James “Jim” Jones has been selected by the Food and Drug Administration to serve as the first deputy commissioner for human foods. Jones comes to the position with more than 30 years of experience, serving in various roles at the Environmental Protection Agency. He is scheduled to begin his new role on Sept. 24.

Chris Abbott .jpgChris Abbott, Pivot Bio

Pivot Bio has named Chris Abbott as the new CEO, replacing co-founder and now-former CEO Karsten Temme. Temme will become the company’s chief innovation officer. Abbott has been a member of Pivot Bio’s board of directors since 2018. Before joining Pivot, Abbott helped launch Conti Ventures at Continental Grain Company.

Wilbur-Ellis President and CEO John Buckley will assume direct oversight of the company's crop agriculture business while continuing as Wilbur-Ellis President and CEO. Buckley will replace Agribusiness President Mark Ripato who plans to retire at the end of 2023. Ripato will serve as an adviser to Buckley and others in the company. Both men joined Wilbur-Ellis in 2018. Amie Thesingh has been promoted to president of ag solutions and chief technology officer at Wilbur-Ellis. She previously was the executive vice president of business development and growth.

John Addy is the new vice president of operations for Pharmgate Animal Health. He previously worked at Elanco as the senior director of vaccine manufacturing. 

Vinnie Trometter has been brought on as the director of government affairs for the Competitive Markets Action. Trometter most recently worked at Cassidy and Associates. In the new role, Trometter will be working against the inclusion of the Ending Agriculture Trade Suppression (EATS) Act.

Swine Health Information Center Executive Director Paul Sundberg has announced he will retire at the end of 2023. He has been at the helm since SHIC was founded in 2015. Megan Niederwerder has been tapped as Sundberg’s successor, taking over at the beginning of 2024. Niederwerder currently serves as SHIC’s associate director.

Jeb Burchick is the new director of communications atLaura Hensley.jpegLaura Hensley, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative the Maryland Farm Bureau. In his career, he served as the press secretary for former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and was an adviser to Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla.

Aimpoint Research promoted Sarah Tveidt to vice president of client services. Tveidt has been with Aimpoint for almost five years and previously was a director and fusion leader. Before joining the company, she served as the communications director for the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and South Dakota Soybean Association.

Laura Hensley has joined Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative as the new director of communications. She previously worked at C.O.nxt as the director of account services. Before that, she was with GreenStone Farm Credit Services.

Yi-I Huang has been hired as the country director for Taiwan for the U.S. Wheat Associates. He succeeds Boyuan Chen, who plans to retire in September after seven years with the organization. Huang comes to USW from Mitsui & Company, where he worked in grain merchandising.

Sweetgreen has hired Michael Kotick as the head of marketing and Chad Brauze as the head of culinary. Kotick previously worked at Chipotle as the senior director of marketing. Brauze was the senior director of culinary innovation and sustainability.

Sabrina Burkiewicz is now the external communications manager for GROWMARK. She previously worked at the Illinois Farm Bureau, where she worked in the news and communications division.

GROWMARK has also added Andrew Durward of Thomson, Ill., and Scott McGeachy of Chatham, Ontario, Canada as new members of the board of directors. Durward operates a grain and livestock farm with his brothers and serves on the Carroll Service Company board and is a Carroll County Farm Bureau member. McGeachy operates a vegetables and seed corn farm with his wife and son.

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Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai have selected 130 new private-sector representatives to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees. The new group of advisers will serve until August 2027 and join the 70 existing committee members whose terms have not expired.

Nicole Johnson-Hoffman has joined Meati Foods’ board of directors. She previously served as the CEO of Believer Foods, a cultivated meat producer.

Kara-Behlke-UngermanKara Behlke Ungerman, National Pork Board

The National Pork Board staff is grieving the loss of staff member Kara Behlke Ungerman, who passed away due to complications after giving birth to her firstborn child. Ungerman served as the vice president of nutrition, health and wellness transformation at NPB. She was also a registered dietitian nutritionist. In her role, she helped lead the vision for health and wellness within the pork industry.

Stanford University economist Walter Falcon, who devoted much of his career to increasing agricultural production and fighting hunger in the Global South, died Aug. 2 of kidney failure at his home. He was 86. A native of Marion, Iowa, he earned an agricultural economics degree from Iowa State and master's and doctoral degrees in economics at Harvard. Falcon had been deputy director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Farnsworth professor of international agricultural policy and economics at Stanford. He was a trustee of Winrock International and chaired the boards of the Agricultural Development Council (ADC), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the International Center for Wheat and Maize Improvement (CIMMYT). In the 1970s, Falcon was a member of President Jimmy Carter’s Commission on World Hunger. The government of Indonesia awarded him a medal for his 25 years of assistance in the country’s development. Falcon was the principal of a major study by CIMMYT and Stanford of Mexico’s Yaqui Valley, the birthplace of the Green Revolution for wheat and one of the most intensive agricultural regions of the world with some of the highest yields of wheat anywhere.

British agricultural ecologist Sir Gordon Conway, who touted a “doubly Green Revolution” when he headed the Rockefeller Foundation from 1998 to 2004, died July 30 of blood cancer. He was 85. After earning a Ph.D. in agricultural economics at the University of California, Davis, he pioneered integrated pest management and sustainable agriculture techniques in Borneo in the 1960s and directed a sustainable agriculture program at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London before becoming a representative of the Ford Foundation in New Delhi from 1988 to 1992. Following his time at Rockefeller, Conway headed the U.K.’s Royal Geographical Society as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he explored ways to enhance agricultural development for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa through the summer of 2016. He also founded the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in England.

William B. Cherkasky, a former chief of staff for the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, died July 26 at his home in Washington. He was 98. Cherkasky, who grew up working in his family’s dairy processing plant in Appleton, Wisconsin, played a significant role in Nelson’s work on federal dairy policy and environmental activism in the 1970s, including the creation of Earth Day. The New York Times included him in a 1970 article called “Who Runs Congress.” After Nelson lost his campaign for reelection in 1980, Cherkasky became executive director of the International Franchise Association until his retirement.

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