Dan KelleyNormal, IL Chairman, IALF Board
Daniel T. Kelley became chairman of the board and president of GROWMARK, Inc. September 1, 2000. He operates a grain farm near Normal, Illinois in partnership with his two brothers and his son. Dan has served on the boards of Evergreen FS, Inc. Bloomington, IL; Farmland Mutual Insurance Company, Des Moines, IA; Nationwide Columbus, OH; CoBank, Denver, CO; AgriBank FCB, St. Paul, MN: and 1st Farm Credit Services, Bloomington, IL. Dan is active in his community serving as a member of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Ag Council and served as the organization’s co-chairman for ten years. He is a 1970 graduate of Illinois State University with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, and is a 1984 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation Program.
Mak MirhakimiPeoria, IL Vice Chairman, IALF Board
Siamak (Mak) Mirhakimi is the General Manager of Electronics & System Integration Division with Caterpillar Inc. He began his career at Caterpillar in 1986 when he joined Caterpillar’s College Graduate Training (CGT) program. He held a variety of positions ranging from Development Engineer to Supervising Engineer in the Electrical and Electronics Division in Mossville, Illinois. In 2000, Mak became industrial sales & marketing manager for the Europe-Africa-Middle East (EAME) Division, located in Geneva, Switzerland and then Peterborough UK. He moved back to US in 2005, as OEM Solutions General Manager with worldwide responsibility for sales and marketing of Caterpillar components to OEM customers. He moved to his current position as General Manager of Electronics and System Integration in August of 2010. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1984 and a Master of Science degree in 1986 from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.
Porter J. MartinTraverse City, MI Treasurer, IALF Board
Porter Martin was a high school agriculture teacher for several years, then he served on the staff of the University of Illinois as a County Agricultural Extension Adviser. He later headed the Illinois segment of a national rural development program administered through a Presidential task force in Washington, DC. He has specialized in the acquisition, sale, management, appraisal and financing of agricultural properties in the Midwest and in California throughout his real estate career. Primary clients have included financial service firms, government organizations, various financial institutions, individual investors and all types of agricultural-related businesses. Since the mid-1970s he has been involved in the acquisition and/or sale of properties for individuals from sixteen foreign countries and more than forty of the United States. Martin attended Iowa State University and the University of Illinois from which he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture Education and a Master’s Degree in Extension Education. He later earned an Agricultural Banking Degree from Iowa State University. Martin has been a member of the Farmers Club in London for thirty-five years and of the Chicago Farmers for forty years, serving as president of the latter for two terms. He holds the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designation from the Realtors Land Institute. He was the 10th person in the world to receive the coveted Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation from the National Association of Realtors.
Kim MortonChicago, IL Secretary, IALF Board
Kim Morton is retired, having most recently served as the Chicago based Director of Development for the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Science. Prior to that she was the first Northeastern Illinois Legislative Coordinator for the Illinois Farm Bureau, a role created to lobby members of the Illinois General Assembly from Cook and the collar counties who may have little, if any, familiarity with production agriculture. She was a farm manager with The Northern Trust Company from 1984-2001, working with trusts & estates which owned farmland or timber. During this time, she became the second woman in the nation to receive the Accredited Farm Manager designation and she was a member of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation Class of 1998. Kim is a native of Taylorville, IL, where she still owns the small family farm. She graduated from the University of Illinois College of Agriculture in 1982 with her bachelors in agricultural economics and received her MBA from DePaul University in 1990. She is a 25 year member and former president of The Chicago Farmer and sits on the Cook County Farm Bureau Public Policy and Political Action Committees.
Gary BaiseWashington, D.C.
