The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said 28 future leaders of the dairy industry were accepted into the second class of the NextGen Leadership Program, a signature program of IDFA’s People Strategy. The group of emerging leaders represents 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., president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based IDFA. “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 journeys. The year-long program allows participants to build and expand relationships with their peers, hone leadership skills and acquire advanced advocacy skills for the dairy industry, IDFA said.

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. IDFA said the 2020-21 class includes:

  • Chris Allen, vice president dairy marketing and economic 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, Nestlé/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 and 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 Co.
  • Donna Krska, leader of strategic sourcing and procurement, Darigold Inc. 
  • Katsy Leeman, sanitation manager, Brewster Cheese Co.
  • 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.