Speakers:

Jeff Adams

Vice President of Sales
Big Dutchman, Inc.
3900 John F. Donnelly Drive
Holland, MI 49424
Email: JAdams@bigdutchmanusa.com 

I live in Athens, GA, where I studied animal science at the University of Georgia.  I have a farming background in beef cattle but have spent most of my career in the poultry industry.  I have worked in poultry processing, live production, and poultry equipment sales.  I have been with Big Dutchman for 22 years, of which the last 17 I have served as the Director of Sales for the poultry business unit.  I thoroughly enjoy working with farmers and helping to improve their bottom lines.  My ambitions are to promote and strengthen agriculture around the country, and leave it in better shape for the next generation. 

Jerry Adams

CEO
Adams Land & Cattle
327 South 1st Avenue
Broken Bow, NE 68822
Email: jerry.adams@adamslandandcattle.com 

Jerry Adams is CEO and Co-Owner of Adams Land & Cattle, one of the premier technology and sustainable beef feedlot operations in the world.

Growing up in the small town of Broken Bow, NE, Jerry Adams was born with a love for agriculture, especially cattle, and developed a work ethic milking cows and feeding calves. He attended UNL majoring in Ag Econ, Mathematics and Animal Science. After a time with ConAgra, he returned to his dad’s operation in 1972.

In 1972, the Adams’ operation consisted of five employees, 5,000 calves and 3,000 acres of farmland. Jerry, along with his brother Bill, grew the operation to what it is today with a finishing capacity of 125,000 head and a backgrounding network up to 125,000 head in over 85 locations. In mid-1990, Adams added a focus of research and technology. Today, Adams is known for its technology, innovation and data driven model in cattle production.

Today, Jerry serves on the boards for Adams Land & Cattle, Bellevue University, Custer Economic Development Corp., Cattle-Fax, a founding leader of Beef Alliance (which consists of the nine biggest cattle feeders in the US), Blueprint Nebraska and Custer Campus (which encompasses Mid-Plains Community College, Bellevue University and the Custer County Judicial Facility). In addition, Jerry is also on the Kansas City Federal Reserve Ag Committee and has served on many other local and state boards. He is also a community leader, and his involvement impacts his community through fund-raising, strategic planning meetings and networking.

Jerry has had a focus of sustainability for many years, even before it became in vogue. It has been part of Adams Land & Cattle’s Mission Statement for over a decade. As a founding leader of the Beef Alliance, he has been instrumental in making sustainability the overarching umbrella of all the Beef Alliance’s initiatives. Jerry is also co-leader of the newly founded Nebraska Ag Sustainability initiative, which focuses on livestock and crop sustainability for the entire state. Over the years, he has received many awards and recognitions for his service to the community, industry and sustainability attributes.

Jerry and his wife, Linda, celebrated their 50-year wedding anniversary last year and have three children, Amy, Melissa and Scott and nine grandchildren.

Avner Applbaum

President & Chief Executive Officer
Valmont Industries
15000 Valmont Plaza
Omaha, NE 68142
Email: trevor.mecham@valmont.com 

Avner Applbaum is the president and chief executive officer of Valmont®, assuming the role in 2023. His focus is executing the long-term growth strategy, driving efforts to digitize how we do business within the organization and continuing to transform Valmont into an Industrial Tech company.

Avner joined Valmont in 2020 as executive vice president and chief financial officer, responsible for developing and implementing the company’s financial strategy. In this role, he oversaw financial activities, including accounting and controllership, financial planning and analysis, tax, investor relations, internal audit and treasury. In addition, he led the IT infrastructure, cybersecurity and technology innovation functions.

Before joining Valmont, Avner held several CFO positions for private equity-backed companies and spent more than 15 years in senior financial and operational roles in publicly traded manufacturing companies, including Ametek, Belden and TE Connectivity (formerly Tyco Electronics). Earlier in his career, he worked for Ernst & Young. His experience includes developing and deploying lean management systems and forecasting models to provide consistent, accurate, reliable information, supporting strategic decision-making. Avner received his Bachelor of Arts in accounting/economics from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and is a certified public accountant.

Abram Babcock

President
Adams Land and Cattle
327 S First Avenue
Broken Bow, NE 68822
Email: Abram.babcock@adamslandandcattle.com 

Abram Babcock, PhD is President of Adams Land & Cattle.

Abram grew up on a farm in northeast Colorado and attended Colorado State University majoring in Agricultural Business and Animal Science. He then went on to study at Kansas State University and received a M.S in Agricultural Economics. Following graduation, Abram moved to Chicago and worked for Aon Re. doing risk analysis on crop insurance portfolios. After a short stint in Chicago, Abram returned to Kansas State and received his PhD in Veterinary Epidemiology where he utilized historical feedlot data to quantify the economic impacts of Bovine Respiratory Disease.

Abram joined the Research and Development team at Adams Land & Cattle in the summer of 2010. He spent his first three years at Adams focused on R&D strategy and execution. Abram was promoted to Vice President in the fall of 2013 and became President in November 2017.

Today, Abram serves on the board for the University of Nebraska’s Center for Agricultural Profitability (“CAP”) and the Beef Innovation Hub, Aksarben’s Full Value Ag Initiative, and the Research and Development board of MS Biotec.

Abram and his wife, Elizabeth, who is also employed at Adams, reside in Broken Bow with their three children Regan, Miles and Barrett.

Michael L. Bacon

Partner
Bacon, Vinton & Venteicher LLC
P.O. Box 208
Gothenburg, NE 69138
Email: mbacon@bvv.law 

Mike Bacon received his Juris Doctor from the University of Nebraska College of Law. His statewide practice is focused on tax increment financing and business and economic development.

Mike has consulted on hundreds of tax increment financing projects in more than 85 Nebraska communities involving multinational, national, regional and local companies and individuals. His projects include: agricultural processing facilities, grain terminals, site development, single and multi-family housing, ethanol plants, warehouse and distribution and manufacturing facilities.

He has served as primary recruiter for multinational facilities and numerous national and state projects. Mike is past president of the Nebraska Diplomats, the Gothenburg Improvement Company and past chairman, of the Dawson County Area Economic Development Council.

K.C. Belitz

Director
Nebraska Department of Economic Development
245 Fallbrook Blvd, Suite 002
Lincoln, NE 6852
Email: kc.belitz@nebraska.gov 

K.C. Belitz is currently the Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, being appointed to the position by Governor Jim Pillen in July of 2023.

Prior to joining DED, K.C. served four years as Chief Operating Officer of the Nebraska Community Foundation, working with NCF staff, volunteers, donors and organizational partners to impact the future of Greater Nebraska.

K.C. lives in Columbus but spends his time at the Lincoln office of DED or traveling to work with Nebraskans across the state.

Previously, K.C. served as President of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce since 2000. K.C. is a native of Columbus and graduate of Columbus High School and Northeast Missouri State Univ. (now Truman University). He and his wife Colleen are the parents of their daughter Emerson, who is a graduate of UNL and now works for an analyst relations firm.

Don Blakenau

Attorney
Blankenau Wilmoth Jarecke LLP
2900 S 70th St
Lincoln, NE 68506
Email: don@bwjlawgroup.com 

Bio

Admissions

  • Nebraska, 1987
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1999
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, 2003
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 2002
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 2001
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 2007
  • U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, 1987
  • U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota, 2003
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, 2006

​Education

  • Juris Doctorate, 1987
    University of Nebraska – Lincoln
  • Bachelor of Science, 1983
    Water Resources Management – University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Interstate Water Conflict Experience

  • Provided legal counsel to the State of Nebraska concerning the management of the North Platte River in a case before the United States Supreme Court, Nebraska v. Wyoming, No. 108 Original
  • Provided legal counsel to the State of Florida regarding the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River litigation, Florida v. Georgia, No. 142 Original
  • Assists City of Memphis, Tennessee regarding Mississippi v. Tennessee and the City of Memphis, No. 143 Original
  • Provides legal counsel regarding the Republican River Compact litigation involving the States of Colorado and Kansas to the State of Nebraska
  • Provided legal counsel to the State of Nebraska and Nebraska Public Power District concerning the management of the Missouri River in multiple jurisdictions. See South Dakota v. Ubbelohde, 330 F.3d 1014 (8th Cir. 2003), In re Operation of Missouri River System, 421 F.3d 618 (8th Cir. 2005), cert. denied 547 U.S. 1097 (2006)
  • Assisted the State of Florida in drafting an interstate water sharing formula pursuant to the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Rivers Compact
  • Provided legal counsel regarding the Blue River Compact to the State of Nebraska

Intrastate Water Conflict Experience

  • Presently provides legal counsel to Natural Resource Districts relative to water management issues in the Platte, Little Blue, and Niobrara Rivers Basins.
  • Presently provides legal counsel to various Municipalities regarding water management issues.
  • Presently assists environmental organizations in assessing flow needs.
  • Presently assists various individuals with conflicts concerning competing users.
  • Served as administrative law judge in over 100 hearings concerning water use.
  • Provided legal counsel to Canadian corporation in Arizona general stream adjudication.

