Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the Rosemont, Ill.-based dairy checkoff program that drives trust and sales of dairy products on behalf of America’s 31,000 dairy farm families and importers, announced that Tom Gallagher decided to conclude his 30-year tenure as CEO to devote more time to teaching and other opportunities. The board of directors named Barbara O’Brien, DMI president and CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the next CEO.
DMI said Gallagher and O’Brien will work on a transition plan, and Gallagher has committed his support through the transition timeframe. O’Brien’s knowledge and experience with the dairy industry provide a seamless transition and a steady continuation of the checkoff’s value to dairy farmers.
“I am proud of the success of the checkoff during the past 30 years and the steady foundation it created for future impact, and I am leaving with complete confidence that Barb will continue to drive this success forward in new ways,” Gallagher said. “My work for America’s dairy farmers will always be the highlight of my career.”
In her current role, O’Brien has instilled a sales growth and outcomes-based mentality within her leadership team and staff, overseeing operating structures for business development, domestic and international sales, science and insights, marketing communications and finance. Through an evolution of the checkoff business plan, O’Brien created robust integration and category strategies that have led to strong year-over-year sales growth for dairy through new foodservice and retail partnerships and product innovation, as well as increases in positive consumer perceptions around dairy and dairy farming, DMI said. In addition, O’Brien has established excellent relationships throughout the farming community and supply chain.
“I look forward to this new opportunity and my ability to continue serving dairy farmers and importers,” O’Brien said. “Over the last 20 years, I’ve developed deep relationships with dairy farmers, the dairy community, and other companies and organizations that will ensure we sustain DMI’s impact while continuing to build a secure future for the industry. I will bring strategic continuity to the checkoff programs and, at the same time as we navigate the accelerating pace of change, I will set a vision that harnesses the strong legacy Tom built and leads to new long-term growth.
“I want to thank Tom for his leadership and trust during the past 20 years,” she added. “His imprint on the dairy checkoff will be felt for years to come and we look forward to building on his amazing legacy.”
During his tenure, Gallagher oversaw the creation or management of the following organizations on behalf of U.S. dairy, DMI said:
- U.S. Dairy Export Council, which has significantly grown demand for U.S. dairy products in a global marketplace.
- The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which has positioned U.S. dairy across the supply chain as a leader in social responsibility and addressed issues pre-competitively for the success of the entire category.
- National Dairy Council, which is committed to providing science-based education about the nutrition and health benefits that dairy foods provide.
- Newtrient, which has focused on environmental programs that will create innovative revenue sources for farmers.
- Global Dairy Platform, which brings together dairy companies, associations, scientific bodies and other partners to collaborate pre-competitively to lead and build evidence through a global forum to address critical nutrition and sustainability topics.
- GENYOUth, which has brought outside resources to dairy farmers commitment to youth and schools.
“On behalf of the DMI board, I also want to thank Tom for his amazing service and accomplishments over the past 30 years. His vision and leadership led DMI to where it is today,” said Marilyn Hershey, DMI chair and Pennsylvania dairy farmer.
“We are thrilled that Barb O’Brien has agreed to become CEO and know that with her steady leadership and vision, we can continue the work on behalf of dairy farmers nationwide and importers,” she continued. “Barb will bring the same discipline and rigor to the role of CEO as she has in producing results for dairy farmers as president. We will work side-by-side with Barb to support her transition and look forward to what’s ahead.”