Ian LeMay has been tapped to lead the California Table Grape Commission as the new president, succeeding Kathleen Nave. She has been at the helm since 1999, and plans to retire in spring 2025. LeMay joins the Commission from the California Fresh Fruit Association where he served as president since 2019. 

Ian LeMay .jpegIan LeMay, CTGC

Nichino America (NAI) has tapped Jeffrey Johnson as the new chairman of the board in addition to his role as CEO. He will also continue in his role as managing executive officer of Nihon Nohyaku Company, the parent company of NAI. In 2002, Johnson was selected as president of NAI, later being appointed to president and CEO in 2021. Dustin Simmons has been appointed president of NAI. He most recently was the commercial vice president. Amanda Carson has been promoted to director of national sales. She previously was the East/Central region manager and Christina Dubas is the new director of regulatory and scientific affairs. She most recently was the senior manager of regulatory and scientific affairs. 

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs brought on Christian Slater as the new communications director on her staff. He most recently served as the communications director for Rep. Val Demings’, D-Fla., campaign for the United States Senate.

Ed Martin has been named the associate vice president and director of the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension. He brings over 30 years of experience as an irrigation specialist to the role, previously working as the director of Maricopa County Cooperative Extension.

Wesley Batista Filho has been selected as the new CEO of JBS USA. He replaces Tim Schellpeper, who retired on May 1. Batista Filho has 13 years of experience with JBS, previously working as president of JBS Canada, president of the JBS USA Fed Beef Division, CEO of Seara, and CEO of JBS Brazil. Schellpeper joined JBS USA in 2017, first serving as president of the JBS USA Fed Beef business unit before becoming CEO of JBS USA.

Lesly Weber McNitt has joined the Eleanor Crook Foundation as senior director of U.S. advocacy and communications. Weber McNitt most recently worked on the House Ag Committee under Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., as senior professional staff. Before that, she worked at the National Corn Growers Association and the Department of Agriculture during the Obama administration. 

Sarah Beerbower is the new vice president of member relations for the American Clean Power Association. Beerbower joins ACP from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where she was the senior vice president of corporate relations.

Brian Leake has started a new role as director of external communications at Bayer. He previously was the product communications lead. 

Kristy Babb.pngKristy Babb, USHBC and NABC

Kristy Babb is the new director of communications for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and the North American Blueberry Council. Bringing over 20 years of experience to the role, Babb previously worked for clients that include the Dairy Council of California, California Restaurant Association, Raley’s, California Travel Association, Ford Motor Company, Morgan Stanley and others.

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The Russell Group has hired Kate Thompson and Morgan Orem as legislative assistants, overseeing legislative and regulatory issues along with policy communications. Thompson previously worked as a policy assistant for the American Farm Bureau Federation; Orem most recently completed an internship with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and will graduate next month with her Master of Science in Agricultural Communications from Texas A&M University.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), and The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) have elected new leadership: 

Samira Daroub, University of Florida, has been selected as the new president-elect of SSSA. Daroub is a director for the Everglades Research and Education Center. SSSA also announced new division chair leadership.

Peter Kyveryga, Deere & Company, is the new president-elect of the ASA. Kyveryga earned his Ph.D. in soil science and soil fertility from Iowa State University and brings 16 years of experience in the nonprofit sector.

Mark Sorrells, Cornell University, will lead CSSA in 2024. He earned his Ph.D. in plant breeding and plant genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and is a professor in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University. 

Matt Steve Pandol Jr., 60, passed away unexpectantly at his home in Delano, Calif., on April 21. Pandol, a farmer, helped build up the family business Pandol Bros., and served on the board of directors. He also served on the board of directors for Delano Grape Growers Co-op Winery.

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