​Publications

  • Florida v. Georgia: The Long River to Nowhere”, The Water Report, Issue #207, May 2021
  • Mississippi v. Tennessee and Memphis: Special Master’s Report”, The Water Report, Issue #202, December 2020
  • “War and Peace Over the Niobrara River”, The Water Report, Issue #142, December 2015
  • “Republican River Litigation: Clearing the Waters”, The Nebraska Lawyer, Vol. 13, No. 7, July/August 2010
  • Water and Water Rights, Volume 6, “Nebraska Water Law”, The Michie Company, 2009
  • “Ecosystem Protection Versus Immigration: The Coming Conflict”, Great Plains Natural Resources Journal, Fall 2007
  • Water and Water Rights, Volume 6, “Nebraska Water Law”, The Michie Company, 2007
  • Spear T Ranch v. Knaub: The Reincarnation of Riparianism in Nebraska Water Law, 38 Creighton L. Rev. 1203, 2005

Speaking Engagements

  • Interstate Water Disputes: Mississippi v. Tennessee and Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division. American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources in Orlando, Florida, April 19, 2018
  • Western South Dakota Hydrology Conference, 2016
  • Nebraska’s Changing Water Law, NSBA Annual Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, October 2015.
  • University of Nebraska Water Law Conference, 2012-2020.
  • Spring 2012 Water Seminar Series. April 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Greater Platte River Basin Symposium. October 2010, Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Nebraska Water Law. June 2009 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Water Rights, Allocation and Resource Management in Nebraska. June 2004 in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Eastern Water Resources: Law, Policy and Technology. May 2004 in Hollywood, Florida.
  • Nebraska Water Law. September 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Nebraska Water Laws and Regulations. July 2010 in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Nebraska Water Law. May 2008 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Renewable Energy. May 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Western Water Law. September 2004 in Denver, Colorado.
  • Water Law – Water Regulation, Quality and Use in the Midwest. November 2002 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

​​Related Activities

  • General Counsel to the Nebraska Department of Water Resources (“NDWR”) from 1991 to 1993.
  • Assistant Director and General Counsel to NDWR from 1993 to 1999. Duties included supervision of all NDWR staff, management of NDWR budget, and development and implementation of state water policies and laws.
  • Planning chairman for the 2004 American Bar Association Water Law Conference held in San Diego, California.
  • Chairman of the Nebraska Bar Association’s Natural Resources and Environmental Law Section.
  • Frequent lector at water policy conferences and at universities.

Kris Bousquet

Executive Director
Nebraska State Dairy Association
Email: krisbousquet@nebraskamilk.org 

Kris Bousquet grew up on a diversified farming operation near South Sioux City, Nebraska where they milked cows, raised cow calf pairs, farmed corn, soybeans, and alfalfa as well as operated an over the road trucking company. Kris served in the Nebraska Air National Guard for 13 years where he served as an aircraft mechanic on the KC-135R Stratotanker where he deployed multiple times in support of military and antiterrorism operations to include Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Odyssey Dawn. He attended the University of Nebraska- Lincoln and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in diversified agriculture in 2015. Kris began working in the commercial dairy industry after graduation where he worked in cooperative field service, Nebraska dairy checkoff management, and his current role as Executive Director of the Nebraska State Dairy Association. In November of 2020, the Nebraska State Dairy Association partnered with the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) where he currently serves as the Director of Livestock Development and continues in his role as the Executive Director of the Nebraska State Dairy Association. Kris’s role at AFAN is to help producers analyze and integrate livestock into their operation as well as assist in recruiting new processing capacity for their products.

Jesse Bradley

Deputy Director
Nebraska Department of Natural Resources
245 Fallbrook Blvd., Suite 201
Lincoln, NE 
Email: jesse.bradley@nebraska.gov

Jesse Bradley is a Deputy Director at the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources. He was hired in 2006 as an Integrated Water Management Analyst and became the head of the Water Planning Division in 2012. In 2014 Jesse was promoted to his current role in the Department.

In his role at the Department, Jesse oversees surface water permitting, water administration, water planning, interstate water management, and data collection activities in the Department.

Jesse Bradley earned a BS in Environmental Geology from the University of Nebraska Omaha and an MS in Hydrogeology from Clemson University. Jesse is also a licensed professional geologist in the state of Nebraska.

David Briggs

Chief Executive Officer
Sustainable Beef, LLC
P.O. Box 1547
North Platte, NE 69103
Email: dbriggs@sustbeef.com 

David Briggs was raised on a farm in Goshen County, Wyoming, and obtained a Bachelor Degree in Accounting from Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, Nebraska. He has served as CEO of WESTCO, a large cooperative headquartered in Alliance, Nebraska, for the last 23 years. He also serves as Chairman of the Nebraska Cooperative Council representing the legislative efforts of the state’s Coops.

David & Gina have two grown children and four grandsons, ages three and under.

Julie Bushell

CEO
Ethos Connected
601 P Street, Suite 103
Lincoln, NE 68508
Email: jbushell@ethosconnected.com 

Julie Bushell is CEO of Ethos Connected, dedicated to bridging the rural connectivity gap in America. With expertise in implementing connectivity solutions, she empowers communities and critical industries through technology.

Joining Paige in 2004 and becoming a partner in 2013, Julie focuses on rural economic development and supporting agricultural producers. She spearheaded the creation of Paige Wireless in 2019 to bridge the digital divide and connect underserved communities. In 2022 Paige Wireless became Ethos Connected, dedicated to meeting the most pressing needs in local communities, such as protecting the food we eat, water resources we need to survive and the rural economies we all need to thrive.

She serves as Vice President of the Irrigation Association, member for the FCC Precision Agriculture Connectivity Task Force, Chair of the Adoption of Precision Agriculture and High-Quality Jobs on Connected Farms Work Group, and Board Member for the University Technology Development Corporation (UTDC).

Julie’s expertise and advocacy are integral to statewide and federal public policy initiatives focused on rural connectivity, critical infrastructure, agriculture, and natural resources.

Anne Byers

Digital Equity Manager
Nebraska Information Technology Commission
501 South 14th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
Email: Anne.Byers@nebraska.gov 

As the Digital Equity Manager with the Nebraska Information Technology Commission (NITC), Anne Byers is heading up the state’s digital equity planning grant. She has worked with Nebraska’s Rural Broadband Task Force to develop findings and recommendations for the Legislature since 2018. She previously administered two health information exchange grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in 2010-2014 and 2015-2017. She also provides support to the Commission’s advisory groups on community technology and eHealth issues. Ms. Byers has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska and a master’s degree in human resource education from Boston University. She resides in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband and two needy dogs.

Lachlan Campbell

CEO and Co-Founder
Proagni
Email: lachlan.campbell@proagni.com 

Lachlan grew up on the family sheep farm in Australia and has decades of experience in livestock production and farm management.

He has decades of experience as a specialist consultant – advising hundreds of family farming businesses on planning and adapting to change to ensure they are sustainable over the long-term. He is an active contributor and guide to the Sheep and Cattle Industry and advisor to corporate and government. In addition to being ProAgni CEO, Lachlan has been the sole (only) resource to drive business development and industry engagement; generating sales from individual customers; and building the reseller and manufacturing network.

