The California Association of Winegrape Growers has appointed Natalie Collins as interim president, replacing John Aguirre who retired after twelve years of service. A graduate of California State University, Chico, Collins joined CAWG in 2015 as the director of member relations. Before joining CAWG, she was a program director for the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation.
The California Table Grape Commission promoted Alyson Dias to the new position of chief marketing officer. She was previously the vice president of advertising and digital media. CTGC also moved Rachel Coelho and Nick Nakashian to newly created roles, which will be overseen by Dias. Coelho is the new assistant director of marketing, social media and influencers. Nakashian is now the assistant director of marketing, content development and analysis.
Azzule has added Nicole Stovicek to their sales team as a sales representative. Azzule provides global data management solutions for firms throughout the fresh produce industry. Stovicek has experience serving as a board member to PrimusLabs. She previously served as the director of development at Riverside Community Health Foundation.
Erica Chabot has been tapped as the new majority staff director for Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. Chabot replaces Joe Shultz, who has been rumored to be leaving for several weeks. A 20-year veteran on Capitol Hill, Chabot has spent the last 10 years as Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy’s legislative director and deputy chief of staff.
The Department of Agriculture has tapped Ellen Luger as the next minister counselor of agriculture in Rome for the Foreign Agricultural Service. Luger previously served as vice president of global philanthropy and volunteerism at the General Mills Foundation. In that role, she traveled to Africa and India to help with company initiatives to increase food production.
USDA has also promoted Marissa Perry, the former speechwriter for Secretary Tom Vilsack, to press secretary. 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.
Luke Theriot, a former House Ag Committee staffer, will be the new chief of staff for USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. He previously served as a senior policy adviser to former Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas.
Anthony Reed has joined FGS Global as a partner in energy and sustainability and food and agriculture practices. Reed spent the last 14 years working for Archer Daniels Midland Company, most recently as the interim head of global government relations. He has also served as the deputy associate administrator for congressional relations at the Environmental Protection Agency, where he focused on EPA’s Offices of Air and Radiation, Enforcement and Compliance, and Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
Ray Starling is now serving as an executive adviser to Aimpoint Research, in addition to his current position as general counsel of the North Carolina Chamber and president of the NC Chamber Legal Institute. Before joining the NC Chamber team, Starling served as chief of staff to former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
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Kevin O’Donnell has been appointed as Dairy Farmers of America’s senior vice president of sustainability. O’Donnell comes to DFA from FTW Ventures, a venture fund investing in sustainability-focused agriculture and food technology startups. There he served as a sustainability strategy adviser. Before that, he held positions at General Mills, the Chicago Manufacturing Center, Minnesota Technology, and the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance.
Sarah Brown will be at BASF Agricultural Solutions in Washington, D.C., as the head of public affairs agricultural solutions North America, effective Aug. 8. Brown joins BASF from Nacelle Solutions where she served as the vice president of biogas business development and external affairs. Before that, she was the executive director of industry relatio ns for the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The Controlled Environment Agriculture Food Safety Coalition has named Tom Stenzel as its new executive director. Stenzel brings over 30 years of experience, previously leading the United Fresh Produce Association as president and CEO. He succeeds Elisabeth Hagen, who recently resigned.
Tatsu Miyata has left the Japanese Embassy in the U.S. and is headed back to Tokyo to lead Japan’s crop insurance and agricultural revenue insurance at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Miyata previously served as the counselor for food and ag at the Embassy of Japan.
Deere & Company has hired Felecia Pryor for the newly created role of senior vice president and chief people officer, effective Aug. 15. Pryor most recently served as the executive vice president and chief human resources officer at BorgWarner. She also brings 16 years of experience working at Ford Motor Company, where she was the global human resources director and served in executive roles in Thailand and China.
Plant Response has added Matt Sowder, Jennifer Lilly, and Anthony Finke to its team. Sowder is the company’s new director of global agronomy. He previously led strategic growth and product lifecycle management programs at Forage Genetics International and Winfield Solutions, both divisions of Land O’Lakes. Lilly is the new director of regulatory and government affairs. She has previous experience working for Isagro, Indigo Ag, Bayer, and BASF. Finke is the new regional sales manager for the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. He has previously held sales roles with Chief Agri and Syngenta.
