Jay Ziegler has been tapped as the new delta watermaster at the State Water Resources Control Board. Ziegler previously was the external affairs and policy director for the California Office of The Nature Conservancy. He succeeds Michael George, who held the position for the last eight years. 

Cindy McCain has been named the next executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, placing her atop the world’s largest humanitarian organization as millions of people are pushed into hunger from climate-related disasters and the ongoing war in Ukraine. McCain has been serving as the U.S. ambassador to three U.N. food and agriculture agencies: the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and WFP. The wife of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been involved in humanitarian work for most of her career, but this role marks one of her first in food policy. She succeeds David Beasley, who will have served six years at the helm when his term ends on April 4. 

L’Tonya Davis has been appointed to serve as the first permanent chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Department of Agriculture. She will oversee and help implement USDA’s first-ever diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) strategic plan. Davis comes to USDA from the Food and Drug Administration, where she most recently served as the director of the Office of Communications and Project Management in the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA). Before that, she led FDA’s DEIA strategy in the ORA. Davis will replace Leslie Weldon, who had been the acting chief diversity and inclusion officer since March 2022.

L’Tonya Davis .pngL'Tonya Davis, USDA

The Department of Agriculture has appointed five to senior staff positions. 

Malcom Shorter has been selected to serve as acting assistant secretary for administration. Shorter was reappointed as the deputy assistant secretary for administration in June 2021, before that he was serving as the acting assistant secretary for administration from January 2017 to August 2017. He has also previously served as the deputy assistant secretary for administration from June 2013 to January 2017. 

Victoria Maloch is joining the Department of Agriculture as a special adviser in the Office of Communications. Maloch comes to USDA from the House Committee on Agriculture, where she most recently served as the communications director on the panel's Democratic staff. Before that, she worked in the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tracy Fox has been appointed legislative adviser in the Office of Congressional Relations. For the last six months, Fox has served in the position on detail. She brings more than 30 years of experience in nutrition policy to the role. Before joining USDA, Fox started her own company - Food, Nutrition, and Policy Consultants - and served as president of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Nathaniel West is joining the USDA staff to be senior oversight counsel in the Office of General Counsel. West previously worked on Capitol Hill as counsel to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Prescott Martin III also joins USDA from the House of Representatives as the new senior counsel in the Office of General Counsel. He previously worked on the House Ag Committee, which he joined in 2017. He was ultimately elevated to chief counsel under former Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn.

Justina Graff has returned to Capitol Hill to work on the House Agriculture Committee under Chairman Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., as a legislative assistant. She most recently worked for the Russell Group as a legislative manager. Before that, she worked for the House Ag Committee as the deputy clerk. 

Kate Fink has joined the Democratic staff of the House Agriculture Committee as policy director. She previously worked for the House Budget Committee and has held positions at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Services. She also spent nearly 13 years at USDA, working on nutrition assistance programs and agricultural research.

Isaac Contreras has been added to the team at Awe Sum Organics as senior operations and systems manager. He previously worked for Driscoll’s and Bonduelle Fresh Americas in a variety of leadership roles.

Pacific Trellis Fruit has promoted Rob Markel to vice president of sales-melon division and Dan Carapella, Jr. to vice president of sales-fruit division. Markel has been with the company for the past 25 years. Carapella has been with the company the last five years and previously served as the director of special projects.

The International Fresh Produce Association has hired Deborah Zoellick as the new floral program director. She will replace Becky Roberts, who will retire at the end of the month. Zoellick previously worked for Walmart as a sourcing manager. She also brings over two decades of floral experience to the job. 

Tim Bettington has joined Elanco Animal Health as the company’s executive vice president of corporate strategy and market development. Bringing over 25 years of experience to the role, Bettington most recently was the executive vice president and president for U.S. operations and global customer experience at Zoetis. Before that, he worked for Boehringer Ingelheim's animal health business as the North American region head of commercial operations.

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA has promoted Scott King to executive director of the company’s U.S. Cattle Business. He previously was the director of marketing for the U.S. cattle business since 2015. He has also held various marketing and technical leadership roles at Bayer Animal Health and Land O'Lakes Purina Mills.

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Chris Boomsma.jpgChris Boomsma, CAST

Chris Boomsma has been selected as the new executive vice president and CEO of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. Boomsma will succeed Kent Schescke, who will retire at the end of August after eight years with the organization. Schescke will continue in his current role for the next several months and work with Boomsma to help facilitate a smooth transition. Boomsma will assume the new role Aug. 1. Boomsma currently serves as the director of education for the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America, ACSESS. He is also the director of science and strategy for Decode 6 educational platform. Before joining ACSESS, he was a research director for Purdue University and a strategist and scientist at Dow AgroSciences, now Corteva.

Caleb Floss is now with the U.S. Grains Council as manager of global programs for Asia. He previously worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics as an economist. 

Jeff Schwager has been named the new chairman of the Consortium of Common Food Names. He comes to the organization from the specialty cheese company Sartori, where he was the CEO. He succeeds Errico Auricchio who had led CCFN since its founding in 2012.

RJ Andrus of Idaho Falls has been selected as the new president of the National Potato Council. A third-generation farmer and an owner of TBR Farms, Andrus served on NPC’s executive committee since 2019.  He has previously been the vice president of grower outreach and industry research and most recently served as the vice president of legislative affairs. He succeeds Jared Balcom of Washington, who will serve as the immediate past president. Bob Mattive, Colorado, now serves as the first vice president and vice president of environmental affairs, Dean Gibson, Idaho, is the new vice president of legislative affairs, TJ Hall of North Dakota has been selected as the new vice president of grower outreach and industry research, Ben Sklarczyk, Michigan, is the new vice president of finance and Ted Tschirky of Washington is the vice president of trade affairs. 

Neal Gutterson has been asked to sit on the board of directors for Trillium Ag, a sustainable bio-agriculture company. Gutterson currently is a partner and chief technology officer at Radicle Growth. He retired from Corteva Agriscience in 2020 where he was the chief technology officer.

Mark Fowler, vice president of global and technical services at U.S. Wheat Associates, died Feb. 20. He was 52. His career began as a flour miller, first for Cargill, Inc., and then Seaboard Corp. Some of the projects he worked on took him to several developing countries, including Ecuador, Guyana, and Haiti. He also worked as a technical director of the Africa Division within Seaboard’s Overseas Group in Durban, South Africa. Later in his career, he spent 12 years at Kansas State University as a milling specialist and associate director at the International Grains Program Institute. Before joining USW, Fowler was president and CEO of Farmer Direct Foods, a farmer-owned, flour milling company in Kansas.

Founding partner of Sangiacomo Family Vineyards, Angelo Clement Sangiacomo, died on Feb. 27. He was 92. A third-generation family farmer and businessman, Sangiacomo transitioned his family farm from growing fruit-tree orchards to winegrapes. He then oversaw the expansion of Sangiacomo Family Vineyards to one of the largest family-owned winegrowing businesses in California. 

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