Gary Baise currently serves with the law firm of Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman, and Matz PC. As the nation’s premier FDA, USDA, and health care law firm, serving clients before federal agencies, courts, and Congress, Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman, Bode, and Matz PC uses their background in government, medicine, and industry to create innovative solutions for clients in the food, pharmaceutical, medical device, and agricultural industries. Mr. Baise is an undergraduate alumni of Western Illinois University and earned is J.D. from Indiana University. In the Federal Government, he served as the first Chief of Staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and later served as Executive Assistant to the Director of the F.B.I., Associate Deputy Attorney General and Acting Deputy Attorney General. He has earned the Arthur S. Fleming Award thus identifying him as one of the top ten outstanding young men and women in the Federal Service. Gary has served in various leadership capacities with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Attwoods, Inc., Chesapeake Bay – Citizens Advisory Committee, Farm Foundation (Trustee and former Chairman), and USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force. His publication record spans four decades.
Nick BlockBettendorf, IA
Nick Block is Director, Enterprise Advanced Marketing for Deere & Company. His organization is responsible for linking customer requirements into the Enterprise’s innovation process for Deere globally. Nick started his career with John Deere in 1996 and has held various roles in the US sales organization developing the dealer channel and growing Deere’s sales of agriculture and turf products. He has also held leadership positions within Deere’s Integrated Solutions Group which is responsible for delivering on the precision ag strategy and technology solutions which integrate into Deere’s agriculture and construction and forestry machinery. Most recently, Nick directed the marketing function for Deere’s Global Crop Care Platform (application equipment, planters, seeding, and tillage). Nick has a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture economics from the University of Illinois and holds an executive MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas. Nick is a Class of 2000 graduate of the Illinois Agriculture Leadership Program.
Chet Boruff serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA). As the Association’s CEO, he is responsible for managing its seed certification programs, developing new services and business relationships for certification agencies, and serving as spokesperson for the organization. AOSCA represents seed certification agencies in 45 states in the U.S., Canada, and several other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile. AOSCA and its member agencies also provide services related to ISO, organic, and quality assurance certification to support seed and commodity markets that require these activities. Chet was raised on a diversified family farm in Rock Island, County, Illinois, and received an agricultural degree from Iowa State University. During his career, Chet has worked in agricultural finance, sales, marketing, and for seven years served as the Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Throughout his career, he has operated a farming operation in his home area. He is a 1984 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program.
Ed CooperChicago, IL
Ed Cooper, Senior Vice President, joined Wells Fargo Bank in April 2005. He is responsible for new business development and managing client relationships for the Food and Agribusiness Commercial Banking Office. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Ed held positions at Cole Taylor Bank, Bank of America and Harris Trust and Savings Bank. In addition to his company responsibilities, Ed has conducted speaking engagements at industry conferences and has published articles in the ABA and RMA Journals. He is the past Chairman of the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention, a member of Posse Foundation’s Chicago Leadership Council and a member of the Union League Club of Chicago where he served on the board of directors and currently serves as Second Vice President. Ed received his MBA from Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and his B.S./B.A. from John Carroll University. Ed is a graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program, Class of 1994.
Tami Craig SchillingSt Louis, MO
Tami Craig Schilling is the Technology Development Knowledge Transfer Lead at Monsanto and is a fifth generation agriculturalist who started her career at the age of three showing livestock. At Monsanto, she leads a team that communicates the company’s application of crop science and technology to address societal needs with customers, scientists, industry leaders, employees and others. Starting with Monsanto in 1990, Tami was a sales rep in Michigan, served as a conservation tillage specialist across Illinois and Missouri, served as Customer Operations Manager, Sales Manager, and managed Corporate, State and Local Communications. Most recently she led Monsanto’s Strategic Communications and Outreach. A graduate of the University of Illinois in agricultural communications, Tami has spoken broadly about the importance of agricultural advocacy, the application of technology innovation, leadership and career development. She has been recognized as the Business and Professional Women’s Young Careerist, American Farm Bureau’s Discussion Meet finalist, a YWCA Leader and an Illinois 4-H Distinguished Alumni. She currently serves on the U of I College of Agriculture, Consumer Economics and Sciences Advisory Council, St. Louis World Affairs Council, Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation Board, and the National Association of Farmer Broadcasting Foundation Board.
