Together We Grow expanding with new center, executive director at CSU
DENVER — Together We Grow a consortium of some of the world’s largest agribusiness interests focused on building a skilled, diverse, and inclusive agricultural workforce, announced plans to expand the organization’s reach by establishing an educational and research center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
TWG’s Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture will be headquartered at the CSU System Campus at the redeveloped National Western Center in Denver. The center will be led by newly named executive director Kristin Kirkpatrick, a leader in promoting food literacy education in schools nationwide, and will focus on building a more diversified pipeline of talent for the agricultural industry.
“Our industry has a unique challenge and opportunity to nourish the world, and diversity and inclusion are the proven keys to the success we need to address this challenge,” said Michael D’Ambrose, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Archer Daniels Midland Company, who founded the TWG consortium. “Together We Grow gives us a platform to freely and openly share best practices across the industry and demonstrate the power of an aligned group committed to taking innovative industry-wide actions. The creation of TWG’s Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture will help us to take these efforts to the next level, and we are excited that CSU and Kristin have stepped in to lead the way forward.”
Kirkpatrick most recently directed the Colorado regional office of the national nonprofit Big Green, which integrates food literacy education into school curriculum across the country.
“Kristin’s background in public health, policy advocacy, and community planning make her an exceptional candidate to lead this exciting new partnership,” D’Ambrose said. “She is passionate in her belief that agriculture is our future, and creating more opportunities for more people in agriculture means a more secure future for all of us.”
Kirkpatrick also has been an instructor with the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU and served as chief of wellness planning for Bellisimo Development Inc., which created the landmark Bucking Horse and Jessup Farm developments in Fort Collins. She earned a bachelor’s in health and exercise science from Colorado State and a master’s in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado.
“The Colorado State University System and our excellent College of Agricultural Sciences at CSU in Fort Collins are delighted for the opportunity to work with Kristin and Together We Grow on this important new center,” said CSU System Executive Vice Chancellor Amy Parsons. “We all share the same goal: to create awareness and opportunities for more people to do the important work of feeding our world.”
“Diverse perspectives and experiences are how we innovate quickly to solve some of the world’s most pressing global challenges. TWG’s Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture will leverage and embrace these perspectives to shape our industry and future leaders,” said consortium member Melissa Harper, senior vice president of Global Talent & Inclusion, Bayer Corp.
Another consortium member, LeighAnne Baker, corporate senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Cargill, said, “If we want to live up to our mission of nourishing the world, we need a workforce that is passionate about the challenge, culturally and technologically adept, and reflects the communities we serve. For Cargill, being part of Together We Grow and this new center is just smart business. It’s an investment in the future of our company, our industry, and our world.”
Hosting the Center is a great investment for the university system, Parsons said, given the opportunities it creates for more students to pursue productive agribusiness careers and the chance for CSU faculty to connect with industry in more innovative ways. CSU System will fund Kirkpatrick’s salary and provide space for the headquarters, and TWG will provide operational funds for the center. The office will be located at the CSU Campus at the National Western Center, slated to break ground in 2020 with a 2022 completion date.
As an initial offering of the center, Kirkpatrick will present on a panel discussing the challenges and opportunities on the journey of creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures, at the CSU Ag Innovation Summit on the CSU campus in Fort Collins on Dec. 5-6.
“CSU and Together We Grow share a strong commitment to expanding opportunities and attracting more people from all walks of life into the agricultural workforce,” said Tony Frank, chancellor of the CSU System. “We need a diverse, inclusive, and well-prepared workforce to confront the complex challenges of global hunger and food insecurity. Through this partnership, we aim to help more people from diverse backgrounds see their own future as leaders in agriculture.” ❖