President Joe Biden has announced his intent to nominate Elaine Trevino as the next ag trade negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Trevino currently serves as the president of the Almond Alliance of California. She also served as the deputy secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She has led the Almond Alliance since April 2018.
Alyssa Houtby has been promoted to senior director, federal affairs for California Citrus Mutual. She previously served as the director of governmental affairs, which primarily focused on California legislative affairs. Houtby began her career with CCM in December 2011 shortly after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Vince Mier now serves as senior sales account manager for Tanimura and Antle. Mier brings 20 years of experience to the position, previously serving as a product manager for The Nunes Company.
Michael Hsu now serves as the senior public information representative for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, succeeding Jeannette Warnert, who retired in July. Most recently, Hsu served as a communications specialist on the public affairs and marketing team at UC Davis Health.
Jeff Baskovich has joined Veg-Fresh Farms as the director of conventional citrus. Bringing over 25 years of experience in domestic exports and imports in the citrus industry, Baskovich previously worked as a sales executive for Seven Seas Fruit.
Grimmway Farms has promoted Sara Oliver to the company’s executive leadership team in the newly created position of chief people officer. Oliver has been with Grimmway Farms for more than 25 years and since 2017 was the vice president of human resources.
James Gibson has retired as chief executive officer of Calavo Growers. Calavo’s Board of Directors has hired an executive search firm to identify Gibson’s successor. In the interim, Steven Hollister, a member of Calavo’s Board since 2008, has assumed the role of CEO.
Biden has also announced his intent to nominate Rostin Behnam as the chair and commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Behnam is currently a CFTC commissioner. Biden also plans to nominate for the CFTC Kristin Johnson, a law professor at Emory University School of Law, and Christy Goldsmith Romero, the Special Inspector General for the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP).
For the Federal Trade Commission, Biden plans to nominate Alvaro Bedoya, founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, where he is a visiting professor of law. Reta Jo Lewis, a Senior Fellow and Director of Congressional Affairs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, will be nominated to be president and chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and Maria ‘Marisa’ Lago is the choice for the undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade at the Department of Commerce. Lago is Director of the New York City Department of City Planning and Chair of the City Planning Commission. She previously served in the Obama Administration as the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for international markets and development.
The Department of Agriculture has announced three individuals who will hold key staff positions:
Cindy Long has been appointed as the new administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service. Long has been serving as the acting administrator and was previously deputy administrator for child nutrition programs, where she led FNS’ implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Claudette Fernandez will serve as director of program equity and opportunity strategy. Fernandez most recently served as the chief operating officer for the Forest Service. Before that, she was director for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Block Grant Assistance, but she has also held several roles with USDA Rural Development and with Federal Emergency Management Agency. Felix Muñiz Jr. was appointed legislative adviser in the Office of Congressional Relations. Muñiz previously served as the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee staff director for the House Committee on Agriculture. Before that, he was a legislative assistant and graduate fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in the office of former Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio. Fudge is now HUD secretary.
Finally, Biden also has announced his intent to appoint Tony Allen to chair the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Allen became President of Delaware State University in Jan. 2020, after serving as provost and executive vice president since July 2017. Before that, he was the managing director of corporate reputation at Bank of America.
John Reeder has joined the Environmental Working Group as vice president for federal affairs. Reeder brings 30 years of experience working at the Environmental Protection Agency, including as the deputy chief of staff to Obama EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who is now President Joe Biden’s domestic climate adviser. For the last four years, Reeder has been an Executive-in-Residence at American University’s School of Public Affairs.
Julie Borlaug now serves as the vice president of corporate communications and public relations at Invaio Sciences. Borlaug previously served as the vice president of external relations at Inari. She still serves as president of the Borlaug Foundation.
Abby Blunt is moving to a part-time position with Kraft Heinz as the strategic adviser for government and ESG affairs and will be an adviser to the board of directors. Blunt’s role of vice president, global government affairs, has been taken over by Bill Behrens, who worked the last 10 years at General Electric.
Samantha Levy has joined the American Farmland Trust’s federal policy team in the newly created role of climate policy manager. Levy previously worked in New York as AFT’s policy manager.
Former Secretary of Agriculture and member of Congress Mike Espy has joined the board of directors for the One Country Project. Espy served as the ag secretary during the Clinton administration. In 2018, Espy was a runoff candidate in the special election for Senate in Mississippi and became the Democratic nominee for the same seat in 2020.
Maggie McNeil has announced she is retiring from the Organic Trade Association where she serves as the director of media relations, effective Sept. 30. She plans to enjoy her time with family and serve others in her community. Reana Kovalcik will be taking over McNeil’s responsibilities as the director of public affairs. Most recently, Kovalcik was communications adviser for American Forests, but she previously worked for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition as associate director of its communications department.
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