as its new chief financial officer. He worked for the Bureau of Reclamation for over 14 years, most recently as a deputy director in Reclamation’s Denver policy office.

The Plant Based Foods Association has tapped Rachel Dreskin to serve as its new CEO. She comes to PBFA from Compassion in World Farming, where she served as U.S. executive director. Before that, she was the head of food business for PBFA. 

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation has announced that Joe Johnson will retire, effective June 1. as executive director and secretary-treasurer. He has been in his current role since 2018. Before that, he led the field service division for eight years. Marty Schwager has been chosen to succeed Johnson. Schwager is a 16-year veteran of Farm Bureau and has served as director of field services since 2018.

Mikayla Dolch has joined the staff of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig as the new communications coordinator. Dolch most recently completed her masters of international agriculture degree at Oklahoma State University.

Jane Flegal

Jane Flegal

The National Association of Wheat Growers has reelected its officers from 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19. Dave Milligan of Michigan will serve as president; Nicole Berg of Washington will serve as vice president; Brent Cheyne of Oregon will serve as treasurer; Keeff Felty of Oklahoma will serve as secretary; and Ben Scholz of Texas will be past president.

World Food Program USA has brought on Scott Price, president of UPS International, to its board of directors. He previously served as UPS’s chief strategy and transformation officer.

Chris Christensen has been elected to a two-year term as president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s board of directors. Christensen is a director of NorVal Electric Cooperative in Montana. He succeeds Curtis Wynn, CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative. Tony Anderson, general manager of Cherryland Electric Cooperative in Michigan, was elected vice president, and Joe Martin, board president at Mountain View Electric Association in Colorado, was selected to serve as secretary-treasurer.

The National Pork Producers Council has elected new officers for 2021-2022. Jen Sorenson was tapped as president. For the past decade, Sorenson has been with Iowa Select Farms. She succeeds Howard “AV” Roth, a Wisconsin hog farmer, who becomes immediate past president and chairman of the council’s trade and nominating committees. Terry Wolters was elevated to president-elect. Wolters owns Stoney Creek Farms. Scott Hays was elected to serve as vice president. He is a fifth-generation pork producer and the CEO of Two Mile Pork. Rob Brenneman and Jeb Stevens were elected as new members of the board.

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