2017 SPONSORS

2017 EVENT PARTNERS

2017 SPEAKERS

Cassie Adolf

Risk Management Consultant, INTL FCStone Financial Inc.

Cassie joined Risk Management Incorporated, now part of INTL FCStone Financial Inc., FCM Division, in 2004 to facilitate the expansion of the company’s product offerings.  Since her inception, she has helped to cultivate and define the company’s consulting, software, and execution services to better meet the needs of clients. She also assists in hedge strategy execution, futures and OTC account facilitation, and market research for the company’s agriculture as well as energy client base.  Cassie holds a BS from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.  Ranking number one in her college graduating class, she was a recipient of the Bronze Tablet, the University's highest academic honor.

Kimberly Atkins

VP and COO, U.S. Grains Council

Kimberly Atkins serves as the vice president and chief operating officer (COO) for the U.S. Grains Council, a non-profit organization that promotes the global use of U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products worldwide including ethanol and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS). In this capacity, Atkins oversees the daily operations and management of the Council including oversight of the Council’s strategic plan. Atkins worked for the Council from 2005 to 2011, serving in many roles including communications coordinator, executive assistant and manager of international operations. From 2011 to 2012, she served as the consulting projects manager for World Perspectives Inc., a Washington, D.C., based agricultural consulting firm. She returned to the Council in 2012 as director of global programs. Atkins is a graduate of the University of Montana and holds a degree in political science and communication studies. She grew up on a barley, wheat and canola farm in northern Montana. The Council is a private, non-profit partnership of agribusinesses and producers committed to building and expanding international markets for U.S. feed grains and ethanol. The Council has 10 international offices that oversee programs in more than 50 countries. Support for the Council comes from its producer and agribusiness members and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) through programs authorized in the U.S. farm bill.  

Roxi Beck

Vice President, Look East

As Vice President at Look East, Roxi Beck brings nearly 15 years’ experience working with clients across the food system. She works with farmers, toxicologists, registered dietitians, corporate executives, restaurateurs, non-profits, even consumers, to share the unique stories of those involved in food and farming. While her story started on a Minnesota dairy farm – where she drank whole milk and tended to a barn of calves daily – she and her Prince Charming started their careers and happily ever after in Des Moines, Iowa. Now, she loves helping clients thrive by digging into and sharing research, delivering communications training, connecting people, and developing digital, stakeholder engagement and organizational strategies.

Jack A. Bobo

Senior Vice President, Chief Communication Officer, Intrexon

 Jack Bobo serves as the Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Intrexon, a synthetic biology company developing revolutionary solutions to the world's most pressing problems--in food, energy, and health.  In 2015, he was named by Scientific American as one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology today.  He joined Intrexon from the U.S. Department of State where he worked for thirteen years as a senior advisor on global food policy, biotechnology and agricultural trade.  He is an accomplished communicator, having delivered more than 300 speeches on the future of food, the role of science and technology in feeding the world and how to build consumer trust. Prior to his career at the U.S. Department of State, he was an attorney at Crowell & Moring LLP.  He received a J.D., an M.S. in Environmental Science, a B.A. in psychology and chemistry and a B.S. in biology from Indiana University.  

Marisa Bocci

Partner & Co-Leader, Global Agriculture, Food & Beverage Industry Group, K&L Gates LLP

Marisa Bocci is a partner with K&L Gates LLP, and is the co-lead of the firm’s Global Agribusiness, Food and Beverage group.  Her practice focuses on real estate matters in commercial real estate, hospitality and agricultural sectors. In addition to her work on real estate matters, Ms. Bocci also represents clients on agribusiness M&A transactions. Prior to her role at K&L Gates, she was in-house counsel at a private client investment office. While in-house, she handled legal matters for an international portfolio of agribusiness assets, including direct farming operations, grain elevators, and food processing companies. She is admitted to the Washington State Bar and the New York State Bar.