Over the past 6 years, Lachlan has had the opportunity to work with producers, resellers, researchers, and industry bodies and has a well-rounded understanding of the industry and the current and future issues that may impact our producers. With the changes on imports into the EU, Lachlan feels it is vitally important to keep our producers informed and supported.

As winners of the grand prize at Grow NY 2022, Lachlan and ProAgni’s efforts continue to create sustainable, economic, and ecological success in agricultural by promoting optimal resource management that benefits industry growth, sustainability, and animal welfare. He has spoken on the topic on many podcasts and radio interviews.

Dawn Caldwell

Executive Director
Renewable Fuels Nebraska
1327 H Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
Email: dawnc@renewablefuelsne.org 

Dawn Caldwell was born and raised on a diversified farm near Guide Rock, Nebraska and earned a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 1994. After a few years working in the University of Nebraska Extension system, she began a career in livestock nutrition, first with Deshler Grain and Feed and then Aurora Cooperative. While at Aurora Cooperative, Dawn spent 10 years as a Livestock Specialist, 5 years as Corporate Communications Manager, and 6 years as Head of Government Affairs before moving on to be the Executive Director at Renewable Fuels Nebraska. Dawn has served on a number of state and national boards and enjoys promoting all aspects of Nebraska Agriculture while serving as the Executive Director of Renewable Fuels Nebraska. Dawn and her husband, Matt ranch and farm in North Central Kansas and South Central Nebraska; they have two grown children and two grandchildren.

Paul Caldwell

Site Director
Evonik
650 Industrial Park Road
Blair, NE 68008
Email: paul.caldwell@evonik.com 

Paul Caldwell, Evonik Site Director, started his career with Cargill in 1993 as a Chemist at their Memphis, TN facility, he moved to the Blair, NE site in 1995 for the construction and start-up of the complex. He joined the joint venture company Midwest Lysine in Blair, NE for the construction and start-up of that facility in 1999. In 2004, he moved to Degussa Corporation (now Evonik Corporation) due to the sale of the Midwest Lysine business.  He took on multiple assignments in Ohio and Alabama with Evonik Corporation from 2007 to 2018 when he had the opportunity to return to Nebraska in his current role where he is responsible for safely operating Evonik’s Lysine plant and Veramaris’s Algal Oil plant. He earned his Bachelor of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh.  Paul is married to his wife Maja and they have 2 children, Ben and Lukas. He likes hunting, fishing, camping and generally anything outdoors. 

Kurtis Charling

Vice President – Digital Products
Lindsay Manufacturing
18135 Burke Street, Suite 100
Elkhorn, NE 68022
Email: kurtis.charling@lindsay.com 

Speaker Bio

Kurtis Charling is currently Vice President of Digital Product Management for Lindsay Corporation, a position he has held since March 2022. In this role, Charling oversees the digital and technical development of Lindsay’s company-wide suite of digital and IoT products, driving innovation across Lindsay’s digital solution portfolio within agriculture, transportation services, industrial lighting, oil and gas, and rail markets. Charling began working for Lindsay Corporation in November 2015, focusing on managing and adding technologies and SaaS products within the FieldNET remote irrigation control and monitoring platform. Since joining Lindsay Corporation, Charling has been honored as the 2019 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Nebraska Engineer of the Year, was named to the 2018 Midland’s Business Journal 40 under 40, was selected as a member of the Farm Credit Top 100, which acknowledges 100 individuals who are positively shaping rural communities and agriculture, served as a member of the AgGateway Precision Ag Irrigation Language (PAIL) standards committee, and has been a guest lecturer for the University of Nebraska Water Center Seminar series. Charling has also managed and assisted with the development of agriculture and irrigation technology products that have won numerous industry awards.

 

Before joining Lindsay Corporation, Charling worked as a graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business while obtaining his MBA. During his time in the MBA program, he developed an automated technology that focused on improving irrigation management efficiency. As a result of this technological development, Charling received a special invite to and attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit after placing in the Top 50 of the Forbes Under 30 Changing the World Competition and was selected as a semi-finalist for the 2015 Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, placing fifth out of 165 applicants. Prior to working for the College of Business, Charling started his career with Valmont Industries, specializing in irrigation technology product development, testing, and training.

 

Currently, Charling serves on the MBA Advisory Board for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has been a Board Member since October 2017, serving as Chairperson for board from October 2020 to October 2022. Additionally, Charling currently serves as the Chair for the Nebraska Section of ASABE and has been an Officer for the Section since October 2019.

 

Charling grew up on a farm and feedlot near Oakland, Nebraska and obtained a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering in 2012 and an MBA in 2015, both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Charling, his wife, Timaree, and daughter, Kyndall, currently reside in Omaha. Outside of work, Charling enjoys spending time with his family, computer programming, hunting, playing golf, and traveling.

Ngan Chau

Professor of Marketing
University of Nebraska at Kearney
2504 9th Avenue
Kearney, NE 68849
Email: chaunn@unk.edu

Dr. Ngan Chau is a Professor of Marketing at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Her areas of expertise include market research, logistics, forecasting, and inventory management. Dr. Chau holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida and a Master of Engineering in Supply Chain Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Judy Clark

Planning Administrator
Lincoln County Planning and Zoning
211 West Third Street
North Platte, NE 669101
Email: clarkjm@ci.north-platte.ne.us 

Born and raised in Lincoln County on a farm and ranch just south of North Platte, I have been a lifelong Nebraskan. I attended UNK for my undergraduate degree and received my master’s degree from UNO. I have worked for the City of North Platte since college graduation and have been part of the Development Department for the past 23 years working in planning, zoning, building, and economic development for both North Platte and Lincoln County. I am a member of the Nebraska Association of County Officials and currently serve as the President of the Nebraska Planning and Zoning Association, which is a group of citizens committed to providing education, training, and assistance for the betterment of planning in Nebraska communities. Additionally, knowing the important role education plays in rural communities I am also an adjunct faculty member at Mid-Plains Community College.

Rick Cochrane

Senior Vice President – Commercialization
Viridis Chemical
3309 East 8th Street
Columbus, NE 68601
Email: rick.cochrane@viridischemical.com

Rick joined Viridis Chemical Company as Senior Vice President of Commercialization and Business Development in 2022. Over the last twenty years, Rick has been involved with companies that not only were innovators in their markets but had substantial impacts on reducing carbon and increasing circularity. Rick was most recently with Cyclyx International where he was responsible for launching and growing Cyclyx’s consortium memberships with an emphasis on the chemical industry. Rick was also CEO and COO, respectively, of two private equity owned businesses, the former specializing in plastic products manufacturing and the latter in electronics recycling. Earlier in his career, Rick was with Waste Management (WM) where he served in a variety of management positions, including in WM’s ventures group where he was responsible for developing growth strategies for new waste to value businesses.

Sandy Dudley

Darling Ingredients
5601 North MacArthur Blvd.
Irving, TX 75028
Email: SDudley@darlingii.com 

Sandra Dudley has served as Executive Vice President – Renewables and U.S. Specialty Operations since October 2021, overseeing Darling Ingredients’ Diamond Green Diesel joint venture; wet pet food, organic fertilizer, bakery feeds and refining operations; and restaurant services. Ms. Dudley joined Darling Ingredients in 2015, and has served as Senior Vice President – Renewables and Strategy and Vice President – Strategic Planning & Business Development. Ms. Dudley began her career in 1995 at Professional Research Consultants, analyzing trends in the healthcare market. From 1998 to 2004, she worked at ConAgra Foods, serving in both strategy and financial roles, and from 2004 to 2015 she worked at Tenaska Marketing Ventures, a top natural gas marketer, where she analyzed long-term deals, developed deal structures, and traded natural gas. Ms. Dudley currently serves on the board of Diamond Green Diesel.