Robert EasterUrbana, IL
Robert A. Easter served as President of the University of Illinois System from 2012 to 2015. Prior to his appointment as President, Dr. Easter served as Interim Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign from 2009 to 2011 and as Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) from 2002-2009. He has served as Head of the Department of Animal Sciences from 1996 to 2001, and has been on the Animal Sciences faculty since 1976. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Easter to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD), and in 2007 he was appointed as chair of BIFAD. Dr. Easter is a Fellow of the American Society of Animal Science and an honorary member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He currently serves on the Boards of Agrible, Aptimmune, 1st Farm Credit Services, Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) and the Riley Memorial Foundation. Easter’s academic expertise is in swine nutrition and production. His teaching has been recognized by the Midwest Section of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) and his research with ASAS American Feed Industry Association Award in Non-ruminant Nutrition. organization. He is a recipient of the Illinois Farm Bureau Charles Schuman award.
Sarah Michaels Fernandez
Sarah Michaels Fernandez serves as President of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Alumni Association. She grew up on a Central Illinois livestock farm and has continued in areas of agri-research, education, banking, broadcasting and digital media. Sarah received a B.S. in Plant and Soil Sciences at Southern Illinois University, and a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri in Agricultural Education. Sarah’s career has included teaching agriculture in higher education as well as farm management banking. As part of a Midwest media company, she helped design and develop a niche websites focused on the Midwestern farmer and farmers, ranchers and producers across 15 states in the southeastern US. She has created agriculture-based content and served as a reporter for This Week in Agri Business and the Sunbelt Ag Expo. Sarah currently is project coordinator for Western Illinois Farm Families and Quincy Community Gardens, and is active in the Adams County Farm Bureau, Western IL Pork Producers, as well as several other community organizations. Sarah is a member of the 2012 Class of the Illinois Agriculture Leadership Program and resides with her family in Quincy, Illinois.
John L. HustonChicago, IL
John L. Huston retired as executive vice president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association after 32 years of service. Since retiring, Huston has served as an advisor to Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, and made marketing presentations at two World Meat Congresses, plus several regional conferences. A native of Roseville, Illinois, Huston grew up on a general livestock and grain farm. He has a B.S. degree in Agricultural Education with an Animal Science option from the University of Illinois and received the Coultas Memorial Award as the College of Agriculture’s outstanding senior. John was inducted into the International Stockmen’s Hall of Fame and named Agri-Marketer of the Year in 1995 by the Chicago Chapter of NAMA. Huston currently serves as a director of Extension Partners, a delegate to the national Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching. John also serves as the President of the Alumni Association at the University of Illinois, College of ACES.
Renee M. RobertsDecatur, IL
Renee Roberts serves as the Vice President of Refined Oils Sales for Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur, IL. Since joining the ADM team in 2013, she currently manages U.S. and Canada sales teams for all of ADM Refined Oils. She developed the first Field to Fork sustainable oil execution for a major food company. Her career of more than 20 years has included grain merchandising, logistics and strategic, customer, relationship management. Renee is a 2014 graduate of the Harvard Executive Program, a 2008 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program, and she earned a degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois.
Richard O. RyanDeKalb, IL
Richard Ryan is a consultant in the agricultural and seed industry having retired from Monsanto after 23 years of employment in senior management positions with DEKALB Genetics Corporation in DeKalb, IL and Monsanto Company in St. Louis, MO. Raised on a farm near Mount Sterling, IL, Rich was educated and received degrees from Quincy College (B.S. Accounting/Finance), the University of Chicago (M.B.A.), and Stanford University (M.A. Food Research Institute). Rich served in the U.S. Army as a Finance Officer in Vietnam and following military service held financial management positions with Armour and Company (Financial Analysis) and the Chicago Board of Trade (Controller/Treasurer) in Chicago prior to joining DEKALB Genetics Corporation in 1979 in DeKalb, Illinois. At DEKALB he held senior management positions including Group Vice President, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and was named President and Chief Operating Officer.