Julie Borlaug

V.P. Communication & Public Relations, Inari Ag

Julie works to champion her grandfather’s legacy and lend a voice to his desire to see more successful collaborative partnerships between the public and private partnerships in order to ensure the advancement of innovation and technology in agriculture.  Julie hopes that through her efforts and in honor of her grandfather’s legacy, we will all recommit ourselves to educating, mentoring and training the next generation of “hunger fighters” who will continue Dr. Borlaug's work to end hunger and eliminate poverty. Julie speaks often about the Borlaug Legacy, the need for research and technology in agriculture as well as youth and innovation.  She serves on several boards and advisory councils including · FarmLink · Thought For Food Challenge · Planet Forward- George Washington University · Community for Zero Hunger · And more!

Ashlee Davis

Global Lead for External Affairs, Global Inclusion & Diversity, Cargill

Ashlee Davis is the Global Lead for External Affairs within the Global Inclusion & Diversity function at Cargill.  In this role she is responsible for developing strategies that position Cargill as a global leader in Inclusion & Diversity ensuring that Cargill’s external brand across more than 70 countries is one consistent with being an “employer of choice” for diverse populations.  Previous to Cargill, Ms. Davis served for 6 years in the Obama Administration both within the White House and as a Presidential Political Appointee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where her roles included White House Liaison and Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.  In 2014 she was recognized as 100 Black LGBTQ Emerging Leaders to Watch and has served as a law clerk at University Legal Services of Washington D.C.  Ms. Davis holds a B.A. in Politics & Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh and Juris Doctor from the Howard University School of Law.  She is a native of Nashville, TN and a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.

Rob Dongoski

Partner, Global Agribusiness Industry Leader, Ernst & Young LLP

Rob is the global leader of Ernst & Young LLP’s Agribusiness sector, focusing on strategy, transformation and M&A for clients in the agribusiness and food sectors. As Ernst & Young LLP’s Global Agribusiness Industry Leader, he is at the forefront of industry issues and works directly with executives to optimize their approach in the global markets. Rob’s experience ranges from growth strategy to operating model design and digital innovation across the agriculture value chain. He works directly with executives in the design and implementation of the appropriate operating model for their business, including strategy/portfolio management, marketing/merchandising, precision agriculture, operational areas and back-office efficiency. Rob has also been involved in designing transformation and integration strategies for clients that recently acquired new companies or needed to more effectively integrate previous acquisitions.

Bailey Elchinger

Risk Management Consultant, INTL FCStone Financial Inc.

As a Grain Risk Management Consultant, she works with grain elevators, grain farmers, as well as livestock producers to help them manage the risks that they face in the commodity futures markets. Bailey married her husband Nick in September 2011, and they welcomed their first daughter, Parker in June 2015. They reside in Deshler, Ohio where they crop farm and co-own a large custom hay and straw baling business. Bailey Elchinger was born and raised on a small family hog operation in Coldwater, Michigan. Bailey exhibited livestock at local, state and national events while growing up and was very active in both 4-H and FFA. After high school, Bailey served as a Michigan FFA state officer and attended Michigan State University majoring in Agribusiness Management. Bailey had numerous internships in the grain merchandising industry prior to graduation and started full time with INTL/FCStone in May of 2011 in the Bowling Green, Ohio office.

Beth Ford

Group Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Land O’Lakes

Beth Ford has spent the last several years negotiating the changing dynamics of the agri-food business as Land O’Lakes Group EVP and COO.  In addition to heading both the Dairy Foods and Animal Nutrition businesses, Beth has overall responsibility for supply chain, R&D, IT and operations.  In an era where farmers’ profitability is challenged and policy changes and increased consumer interest could potentially impact every aspect of their business, Beth has a unique insight into the industry.  She’ll give her perspective on the issues and why she believes Ag is still a great place for women, in addition to some tips on how preparation, confidence, and resilience are the keys to success.