Catherine Miller has been promoted to serve as the director of programs at the U.S. Wheat Associates. She joined USW in 2018 and served as the program and planning coordinator. She was later promoted in 2021 to programs coordinator to reflect structural changes.
Brenda Taylor has also been brought on to the U.S. Wheat Associates as the director of information technology. Taylor previously was an IT manager with Morrison & Foerster.
Sophia Kruszewski has returned to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition as the deputy policy director after leading the Food and Agriculture Clinic at Vermont Law School for the past four years. She previously served as a senior policy specialist at NSAC.
Mary-Thomas Hart has been promoted to chief counsel of government affairs at theNational Cattlemen's Beef Association. She previously served as the environmental counsel.
The NASDA Foundation has welcomed Keith Harrison to the team as project manager. Harrison most recently served as the assistant commissioner for business development at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Harrison has also worked for the Tennessee Farmers’ Cooperative for over 16 years.
Raylee Honeycutt has been appointed as the interim executive vice president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association, following the departure of Jay Bodner. Honeycutt previously served as the director of natural resources since 2020.
Ben Perkins has transitioned from his role as CEO at Wholesome Wave and has joined the board of directors as the chairman of the FED committee. Perkins was appointed CEO of WW in 2020. Along with his transition, he promoted Natalia Feinstein to executive director. She was previously the chief of staff.
The Agricultural Retailers Association has promoted Andrea Mowers to director of communications and member experience. She previously served as manager of communications and partnerships.
Pat Koch has joined the National Milk Producers Federation as the finance and administration manager. She previously was an administrative project coordinator for M3 Insurance.
The U.S. Grains Council has brought on Addis Tilahun as the organization’s new director of finance. Tilahun will also serve as the lead staff liaison to the treasurer and Board of Directors on matters relating to financial targets and performance. Most recently, Tilahun served as a senior finance and accounting manager with the American Society for Radiation Oncology. Tilahun succeeds Helen Elmore, who now serves as the council’s director of administration and operations.
Josh Miller has been elected as the chairman of the U.S. Grains Council’s board of directors. Miller is a fifth-generation farmer from Indiana who produces corn and soybeans. He is a member of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and was elected to the council’s officer rotation in 2019. Miller previously was a finance officer for Lockheed Martin, a contract officer for the U.S. government, and a United States Marine Corps staff sergeant. Also elected to the board were Verity Ulibarri of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program as secretary-treasurer and Gail Lierer of the Ohio Corn Marketing Program and Curt Mether and Mark Mueller of the Iowa Corn Growers Association as at-large directors.
Curious Plot has added George Hoffman and Kevin Kester to its board of advisers. Hoffman is the retired president and CEO of Restaurant Services Inc., and Kester is the former president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Following more than five years of service to FarmHouse Fraternity, Chief Executive Officer Christian Wiggins will be completing his service as FarmHouse’s sixth executive director in the Fraternity’s 117-year history, pending a search for his replacement. Wiggins began service to FarmHouse Fraternity in 2017, following more than 11 years with Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity including more than nine of those as Chief Operating Officer. The search for his successor will be chaired by International Executive Board Director John Foltz.
UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Daniel Munk retired from a 36-year career with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. Munk’s research was pivotal to California’s agriculture industry as drought concerns intensified. His research was focused on producing crops with less water by using reduced tillage systems. In 2014, Munk was asked to serve on California’s Agricultural Expert Panel in 2014 to help assess agricultural nitrate control programs. The panel helped develop recommendations for the State Water Resources Control Board, one being to develop an outreach program. As a result, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and UC California Institute for Water Resources created the Irrigation and Nitrogen Management Training Program, for which Munk helped develop curriculum and train growers and farm consultants on best farm practices for nitrogen and water management.
After a 47-year career at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Gay Faivre is retiring. Faivre spent 45 years in the human resources office after a brief stint as a clerk typist in CDFA’s Inspection Services Division.