Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Craig Scholer to be the deputy secretary for legislative affairs at the California Environmental Protection Agency. Scholer has been the chief of staff for Assemblymember Mark Stone since 2018.

Lauren Sanchez is headed back to California to work as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s senior climate adviser. Since February, Sanchez has served as the senior adviser to the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. Before that, she was deputy secretary for climate policy and intergovernmental relations at the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Nicole Elliott has been appointed as director of the newly established Department of Cannabis Control. The department was established to better improve access to licensure, simplify regulatory oversight and support California businesses in regards to the cannabis industry. Rasha Salama has also been tapped to be the chief deputy director of the department. Elliott previously worked as Gov. Newsom’s senior adviser on cannabis in the office of business and economic development. Before that, she was director of the Office of Cannabis for the city and county of San Francisco’s General Services Agency from 2017 to 2019. Salama previously was the assistant branch chief of the California Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch.

Chavonda Jacobs-Young

Chavonda Jacobs-Young

President Joe Biden has announced his intent to nominate Chavonda Jacobs-Young to become USDA's undersecretary for research, education, and economics and chief scientist. Jacobs-Young currently serves as the administrator of the Agricultural Research Service. She has been at USDA for the last two decades serving in leadership positions such as acting director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and acting deputy undersecretary for the REE mission area.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed the nomination of Janie Simms Hipp to serve as USDA's general counsel. Hipp currently serves as the CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund. She also worked in the Office of the Secretary at USDA during the Obama administration as the senior adviser for tribal relations and as director of the Office of Tribal Relations

Phyllis Fong has been appointed as the Acting Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Authority. Fong will continue to serve as the IG for USDA while she serves as the acting FHFA IG. Fong has served as IG for the USDA since 2002.

Nicole Angarella has been nominated to be the inspector general at the United States Agency for International Development. Angarella currently serves as the general counsel to the USAID Inspector General. Angarella has also been a senior legal counsel at USAID's Office of the Inspector General and at the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General.

Sara Neagu-Reed is returning to Washington to take a job as a senior government relations staffer with the National Farmers Union. She was most recently with the California Farm Bureau Federation but also spent time with the National Corn Growers Association and was on staff at the Department of Agriculture during the Obama administration.

Don Parrish has retired from the American Farm Bureau Federation, where he worked as senior director of regulatory regulations. Parrish dedicated most of his career to working on water issues, including federal authority over waters of the U.S., wetlands, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), water quality standards, and conservation issues related to the farm bill. Before joining AFBF, Parrish was an economist at Auburn University and before that, he was employed by the Farm Credit System as a research analyst. He currently chairs the Waters Advocacy Coalition and also chairs the Agricultural Nutrient Policy Council. Parrish will start his retirement by moving back to Alabama with his wife Dee Dee.

After 30 years of service, Cynthia Robertson has retired from USDA’s Farm Service Agency located in Bakersfield, Calif. She most recently served as the county executive director.

Karla Stockli has been selected as chairperson of the Buy California Marketing Agreement, known as CA Grown. She currently serves as the CEO of the California Fig Advisory Board. Stockli succeeds outgoing chair Donn Zea, executive director of the California Prune Board, who has led the board the past two years.

Karla Stockli

Karla Stockli

Rich Hollis has joined American AgCredit as the company’s first chief people experience officer. Hollis brings 30 years of experience to the position, previously working for The Maschhoffs where he led people strategies, human resources and generational transfer.

Ryan Galt has been appointed as faculty director for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. Galt currently is a professor in the Department of Human Ecology.

Cristina Murillo-Barrick has joined the UC Cooperative Extension as an agricultural land acquisitions academic coordinator, serving the Fresno, Merced and Tulare counties. In this role, she will support the mission of California’s Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation Program to help fight climate change by protecting productive farmland. Before accepting this position, Murillo-Barrick was an environmental science educator at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Yosemite National Park and Shenandoah National Park. Sandipa Gautam joined UC Cooperative Extension as an area citrus integrated pest management adviser. She previously worked as an assistant research entomologist in the UC Riverside Department of Entomology.

Matt Baur has officially been named director of the Western Integrated Pest Management Center. Baur served as the acting director of Western IPM Center during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been the Center’s associate director since 2014.

Steve Blecker no longer works for the California Department of Food and Agriculture in the Office of Pesticide Consultation. He was a senior environmental scientist.

Cristina Murillo-Barrick

Cristina Murillo-Barrick

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has hired Liz Ogilvie to be the chief communications officer, effective Aug. 16. TRCP will also bring on Alex Funk as the director of water resources and senior counsel on Aug. 23. Ogilvie most recently was the chief marketing officer at the American Sportfishing Association. Funk previously was an agricultural and rural resiliency policy specialist at the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

The Soil Health Institute has hired six new scientists to its team: Loutrina Staley, Christine Molling, Jason Ackerson, Nate Looker, Mara Cloutier, and Vance Almquist. Staley joins SHI as a soil scientist. She has experience as an advanced science teacher in the Decatur City School system, where she implemented a STEM program in agriculture and food science. Manning will be a modeling specialist for the Dairy Soil and Water Regeneration project. She joins SHI from the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. Ackerson has been brought on to be a project scientist for soil carbon measurement and technology discovery projects. He joins SHI from the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University where he was an assistant professor and extension specialist. Looker will be a project scientist for field-based establishment of Soil Health Targets for farmers and field conservationists. He previously studied at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he looked at the impact of tropical forest succession on soil-based ecosystem services. Cloutier is a project manager for the Dairy Soil and Water Regeneration project in partnership with Dairy Management Inc. She previously worked at Pennsylvania State University where she researched conservation management practices that improve soil health and how it influences soil microbial nitrogen dynamics and nitrous oxide emissions. Almquist has been hired to develop quantitative strategies for grouping similar soils to aid in establishing and mapping Soil Health Targets for farmers and field conservationists. He previously worked at the Pacific Ecological Systems Division of EPA's Office of Research and Development.

Jerome Lyman has been elected board chair of the Farm Foundation. Lyman is a retired McDonald's exec and currently serves as the chief compliance officer for Nazar Systems. Dan Basse, president of AgResource Company, was elected vice chair, and Kristin Kroepfl of Quaker North America and Sylvester Miller II of Indigo are joining the board as new members.

Bill Vann, 67, his wife Susie, 60, and two friends died in a helicopter accident in Colusa County, Calif., on Sunday. The cause of the crash is unknown and is still under investigation. Vann was a notable almond grower in the California industry. Vann along with his brother Garnett Vann started farming together in 1973 under the name Vann Brothers.

Owner of Kirkland Tree Farms, Mark James Kirkland passed away on July 13. Kirkland’s tree farm has been a certified family forest in the in Longview, Wash., area since 1961. Passionate about maintaining healthy forests and educating others, Kirkland has served for over 20 years as a member of the Cowlitz Farm Forestry and took an active role in the annual seedling tree sale. He was 64.

For more news, go to