Jacquie Fredericks

Managing Director of Capital Markets Division, CoBank

As managing director for CoBank’s Capital Markets division, Jacquie Fredericks leads a team developing credit structures and syndication strategies that enable the bank’s customers to finance their business plans. With more than 15 years of capital markets experience in securitization, leveraged finance and investment grade credit, her main focus remains originating, structuring and distributing syndicated debt. Working out of the bank’s national office in Denver, Ms. Fredericks also advises relationship managers across the United States as they provide financial solutions to bank customers. The founding chair of CoBank’s Finance Center of Excellence, she is committed to promoting capital markets research and price discovery, providing market-driven transactions for the benefit of CoBank’s customer-owners. Ms. Fredericks earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and an MBA with an emphasis in finance from the University of Colorado.

Courtney Gaine, Ph.D., RD

President and CEO, The Sugar Association, Inc.

 Courtney Gaine, PhD, RD, is the President and CEO of the Sugar Association in Washington, DC. The Sugar Association represents sugar beet and sugarcane growers, processors, and refiners in the United States. Prior to this appointment in January 2016, Dr. Gaine served as the Vice President of Scientific Affairs at the Association. Dr. Gaine previously served as senior science program manager at The North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute, a public non-profit scientific foundation that advances the understanding and application of science related to the nutritional quality and safety of the food supply. Prior to ILSI, Dr. Gaine held positions of a project director, nutrition, and wellness, at the non-profit organization Convergence and as a science manager at FoodMinds, a public relations firm. 

Peggy Gulick

Director Business Process Improvement, AGCO Corporation

Peggy Gulick currently serves as Director of Business Process Improvement for the agricultural equipment sector. She has over 20 years of experience in consumer products and manufacturing industry. As a plant leader of AGCO’s Production Systems (Lean) and Information Technology teams and strategies, Ms. Gulick leads the organization through business partnered initiatives to continuously improve productivity, quality, safety, and cost. Prior to this position, Ms. Gulick spent 16 years advancing comprehensive and sustainable solutions in global Enterprise Resource Planning Systems in the sporting consumer goods industry. She has received numerous awards including the Manufacturing Institute STEP award for leadership in technological advancements and contribution in 2014. In 2015, Ms. Gulick chartered the Women in Manufacturing Chapter in Minnesota while holding an active position on AGCO’s AGWN (AGCO Global Women’s Network) Global Steering Committee. Most recently, she has led a team of out-of-box thinkers and ambitious partners in the implementation of wearable technology solutions on the manufacturing plant floor.

Shannon Hauf

Global Cotton, Wheat, and Specialty Crops Technology Lead, Monsanto Company

Shannon Hauf is Global Technology Lead for Cotton, Wheat, and Specialty Crops at Monsanto Company, with accountability for the portfolio strategy. Shannon joined Monsanto in 2003 as part of the U.S. commercial field sales and technical organization, followed by a move into product management where she focused on leading efforts in managing the challenges of glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed and coordinated cross-organizational efforts to launch the Roundup Ready Plus program and Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. Shannon is a member of the Management Advisory Council consisting of Monsanto’s executive leaders. Shannon serves on the Board of Directors for Innovative Seed Solutions, LLC and Monsanto Citizenship Fund. She is a sponsor for Women in Technology and sits on the United Way Women’s Leadership Team. Shannon is a mentor with Global Giveback Circle and serves as a 4-H Leader.

Richard A. Jelinek

Vice President Global Education, INTL FCStone Financial Inc.

Richard Jelinek is Vice President Global Education at INTL FCStone Financial. His primary responsibility is the development of price risk management programs and materials on Agricultural Futures, Options and OTC markets. Richard’s professional tenure includes 34 years at the CBOT and CME Group, where he focused on price risk management training in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and the United States.  His target audiences during his educational career included producers, merchandisers, feed manufacturers, women in agri-business, lenders, food processors, importers, and exporters.  Although his main focus is commercial hedgers, he also developed materials for the speculative side of the markets. Additionally, he served as an Adjunct Professor at Moraine Valley College in the English as a Second Language department. Mr. Jelinek’s Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Southern Illinois University and Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Georgia were preceded by a four-year tour in the United States Navy. 