Brad Dunbar

Region Manager
Lindsey Manufacturing
18135 Burke Street, Suite 100
Omaha, NE 68022
Email: brad.dunbar@lindsay.com 

Brad is a Regional Sales Manager for Lindsay Corporation, working with Zimmatic Dealerships throughout the Midwestern United States and Canada. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a degree in Mechanized Systems Management. Brad is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy. He has served on the Natural Resources Commission for the last 7 years as the governor’s appointee representing manufacturing interest. Brad grew up on a diversified farming operation near Eustis, NE. He manages the farming interest in the area today consisting of corn, soybeans, popcorn, winter wheat for seed production and a cattle operation focused on Angus and Wagyu beef. He has a passion for wise use of water resources and rural economic development.

Lindsay Corporation
Zimmatic® by Lindsay offers proven systems and products that are built to be strong, long-lasting, durable and easy to use for growers who need highly efficient irrigation solutions. These systems can be enhanced with a family of integrated plug-and play add-ons.
Growers around the world rely on Zimmatic’s innovative technology, supported by a network of knowledgeable dealers to add value, reduce risk and take full advantage of every growing season.

Scott Ford

Bertrand Community Builders
72862 C Road
Bertrand, NE 68927
Email: s.ford@plantpioneer.com 

One of the owners of Hi-Line Ag (Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed Agency) & Cross Diamond Cattle (Purebred Red Angus sales).  Married (wife Kim) 2 children (Johanna & Marie).

Michael Formica

Chief Legal Strategist
National Pork Producers Council
122 C Street NW, Suite 875
Washington, DC 20002 
Email: formicam@nppc.org 

As NPPC’s chief legal strategist, Michael Formica is responsible for developing and implementing the organization’s legal strategy on the most important issues facing the pork industry.  He builds broad coalitions and works closely with the White House, congressional lawmakers, and federal and state agencies on regulatory and legal issues impacting pork producers. He’s been recognized by his peers as one of the nation’s top lobbyists and received the Excellence in Agricultural Law award from the American Agricultural Law Association.

Robyn Geiser

Housing Director
Cozad Development Corporation
121 West 9th Street
Cozad, NE 69130
Email: robyn@growhousing.net 

Robyn has served as the Housing Director for both Cozad Development Corporation and Gothenburg Improvement Company for the past 2 years. She previously served as the Executive Director of Cozad Development Corporation for 11 years. She is a member of the Dawson Area Development Board of Directors and serves on the Nebraska Strategic Housing Council.

Robyn is passionate about her community and is an avid volunteer serving on several boards, volunteering at church and serving wherever needed.

She and her husband Scott own 222 Hardware in downtown Cozad. She is a mother of 2 grown boys, Logan and Dillon. In her free time, she can be found spending time with family and friends at the lake or on the golf course.

Jodi Gibson

Local Assistance Division Head
Nebraska Department of Transporation
1400 Nebraska Parkway
Lincoln, NE 68516
Email: jodi.gibson@nebraska.gov 

Jodi is the manager of NDOT’s Local Assistance Division and has been with the department for over 20 years. Her role is supporting Nebraska’s Local Public Agencies in maintaining transportation assets by overseeing federal and state funds on behalf of those agencies and providing required regulatory oversite. She enjoys working and coordinating with all transportation partner throughout Nebraska.

Jessica Groskopf

Extension Educator
Nebraska Extension
4502 Avenue I
Scottsbluff, NE 69636
Email: jgroskopf2@unl.edu 

Jessica Groskopf is the Regional Extension Economist at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center and the Director of the Nebraska Women in Agriculture Program.

A native of Colorado, she received her B.S. in Agricultural Business from Colorado State University and M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University.

For more than 10 years, she has taught workshops on agricultural lease agreements, grain marketing, transitioning operations between generations, financial management, farm bill commodity programs, crop insurance, and more. Jessica works to span the gap between academia and practice, research and application.

Jessica, and her husband Andy, farm corn and dry edible beans north of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. She loves to work with fellow farmers and farm families to address the challenges of growing food.

Billy Hagstrom

CEO & Co-Founder
Bluestem Biosciences
3555 Farnam Street, Suite 903
Omaha, NE 68131 
Email: billy@bluestembiosciences.com 

Billy Hagstrom is CEO & Co-Founder of Bluestem Biosciences, a company producing sustainable chemicals from organisms not oil, leveraging existing infrastructure.  A strong believer in the bioeconomy, Hagstrom saw the potential of synthetic biology and how it is inextricably linked to agriculture.  Prior to Bluestem, Billy served as EVP of Strategy & Development for Green Plains, Inc.. Prior to relocating to Omaha, Billy was CEO of Cannalysis. Previously, Billy was a Managing Director at Highbridge Capital Management. Billy started in investment banking at J.P. Morgan in Natural Resources & Infrastructure. Billy earned his BA in Economics from Northwestern University.

Josh Hanson

Greater Nebraska One Stop Operator
Nebraska Department of Labor
371 South College Drive
Sidney,
Email: Josh.hanson@nebraska.gov 

Josh Hanson, Reemployment Program Coordinator with the Nebraska Department of labor. Assists with establishing and maintaining the American Job Center network structure within the 88-counites of the Greater Nebraska Workforce Development Area. Ensuring career and educational services are available and accessible in accordance with federal regulations, and ensuring local area polices are implemented and adhered to. Evaluates One-Stop partner and customer needs and satisfaction data to continually refine and improve service delivery strategies to jobseekers and employers.

Jack Hubbard

Executive Director
Center for Environment and Welfare
1655 Fort Myer Drive, Suite 600
Arlington, VA 22209
Email: jack@bermanco.com 

Executive Director Jack Hubbard is a leader in the animal welfare and agriculture space, with over 15 years of experience providing advice and counsel to CEOs and senior executives on key industry issues.

Jack previously served as chief marketing officer and later chief operating officer at the country’s first national humane organization.

As executive director of Center for the Environment and Welfare, Jack leverages his first-hand experience in the animal welfare space to navigate today’s complex issues and blow the whistle on bad actors and extremist groups.

Ryan Huff

Chief Strategy Officer
Nebraska Department of Transportation
1400 Nebraska Parkway
Lincoln, NE 68502
Email: ryan.huff@nebraska.gov 

Ryan Huff is the Chief Strategy Officer at the Nebraska DOT (NDOT) where he manages NDOT’s planning and performance activities. This includes managing teams that work on carbon reduction, electric vehicle infrastructure, data analytics, performance management, grants, freight planning, economic development, and operational excellence. Prior to this role, he has held many other roles in his 14 year career at the DOT. Before that, he worked in Omaha as an engineering consultant. Ryan holds a Bachelors and Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nebraska.

Brandon Hunnicutt

Owner
Hunnicutt Farms and Nebraska Corn Board Member
609 South G Road
Giltner, NE 68851
Email: dirtpoorfarmer@gmail.com 

I am a fifth-generation farmer, who currently farms with my semi-retired dad (Daryl) and my brother (Zach). We raise corn, soybeans, and popcorn. I graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Ag Business and spent a number of years working on post graduate classes dealing especially in technology, plant breeding, leadership, communications and science.

Our farm tries to stay up on the cutting edge of technology, with a stronger emphasis on data and irrigation. We continue to look at new ways to implement more cover crops, whether fall, spring or in season. We also use a few different technologies in dealing with water Management on our pivot irrigation to help reduce our water usage.

I am currently on the National Corn Growers Association Board of Directors, Vice-Chair of the Nebraska Corn Board and Chair the Field to Market Board of Directors.

Greg Ibach

Undersecretary in Residence
University of Nebraska
44670 Road 767
Sumner, NE 68878
Email: gibach2@unl.edu 

Mr. Ibach spent three years as USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs during the Trump Administration. In his role as the Under Secretary, Mr. Ibach carried out the MRP mission area’s broad task of facilitating domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products and ensuring the health and care of animals and plants.

Prior to his USDA appointment, Mr. Ibach served as Nebraska’s Director of Agriculture for over 12 years, making him the longest-serving director in the organization’s history. He has been inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement and has numerous awards and other recognitions. He and his wife maintain an active family cow/calf and grain operation in Sumner, NE.

