The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) announced the launch of the Women in Dairy Network to support a stronger, more diverse future for U.S. dairy.

Since IDFA was established 30 years ago to harness the collective voice of the dairy industry, the association has developed and supported many initiatives to build knowledge and expertise, and to cultivate leadership across the industry. The Women in Dairy Network continues and builds on that tradition, Washington, D.C.-based IDFA said, by expanding the presence and influence of women across the dairy industry. See more in IDFA’s video explainer:

The Women in Dairy Network brings together established leaders with young professionals to create a forum that fosters mentoring, supports development, builds networking opportunities and encourages leadership. The network will support the future of the industry in four important ways:

  1. By providing a venue for women to support each other as they advance or start their careers in dairy.
  2. By connecting established leaders with up-and-coming professionals.
  3. By offering a platform for women to discuss unique or similar challenges, and to work together to create shared strategies for advancing their careers.
  4. By bringing together women in all sorts of venues, from virtual to in-person, to learn, mentor and share best practices. 

The concept for the Women in Dairy Network began at Dairy Forum 2019 during a discussion spearheaded by Cary Frye, IDFA’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs. Since that time, dozens of leaders and passionate professionals from across the dairy industry have offered their support for the network, IDFA said, including their time and expertise. The Women in Dairy Network will mark its formal launch at Dairy Forum 2020, which takes place Jan. 26-29 in Scottsdale, Ariz., with a series of sessions and special events for the Women in Dairy Network Advisory Council and others interested in joining.

“IDFA is proud to launch the Women in Dairy Network to build a stronger, more resilient and more diverse dairy industry for the future,” said Tracy Boyle, director of employee relations and administrative services at IDFA and coordinator for the network. “The network will empower, encourage and support women in the dairy industry through leadership development, mentoring and networking events.”

The network will be guided by an Advisory Council of industry leaders from IDFA member companies and partners. They are:

  • Patty Andersen, vice president of human resources and training, Delkor Systems Inc.
  • Courtney Bidney, director, global scientific and regulatory affairs, Yoplait-USA.
  • Abigail Blunt, global head of government affairs, The Kraft Heinz Co.
  • Lynne Bohan, vice president, public relations and government affairs, HP Hood LLC.
  • Miriam Erickson Brown, chair and CEO, Anderson Erickson Dairy Co.
  • Mirjana Curic-Bawden, principal scientist, Chr. Hansen Inc.
  • Luconda Dager, president, Velvet Ice Cream Co.
  • Crystal Dohner, vice president of growth and innovation, Crystal Creamery.
  • Heather Draper, director, The Ice Cream Club Inc.
  • Rita Dagdelen-Keskinyan, managing director/head of Consumer Group, Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.
  • Betsy Erdelyi, managing director, BMO Harris Bank.
  • Ann Gent, senior vice president and general manager of food & beverage N.A., Ecolab.
  • Julie Kanak, managing director-agribusiness and food practice leader, Diversified Search LLC.
  • Niamh Kelly, senior vice president, Glanbia Nutritionals.
  • Rachel Kyllo, senior vice president, innovation and growth, Kemps LLC.
  • Mary Ledman, global strategist, Rabobank – Chicago.
  • Karen Olks, director of Western Region and wine and fermented beverages, Chr. Hansen Inc.
  • Autumn Price, vice president, government relations, Land O’Lakes Inc.
  • Elizabeth Riordan, divisional vice president, global operations dairy, Abbott.
  • Shelley Roth, president, Pierre’s Ice Cream Co.
  • Erin Sharp, group vice president, manufacturing, The Kroger Co.
  • Patricia Stroup, global vice president and head of commodities, Nestle S.A.
  • Sue Taylor, vice president – dairy economics policy, Leprino Foods Co.
  • Amy Vodraska, associate publisher, Dairy Foods magazine.
  • Tristan Zuber-Hrobuchak, sales account manager – culture and enzymes, Chr. Hansen Inc.

“As the one organization committed to advocating to ensure America’s dairy companies and people have the tools and resources they need to innovate and grow, IDFA is so pleased to offer the Women in Dairy Network as a platform to move our industry forward in a collaborative way,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA.

More information about IDFA’s Women in Dairy Network, including how to join the network, can be found at or by contacting Boyle at