Kendall Jones

President and CEO, ProAg

Kendall Jones has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer since July of 2017. She previously served as Executive Vice President and COO for eight years. Since coming to ProAg in May of 2006 she has been responsible for Standard Reinsurance Agreement implementation and maintenance; training, reinsurance, named peril and crop hail products, underwriting procedures and controls, and the day-to-day operations of the Regional Offices and their support teams. Prior to coming to ProAg Kendall began her crop insurance career in 1995 in the finance and underwriting departments of one of the largest crop insurance companies in America. Her Master’s in Business Administration and Bachelor of Science degrees are from the University of South Dakota. Currently, Kendall serves on the Board of Directors for Producers Ag Insurance Group; as well as the Board of Directors at National Crop Insurance Services.

Noushin Ketabi

Co-Founder, Vega Coffee

Noushin Ketabi is a Co-Founder of Vega Coffee, the first online marketplace for farmer roasted coffee. She leads Vega’s operations, product development, and branding. Noushin is a certified coffee roaster and licensed Q Grader—a professionally trained cupper accredited by the Coffee Quality Institute to grade Arabica coffee. Prior to Vega, Noushin served as a Senior Regulatory Analyst for the California Public Utilities Commission, and completed a Fulbright in Nicaragua on its renewable energy policy framework in 2011. She earned a joint J.D./M.A. in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University and a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, with honors. Noushin is on a mission to create a more equitable coffee supply chain.

Carol S. Kitchen

President and CEO, United Farmers of Alberta

Carol is a proven leader who has grown up in and dedicated her career to agriculture. She has more than 23 years of co-operative, finance and business experience. Prior to joining UFA, Carol was senior vice-president and general manager of a business unit at Land O'Lakes Inc. with US$1.8 billion of annual revenue. Over 16 years, her positions with Land O’Lakes have included senior vice-president of Corporate Strategy and Business Development; the VP responsible for international growth; and the business controller. Carol, a certified public accountant with an M.B.A., also worked for an international accounting firm for two years. The rest of her career has been in agricultural co-operatives. Carol is committed to working with UFA's members, agents and employees to continue the strong co-operative history in Alberta and build a business that will position UFA to succeed in the local and global marketplace.

Nandini Krishnamurthy, Ph.D.

Senior Research Manager, DuPont Pioneer

Nandini Krishnamurthy, is Senior Research Manager, at DuPont Pioneer with accountability to develop targeted breeding applications using CRISPR/Cas technology in a variety of crops. The trait areas of focus include disease resistance, drought tolerance and improving yield stability. Nandini joined DuPont in 2008 and has broad experience in developing novel trait discovery strategies bridging experimental and systems biology. Her career in DuPont includes managing a global computational group and having responsibility as Site Lead for Pioneer AgBiotech at DuPont Knowledge Center, Hyderabad, India. Nandini earned her Ph.D. in plant cell biology & genetics from Texas A&M University, College Station and completed her post-doctoral training at the Plant Molecular Biology Lab in Rockefeller University, New York and at the Structural Phylogenomics group, University of California, Berkeley.

Alec Lee

CEO, Ava Winery

Alec received his Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Biotechnology from the University of British Columbia where started his first company, M Prep, focusing on pre-medical education. He ran M Prep for six years, capturing significant market share with top and bottom line growth. At M Prep, Alec launched innovative products that would become industry-standard among competitors. In 2014 Alec transitioned out of a full-time role with M Prep to attend Harvard Business School’s MBA program. He spent a year at the MBA before leaving to pursue new startup ventures. He teamed up with co-founder Mardonn Chua to launch Extem, developing novel stem cell technologies for tissue engineering research. Mardonn and Alec later identified an opportunity to craft wines from their individual molecular components, and the two founded Ava Winery where Alec is currently CEO.

