Raina Nelson

Raina Nelson

Alyssa Licata has been hired to replace Jonathan Field as compliance officer for the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. Field is retiring this month after serving in the role since LGMA was first established in 2007. Licata most recently was a lab manager for Seed Dynamics, Inc. Before that, she worked as a food safety specialist for Markon Cooperative.

Raina Nelson has been tapped to lead Westfalia Fruit as the new president of US operations. Nelson comes to Westfalia Fruit from Calavo Growers where she was executive vice president of business development. She currently serves as the vice chairperson for the Southeast Produce Council and also serves on the executive committee of the United Fresh Produce Association.

Mary Hamilton has been appointed section manager for the Central Coast Water Board. She previously served as the program manager for the board’s total maximum daily load, basin planning, and non-point source programs since 2018. Before that, she coordinated the implementation of Central Coast Water’s regionally-scaled surface water quality monitoring program.

Santa Fe Farms, based in New Mexico, has hired Hunter Buffington, Hemp Feed Coalition executive director and federal policy expert, as the new products division vice president and director of policy and advocacy. Buffington will split her time between Santa Fe Farms in her new role and as a policy consultant for the Hemp Feed Coalition.

Ivory W. Lyles has been tapped to be Oregon State University’s new vice provost for extension and engagement and director of the OSU Extension Service, effective Sept. 30. He succeeds Anita Azarenko, who served for more than two years in an interim role following the retirement of Scott Reed in 2019. Azarenko is retiring after 35 years of service at OSU in a variety of roles.

Andrew Hess now serves as an assistant professor at the University of Nevada-Reno’s Department of Agriculture, Veterinary and Rangeland Sciences. In this role, he will work with sheep and beef cattle and was also hired as part of the university’s investment in the Great Basin Research and Extension Center. Hess spent the last four years in New Zealand working for AgResearch.

The Department of Agriculture has announced key staff positions located in the DC office:

John Rapp

John Rapp

John Rapp has been named director of the office of budget and program analysis. He was previously working in the role in an acting capacity while simultaneously serving as the budget officer, chief risk officer, chief evaluation officer, and performance improvement officer. Before that, he served as the director of strategic planning, budget and accountability for the Forest Service.

Brooke Jamison has been appointed to associate administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service. She brings 23 years of experience working on agriculture and international development policy for government, non-profit and private entities. She previously handled the agriculture and trade policy portfolio for two Senators and a Member of Congress and most recently served as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s, D-N.Y., legislative director.

Regina Black was hired to be the chief of staff for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. She most recently was the director of the executive office at the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Caryn Compton was appointed chief of staff for Rural Utilities Services. Most recently, she served as the chief of staff for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. Mia Mayberry was selected to be the deputy director of intergovernmental affairs in the Office of Congressional Relations. Mayberry most recently served as the director of outreach for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Dr. Marty Matlock will serve as the senior adviser for Food Systems Resiliency with Marketing and Regulatory Programs. He was the founding executive director of the University of Arkansas Resiliency Center and is a professor in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers announced Dennis Slater will retire as the president of the organization and senior vice president Megan Tanel will succeed him early next year. Slater joined AEM’s predecessor, the Construction Industry Manufacturers Association, in 1982, later becoming president of CIMA in 1998 and president of the newly formed AEM in 2002 after a merger between CIMA and the Equipment Manufacturers Institute. Tanel joined AEM in 1995 as an intern and become a full-time employee later that year.

The U.S. Grains Council has hired Emily Sutton to be the new manager of communications. Sutton most recently worked at Prim Marketing Group as a creative lead.

Emily Sutton

Emily Sutton

The American Seed Trade Association has hired Jordan Gregory as the new manager of membership engagement. Gregory previously worked at the Texas Department of Agriculture as a policy specialist.

Grace Burton has left the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and is headed to USAID to work on the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security's communications and outreach team. Burton was with the Chicago Council for the past seven years, most recently as the director of government relations. Gloria Dabek is taking over Burton’s responsibilities at the Chicago Council. She has been at the organization since the beginning of 2020.

Impossible Foods brought on Leilani Gayles to be the new chief people officer and have promoted David Borecky to be the new chief finance officer. Gayles comes to Impossible Foods from San Francisco Giants where she was the chief people officer. Boreckly first joined the company in 2019 as the chief accounting officer.

Jennifer Nealson has joined the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as the senior vice president of global marketing and research, located in the Denver office. Nealson brings 25 years of experience to the job, most recently serving as CEO of EMERGE Strategy, a consulting practice focused on growth strategies for middle-market companies.

The board of directors for the American Feed Industry Association have elected Mike Gauss, president of Kent Nutrition Group, to be the new board chair-elect of the organization. Gauss will succeed current board chair Mike Schuster, vice president of sales at Laidig Systems, in May 2022. Gauss joined the Kent team in 2005 as a division engineer with Grain Processing Corporation. In 2013, he transitioned to the Kent Nutrition Group and was later promoted to vice president of operations in 2015. He was promoted to president in 2019. 

Mike Gauss

Mike Gauss

Casey MacLean now works in the personal office for Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., as a legislative assistant covering the public lands and natural resources portfolio. She previously was a policy aide for Huffman on the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee for the House Natural Resources Committee.

Andrew Scibetta has joined the staff of Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., as her new communications director. Scibetta most recently served as the communications director for Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif.

Mariana Perera has been promoted to scheduler for Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. She previously served as a staff assistant and deputy scheduler.

Brad Hiranaga has left General Mills where he was the company’s chief brand officer. In the interim, Doug Martin, disruptive growth officer, is stepping in and expanding his role to include Hiranaga's responsibilities. Hiranaga was with General Mills for 20 years.

Retired U.S. Wheat Associates country director Ron Lu passed away July 23 in Taipei, Taiwan. He was 73. Lu served 33 years with USW, joining in 1983 as a technical specialist and then was appointed to country director in 2004, and later retired in 2017. From 2007 to 2009, Lu served as the chairman of the China Grain Products Research and Development Institute. Throughout his career, Lu worked directly with end users and importers to help them strengthen commercial links with U.S. export companies.

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