Val Dolcini

Val Dolcini

Val Dolcini has submitted his resignation at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and will return to Washington, D.C. California Gov. Gavin Newsom created the CalEPA deputy secretary for agriculture position for Dolcini in 2019, and after six months Dolcini later become head of DPR. Chief deputy director Jesse Cuevas left his role last month to lead the Assembly’s Accountability and Administrative Review Committee, and Abbott Dutton has left where she was the director of communications. She has gone to the Delta Stewardship Council as its new communications and outreach director. Leia Bailey will take over as the acting communications director at CDPR. To read more on the leadership changes, click here.

Ocean Mist Farms’ president and CEO, Joe Pezzini has announced he is stepping down from the helm, effective June 30. Pezzini has served the company for the past 21 years. Ocean Mist has begun the process of searching for Pezzini’s successor.

The Senate has confirmed Michal Freedhoff to be the next assistant administrator overseeing EPA’s office of chemical safety and pollution prevention. Freedhoff has worked on Capitol Hill for over two decades, most recently as the minority director of oversight for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The Senate confirmed Lina Khan to the Federal Trade Commission with a final vote of 69-28 and shortly after, President Biden tapped her to serve as the new chair of the FTC, replacing Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. Slaughter has served as the acting FTC chair since January. Khan is an associate professor at Columbia Law School. 

Finsbury Glover Hering has hired Jenny Hopkinson as a director in the firm's food and agriculture practice. Hopkinson most recently worked at the National Farmers Union.

Marvin Kokes has accepted a new job offer as the vice president of agribusiness lending for Farm Credit Services of America. Kokes previously worked at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in industry and member services.

Tandy Kidd

Tandy Kidd

Mary Coppola Heslep has joined Ten Acre Marketing as senior vice president of creative. Coppola Heslep previously led the communication and marketing department at the United Fresh Produce Association over the past seven years.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has brought on Tandy Kidd as manager of events and member engagement and Maria Martinez as coordinator of programs and grants for the NASDA Foundation. Kidd most recently served as special project manager for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and Martinez previously served as a graduate teaching assistant for the University of Georgia and has prior experience with Kansas Corn, Yum Brands Co. and the National FFA Organization.

Safa Syed now serves as a legislative aide covering the animal welfare, appropriations, public lands and natural resources, and Native American portfolio for Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. Syed previously was a legislative correspondent.

Abigail Hemenway has been elevated to legislative correspondent from staff assistant for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Hemenway previously worked on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as a staff assistant.

Chavonda Jacobs-Young, acting undersecretary for the Research, Education and Economics mission area and acting chief scientist of the Department of Agriculture, has joined the World Food Prize Foundation’s council of advisers.

Vicki Christiansen

Vicki Christiansen

Sally Flis has been tapped to be the 2021-2022 president-elect for the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). Flis works at Nutrien Ag Solutions as the sustainable ag field manager. She is a member of and has chaired the Plant Ag and Environment workgroup (PWG) at CAST. She has also served on the board of directors since 2018 as the PWG liaison.

USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen has announced her retirement after a 40-year career in the forestry industry. During her career, she has served as a professional forester, wildland firefighter, and land manager with 11 years of service at the Forest Service. She has served the last three years as the chief of the Forest Service. Christiansen will retire from federal service in August.

For more news, go to