ADeLisio.pngAmy DeLisio, Dairy Council of California

Amy DeLisio has been tapped to lead the Dairy Council of California. DeLisio, a registered dietitian, previously served for seven years as the executive director for the Public Health Institute Center for Wellness and Nutrition. She succeeds Tammy Anderson-Wise, who retired after 25 years with the organization. 

Stewart Knox has been sworn in as the new secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. He fills the role previously held by outgoing secretary Natalie Palugyai, who will continue to serve the administration as an appointee to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Knox most recently served as the undersecretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency since 2021. 

Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Nancy Ward as the new director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. She is the first woman to hold the position. She succeeds former Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci, who announced in September he would retire at the end of the year. Ward has been a retired annuitant at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services since 2017, previously serving as chief deputy director and Department of Homeland Security adviser from 2014 to 2017. In 2009, she served as the FEMA acting administrator within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Natalie Collins is now the California Association of Winegrape Growers’ president after serving as interim president since June. She first joined the association in 2015 as the director of member relations, and before that worked for San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation.

Maria Montalvo is now the senior marketing director for the California Table Grape Commission. Montalvo brings over 20 years of marketing and sales experience to the role, previously working as the director of marketing, retail, and food service. 

The Northern California Water Association has brought on Ivy Brittain as legislative affairs director. Most recently, she worked for the Association of California Water Agencies as a senior regulatory advocate and has represented the San Diego County Water Authority for six years in the State Capitol. Previously, she was also a district field representative in the California Assembly.

Chuck Church has been tapped as the new chief performance officer at Church Brothers, effective immediately. Church has worked in the sales and marketing department the last nine years.

TOMRA Food has selected Paul Slupecki to be the new as senior vice president and head of TOMRA Fresh Food. Slupecki was previously TOMRA Fresh Food’s vice president and head of global sales.

Chuck Church.jpegChuck Church, Church Bros.

Ron Selders has been named president of fresh at United Natural Foods. Selders joined UNFI through the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods, a company he spent 18 years working for, where he served as president of the division.

The Senate has confirmed the nominations of Doug McKalip to be the Biden administration's chief ag trade administrator, Alexis Taylor to be USDA's undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs, and Jose Emilio Esteban to be USDA’s undersecretary for food safety.

Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., has been elected to serve as the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. He previously chaired the committee for the past two years.

Smithfield’s chief operating officer, Brady Stewart, has left the company to take on a new role with Tyson Fresh Meats. Because of his departure, Smithfield has announced it will make changes to its senior management team.  

Gonzalo Gebara has been tapped as the new CEO of Walmart Canada, effective Jan. 30. Gebara joined Walmart in 2000, and has held roles across finance, strategy, e-commerce, marketing and operations. He most recently served as CEO of Walmart Chile. JP Suarez, executive vice president, chief administration officer and regional CEO for Walmart International, has led Walmart Canada on an interim basis for the past six months.

Nishant Roy is the new chief communications and impact officer for Chobani. He previously was the chief of strategic operations. Roy has worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development and served as an airman in the U.S. Air Force.

Dan Funk is the new CEO of Associated Wholesale Grocers. He most recently was the chief operations officer for AWG. He succeeds David Smith, who retired at the end of the year. Smith joined AWG in 2003 and became president and CEO in 2015.

Michael Steffeck has been appointed CEO of HGS BioScience, a soil health innovation company. Steffeck was a co-founder of Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, has worked for J.R. Simplot and was an executive board member of CropLife America.

Michawn Rich is moving back to her home state of Nevada to be the policy director for new Gov. Joe Lombardo. Rich most recently served as the communications director for Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan. Before that, Rich was the communications director at USDA for then-Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Ashley Schapitl is headed to the Treasury Department to lead communications on the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act. She previously spent the last nine years in the Senate working for Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif.

