AURORA, COLO. – The National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB) honored Rick Naczi as the 2022 recipient of the Richard E. Lyng Award for his contributions and distinguished service to dairy promotion.
Naczi, former CEO of the American Dairy Association North East (ADANE), was recognized at the Joint NDB/National Milk Producers Federation/United Dairy Industry Association Annual Meeting in Aurora, Colo.
The award is named for former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Richard E. Lyng, who played a critical role in implementing policies that led to the establishment of NDB more than 35 years ago. The Lyng Award honors leaders who have made a significant contribution to dairy promotion that benefits the entire industry.
Naczi started his career in dairy promotion as an intern in 1980 at Milk Promotion Services Inc. (MPSI) and joined the organization in 1981 the day after graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in animal science. He worked in retail marketing and training for eight years at MPSI.
In 1990, Naczi joined American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, Inc. (ADADC) as vice president of operations and shortly thereafter became CEO. While dedicating himself full time to the farmers of ADADC, Naczi also held senior level management positions at Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), including roles in school marketing and sustainability. He played a pivotal role in helping transition the checkoff from using consumer-facing advertising to partnering with organizations and companies, including McDonald’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell and the NFL.
Naczi also was instrumental in combining three Northeast regional dairy promotion organizations into ADANE. The merger consolidated farmers’ checkoff investments and brought even greater efficiencies to the region’s already successful programs.
“No matter what role Rick held, he was adamant about making sure that everything he did was in the dairy farmers’ best interests, and he built many personal connections with us along the way,” said Alex Peterson, Missouri dairy farmer and NDB chair. “He was part of a lot of changes in dairy promotion for 40 years and it wasn’t always easy, but with a smile on his face and a positive attitude, the results greatly benefited our checkoff investment.”
As part of the Richard E. Lyng Award, the NDB will contribute $2,500 in Naczi’s name to the Dawn Houppert Memorial Scholarship, given to a college student who is a current or former New York dairy ambassador and has completed one year of post-secondary education. The scholarship was developed in memory of Houppert, who worked for ADANE for more than two decades, including managing the dairy princess program for 10 years. She died in a car accident soon after her retirement from ADANE.
For information about the dairy checkoff, visit www.usdairy.com/for-farmers.
The 37-member National Dairy Board, formed in May 1984 under the authority of the Dairy Promotion Stabilization Act of 1983, carries out coordinated promotion and research program to help build demand, and expand domestic and international markets for dairy products and ingredients. NDB funds, in part, Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff program.