Monica Marshall

SVP Corporate Reputation and Director of Ketchum Purpose, Ketchum

Monica leads Ketchum’s Purpose Practice. This includes developing and executing communications campaigns and programs that are fully integrated with marketing and communications campaigns to build brands, strengthen corporate reputation and increase awareness and stakeholder engagement. Monica works with many global companies including J.P. Morgan Chase, Kohler, P&G, Whirlpool, several foundations, membership associations, and NGOs. Prior to this, Monica was the Deputy Director at the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP). During her tenure at the U.N., Monica forged worked with host of global, regional and local companies in the areas of, food/nutrition security and food safety, supply chain, water, sanitation, and technology. While at the U.N., Monica developed public-private partnerships with global companies including Pepsi-Co, Yum! Brands, Unilever, UPS, Kraft and others.

Teresa McNeal

Head, U.S. Seeds Customer Marketing, Syngenta

Teresa McNeal is the Head of US Seeds Customer Marketing with Syngenta, a seeds and crop protection company serving the needs of customers globally.  A 19-year veteran at Syngenta and its legacy companies, Teresa has served throughout her career in sales and marketing. Teresa has used her talents and customer focus to fuel her passion for agriculture and feeding a growing population.  After graduating Northwest Missouri State University, she began her career as a sales representative in Southern Illinois, following which, she moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, to manage the company's North America e-business communications. Teresa served as the first and only District Sales Manager for a number of years - today, there are four. Over the years, Teresa held a number of sales and marketing management roles. Teresa is a champion for the company’s diversity and inclusion initiative and serves as a mentor to numerous young talents in sales and marketing.

Sara Menker

Founder and CEO, Gro Intelligence

Sara Menker is the founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence, a technology company focused on the global food and agriculture markets. Through Gro, users can extract powerful insights and access predictive modeling at a scale never before possible. By funneling petabytes of data into a powerful, singular experience, Gro Intelligence enables a comprehensive, holistic, and timely picture of global food and agriculture. Prior to founding Gro, Menker was a Vice President in Morgan Stanley’s commodities group. She began her career in commodities risk management, where she covered all commodity markets, and subsequently moved to trading, where she managed an options trading portfolio. Menker is a Trustee of the Mandela Institute For Development Studies (MINDS) and a Trustee of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Sara was named a Global Young Leader by the World Economic Forum and is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative of the Aspen Institute.

Gretchen Miller Busch

Partner, Faegre Baker Daniels

Gretchen Miller Busch is a partner with the international law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels and is based in its Denver office. She is co-leader of the firm’s national food and agribusiness industry team. Her clients include global leaders within the agribusiness industry, from agricultural products and crop inputs to protein processing and distribution.  Gretchen’s personal practice focuses on sophisticated commercial real estate transactions, with an emphasis on national corporate real estate services. She advises large regional and national corporate users of commercial and industrial real estate on the management of their corporate real estate portfolios. Core services include representation of clients in lease negotiations, acquisition of new land and buildings for business expansion or relocation, divestment transactions, sale-leaseback transactions, and integration of assets and properties acquired through merger and acquisition transactions.

Arleen Nand

Partner, U.S. Head, Agricultural Finance, DLA Piper LLP

Arleen Nand is a finance partner at DLA Piper LLP, one of the world’s largest law firms. DLA Piper has over 4,000 lawyers located in more than 30 countries and 90 offices throughout the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. In recent years, Arleen has structured, drafted and negotiated over $25 billion of syndicated loan and project financings. She has served as lead counsel on numerous financings in the agribusiness industry, including cross-border credit facilities, syndicated loan transactions, asset-based and cash flow financings, convertible debt facilities, joint venture financings and senior and mezzanine transactions financings. Arleen is a member of DLA Piper’s Financial Services Industry Steering Committee.  Additionally, in her capacity as the U.S. Head of the firm’s Agricultural Finance Practice, Arleen actively participates in many agribusiness trade organizations, writes for industry publications and speaks both domestically and internationally on agribusiness finance issues.