Michawn RichMichawn Rich, Office of the Nevada Governor

Liz Jacobson has been promoted to legislative assistant, in the office of Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif. She has been with Panetta’s office since 2021, and before that interned with the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

Caitlin Balagula has left the Democratic staff of the House Agriculture Committee, where she worked as a legislative assistant covering the nutrition title and also served as an assistant clerk.

Ashley Higgins has left the Congressional Western Caucus where she was a policy adviser for Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. Any inquiries can be made to Noah Yantis who became the executive director of CWC in November.

Liz Daniels has also left the Congressional Western Caucus where she served as the communications director. Daniels is joining the staff at Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

Lucas Fuess has been named the new senior dairy analyst for RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness North America. He previously served as the director of dairy market intelligence at HighGround Dairy.

Tim Hamilton has left the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA and Food Export USA- Northeast where he served as the executive director and CEO. He plans to enjoy some time off before pursuing a new opportunity. Brendan Wilson will succeed Hamilton. He has been with the organization for the last nine years, most recently as the international marketing program manager.

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The Council of Producers and Distributors of AgroTechnology has retained Jay Vroom as a strategic adviser to help with membership and growth. Vroom brings 45 years of experience to the post, previously working for CropLife America, The Fertilizer Institute, National Fertilizer Solutions Association, now known as the Ag Retailers Association, and the Merchants Exchange of St. Louis.

Doug Boze has retired from the Idaho Crop Improvement Association where he served as the executive vice president. He has worked 40 years in seed certification. Kathy Stewart-Williams has been tapped as Boze’s successor. She previously was the south-central area manager.

Jan DeLyser has announced she will step down from the California Avocado Commission, effective mid-February, after 24 years with the organization. She currently serves as the vice president of marketing, first joining the organization in 1998 as the merchandising director for the Southwest region. 

Dan Harrington has retired as account manager with Superfresh Growers. Harrington has been with the company sales team for the last three decades. He has worked with the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and most recently served the last six years on the CPMA marketing committee.

The Saticoy Lemon Association’s board of directors has selected Marty Coert to succeed Glenn Miller as the next president and CEO. After 43 years with the organization, Miller has retired. Coert brings over 30 years of citrus and operations experience, previously working for Fruit Growers Supply, Santa Paula Orange Association, and Villa Park Orchards.

The Hass Avocado Board has elected four new members to serve on the executive committee. Jorge Hernandez of London Fruit has been tapped as the new chairperson. California producer C.J. Shade is the new vice chairperson and Susan Pinkerton is the new secretary. Lastly, Sergio Chavez from CalMich Produce has been selected as the new treasurer.

USDA has appointed new members to serve on the USDA/1890 Task Force. USDA members serving on the task force include: Terry Cosby, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (co-chair); Kevin Shea, administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Daniel Whitley, administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service; Monica Rainge, deputy assistant secretary of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; Dionne Toombs, acting director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture; and Hubert Hamer, administrator of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The 1890 Land-Grant University presidents tapped to sit on the task force include: Paul Jones, Fort Valley State University (co-chair); Felicia Nave, Alcorn State University; Kent J. Smith, Langston University; Makola Abdullah, Virginia State University; Larry Robinson, Florida A&M University; and Jack Thomas, Central State University.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has made new appointments to committee leadership. Serving a two-year term on the Promotion and Education Committee includes Heidi Cooper, Massachusetts; Julie Stephenson, Michigan; Nate Schlief, North Dakota; and Lynn Leahy, Wisconsin. Alan Clark, Idaho was reappointed for a two-year term. Serving a two-year term on the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee includes: Kevin Lussier, Florida; Kaylee Heap, Illinois; Joe and Katelyn Packard, Michigan; Jason and Caitlin Keck, Minnesota; Andrew and Clarissa Cauthorn, Missouri; Sophia Lilly, North Carolina; Jonathan and Alyssa Zucker, Ohio; and Ben and Haily Sand, Wisconsin.

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