The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said 30 future leaders of the dairy industry were accepted into the third class of the NextGen Leadership Program, a signature program of IDFA’s People Strategy. The group of emerging leaders was selected based on their experience and scope of responsibility within their organizations.

According to Washington, D.C.-based IDFA, they represent the broad diversity of people and business types across the dairy industry. They have been identified by their nominating companies as tomorrow’s industry leaders.

“IDFA and current dairy business leaders have made it a priority to develop future leaders for our industry who can manage disruption, advocate for sound policy and lead with integrity,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “That’s why I’m so proud to welcome this third NextGen Leadership Class — some of the best and brightest men and women rising through the ranks of our industry. IDFA’s NextGen Leadership Program will prepare them to lead our industry into a new era and make a real difference for dairy.”

The program — now in its third year — is 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, IDFA said.

The class will convene regularly over the course of the coming year with a mixture of both in-person and virtual modules. The program focuses on three core areas: advocacy, education and networking, IDFA said.

“Our industry leadership is committed to preparing for the workforce of the future, and this program is designed to cultivate that next generation of leadership one cohort at a time,” said Heather Soubra, IDFA senior vice president of strategic initiatives. “The caliber of candidates selected for Cohort 3 is exceptional, and we are confident they will all make valuable and positive contributions to this year’s program.”

IDFA said the 2021-22 class includes:

  • Michael Agate, general manager, Turner Dairy Farms.
  • James Anderson, vice president and corporate controller, California Dairies Inc.
  • Ivan Beck, senior director of international sales and key accounts, Agropur.
  • Mindy Berrey, senior director of sales, Land O’Lakes Inc.
  • Kristen Coady, senior vice president, corporate affairs, Dairy Farmers of America.
  • James De Jong, director, dairy economics and risk, Glanbia Nutritionals.
  • Derek DeGroot, director of dairy procurement, Hilmar Cheese Company Inc.
  • Michael Dudas, director of procurement, Schuman Cheese.
  • Katie Egan, director of corporate development, Crystal Farms.
  • Thomas Filak, vice president of sales, North America, and Orbis MES.
  • Steve Gulley, chief marketing officer, Dairyamerica Inc.
  • Marissa Hake, director of animal welfare and sustainable farming, Fairlife LLC.
  • Heather Iafrate, general manager, marketing, Norseland Inc.
  • Marvin Jones, plant director, Bel Brands USA.
  • Mara Kamat, vice president of human resources, Great Lakes Cheese.
  • Kelly Kerrigan, HR director, Michigan Milk Producers Association.
  • Jimmy Lawhorn, vice president, sales and marketing, Blue Bell Creameries.
  • Brian Loch, vice president of sales, Saputo Dairy USA.
  • Katie Lott, director of farm engagement, Tillamook Co Creamery Association.
  • Florian Middelhuis, vice president, sales and marketing, Idaho Milk Products.
  • Tracy Mobley, dairy sourcing leader, Kroger.
  • Kristin Naranjo, chief financial officer, Valley Milk LLC.
  • Jose Quijada, assistant vice president, corporate accounts, Ecolab.
  • Patti Schaefer, director of milk marketing and member services, First District Association.
  • Sean Simonian, director of sales, Producers Dairy Foods Inc.
  • Kristine Stoll, director, regulatory, Schreiber Foods.
  • Brad Suhling, corporate quality assurance, Prairie Farms Dairy.
  • Rachel Turgasen, director of milk supply and policy, Foremost Farms USA.
  • Eric Vorpahl, director of purchasing, bulk cheese & risk management, Masters Gallery Foods.
  • Zach Waite, director of strategic growth and innovation, Hershey’s Ice Cream.

Learn more about the NextGen Leadership Program here.