Oscar Gonzales is in a new role at the Department of Agriculture. On Monday, President Joe Biden appointed Gonzales as USDA’s assistant secretary for administration. Gonzales held several roles under Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack during the Obama administration including deputy secretary for administration and deputy chief of staff for operations and senior adviser on immigration reform. Gonzales also spent time as California’s Farm Service Agency executive director and was most recently vice president for government relations, western states, for Goldman Sachs.

Oscar Gonzales

Oscar Gonzales, USDA

James Glueck will be leaving the Senate Agriculture Committee after serving there for 8 years, most recently as the staff director under former Chairman Pat Roberts. Prior to that, he was a legislative assistant for Sen. Mike Johanns, worked for Bunge and USDA. In an email, Glueck said he’s headed to see family in Texas before “sorting out next steps” on the career front.

Thomas Parks is joining Finsbury Glover Hering as an associate director on the food and ag team. Parks currently serves as the senior manager of communications at the Corn Refiners Association & Plant-Based Products Council.

Julie Borlaug, the granddaughter of Norman Borlaug, has joined the World Food Prize Foundation Council of Advisers. Borlaug is president of the Borlaug Foundation and vice president of external relations for Inari.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture hired Joe Reardon to be its director of food safety programs. He is currently the assistant commissioner for consumer protection for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and has 28 years of experience in various regulatory positions. He’ll join NASDA on July 1.

The White House on Monday announced members of its Environmental Justice Advisory Council, including a pair of members with ag connections. Andrea Delgado, the government affairs director of the United Farm Workers-affiliated UFW Foundation and co-founder of GreenLatinos, and Hli Xyooj, director of program strategy at the Hmong American Partnership, were both named to the council. A complete roster can be found on the White House website.

Phillip Farmer has accepted a new position with the Tennessee Farmers Cooperative as its new chief operating officer. Farmer was previously the co-op’s chief marketing officer, a position he held for a little more than two years. Farmer, an Ohio State alum, also spent time earlier in his career with FLM+.

Frank Peterson is a new member of the team at Meristem Crop Performance Group, which describes itself as “one of the fastest-growing direct-to-farm crop input suppliers in America.” Peterson, a South Dakota State grad, has more than 30 years of experience in the business including stops at Ciba Seeds and Precision Grain Analytics. He will be Meristem’s sales and business director for the western region.

Julie Borlaug

Julie Borlaug

Jessica Hernandez has returned to the Senate as a legislative assistant for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. She’ll be handling energy, environmental, telecommunications, and transportation issues. She most recently worked for Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J., after a handful of previous roles in Gillibrand’s office.

Payne Griffin now serves as deputy legislative director to Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind. Griffin covers the portfolio for agriculture and food, commerce, energy, environmental protection, public lands and natural resources, and transportation and public works. Griffin has experience working on the Subcommittee for Clean Air and Nuclear Safety for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and was also deputy chief of staff in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative at the beginning of the Trump Administration.

Connor Vargo now serves as a legislative assistant for Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. He handles the portfolio for animal welfare, commerce, labor, public lands and natural resources, and small business. He was previously a legislative aide.

Hannah Stern has been promoted to legislative assistant in Rep. Scott Peters’, D-Calif., office. She handles the portfolio for labor and employment, transportation and public works, and science and technology. She previously served as a scheduler and legislative aide in Peters’ office.

Andrew Smith has been elevated to legislative correspondent for Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. He will work on science and technology issues. He previously served as Carper’s staff assistant.

Liz Banicki now serves as senior policy adviser to Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. She handles the portfolio for foreign trade and international finance, international affairs, and emergency management. For the past four years, she has worked in Sullivan’s office as a legislative assistant.

Alexis DeJarnette is now the communications director for the GOP staff of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. She previously served as the deputy communications director and before that, was press secretary of the committee.

Promoted to legislative assistant in Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s, D-Mo., office is Devin Kelsey. Kelsey handles the portfolio for labor and employment and transportation and public works issues.

Whitney Smith is the new deputy communications director for Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. She has served the last two years in Hawley’s office as press secretary and before that worked on the Republican National Committee as the Missouri communications director … Abigail Marone will fill the position of press secretary for Hawley. She previously served as the deputy press secretary for Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont. Before that, she worked on former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and for the Republican National Committee as a press assistant.

Erin McBride has joined the office of Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., as his new communications director. She previously worked in the office of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., as his press secretary.

Lauren Citron has moved from legislative assistant to legislative director in Rep. Bobby Rush’s, D-Ill., office. She handles the portfolio for economics, small business, transportation and public works.

Shane Hand has been elevated to senior policy adviser for Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. Hand previously served as a legislative assistant and handles the portfolio for economics, foreign trade, and taxation.

The American Soybean Association and Corteva have selected the 38th class of their Young Leaders program. The group, which will be charged with “honing their skills to serve as the voices for U.S. agriculture,” met virtually March 11 with the goal of two-in person training sessions later in 2021. All told, the class involves 32 producers from 18 states.

George Braley, a longtime member of USDA's Food and Nutrition Service who was at one point the service's associate administrator, has passed away. He retired from USDA in 2007, when he took a position as senior vice president for government relations with Feeding America. FNS Acting Administrator Cindy Long said Braley "took pride in having a thorough mastery of all of the programs that FNS is responsible for, and was always ready to work directly and energetically to solve problems. He had a deep understanding of and appreciation for public service, and what it means to be a career civil service leader."

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