In its ongoing mission to earn consumer trust in American agriculture, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) has selected Erin Fitzgerald to lead the organization as its next chief executive officer.
Fitzgerald formerly served as senior vice president, global sustainability for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, a part of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which is a forum for the dairy community to address the needs and expectations of consumers.
"The USFRA board of directors is pleased to hire Erin Fitzgerald as our new CEO," said Chip Bowling, USFRA vice chair and chair of the CEO search committee. "With an outstanding number of qualified candidates for the CEO position, Erin was the obvious choice to lead our organization through the next chapter of its history, and it was a unanimous decision by the board."
Under Fitzgerald's leadership at the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, she enhanced dairy's contributions to a more sustainable food system by advancing the intersection of nutrition, health, hunger, food waste and impact. In her role, she conducted an environmental impact assessment that led to an industry-wide voluntary carbon reduction goal of 25% by 2020. Fitzgerald is recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture, an Aspen Institute First Movers Fellow, and a Crain's Chicago 40 under 40 recipient. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
"American farmers and ranchers have an incredible legacy and will define the sustainable food systems of the future. I am grateful for the privilege to continue to work for the farmers across the United States who are committed to stewardship and inspire a sustainable future," Fitzgerald said. "By creating a shared dialogue, from our farms to our consumers, we have a tremendous opportunity to advance the food systems of our future."
Fitzgerald will lead USFRA as it approaches its eighth year as an organization. Since its launch in October 2010, USFRA has held 30 plus groundbreaking Food Dialogues, which initiated important conversations, conducted cutting-edge research into consumer perceptions of agriculture and produced the award-winning film "FARMLAND." USFRA and its 100 affiliates and industry partners look forward to working with Fitzgerald to engage with consumers and stakeholders to advance the dialogue about today's agriculture.
Jon Leafstedt and Jim Gerardot, principals with the global executive search firm Kincannon & Reed, assisted the USFRA farmer-led search committee with the recruitment of Fitzgerald as CEO. Fitzgerald will begin full-time employment with USFRA on July 16, 2018.
In January, it was announced that the USFRA board of directors would be relieving Randy Krotz of his duties as CEO. Krotz’s contract was set to expire in March. The USFRA board of directors executive committee made the determination not to renew his contract when it expired in March.