IDFA Welcomes 28 Future Dairy Industry Leaders Into NextGen Leadership Program

WASHINGTON —The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) today announced that 28 future leaders of the dairy industry have been accepted into the second class of the NextGen Leadership Program, a signature program of IDFA’s People Strategy. The group of emerging leaders represent the diversity of people and business types across the dairy industry, and they have been identified by their companies as tomorrow’s industry leaders.

“Identifying and cultivating the strong potential already represented within our industry is a top priority for IDFA and current dairy business leaders,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “That’s why I’m so proud to welcome this second NextGen Leadership Class—some of the best and brightest men and women rising through the ranks of our industry to make a difference for dairy. IDFA’s NextGen Leadership Program will prepare them to lead our industry into a new era.”

The program—now in its second year—was 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 virtual and in-person modules. The program focuses on three core areas: advocacy, education, and networking.

The 2020-21 class includes:

  • Chris Allen, Vice President Dairy Marketing & Econ. Policy, Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.
  • Erika Bognar, Director – Food Safety, Sargento Foods Inc. 
  • Colby Butcher, Operations Manager, Plains Dairy, LLC
  • Darin Copeland, Public Relations Manager, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc.
  • Brian Danahy, Senior Director of Fluid Plants, Distribution, and CI, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. 
  • Peter Ernster, Vice President Sales, California Dairies Inc.
  • Christina Fiocchi, Project Management & Packaging Manager, Saputo Cheese USA Inc.
  • Trevor Fleege, Director – Dairy Commodities, Agropur
  • John Foster, Global Category Manager, Nestle/Nestrade
  • Eric Fuhrmann, Division Change Management Lead, Saputo Cheese USA Inc.
  • Stephanie Goodwin, Senior Manager, Federal Government & Industry Affairs, Danone North America
  • Jamie Gudgeon, Director of Hauling & Scheduling, Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative
  • Darin Hanson, Vice President of Milk Supply and Risk Management, Foremost Farms USA
  • Kyle Hunter, Vice President, Stanpac Inc.
  • Bryan Johnston, Vice President Foodservice, Americas, Fonterra USA Inc.
  • Steven Keilman, Corporate Quality and Food Safety Manager, Saputo Dairy Foods USA
  • Alison Krebs, Dairy Policy Senior Manager, Leprino Foods Company 
  • Donna Krska, Leader of Strategic Sourcing & Procurement, Darigold, Inc. 
  • Katsy Leeman, Sanitation Manager, Brewster Cheese Company
  • Andy Pfister, Vice President – Procurement/Industrial Sales, Masters Gallery Foods Inc.
  • Annie Piepenhagen, Senior Director, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.
  • Bob Sarver, Director of Operations & Continuous Improvement, Great Lakes Cheese, Co., Inc.
  • Kim Slack, Strategic Account Manager, TC Transcontinental Packaging
  • Tim Smith, Sales Director, Fonterra USA Inc.
  • Leaine Souza, West Region Member Relations Manager, Land O’ Lakes, Inc. 
  • Brian Sweet, Chief Financial Officer, Producers Dairy Foods, Inc. 
  • Martina Woods, Regulatory Scientist, Saputo Dairy Foods USA
  • Ryan Yonkman, Vice President, Rice Dairy LLC

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3 million jobs that generate $159 billion in wages and $620 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 90 percent 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.