New York ag leadership program continues


ITHACA, N.Y. — The Empire State Food and Agricultural Leadership Institute, or LEAD New York, recently selected the members of its 15th class.

Selection to the program is competitive, with a goal of including as much diversity as possible, according to Director Larry Van De Valk.

The new class will have 16 men and 14 women. One-third of the participants are producers, one-third come from the for-profit agribusiness sector, and one-third come from the not-for profit or educational sectors.

Age range of the participants is 25-45, and the average age of the cohort is 34

Class members include:

Steven Ammerman, manager of public affairs, New York Farm Bureau; Brenda Avedisian, administrative team lead, Cargill, Inc.; Bradley Bliss, branch manager, Lamb and Webster, Inc.; Robert Cross, associate professor, Morrisville State College;

Patience Frysinger, assistant general manager, Empire Livestock, Dairylea Cooperative; Jessica Gaige, assistant director of membership marketing, New York Farm Bureau; Vaughn Gingerich, crop manager, Wayne County Farms, Inc.;

Nathanial Hartway, finance and environmental assurance coordinator, McCormick Farms; Wade Heineman, North East and Canadian Sales, Oxbo International; Ryan Hrobuchak, credit representative, Farm Credit East, ACA; Kristopher Kane, general manager and winemaker, Old Chautauqua Vineyards; John Kast, farm operator, Kast Farms, Inc.;

Darleen Krisher-Meehan, owner, Country Crossroads Feed & Seed; Mary Beth La May, farm business adviser, Farm Credit East, ACA; Judy Littrell, executive director, NY Association of Conservation Districts;

Jenny Lundberg, insurance agent, Farm Family Insurance; Kenneth Marley, Extension aide, Quality Milk Production Services; Bethany McKellips, director of ag economic development, CCE of Madison County;

Megan Mills Hoffman, director of resource development, Young Audiences of WNY; Mark Modzeleski, financial planner, The Voss Group, LLC; Paul Molesky, herd manager, Allenwaite Farms, Inc.;

Justin Mortensen, credit representative, Farm Credit East, ACA; Corey Mosher, partner/manager, Mosher Farms, LLC; Deb Ritchie, owner/operating manager, Native Offerings Farm, LLC; Kristina Sidor, assistant manager, Northville Farms;

Chelsea Smith, business representative, BASF Corporation; Amie Thomas, director, sales and marketing, Dairy Marketing Services; Daniel Welch, business and succession planning coordinator, NYFarmNet/FarmLink; Christopher Whipple, apple production supervisor, Brightly Farms; Tristan Zuber, dairy foods processing extension specialist, CALS.

About the program

LEAD New York is a leadership development program for adult professionals in the food, agriculture and natural resource industries. It consists of seminars, workshops, and field travel experiences both in and out of New York State, including an international study trip.

For more information, contact Van De Valk at 607-255-7907 or at Additional information is also available on the LEAD New York website at


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