Debra Pickett

Director, Customer Strategy of US Crop Protection, BASF Corporation

Debra Pickett is responsible for overseeing the customer strategy activities for the U.S. Crop Protection business. Deb started her career as a registered nurse working in pediatric oncology before moving into a career within the pharmaceutical industry.  She joined the agricultural division of BASF in 2010. Deb has extensive experience in organizational development, strategic planning, and commercial effectiveness. She has a proven track record of analyzing an organization's critical business requirements, identifying deficiencies and potential opportunities, and developing innovative cost-effective solutions for enhancing competitiveness and driving business results.

Julie Anna Potts

Executive Vice President, American Farm Bureau Federation

What's this item about? What makes it interesting? Write a catchy description to grab your audience's attention..Julie Anna Potts is the executive vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Potts oversees the strategic direction and all operations of the nation’s largest agricultural organization, as well as the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The AFBF Board of Directors elected Potts to her position in October 2011. She previously held the position of senior executive director for operations and development. From 2009 until 2011, Potts was chief counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, serving under Chairman Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Potts previously served as AFBF general counsel, from 2004 until 2009. For several years before joining AFBF, she was in private practice and served as AFBF outside counsel beginning in 2000.

Mely Romero Celis

Undersecretary of Rural Development, Mexico

Mely Romero Celis is originally from Cuauhtémoc, Colima. She holds a bachelor´s degree in Public Accounting and in Secondary Education with emphasis in Mathematics, both from the University of Colima. She was granted with a Fulbright Scholarship to study a postgraduate degree at Columbia University in New York, where she earned a master's degree in Mathematics’ Education. Her passion for public and legislative service led her to became Senator in 2012, her initiatives in favor of equality of opportunities and inclusion of women in the agricultural sector, the development of the family and health. In April 2016, by invitation of the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, she took over the responsibility as Under-Secretary for Rural Development of the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA). She was the first woman to reach this position, putting topics as inclusion of women and the importance of young people in productive areas of the agricultural sector, in the center of her work.

Scott J. Sigman

Transportation & Export Infrastructure Lead, Illinois Soybean Association

Vice President, Transportation/Trade with marketing, strategy & comm's firm FLM+ (aka F.L.M. Plus), an independent subsidiary of Land O’Lakes. In this capacity, he primarily serves the Illinois Soybean Association in a staff augmentation role, as Transportation and Export Infrastructure Lead. Scott has over 25 years of experience in global trade and transportation planning, shipping and freight infrastructure evaluations, assessing economic impacts, writing and preparing reports, business plans, leading projects and programs to assess, study and report on container intermodal as well as bulk multimodal freight operations.

Kelly Stevens

Diversity & Inclusion Consultant, Buffalo Wild Wings

Kelly Stevens is the Diversity and Inclusion Consultant at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Prior to her time at BWW, Kelly worked in D&I at both Ameriprise Financial and Best Buy. She is currently responsible for the strategy, planning, implementation, and leading of all D&I programs and initiatives at B-Dubs. Since her arrival, Kelly has led the effort to launch Team Member Diversity Networks (LGBT and military/veteran) as well as 9 Regional Women’s Field Leadership Forums and the Home Office Women’s Leadership Forum which are “spin-offs” of the National Women’s Field Leadership Forum (WFLF). Forums focus on Leadership Development, Education and Awareness, Community Connections, and Business Impact.  Approximately 400 women are part of the Leadership Forums offered at Buffalo Wild Wings to help further their career and build their networks.

Rena Striegel

President, Transition Point Business Advisors

Rena Striegel is an internationally recognized business coach and consultant with more than 20 years of experience working directly with farmers, ag leaders, senior executives and entrepreneurs to identify and implement strategies that create growth and profitability.  In her role with Transition Point Business advisors, she leads client projects in the areas of succession and continuity planning, strategic planning and employee/leadership development.   A majority of her current clients are large family owned farm operations and agribusinesses. In addition to working with family owned farms and businesses, she has worked with management teams of international organizations like Business Network International (BNI), Xerox, Project Management Institute, Northwestern Mutual, United Way, Magna Corporation and many others improve their overall performance through clear executable strategies and higher employee contribution.

Kristine Thompson

Enterprise Brand Strategy Director & CHS Women in Leadership, CHS Inc.