Ibach has an appointment as Under Secretary in Residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In his role with IANR, Mr. Ibach works to connect UNL Research, Teaching and Extension expertise to current policy initiatives and opportunities at the state and federal government level. He also engages UNL learners interested in public service, the importance of public and private partnerships, and science-informed policy. Mr. Ibach also consults with private companies related to agriculture concerns related to his current and past producer and public experiences.

Mr. Ibach holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Nebraska with majors in Animal Science and Agricultural Economics. He and his wife, Teresa, have three grown children and two granddaughters.

Marnie Jensen

Partner
Husch Blackwell
13330 California Street, Suite 200
Omaha, NE 68854
Email: marnie.jensen@huschblackwell.com 

With the straightforward outlook of a native Midwesterner, Marnie is a litigator who also advises on food and agricultural regulatory matters, protecting businesses that have often been in the family for decades.

While her litigation practice emphasizes food systems companies, Marnie represents clients in a variety of industries in complex commercial matters. Clients look to her for successful representation in bet-the-company litigation and other high-profile cases: Marnie often handles breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract claims, trade secret claims, intellectual property issues, unfair competition allegations and shareholder disputes.

 Alongside her winning record, she’s also known for a practicality that serves clients well. Marnie approaches litigation with an eye toward the outcome that will truly serve a client’s business. Her aim is not to have a lengthy court battle, but to solve the client’s real-world problem.

 A respected name in food and agricultural regulations, Marnie also chairs the firm’s Food Safety & Regulation practice group. She advises clients on USDA and FDA regulatory matters, providing proactive counsel and advice on matters such as safety and labeling concerns, product recalls and inquiries from regulatory bodies. With nearly twenty years of experience in these areas, Marnie understands the issues unique to food and agribusiness.

 The firm’s authority on the National Organic Program, Marnie is also well versed in the special requirements of organic food. She represents both organic-certification agencies and certified operations, and advises clients on compliance. 

 What Marnie loves most about her work, however, is collaborating with clients: she often represents businesses that have been owned by several generations of the same family. She values the opportunity to serve clients who have such a strong emotional connection to their work and who truly love the businesses she’s protecting.

Brandon Kelliher

Mayor
City of North Platte
211 West Third Street
North Platte, NE 69101
Email: kelliherba@ci.north-platte.ne.us 

Brandon A. Kelliher is a native of North Platte. He studied Political Science at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and began an entrepreneurial venture in North Platte one year after graduation from UNL. Passionate about improving his community, he successfully ran for Mayor and began his first term in December 2020. Kelliher is also the Chief Information Officer at Great Plains Health where he has been employed for 25 years. Brandon and his wife Terri enjoy attending community events, helping community non-profits, and the occasional game of pickle ball. Mayor Kelliher is grateful for the opportunity to lead his home town with his calm, thoughtful and occasionally humorous style.

Rusty Kemp

Founder
Sustainable Beef, LLC
960 Pioneer Road
Tryon, NE 69167-6616
Email: rustykemp89@gmail.com 

Rusty Kemp lives with his wife Rachael and their two sons Cash and Tucker on their ranch in McPherson County, Nebraska. They have a cow calf, yearling operation that produces feeder cattle that are eligible to be exported to any US trading partner through the Global Animal Partnership. He has an ag, business degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and in 2020 he founded Sustainable Beef LLC a $350 million beef processing facility currently under construction in North Platte, Nebraska.

Hannah Klitz

Owner
Oak Barn Beef
P.O. Box 2
West Point, NE 68788
Email: hannah@investnebraska.com 

Hannah Klitz is an Animal Science graduate who found a passion for entrepreneurship and marketing through building a farm-to-fork ecommerce business, Oak Barn Beef. Oak Barn Beef ships Premium, Nebraska beef directly to consumers across the United States. Hannah started the business as a sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is the owner and operator of the business with her husband, Eric. Hannah won the UNL New Venture Competition in 2018 and was very involved in the Engler Entrepreneurship Program throughout college. She has a love for digital marketing, promoting Nebraska beef, and supporting small business owners. Hannah also works full-time as the Communications Coordinator at The Combine, a program by Invest Nebraska which supports Nebraska Agricultural Technology Startups.

Lynn Kohout

Director of Housing
Nebraska Department of Economic Development
245 Fallbrook Blvd, Suite 002
Lincoln, NE 68521
Email: lynn.kohout@nebraska.gov 

Lynn Kohout is the Director of Housing for the State of Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). The Department’s Housing Team oversees multiple state and federally funded programs that support workforce and income-based housing projects across Nebraska. Lynn joined the team at the Nebraska Department of Economic Development in 2009 and previously worked with the Department’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program and in the Business Development Division before rejoining the Housing Team in May of 2018.

Lynn and her husband John live in Omaha and have an 8-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. In her free time Lynn enjoys spending time outside with her family and quilting.

Justin Lavene

Chief/Aenr
Attorney General
1445 K St.
Lincoln, NE 68509
Email: justin.lavene@nebraska.gov 

Justin D. Lavene is the Bureau Chief of the Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Bureau of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, located in Lincoln, Nebraska. In this position, Mr. Lavene supervises the litigation support for Nebraska state agencies and boards, including the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture, Game and Parks Commission, Environmental Trust, and State commodity boards. Prior to his appointment as Bureau Chief of the AENR Bureau, Mr. Lavene served as a Section Chief and as Special Counsel to the Attorney General. He focuses his practice primarily on litigation arising from the regulation and administration of the waters of Nebraska, including legal challenges to the constitutionality of Nebraska laws relating to the state’s water resources. Mr. Lavene is also Counsel of Record for Nebraska’s interstate water disputes, including the most recent Republican River litigation with Kansas.

Amy Link

StrategicCommunication Specialist
High Street Consulting Group
6716 Clybourn Avenue
North Hollywood, CA 91606
Email: link@highstreetconsulting.com 

Amy Link works with leaders to connect with citizens, legislators, and employees to build consensus for problem solving. Amy specializes in finding unique ways to engage audiences to overcome apathy and make complex topics easily understandable to drive progress. Prior to High Street, Amy served as the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Kansas DOT and helped craft the $10 billion Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program, better known as IKE. IKE includes broadband investments as part of the transportation program for the first time in the state’s history. She also organized the HomeField Advantage Heartland Conference, which brought together public and private sector leaders from 13 Heartland states, including Nebraska, to identify strategies for increasing economic opportunities and for ways to reduce the cost of transporting goods across the region.

Steve Matin

Executive Director
Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN)
5225 South 16th Street
Lincoln, NE 68512
Email: stevem@a-fan.org 

Steve grew up on a diversified farm in Southwest Iowa. He has a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business from Colorado State University and as well as a teaching degree from Buena Vista University. Steve has worked in a variety of agriculture, manufacturing, and educational fields and is currently the executive director of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) and We Support Ag (WSA).

Steve lives on a small farm south of Lincoln, NE with his wife, Renae, and two sons where they raise row crops and Vizsla hunting dogs.

Kim Matthews

Business Development Manager
Adams Industries
1655 Industrial Avenue
Sidney, NE 69162
Email: kmatthews@adamsii.com 

Kim Matthews is the Business Development Director at Adams Industries, a third-generation trucking and transload company located in the western Nebraska panhandle. Kim contributes to our ever-diversifying business portfolio by investing her near two decades of community development experience into strengthening partnerships that fortify the economic foundation of our company, and just as importantly to us, the sustained growth of our region.

Mark McHargue

President
Nebraska Farm Bureau
5226 South 16th Street
Lincoln, NE 68512
Email: markm@nefb.org 

Mark McHargue is a fourth-generation farmer from Central City with his wife Judi. They have a diversified farming operation raising irrigated corn, popcorn, and soybeans utilizing and organic and conventional cropping methods along with running a nursery and finishing hog operation. Mark and his son also own and operate McHargue Builders. He was elected President of Nebraska Farm Bureau in December 2020 and elected to the American Farm Bureau Board of Directors in January 2021.

