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IDFA Welcomes 30 Future Dairy Industry Leaders Into NextGen Leadership Program

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) today announced that 30 future leaders of the dairy industry have been accepted into the third class of the NextGen Leadership Program, a signature program of IDFA’s People Strategy. This incredible group of emerging leaders was selected based on their experience and scope of responsibility within their organizations. They represent the broad diversity of people and business types across the dairy industry, and we are confident they will make a valuable a positive contribution to this year’s class. They have been identified by their nominating companies as tomorrow’s industry leaders.

“IDFA and current dairy business leaders have made it a priority to develop future leaders for our industry who can manage disruption, advocate for sound policy, and lead with integrity,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “That’s why I’m so proud to welcome this third NextGen Leadership Class—some of the best and brightest men and women rising through the ranks of our industry. IDFA’s NextGen Leadership Program will prepare them to lead our industry into a new era and make a real difference for dairy.”

The program—now in its third year—is designed to support, guide, and prepare mid- to senior-level dairy industry professionals who are ready to take the next step in their leadership journey. The year-long program equips participants to build and expand relationships with their peers, hone leadership skills, and acquire advanced advocacy skills for the dairy industry. The class will convene regularly over the course of the coming year with a mixture of both in-person and virtual modules. The program focuses on three core areas: advocacy, education, and networking.

“Our industry leadership is committed to preparing for the workforce of the future and this program is designed to cultivate that next generation of leadership one cohort at a time,” said Heather Soubra, IDFA senior vice president of strategic initiatives. “The caliber of candidates selected for Cohort 3 is exceptional and we are confident they will all make valuable and positive contributions to this year’s program.”

The 2021-22 class includes:

  • Michael Agate, General Manager, Turner Dairy Farms
  • James Anderson, VP & Corporate Controller, California Dairies, Inc.
  • Ivan Beck, Sr. Director of International Sales & Key Accounts, Agropur
  • Mindy Berrey, Senior Director of Sales, Land O’Lakes, Inc.
  • Kristen Coady, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Dairy Farmers of America
  • James De Jong, Director, Dairy Economics and Risk, Glanbia Nutritionals
  • Derek DeGroot, Director of Dairy Procurement, Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc.
  • Michael Dudas, Director of Procurement, Schuman Cheese
  • Katie Egan, Director of Corporate Development, Crystal Farms
  • Thomas Filak, Vice President of Sales, North America, Dairy.com and Orbis MES
  • Steve Gulley, Chief Marketing Officer, Dairyamerica, Inc.
  • Marissa Hake, Director of Animal Welfare and Sustainable Farming, Fairlife, LLC
  • Heather Iafrate, General Manager, Marketing, Norseland Inc.
  • Marvin Jones, Plant Director, Bel Brands USA
  • Mara Kamat, Vice President of Human Resources, Great Lakes Cheese
  • Kelly Kerrigan, HR Director, Michigan Milk Producers Association
  • Jimmy Lawhorn, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Blue Bell Creameries
  • Brian Loch, Vice President of Sales, Saputo Dairy USA
  • Katie Lott, Director of Farm Engagement, Tillamook Co Creamery Association
  • Florian Middelhuis, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Idaho Milk Products
  • Tracy Mobley, Kroger Dairy Sourcing Leader, Kroger
  • Kristin Naranjo, CFO, Valley Milk, LLC
  • Jose Quijada, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Accounts, Ecolab
  • Patti Schaefer, Director of Milk Marketing & Member Services, First District Association
  • Sean Simonian, Director of Sales, Producers Dairy Foods Inc.
  • Kristine Stoll, Director, Regulatory, Schreiber Foods
  • Brad Suhling, Corporate Quality Assurance, Prairie Farms Dairy
  • Rachel Turgasen, Director of Milk Supply & Policy, Foremost Farms USA
  • Eric Vorpahl, Director of Purchasing, Bulk Cheese & Risk Management, Masters Gallery Foods
  • Zach Waite, Director of Strategic Growth and Innovation, Hershey’s Ice Cream

Learn more about the NextGen Leadership Program here.

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