As director of enterprise brand strategy, Kristine Thompson has led brand strategy, digital strategy, publications and corporate advertising for Fortune 100 company, CHS. She oversaw the strategic marketing, brand management and advertising for multiple businesses within CHS including its 50+ locally controlled, company-owned cooperatives in US and Canada, CHS Sunflower and CHS Nutrition as well as CHS Aligned Solutions and wholly-owned subsidiaries CHS Capital, CHS Hedging and CHSInsurance. Thompson has provided business and brand strategy consulting with leading cooperatives across the country to help them determine their strategic company position, brand creation and business-building strategies. She currently leads enterprise strategy efforts for the Human Resources team.Thompson began her career in the cooperative system in the Crop Protection Division of Cenex/Land O’Lakes Agronomy Company in 1994. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. Thompson is an accredited business communicator through the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

Diana Toman

Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Compass Minerals

Diana Toman joined Compass Minerals as SVP, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary in November 2015. She is responsible for directing the organization’s legal affairs an the leader of the company’s Diversity and Inclusion and Sustainability initiatives. Ms. Toman has previously served as VP, Strategy and General Counsel, Asia Pacific and Africa, for General Cable Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, based in Thailand. Her experience includes multiple roles in senior management at Gardner Denver, Inc. and Waddell & Reed, Inc. Ms. Toman earned her juris doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Law and her M.B.A. and B.A. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ms. Toman serves on the Kansas Bar Association’s Board of Governors, Kansas City Repertory Theatre Board of Directors, and Secretary of the Aubrey Bend Middle School PTO.

Michael Vaidya

Information Technology Security Manager, Crop Production Services

Michael joined Agrium in 2001 as part of the networking team, but it didn’t take long for him to find the right fit for his interests and skills as part of the IT Security group. In 2003, Michael created and implanted the Cyber Security program across Agrium, and continues to oversee this area for all facets of the organization.  “I love my job and still find it exciting,” says Michael. “The nature of cyber security is incredibly dynamic and constantly evolving. You need to be able to learn and adapt in a constantly dynamic threat landscape.” Michael’s passion for cyber security does not lessen when he’s away from the office, and he tries to make sure that the lessons taught at work are carried home with employees into their personal digital lives. Michael has been happily married for over 14 years and has two small children. He enjoys traveling and spending time with his family, as well as mountain biking, racquet sports, and – no surprise here – recreational hacking.

Maria Walz

CEO, VistaComm

Growing up on her family’s farm near Creighton, Nebraska, little did Maria realize her career path would lead to a management position as CEO of VistaComm, a marketing communications firm in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. With VistaComm for 19 years now, Maria previously served as the company’s vice-president, chief financial officer and chief operations officer. A certified public accountant, she’s a graduate of the University of South Dakota’s College of Finance and Business Administration. Maria’s sales, inbound marketing, creative, digital, web/mobile teams appreciate her innovative and strategic ideas for clients, most of whom are agribusinesses, including cooperatives. Committed and professional, Maria’s personal objective is to make certain clients are top-of mind in their marketplace, and positioned as the ultimate experts in their field.

Susanne Wasson

U.S. Commercial Leader - Crop Protection, Dow AgroSciences

Susanne is the US Commercial Leader of the Crop Protection Business.  Prior to being named Commercial Leader, Susanne was the Marketing Director for Crop Protection.  She was previously a Global Business Leader for the Range and Pasture and Industrial Vegetation Management Herbicide Business and a Global Business Leader for the Seeds and Traits business. She held multiple roles in sales and marketing including sales manager for the UK and Ireland. Susanne is a member and past chapter president of P.E.O. (philanthropic education organization for women).  She is also a member of the Delta Delta Delta Foundation undergraduate scholarship committee and Women for OSU.  She is currently on the Board of Directors of Indiana Humanities, Crop Life America, and will be 2018 Chairman of the FFA Foundation Sponsors Board. Susanne earned degrees in Agricultural Economics and Accounting from Oklahoma State University, and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University.

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