McHargue is a past Merrick County Farm Bureau president and has been in leadership capacities for more than 20 years in Nebraska Farm Bureau. McHargue is the Vice President of the Farm Bureau Financial Services Property & Casualty Board, Chair of the NFB-Foundation Board and was recently appointed by Governor Ricketts to the Hydrogen Hub Working Group.

He has a passion for agriculture policy and advocacy. Mark’s hope is that the next generation of farmers and ranchers will have the same opportunity to purse their dreams as an agriculturalist he was given.

The McHargues’ have four children and eight grandchildren.

Trevor Mecham

Vice President, Global Technology Strategy
Valmont Industries
15000 Valmont Plaza
Omaha, NE 68142
Email: trevor.mecham@valmont.com 

Trevor joined Valmont in 2018, leading the global technology strategy for the Infrastructure business, including Smart Grid in Utility and Smart City for Telecommunications and Lighting & Traffic. In addition, Trevor oversees the Agricultural technology strategy for Valmont. Prior to that, Mecham was formerly vice president of agriculture and construction verticals at the data analytics company Uptake.

 Trevor was also the director of precision solutions and telematics at CNH Industrial and worked at Leica Geosystems where he helped develop agriculture technology products, including precision agriculture service platforms, developing new ventures, partnerships and additional revenue streams within the agriculture industry.

Aaron Moreno

State Monitor Advocate
Nebraska Department of Labor
5752 Ames Avenue
Omaha, NE 68104
Email: aaron.moreno@nebraska.gov 

Aaron Moreno is an adaptable and committed bilingual professional with ten plus years of experience in the understanding and knowledge of serving families in the community. Aaron sees strengths of individuals and draws out the best in each person. Aaron serves currently as Nebraska’s State Monitor Advocate (SMA) for Nebraska Department of Labor serving Migrant & Seasonal Farmworkers across the state. He plays an integral role within Nebraska Department of Labor monitoring, advocating, and reporting on behalf of Migrant & Seasonal Farmworkers. Aaron is a liaison and facilitates meaningful conversations in order to assist in making changes to help those without a voice. Aaron has accumulated a vast amount of experience taking on different roles within the Nebraska Workforce. He has served as Reemployment Specialist, Workforce Coordinator, Housing Inspector (H2A) and Outreach Worker to Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers. He has served as Nebraska’s State Monitor Advocate (SMA) since 2021.

Steve Mossman

Attorney
Mattson Ricketts Law Firm
134 South 13th Street, Suite 1200
Lincoln, NE 68508
Email: sdm@mattsonricketts.com 

Mattson Ricketts Law Firm is a full-service law firm located in Lincoln, Nebraska, representing clients in most civil matters in the region. Mattson Ricketts represents individual agricultural producers, agri-businesses, individuals, private and public traded corporations specializing in real estate, estates, tax, business transactions, litigation, agricultural, environmental and water law.

The lead partner at Mattson Ricketts in representing parties in county zoning and water law issues is Steve Mossman. Steve is one of the leading attorneys in the Midwest in the areas of natural resources and environmental law, solid waste law, water law, and agricultural law. Steve also advises businesses on all aspects of their operations on a regional basis.

In the area of water law, Steve has represented parties in many of the major water cases decided by the Nebraska Supreme Court, which have changed the face of Nebraska water law over the past two decades. He is the author of “Whiskey is for Drinkin’ but Water is for Fightin’ About: A First Hand Account of Nebraska’s Integrated Management of Ground and Surface Water Debate and Passage of L.B. 108,″ which was published in the Creighton Law Review. The article traces the debate from Steve’s firsthand account as one of the drafters of L.B. 108, one of the major pieces of water legislation Steve has been involved with.

In addition to his water law practice, Steve is especially active in representing Confined Animal Feeding Operations (“CAFO’s”) in the zoning process. He has appeared before County Planning Commissions, County Boards and County Boards of Zoning appeals statewide assisting producers in obtaining county zoning permits to operate. Once a permit has been secured, Steve defends permits in the District Courts, the Nebraska Court of Appeals and the Nebraska Supreme Court. Steve argued and won the groundbreaking county zoning case of In Re Olmer, 275 Neb. 852 (2008), which leveled the playing fields for CAFO’s to overturn County Boards if they denied a zoning permit. More recently, Steve successfully represented a Costco (Lincoln Premium Poultry) chicken producer when his county permit was appealed to District Court and the Nebraska Supreme Court. That opinion, Egan v. Lancaster County, 308 Neb. 48 (2020) confirmed the framework for challenges to county zoning decisions with respect to CAFO’s.

Roger Nadrchal

Chief Executive Officer
NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska
213 South 1st Street
Norfolk, NE 68701
Email: rogern@nwnen.org 

Roger is the founding Chief Executive Officer of NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska based in Norfolk, Nebraska. NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska originated in 1994 and currently serves eight counties providing Purchase/ Rehabilitation/ Resell, New Construction, Community Revitalization, Homebuyer Education programs and Rural Workforce Housing Funds. Under Roger’s direction, NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska has developed almost 1,000 housing units in northeast Nebraska. NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska maintains an “Exemplary” status within the NeighborWorks America network.

Roger commits many hours of his personal and professional time to his community and furthering the mission of affordable housing. Roger is a recipient of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority’s Housing Hall of Fame. Roger is involved in the following organizations: National NeighborWorks Association Board, Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, Norfolk Noon Kiwanis, Nebraska Housing Developers Association-Past Chair, and past Chair of the FHLBank Topeka Affordable Housing Advisory Council. Roger has been a Commissioner for the Nebraska Commission on Housing and Homelessness since 1998.

Rob Owen

Executive Director
Bio Nebraska
PO Box 24802
Omaha, NE 68124
Email: rowen@bionebraska.org 

Rob Owen joined Bio Nebraska as Executive Director in 2019. Prior to Bio Nebraska, Rob was an attorney with the Dobrusin Law Firm, a strategic intellectual property law firm, where he was Of Counsel, and served as general counsel for Streck, Inc., a market leader in the medical device industry, for over 8 years. While serving as Streck’s general counsel, Rob became involved with Bio Nebraska.
Prior to entering the private sector, Rob held a series of advisory positions in the federal legislative and executive branches, first as Senior Counsel to U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, then as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, and later as Counselor with the U.S. Department of Labor. He also worked as the Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters.

Tim Pendrell

Policy Aide to Senator McDonnell
Nebraska Legislature – District 5
1445 K Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
Email: tpendrell@leg.ne.gov 

Tim Pendrell is a policy aide and Committee Clerk for the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee in the Nebraska Legislature, serving under Senator Mike McDonnell. He actively shapes Nebraska’s policies, leveraging his expertise in economic and workforce development, emergency communications, and NextGen technologies. His leadership skills and understanding of community development, honed through impactful roles such as Grant Administrator at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and executive positions at the Nebraska City Chamber of Commerce and Coney Island USA, drive his policy work.

In the recent legislative session, Pendrell was instrumental in the successful passage of Nebraska’s legislative package to support the federal CHIPS for America Act. His crucial role has substantially bolstered Nebraska’s potential for economic expansion and a robust technological future.

Pendrell holds a Master’s in Urban Planning with a specialization in Economic Development and Housing Policy from New York University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. His global exposure, gained through living and studying abroad in Nepal, Vietnam, China, and England, bolsters his policy work. Combining his academic knowledge with practical expertise, Pendrell effectively addresses complex policy challenges. His ongoing efforts continue to drive policy and economic growth, shaping the future of Nebraska.

Gary Person

President/CEO
North Platte Chamber and Development Corporation
502 South Dewey Street
North Platte, NE 69101
Email: gary@nparea.com 

Gary Person has served the past seven years as President and CEO of the 630-business member North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corporation. The organization is a combined economic development corporation and chamber of commerce. Gary is a life-long Nebraskan, having grown up on a small farm-ranch in Banner County near the Wyoming border.

North Platte was named Governor Ricketts “2021 Showcase Nebraska Economic Development Community of the Year.” North Platte currently has approximately $2 billion of new development and community projects in the development and planning stages.

