The Agriculture Department has found a new diplomat to fill a post in Rome, Italy, and its new press secretary, among other new hires.

Ellen Luger, who previously served as vice president of global philanthropy and volunteerism at the General Mills Foundation, will be the Minister Counselor of Agriculture in Rome for the Foreign Agricultural Service. 

Luger's job with General Mills took her to Africa and India, where she helped with initiatives to increase food production. She was also previously a long-time Global Foodbanking Network board member.

Marissa Perry, the former speechwriter for Secretary Tom Vilsack, has been promoted to press secretary. The role was previously held by Kate Waters.

Before joining the USDA, Perry was communications director to former Montana governor Steve Bullock. She's also worked for the Montana state legislature and the Montana Governor's Office of Community Service.

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Farah Ahmad, the former chief of staff in the Office of the Undersecretary for Rural Development, has been promoted to deputy undersecretary for rural development. She previously served as the senior program coordinator in the office of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the program manager on the community and economic development team in USDA's Rural Business Cooperative Service, and a senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.

Luke Theriot, a former House Ag Committee staffer, will be the new chief of staff for the Agricultural Marketing Service. He previously served as a senior policy adviser to former Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas. 

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