USDA has promoted two and added one to senior staff positions at the Department. Jamal Habibi has been promoted to chief of staff for trade and foreign agricultural affairs. He most recently was the chief of staff for USDA’s Rural Housing Service. Russellie Bongolan has been elevated to White House liaison. She most recently was the deputy White House liaison and before that was the special assistant to the undersecretary for Research Education and Economics. Aliza Drewes has joined the USDA staff as the new senior adviser on energy for Rural Utilities Service. Drews most recently was the founder and executive director of the Rural Investment to Protect our Environment (RIPE).
Kathy Eichlin has been selected as the head of U.S. crop protection corporate communications for Syngenta North America. She has over 30 years of corporate communications and public relations experience and has worked at Syngenta for the last 15 years. She most recently was the head of internal communication for Syngenta North America and head of corporate business partnering.
Former Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has joined Husch Blackwell Strategies, where he will chair a new leadership strategies advisory services group. The team will provide policy advice and evaluate a client’s government risk. Blunt most recently retired from the Senate after a 26-year career on Capitol Hill split between 12 years in the Senate and 14 in the House. He served on the Intelligence Committee in both the House and Senate and developed a deep understanding of global national security interests and international trade issues. His former Senate chief of staff, Stacy McBride, and deputy chief of staff, Richard Eddings, have also joined HBS. McBride was added on as a principal and Eddings is the chief of staff for the leadership strategies advisory services group.
Dilma Rousseff, former president of Brazil, has been tapped as the new president of the China-based New Development Bank. Rousseff was president of Brazil from 2011 to 2016. Before that, she was the minister of mines and energy and minister chief of staff during President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s first two terms. The New Development Bank supports economic development in the BRICS nations, which include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The National Pork Board has brought on Jamie Burr as the organization’s new chief sustainability officer. Burr previously worked at Tyson Foods where he was the director of environmental compliance and environmental lead for all of Tyson’s live-animal production businesses.
Fred Clark has returned to Cornerstone Government Affairs as a senior consultant. Clark worked at Cornerstone from 2003 to 2013 and then moved to the Senate Agriculture Committee, where he was the chief counsel from 2017 to 2022. You can watch Clark’s Meet the Farm Hand interview to learn more about his career.
Steve Hawkins is moving to president and CEO of ADAMA, succeeding Ignacio Dominquez, who is retiring from the crop protection company. Hawkins currently serves as ADAMA’s senior vice president for the Americas. Before joining ADAMA, Hawkins held many senior leadership roles with Syngenta and GROWMARK.
Raúl García is the new vice president of policy and legislation for Earthjustice. García previously was the legislative director for healthy communities, where he worked on the organization’s federal safeguards for clean air, clean water, and against toxic exposure. He succeeds Marty Hayden, who is transitioning to a senior policy adviser role after 25 years with the organization.
American Farmland Trust has moved Nathan L’Etoile to be the national farm viability managing director. He previously was AFT’s New England regional director. Ethan Winter will now be AFT’s national smart solar director. He will set and implement AFT’s strategy for solar energy generation and farmland conservation. Winter previously was the northeast solar specialist.
Scott Hedderich has joined Nuseed as the North American policy and government affairs director. He previously worked at the Renewable Energy Group as the executive director of corporate affairs.
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Jacque Matsen has started a consulting firm called Relate Strategies. She previously worked at the National Pork Board as the senior vice president of communications.
Germán Bollero has been named the next dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He'll carry the title of “dean designate” while his appointment is pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. He has been the interim dean of ACES since September 2021. Before that, he was the associate dean of research and director of the Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station. He was also the head of the Department of Crop Sciences.
Rick Dolan has been appointed as the state forester and director of Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He began his career at the Florida Forest Service in 1993 and most recently was the manager for the Waccasassa Forestry Center.
Charles Krause has been elected as the new chair of the Midwest Dairy Association. Krause and his family milk around 350 head of cows on their family farm in Buffalo, Minnesota.
The National Farmers Union has selected 11 individuals to participate in its Beginning Farmer Institute cohort. BFI was created to help address concerns about the rapidly aging farm population and support the next generation of agriculture.
Farm Credit and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) have awarded 25 students as the 2023 Farm Credit VIP Scholars. The awardees each received “a $1,000 academic scholarship, the opportunity to participate in the Farm Credit VIP track of the 2023 National MANRRS Conference, and $1,500 in travel compensation to attend the MANRRS Conference,” according to the release.
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