Gary’s past professional experiences include being the editor of three newspapers, managing two Chambers of Commerce’s and three economic development organizations: owning a public relations company and serving as the Director of the Western Office of the Governor for four years under Gov. Kay Orr. He served 16 years as Sidney City Manager from 1999-2015 during a time Sidney tripled its economy. During his 29-year tenure in Sidney as the city-county economic development director, Cheyenne County grew by $1 billion in valuation.

Gary served as state president of the Nebraska Economic Developers Association in 1995; state president of the Nebraska Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) in 1989-90 when it was ranked number one in America, and two years in the immediate past president’s role of the Nebraska City Manager’s Association. In 1989 he was named the Outstanding Young Nebraskan of the Year. He has served on 40 different local, regional and statewide boards of directors. He recently served on the advisory steering committee for the Blue Print Nebraska initiative and Nebraska Investment Finance Authority statewide housing task force.

He holds degrees in mass communications from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Nebraska Western College at Scottsbluff. In 1996 he was honored as the Nebraska Community College Distinguished Alumni of the Year. In 2009 he was inducted into the Nebraska Junior Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame. Nine years ago, he was asked by U.S. Senator Mike Johanns to testify in Washington D.C. before a congressional subcommittee on rural job creation and regional economic growth strategies.

In 2014 he was honored as the Nebraska Economic Development Professional of the Year by the Nebraska Economic Developer’s Association. In 2023 he was named the Nebraska Community Housing Champion by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority.

Tan Phan

CEO
Informedic
2101 Philadelphia Drive
Lincoln, NE 68521
Email: tphan@getinformedic.com 

Tan is a rising junior at the UNL Raikes School. He is the CEO of InforMedic, a startup building software to automate document review in insurance.

Pranav Rajan

COO
Informedic
8010 South 33rd Street
Lincoln, NE 68516
Email: prajan@getinformedic.com 

My name is Pranav and I am a developer at Kiewit Corporation. I graduated from UNL last May

Patrick Redmond

Deputy Director
Nebraska Broadband Office
1500 Nebraska Parkway
Lincoln, NE 68502
Email: patrick.redmond@nebraska.gov 

Patrick Redmond graduated from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Studies. He also earned a Master’s degree in political science with a focus on Public Policy from Iowa State University. Patrick was tapped by Governor Ricketts to be State Infrastructure and Broadband Coordinator in February 2022. He was appointed to lead the Broadband Office during its inception on January 6th, 2023 and was hired on as Deputy Broadband Director on June 20th, 2023.

Tom Riley

Director
Nebraska Department of Natural Resources
245 Fallbrook Blvd., Suite 201
Lincoln, NE 68521
Email: tom.riley@nebraska.gov 

Tom is the Director at the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (the Department). He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska where he received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering. He has worked with water users and stakeholders across the state of Nebraska to help solve their unique and challenging water resource problems. Prior to coming to the Department, he spent over three decades consulting with customers across the Nebraska and the country, most recently at the Flatwater Group, where he was a company founder. Tom has worked extensively on Nebraska’s compacts and decrees along with consumptive management projects throughout the state. His water projects include irrigation and water supply, conjunctive management, restoration of Nebraska’s unique saline wetlands, and stream and reservoir restoration.

Vanessa Rising

Director, Enzyme Operations & General Manager
Novozymes
600 South 1st Street
PO Box 388
Blair, NE 68008
Email: vari@novozymes.com 

Vanessa has been with Novozymes for 26 years where she has gained extensive experience across many functions and geographies. In June 2022, Vanessa was appointed as the General Manager and the Director of Enzyme Operations at the Novozymes Blair, Nebraska site.

Before taking on the current role, Vanessa resided in North Carolina and served as the Director of Technical Service for North and Central America in the Consumer Biosolutions division, where her teams worked with customers to integrate enzymes and microbes into products and processes in the Food & Beverage and Household Care Industries. The first 15 years at Novozymes, Vanessa was in quality and operations, culminating with a 2-year expat to Denmark sitting on the global product management team where she represented operations for the Food and Beverage industries.

Vanessa comes from a strong agriculture background as she grew up on a family farm in rural eastern North Carolina where her family grew tobacco, beans and wheat, along with raising hogs. Vanessa attended North Carolina State University and majored in Food Science. She completed her tenure at NC State by receiving her Master’s in microbiology.

Vanessa and her husband reside Omaha, Nebraska.

Hank Robinson

Executive Director
Aksarben Full Value Agriculture
7101 Mercy Road, Suite 320
Omaha, NE 68106
Email: hank@aksarben.org 

Over the last 20 year, Dr. Robinson has provided analytical, policy and technical counsel to government, higher education, and private agencies in the areas of workforce and economic development as well as juvenile justice, corrections and child welfare. He earned both his law and doctoral degrees from the University of Nebraska.

Daran Rudnick

Associate Professor
UNL Irrigation Management Specialist
Chase Hall, Room 232
Lincoln, NE
Email: daran.rudnick@unl.edu 

He is an Associate Professor and Irrigation Engineer in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. His responsibilities include developing and conducting relevant and responsive water and crop management research and extension programs for Nebraska. Specific interests include full and deficit irrigation management, evapotranspiration, precision water management, fertigation, and plant and soil water monitoring technologies. He also co-leads the Water and Integrated Cropping Systems (WICS) Hub within UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Profile page: https://bse.unl.edu/faculty/daran-rudnick

Kari Ruse

Transit Program Specialist
Nebraska Department of Transporation
1400 Nebraska Parkway
Lincoln, NE 68516
Email: kari.ruse@nebraska.gov 

Kari Ruse, NDOT Transit Programs Specialist, began her career at NDOT in 2010. Since 2013, Ms. Ruse has managed the NDOT Transit Section which is responsible for compliance and oversight of more than 150 rural public and specialized transportation agencies across the state.

Bryan Seck

Executive Director
Lincoln Literacy
1023 Lincoln Mall, Suite 104
Lincoln, NE 68521
Email: bseck@lincolnliteracy.org 

Bryan Seck, M.P.A., received his Masters of Public Administration Degree from New York University. Prior to NYU, he served in Peace Corps Kazakhstan from 2004-2006 teaching English and also taught in Washington DC and New York. Since receiving his MPA, Bryan launched the College Possible nonprofit program in Omaha and led the homeless student outreach program for Lincoln Public Schools. He previously served as the Employment Skills Developer for Prosper Lincoln and the Director of Workforce Development for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development from 2016-2021 where he developed the EmployLNK coalition to bring together workforce agencies and employers. As the Chief Talent Management Strategist for Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing he led a two-state team to record-breaking recruitment and hiring results as well as improved retention. He now serves as the Executive Director for Lincoln Literacy where he helps the team to provide English and workplace skills to our newest neighbors. He serves on multiple nonprofit boards and community initiatives including the Homeless Coalition, the Greater Lincoln Workforce Development Board, Tabitha Health, and the New Americans Task Force.

Dean Settje

President/CEO
Settje Agri-Services & Engineering
15460 NW 48th Street
Raymond, NE 68428
Email: dsettje@settje.com 

Dean Settje grew up on a diversified livestock and farming operation near Creston, NE where he still maintains an active role as a partner in his family’s operation. After graduation from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Dean worked for Farm Credit Services and Colorado Cattle Feeders Association. In 1991, Dean was recruited to work for the Nebraska Cattlemen as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. Under this role, Dean developed the Cattlemen’s Environmental Education Program, which was the first environmental compliance program of its kind in the nation. In 1997, Dean founded Settje Agri-Services & Engineering, Inc. Dean has been the President of the company since its formation, and maintains a strong presence in all aspects of the business. Settje Agri-Services serves the livestock industry in over 20 states and 6 foreign counties, with site development, engineering and design, permitting and compliance and construction. Dean has represented clients at over 300 county hearings across the Midwest and has a very thorough understanding of how county zoning regulations impact the growth of the livestock sector.

