The National Council for Agricultural Education has tapped Travis Park to be the new director of agricultural education, National FFA board chair and National FFA adviser, effective Jan. 1. Park replaces James Woodard, who stepped down in May. Cheryl Zimmerman, FFA's executive secretary, has served as the interim adviser since Woodard’s departure. Park is a professor of the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University.

Heidi Heitkamp.pngHeidi Heitkamp, University of Chicago's Institute of PoliticsFormer North Dakota Senator and Senate Ag Committee member Heidi Heitkamp has been named director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics at the beginning of the year. She succeeds David Axelrod, who announced in February his plans to step down from the role. Heitkamp has been involved with the Institute of Politics as a Pritzker Fellow and a member of the IOP’s senior advisory board. In 2012, Heitkamp became the first woman elected to the Senate from North Dakota. She served until 2019.

Jonathan Marcus is the new senior managing director and general counsel of the CME Group. Marcus most recently worked in private practice as a partner at Reed Smith, where he specialized in derivatives regulation, litigation and enforcement. From 2013 to 2017, he served as general counsel of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Blue Diamond Growers President and CEO Mark Jansen has announced he will step down from the helm after 12 years in the position. In a press release, Jansen says “he believes the organization is well-positioned for future growth and the timing is right for him to make the change.” The co-op’s board of directors has established a CEO succession committee, and Jansen will stay on until a new CEO has been selected and begins working to help ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Les Greer will retire as the senior vice president of benefit operations and technology at NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, effective Nov. 30. Greer has been with NTCA for the past 12 years. Melissa Drennan, NTCA vice president of benefits and operations, will be promoted to senior vice president following Greer’s departure.

Joseph Clayton will step down after six and a half years of leading the International Food Information Council. IFIC has started its search for the organization’s new CEO, but Clayton will continue leading IFIC until early 2023.

David Meeker has announced his looming retirement from his post at the North American Renderers Association. Meeker serves as NARA’s senior vice president and director of research for the fats and research foundation and will retire at the end of the year. In his career, Meeker has worked for the National Academy of Sciences, Ohio State University, and the National Pork Producers Council.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has made committee staff changes. Tiffany Smith will now serve as the committee’s general counsel. She has been on staff since 2007 and has served as the committee’s chief tax counsel since 2016. Bobby Andres will now lead the tax team as chief tax adviser. He has served on the committee since 2013 and most recently directed the committee’s efforts on clean energy and semiconductor manufacturing. Ashley Schapitl has been promoted to senior policy adviser, covering the portfolio for corporate tax, inflation and prices, stock buyback tax, renewable energy, government investigations, tax administration, collection, and taxpayers. She has been on the committee since 2019 and most recently served as the chief communications adviser and deputy policy adviser. Chris Arneson has been elevated to chief budget and economic adviser, having previously served as the senior adviser to tax policy. He has been on the committee staff since 2011.

Amber Glaeser.jpgAmber Glaeser, Land O'LakesAmber Glaeser is the new director of state government affairs at Land O’Lakes. Glaeser has spent the last 10 years working for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, where she most recently served as the director of public policy.

Dana Waters has been brought on as the new policy analyst for the Pet Food Institute, working on federal and state legislative issues and international trade efforts. Waters was a summer intern at PFI.

Jeff Solsby has left the office of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., where he served as a senior policy adviser. He now serves as the senior vice president of communications at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Solsby has also worked for the National Restaurant Association and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.

The North American Meat Institute’s board of directors has elected a new slate of officers for 2023. Tapped as the new chairman is Steve Van Lannen, president and COO of American Foods Group. Eric Gustafson, CEO at Coast Packing Company in Vernon, Calif., was selected to be the vice-chairman. The new treasurer is James Snee, vice president of Hormel Foods and senior vice president of Hormel Foods International. Peter Bozzo, vice president of Michael’s Finer Meats and Seafood, was selected to serve as secretary and will serve his first term as an officer. Brad McDowell has moved to immediate past chairman.

The National Sorghum Foundation has appointed Jeff Dahlberg as its new chairman, succeeding Larry Lambright, who has served the last three years in the role. Dahlberg began his career as a volunteer agricultural extension agent with the Peace Corps in Niger from 1980 to 1984. He has worked for the Department of Agriculture as a research geneticist and for the National Sorghum Producers as a research director. Dahlberg recently retired as director of the University of California Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.

The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee has selected new members for leadership positions. Rod Hahn from Yuma, Colo., is the new president, and Josh Hasart of Bethune, Colo., will serve as vice president and treasurer. Matt Mulch, Burlington, Colo., has been elected as the new secretary.

Beyond Meat has let go of Doug Ramsey, who served as the company’s chief operating officer. Ramsey has been suspended since Sept. 20, after he was accused of biting a man’s nose after a University of Arkansas football game Sept. 17. Beyond Meat is also laying off nearly 20% of its workforce, shedding about 200 employees as it pursues “a more sustainable growth model,” the company said.

Bill Prestage passed away on Oct. 10 at the age of 87 years old. Founder of Prestage Farms, a turkey and pork producer, Prestage also had a hand in starting what would become Carroll’s Foods in the early 1960s with Otis Carroll.

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