The dairy checkoff is set to gain new leadership as Barbara O’Brien will transition to CEO of Dairy Management Inc. following Tom Gallagher leaving the organization after 30 years at the helm.

According to DMI, Gallagher “has decided to conclude his 30-year tenure as CEO to devote more time to teaching and other opportunities.” DMI leaders are working on a transition plan and a checkoff spokesperson says Gallagher will remain CEO through the transition process.

“I am proud of the success of the checkoff during the past 30 years and the steady foundation it created for future impact, and I am leaving with complete confidence that Barb will continue to drive this success forward in new ways,” Gallagher said in a statement. “My work for America’s dairy farmers will always be the highlight of my career.”

In addition to his DMI leadership, Gallagher is currently teaching at the University of Notre Dame, where he is lending his expertise on sustainability in food and agriculture. He plans to add additional teaching roles in the future.

O’Brien is currently DMI’s president and the CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. In that role, she focused on growing sales of dairy products through things like new food service and retail partnerships.

“We are thrilled that Barb O’Brien has agreed to become CEO and know that with her steady leadership and vision, we can continue the work on behalf of dairy farmers nationwide and importers,” DMI chair Marilyn Hershey said in a statement. “Barb will bring the same discipline and rigor to the role of CEO as she has in producing results for dairy farmers as president. We will work side-by-side with Barb to support her transition and look forward to what’s ahead.”

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In a statement, O’Brien thanked Gallagher for his time at DMI and said she looked forward to expanding on her existing work in the industry.

“Over the last 20 years, I’ve developed deep relationships with dairy farmers, the dairy community, and other companies and organizations that will ensure we sustain DMI’s impact while continuing to build a secure future for the industry,” she said. “I will bring strategic continuity to the checkoff programs and, at the same time as we navigate the accelerating pace of change, I will set a vision that harnesses the strong legacy Tom built and leads to new long-term growth.”

The dairy checkoff is funded by about 31,000 dairy farms and importers and an assessment of about 15 cents per every hundred pounds of milk produced domestically and 7.5 cents for every hundred pounds imported. In addition to domestic research and promotion efforts, DMI also founded the U.S. Dairy Export Council to boost sales abroad.

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