USDA has announced new senior staff positions.
Kenneth Walker, who grew up on a cattle operation in Leake County, Mississippi, has been tapped to be the new assistant chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. He previously was a Mississippi state legislator, serving as vice chairman of the House Workforce Development Committee and as a member of the Agriculture, Water and Conservation, Education, Energy, and Forestry committees. Before his election, Walker oversaw the maintenance and operation of the Jackson, Mississippi, wastewater treatment plant.
Jaime Jackson will be a senior adviser in USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. Jackson most recently served as investment director at a clean energy finance authority.
Chris Purdy has been elevated to be the new deputy administrator for the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Specialty Crop Program. He most recently was the associate deputy administrator for the same program.
Susan Mayne has announced she will retire from FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition on May 31 after serving in the position since 2015. She taught at the Yale School of Medicine for 27 years before joining FDA. The news comes as the FDA continues to deal with the political fallout from the infant formula crisis and a proposed Human Foods Program overhaul. In her retirement letter, Mayne said she strongly supports FDA’s proposed reorganization but “decided that it is time to pass the leadership baton to a new generation of leadership who can commit to implementing the commissioner’s vision in the coming years.”
Jeff Tkach has been selected to lead the Rodale Institute as the next CEO, effective April 21. He has been elevated from chief impact officer, a position he has been in since 2017. He will succeed Jeff Moyer, who has served as CEO since 2019. Moyer will remain on as CEO until Tkach formally assumes the role in April, and then will serve as CEO emeritus, continuing to support and advise the organization.
Kelly Horton has been added to the staff at the Food Research and Action Center as the new chief program officer. She most recently was the senior director of government relations for The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Jen Daulby is a new principal at Ogilvy Government Relations. She most recently was the head of government affairs and chief of staff at Indigov. Before that, she worked at the Consumer Brands Association, Monsanto, and on Capitol Hill for former Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.
The American Egg Board has announced new staff hires and staffing realignments. Kristen Wharton has joined AEB as the new director of sustainability. She most recently worked at Handsome Brook Farms as the vice president of corporate responsibility. Edward Hoffman has been selected as the new vice president of marketing and communications. He previously worked at The Varick Group, a national consultancy he founded. Nelson Serrano-Bahri has been hired as the new director of innovation. He most recently served as the culinary and innovation manager with Ingredion Inc. and has previously held positions at Unilever, Kraft and Nestle. Francis Garvey is now AEB's director of project management. She brings over 16 years of experience in enterprise-level initiatives to the role. Cassie Morren has been brought on as the new executive assistant. She has 16 years of experience in executive administrative, meeting, and event coordination and most recently worked at Southeastern Commercial Properties. Mike Hostetler has been promoted to vice president of consumer insights. He has been with AEB since 2021 and previously was the director of consumer insights. Nate Hedtke, formerly vice president of insights and innovation, has moved to the role of vice president of innovation and customer engagement. Elisa Maloberti has assumed the new role of manager of special projects and food safety. She has been with AEB for over 35 years, and most recently was the manager of partner innovation and food safety.
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., has brought on Eric Slee as a senior professional staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He will handle the portfolio that includes rural development, credit, energy and transportation. Slee previously was the vice president of government affairs at WISP—Broadband Without Boundaries. Before that, he worked on Capitol Hill for former Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., beginning as a legislative assistant before serving as the office's last legislative director.
Lacey Bowersox now works on Capitol Hill for Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., as a legislative assistant covering the portfolio for animal welfare, energy, environmental protection, public lands and natural resources, science and technology, and telecommunications. She most recently worked for the Russell Group as a legislative assistant and before that worked for the U.S. Grains Council and the American Feed Industry Association.Jack Youngbloodhas joined Rep.Nathaniel Moran’s, R-Texas, office as a legislative assistant covering the portfolio for energy, environmental protection, immigration and telecommunications.
John Pappas now serves as a policy adviser for Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Ore. He works on issues related to appropriations, commerce, energy, environmental protection, foreign trade, labor and employment, small business, and public lands and natural resources. He previously worked at Monument Advocacy as a director of government relations.
Alison Cohen has joined Rep. Jerry Nadler’s, D-N.Y., staff as a legislative assistant covering the portfolio for agriculture and food, education and health. She most recently worked for Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., as a legislative assistant.
Tom Hyland now serves as Rep. Glenn Thompson’s, R-Pa., legislative director in his personal office. He covers the portfolio for appropriations, immigration, labor and employment. He previously was the legislative director for Rep. Joe Sempolinski, R-N.Y.
Ryan Locke is leaving the FMC Corporation, effective March 31 and headed to Nutrien as the director of sustainability partnerships and business development. He most recently served as the industry relations manager. Before FMC, Locke worked for Bayer Crop Sciences and Novozymes.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has appointed Kailee Tkacz Buller to sit on his Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Buller is the president and CEO of the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils. During the Trump administration, she worked at USDA, most recently as the chief of staff to the deputy secretary.
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United Natural Foods has promoted Erin Horvath to chief operating officer and Louis Martin to president of wholesale. Horvath joined UNFI in October 2022 and most recently was the chief supply chain transformation officer. Before joining UNFI, she spent more than 17 years in senior leadership roles at AmerisourceBergen Corp. Martin joined UNFI in March 2022 and most recently was the chief strategy and transformation officer. Before joining UNFI, Martin served for 15 years in a variety of senior leadership positions with The Coca-Cola Co.
President Joe Biden has announced his intent to appoint members to the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, a federal advisory committee that aims to promote healthy, accessible eating and physical activity for all Americans, regardless of background or ability. Among those appointed includes Iron Chef Jose Garces. He is an entrepreneur and food innovator, known for his exploration of Spanish and Latin American food. His first restaurant was a Spanish tapas place called Amada. Other members appointed to the council can be viewed here.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has announced members of two new task forces that will help guide carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration development. Some of the members asked to be on the board include Matthew Fry, Great Plains Institute; Sallie Greenberg, University of Illinois, Illinois State Geological Survey; Shannon Heyck-Williams, National Wildlife Federation; M. Jason Lanclos, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources; Bruno Pigott, Environmental Protection Agency; Nichole Saunders, Environmental Defense Fund; Laura Brannen, The Nature Conservancy; James Blake Canfield, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources; and Robert VanVoorhees, Carbon Sequestration Council. Other members can be viewed here.
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