Blue Diamond Growers has named Dean LaVallee as its new chief operating officer in addition to his current role of chief financial officer. Laura Gerhard was promoted to vice president of the company. Gerhard began her career with Blue Diamond Growers in 2017 as director, strategy and planning with global ingredients. She added responsibility for Global Ingredient Division Marketing in 2020. Bill Morecraft has announced his retirement at the end of this year after 35 years of service. Morecraft joined Blue Diamond Growers in 1986 working in finance, production planning, and sales planning.
Jonah Reardon has joined the sales team at Homegrown Organic Farms as the company’s category manager in the citrus and grape section. He brings 20 years of sales experience to the position, most recently managing sales for Progressive Produce.
Dairy Management Inc., the dairy checkoff program, has announced Tom Gallagher has decided to step down from the helm after 30 years of serving as CEO. Barbara O’Brien, president of DMI and CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, has been named by DMI’s board of directors as the next CEO.
President Joe Biden has announced the individuals he has tapped to serve on his Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. Among those selected is Catherine Woteki. She is an agriculture and food scientist and nutritionist who served at USDA as the chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education, and economics during the Obama administration. She also served as USDA’s first undersecretary of food safety. She is a visiting distinguished institute professor in the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia and is also a professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University.
The Senate has confirmed the nominations of Jayme White and Sarah Bianchi to serve as deputy United States Trade Representatives. White brings 20 years of trade experience to the position. He previously worked for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden as chief trade adviser since 2014. Bianchi most recently worked as senior managing director to Evercore ISI. She also served as the chair of the advisory board for the Biden Institute.
The Farm Credit Administration has announced new staff leadership. Sara Lynn Major is moving to the new role of FCA chief diversity officer in the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Inclusion. Autumn Agans will become the deputy director for the Office of Regulatory Policy. Dan Fennewald will be the deputy director for the Office of the Director and chief examiner in the Office of Examination, and Ward Griffin will be the deputy general counsel in the Office of the General Counsel.
The Federal Communications Commission has announced senior staff changes to the Office of Managing Director and the Office of Communications Business Opportunities. Sanford Williams is now the deputy managing director in the Office of Managing Director. Joy Ragsdale, currently field counsel in the agency’s Enforcement Bureau, will lead the Office of Communications Business Opportunities as the new director. Williams previously served as the director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities. Williams will also continue to serve as a special adviser to Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel with a focus on agency efforts.
Former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has joined the recently formed research group America First Policy Institute. He will be the chairman of the Center for American Trade.
Ethan Mathews now serves as the director of regulatory and government affairs at Wilbur-Ellis Holdings. Mathews previously worked at CropLife America as senior director of government relations. Before joining CropLife, Mathews worked at the National Corn Growers Association.
Jake Westlin has been promoted to vice president of policy communications at the National Association of Wheat Growers. He previously was the government relations representative. Before joining NAWG, Westlin was a legislative correspondent and aide to former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
Tres Bailey has left Walmart, where he was the senior director of federal government affairs focusing on food, agriculture, supply chain, and trade issues for 16 years. He has accepted a new position with Ecolab as the vice president of federal government relations.
Scott Heisel has been tapped as the new president of the American Malting Barley Association, effective Oct. 1. He succeeds Mike Davis, who will become a senior adviser. Ashley McFarland has been hired to fill Heisel’s former role as vice president-technical director. She comes to AMBA from Michigan State University’s Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center, where she served as the director and managed a diverse research portfolio spanning multiple agricultural sectors.
Leah Beyer has accepted a new position with Taranis as vice president of marketing. Beyer previously worked for Elanco Animal Health as the senior director of digital communications.
America’s Cultivation Corridor has hired Tracy Uhlman as senior director of strategy and project management. Uhlman previously worked 18 years at John Deere in a variety of management and leadership roles.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture elected a new slate of officers at its annual meeting. New York Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball was elected as the new president. Other officers include: Wyoming Director of Agriculture Doug Miyamoto as vice president; Indiana Director of Agriculture Bruce Kettler as second vice president, and Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward as secretary-treasurer. Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles will serve as NASDA’s past president, and Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur will serve in an at-large position.
Kelly Keithly suddenly passed away on Sept. 20 from a heart attack. Keithly, 76, was the founder of Keithly-Williams Seeds. He was known for his work ethic, generosity, intelligence, and loving heart. Services honoring Keithly will be on Saturday, Oct. 2, at Christ Lutheran Church in Yuma, Arizona, at 10:30 am. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Christ Lutheran Church, Yuma Lutheran School or Lutheran Hour Ministries.
Jean-Mari Peltier, former president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, has passed away. In 2008, Peltier left NCFC to head back to her home state of California and become the president of the National Grape and Wine Initiative. She most recently served as a managing partner for the Environmental Solutions Group. Peltier was a passionate champion of farmer co-ops and their farmer-owners.
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