Zach Settje

Chief Operating Officer
Settje Agri-Services
15460 NW 48th Street
Raymond, NE 68428
Email: zsettje@settje.com 

Zach was born and raised in Eastern Nebraska near the home office of Settje Agri-Services & Engineering. After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an Agribusiness degree he began his career internationally, developing commercial farming projects outside of the US. His specific areas of focus were Eastern Africa and Western Russia, developing multiple beef and dairy projects in those regions. Zach has traveled to 39 countries over his life, managing projects or trade missions in 10 of them over the last several years.

Additional to leading International Projects at SASE, Zach serves as COO of Settje Agri-Services. His tactical experience includes construction project management, project development, sales, and design for beef, dairy, and poultry projects. Additionally, he supervises all marketing and software development activities of the company.

Eduardo Sicilia

CEO & Founder
2% Football
Parkhaus Apartments Larson Building 817 – 250 North 13th Street, The Soze Unit
Lincoln, NE 68508
Email: esiciliaayala2@huskers.unl.edu 

I am an incoming Senior student at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, double majoring in Clifton Builders´ Management and Marketing with a minor in Entrepreneurship. After a lifetime of playing and coaching American football, I created a service that provides an in-depth quality scouting report for football teams about their next opponent.

Megan Skiles

President and CEO
Greater Fremont Development Council
1005 East 23rd Street, Suite 2
Fremont, NE 68105
Email: megan.skiles@fremontecodev.org 

Megan Skiles has led the Greater Fremont Development Council (GFDC), a non-profit economic development corporation since September of 2021. Since that time, GFDC has collaborated heavily with the City of Fremont and Dodge County in pursuit of Nebraska’s Inland Port Authority Act and received one of the first port authority designations in the state from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Megan now serves as an advisor to the newly formed Fremont Municipal Inland Port Authority. Prior to working at GFDC, Megan spent 5 years working at the Greater Omaha Chamber Economic Development Partnership where she focused on business attraction & expansion, site development, and served as staff lead for the Chamber’s Ag and Manufacturing Councils. Megan grew up in McCook, Nebraska and attended college at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, majoring in international relations.

Jim Stark

Chief Financial Officer
Green Plains
1811 Aksarben Drive
Omaha, NE 68106
Email: jim.stark@gpreinc.com 

Jim Stark was appointed to Chief Financial Officer in October of 2022 after serving as Executive Vice President since rejoining Green Plains in January 2022. Prior to rejoining Green Plains, Mr. Stark served as Vice President, Investor Relations at Darling Ingredients Inc. based in Irving, Texas, from December 2019 until January 2022. Prior to that, Mr. Stark led Investor and Public Relations at Green Plains for over 10 years, where he was involved in numerous strategic initiatives that spanned the organization.

Kelly Staup

Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer
Lindsay Corporation
181335 Burke Street, Suite 100
Elkhorn, NE 68022
Email: kelly.staup@lindsay.com 

Kelly Staup is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer at Lindsay Corporation, positions she has held since January 2018 and June 2020, respectively. She leads the global people strategy and programs for the company and is passionate about creating talent development opportunities for the employees who work at Lindsay across the globe. She has a degree in Psychology from Northwestern University in Chicago and serves on the Board of Directors for Youth Emergency Services. Kelly is an Omaha native and happily returned to Nebraska in June 2011 to join Lindsay Corporation.

John Stika

President
Certified Angus Beef, LLC
206 Riffel Road
Wooster, OH 44961
Email: jstika@certifiedangusbeef.com 

As president of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, John Stika leads a team dedicated to earning the trust of consumers around the world by consistently delivering the best beef experience possible. Through a vision focused on connecting people from pasture to plate, John and a passionate team work to grow demand for the branded beef and increase the value of registered Angus cattle, enhancing the lives and businesses of farming and ranching families and all who touch the brand along the way to the consumer.

John’s love for Angus cattle, quality beef and the entire community of people involved from gate to plate is rooted in his experiences growing up on his family’s small farm in central Kansas. His passion grew as he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science and meat science, respectively, at Kansas State University, and then his doctorate in meat science from the University of Kentucky. Celebrating more than 22 years with Certified Angus Beef, John joined the team as assistant director of feeder-packer relations in 1999, and then director of supply development and packing. Moving on to vice president of business development, he led efforts to collaborate with domestic and international distributors, grocery stores and restaurants to grow their beef sales before becoming president in 2006.

With expertise and experience across the beef community, John has served as a board member of the American Meat Science Association, currently serves as a board member of the North American Meat Institute and actively engages in beef quality initiatives and related committees of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. John received the Outstanding Young Alumnus award in 2010 from the Kansas State University College of Agriculture and the Achievement award from the American Meat Science Association. John credits his success to strong mentors, a deep faith and the opportunity to collaborate with innovative and caring teammates, cattlemen and industry partners throughout his career and life. He and his wife, Deanna, have three adult sons and reside in Creston, Ohio, where they care for a small herd of Angus cattle and enjoy time with friends and family over great steaks.

Katie Thurber

Deputy Commissioner of Operations and General Counsel
NE Department of Labor
550 South 16th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
Email: katie.thurber@nebraska.gov 

Katie Thurber is Deputy Commissioner of Operations and General Counsel for the Nebraska Department of Labor. She serves as the Department’s legislative liaison and oversees the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Tribunal and the Benefit Accuracy Measurement Unit. She has been with NDOL for eleven years. Prior to becoming Deputy Commissioner in 2023, she worked for the Department as a law clerk, a hearing officer, an attorney, UI Director, and General Counsel.

Rachelle VanCleave

HR Division Head
Nebraska Department of Transporation
1400 Nebraska Parkway
Lincoln, NE 68516
Email: rachelle.vancleave@nebraska.gov 

Rachelle Van Cleave is the Human Resources Director at the Nebraska Department of Transportation.  She leads the Department’s human resources functions, supporting teammates and department leadership across the state.  She guides the Department’s human capital management strategy, and is passionate about driving engagement and performance through all levels of a diverse and distributed organization. She has a wide range of experience in human resources, serving the Department for 15 years and most recently in the Human Resources Director role.

Allison Walbrecht

Founder
Unified Showing and Unified Agriculture
201 West Old Cheney Road
Lincoln, NE 68523
Email: amnwalbrecht@gmail.com 

Allison Walbrecht comes from right outside of Lincoln, Nebraska as a fifth-generation cattle rancher who is working on her Animal Science degree at the University of Nebraska. At 15 she realized there was a gap between her love for agriculture and her friends with disabilities, so she decided to fix that, and Unified Showing was born, a program that empowers youth with disabilities through learning about and showing livestock. She keeps herself busy with running this as well as Unified Agriculture, a beef direct to consumer which equitably employs adults with disabilities.

Jarrod Walker

Freight & Economic Development Liaison
Nebraska Department of Transportation
1400 Nebraska Parkway
Lincoln, NE 68502
Email: jarrod.walker@nebraska.gov 

Jarrod has served as the Freight & Economic Development Liaison for the NDOT for 3 years. He manages various programs within the Strategic Planning division including the Economic Opportunity Program, federal discretionary grant applications, freight data projects, and the Nebraska State Freight Plan. Jarrod works closely with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development as well as numerous local groups across Nebraska to help freight and economic outcomes across our state.

Randy Wood

President and CEO
Lindsay Corporation
18135 Burke Street, Suite 100
Omaha, NE 68022
Email: randy.wood@lindsay.com 

Randy Wood is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Lindsay Corporation. His previous roles have included Chief Operating Officer; President, Global Agricultural Irrigation; Vice President, International Irrigation; and Vice President, for the Americas. He currently leads all business activities for the global irrigation and infrastructure businesses including operations in the USA, Brazil, France, Italy, South Africa, China, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand.

Prior to joining Lindsay, Randy worked with a leading agricultural equipment manufacturer in various sales, marketing and aftermarket roles. He has spent his entire professional career in the agricultural industry. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Nebraska and Omaha Chambers of Commerce, United Way of the Midlands, and the Irrigation Association.

Randy holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Conference Information

Younes Conference Center North707 West Talmadge StreetKearney, NE 68845

Date: Thursday, August 8 | 2024
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Event Registration