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30 Dairy Industry Leaders Join NextGen Leadership Program

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has announced that 30 emerging leaders of the dairy industry have been accepted into the fifth cohort of the NextGen Leadership Program, a signature program of IDFA’s People Strategy. The group of emerging leaders was selected based on their experience and scope of responsibility within their organizations. They have been identified by their nominating companies as tomorrow’s dairy industry leaders.

“IDFA and dairy business leaders have made it a priority to develop future leaders for our industry who can effectively inspire the workforce of the future, 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 NextGen Leadership Program cohort—some of the best and brightest men and women rising through the ranks of our industry. IDFA’s NextGen Leadership Program will prepare them lead our industry into a new era.”

The program—now in its fifth 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 cohort 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. IDFA’s NextGen Leadership Program Cohort 5 is sponsored by Glanbia Nutritionals.

“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 Colin Newman, IDFA chief of staff. “The caliber of candidates selected for Cohort 5 is exceptional and we are confident they will all make valuable and positive contributions to this year’s program.”

The 2023-24 cohort includes:

  1. Panna Agrawal, Vice President, Operations, Saputo USA
  2. Brianne Alair, Financial Controller, Idaho Milk Products, Inc.
  3. Joshua Bryant, Senior Director – Compliance, Sargento Foods Inc.
  4. Jeff Carney, Corporate Controller, Hilmar Cheese Company
  5. Nicole Davies, Senior Manager, Data and Automation Technologies, Grande Cheese Company
  6. Ryan Dykstra, Processing Customer Manager, Cheese of Whey, Tetra Pak Inc.
  7. Brian Fiscalini, CEO, Fiscalini Farmstead
  8. Ernesto Franco, Director of Logistics, Shehadey Family Foods
  9. Rick Gessler, Vice President of Engineering, Delkor Systems
  10. Stephanie Gigante, Vice President of Retail Sales, Shamrock Farms
  11. Calvin Gregorich, Vice President, Ingredients Division, Grassland Dairy Products Inc.
  12. Laura Hill, Dairy Supply Optimization Leader, The Kroger Co.
  13. Dino Holmquist, Vice President of Business Development, Eurofins DQCI
  14. Sudeep Jain, Director of Quality, Michigan Milk Producers Association
  15. Duncan Jochimsen, Director of Dairy Procurement, Milk Specialties Global
  16. Justin Laabs, Senior Product Development Manager, Tillamook County Creamery Association
  17. Michael Lehmann, Vice President of Sales, Winona Foods
  18. Casey Liddicoat, Senior Director of Manufacturing Operations, Masters Gallery Foods, Inc.
  19. Kimberlee Malin, Innovation Manager, Wells Enterprises, Inc.
  20. Doug Martin, General Counsel and Vice President of Compliance, Blue Bell Creameries
  21. Ryan McDonnell, Senior Director – Quality and Food Safety, Foremost Farms USA
  22. Becky Pearson, Vice President NA Cheese Sales, Glanbia Nutritionals, Inc
  23. Cody Renard, Director Industrial Sales & Key Accounts, Agropur
  24. Leroy Schneider, Director of Distribution, Crystal Creamery Inc.
  25. Cheslie Stehouwer, Director of Sales & Marketing, Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC
  26. Steve Turner, Director, Marketing & Customer Service, Turner Dairy Farms, Inc.
  27. Matt Vanic, Cheese Plant Manager, MWC
  28. Annie Waring, Director of Business Development, Americold Logistics
  29. Beth Wells, Vice President of Quality, CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley
  30. Renee Yahnke, Sourcing Director, Schreiber Foods Inc.

Learn more about the NextGen Leadership Program here.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3.2 million jobs that generate $49 billion in direct wages and $794 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent most of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.

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