Enid SchlipfGridley, IL
Enid Schlipf owns and operates a grain and livestock farm in McLean County with wife and son-in-law. Schlipf Farms Inc. produces corn, specialty soybeans, and beef cattle, including embryo transplant work. He also is a Real Estate Broker with Prairieland Gold Real Estate. He attended Illinois State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Education in 1970. While at ISU, he was a member of the Livestock Judging Team. Enid has served as vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. He also served as vice president of the companies that constitute Country Insurance, IAA Trust Company, AgriVisor Services Inc., and the IAA Foundation. He was President of the McLean County Farm Bureau from 1981 to 1986. He presently serves as president of Ag Guild of Illinois, LLC, a 50 member “new generation cooperative” in central Illinois. They have been successful in developing a niche for value added soybeans into the food and industrial markets. He is a member of the Chicago Farmers and McLean County Ag Club and is a founding member of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation.
Don McGillivrayBloomington, IL
Don McGillivray retired as President of Funk Seeds International, now part of Syngenta Seeds, and spent his lifelong career in agriculture. Don graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agronomy. He then joined Funk Seeds International as a production supervisor at the company’s Belle Plaine, IA operation. After serving two years in the United States Army, he returned to Funk Seeds as a plant breeder. He later became assistant manager and then manager of Funk’s Iowa-Minnesota-Wisconsin operations before transferring to Bloomington, IL in 1970. In 1975, Don was promoted to Vice President of Operations for Funk and in 1982 became President. He is a Past President of the American Seed Trade Association (1988-89). He has served as Chairman of the association’s Hybrid Corn and Sorghum Division. In 1996, Don was recognized for his service to the seed industry by being named a Lifetime Honorary Member of the American Seed Trade Association. Don has served as a board member of the U.S. Feed Grains Council and a board member and Past President of the American Seed Research Foundation. Don is active in his community, serving as past President of the BroMenn Hospital Advisory Council Normal Illinois, a member of the Bloomington Exchange Club, the Illinois Wesleyan University Associates Board and is active in the Illinois State University Senior Professionals Program.
Orion SamuelsonChicago, IL
Orion Samuelson is a legendary Hall-of-Fame broadcaster at WGN Radio in Chicago, where he has served as Agribusiness Director since 1960. Orion is also heard daily on 260 radio stations with his syndicated National Farm Report and on 110 stations with his syndicated Samuelson Sez. Orion and Max Armstrong are seen weekly on RFD-TV as co-hosts of This Week in Agri-Business. In 2003, Orion received the highest award in the radio industry when he became the first Agribusiness Broadcaster to be inducted into the National Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Hall of Famer Paul Harvey presented the award to Orion on the national radio broadcast hosted by Larry King. Orion has traveled with his television crew to 43 countries to cover agriculture; four of his trips were official agricultural trade missions with the Secretary of Agriculture. Orion is active outside broadcasting. He is Past-Chairman of the Board of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation, a member of the Farm Foundation Bennett Round Table, a member of the Board of the Agriculture Future of America, a member of the Board of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, a member of the Board of Directors of the Foods Resource Bank, a Trustee of the Cornerstone Foundation of Lutheran Social Services in Illinois and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the National 4-H Council.
Joyce WatsonCarefree, AZ
Joyce Watson retired after 30 years as the founding President and CEO of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF). Her professional background includes five years of teaching at the high school and college levels and seven years of experience as Director of Consumer Education with the Illinois Beef Industry Council. She is a graduate of Western Illinois University and is an NWU Kellogg School of Management Executive Scholar. She is a Certified Association Executive and a Certified Fund Raising Executive. Joyce is a past member of the CEO, Education, Special Events, and Associations for a Better Chicagoland committees of the Chicago Society of Association Executives. Also, she was a member of former Governor Ryan’s Commission on the Status of Women in Illinois, a member of the Board of Governors for the Illinois Lincoln Series, a past member of the Board of Directors of Rural Partners, a past member of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army in Macomb, Illinois, and is an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian Church USA.