Menon named president and CEO of Colo State Research Foundation |

Menon named president and CEO of Colo State Research Foundation

Ajay Menon, a two-time dean at Colorado State University, has been named the next leader of the Colorado State University Research Foundation. Menon, who currently serves as dean of CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will step into the new role Oct. 1, following the retirement of long-time CSURF leader Kathleen Henry.

As president and CEO of CSURF, Menon will be responsible for the protection, management and commercialization of intellectual property resulting from research at CSU and will oversee the services that CSURF provides to both CSU and the CSU System. These services include the coordination and management of non-campus real estate holdings on behalf of CSU, CSU-Pueblo, CSU-Global and the CSU System and the provision of debt financing expertise and capabilities to those entities.

Menon has served as dean of CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and director of the Colorado Agriculture Experiment Station since July 2015. Prior to this appointment, from 2002 until 2015, he served as the dean of the CSU College of Business.

From November 2011 to August 2013, as appointed by former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Menon served in a dual role as the state’s first chief innovation officer. In that role, he helped establish and lead the Colorado Innovation Network to develop an ecosystem in Colorado that cultivates entrepreneurial and innovative activities.

In his role as Dean of the College of Business, Menon led the college’s transformation to a high-performing and entrepreneurial school within a large land-grant state university. While leading the College of Agricultural Sciences, he was involved in guiding the college toward a vision of unquestioned global preeminence.

Menon holds a Ph.D. in marketing and joined CSU in 1991 as a member of the Marketing Department faculty. His teaching and research expertise lie in the areas of international marketing, new product development and management and strategic market planning. His research interests lie in the areas of customer loyalty, new product management and strategy implementation. Menon’s research has appeared in numerous preeminent publications in the field, including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science and Journal of Business Research.

In addition to his academic and administrative work, Menon has served as a management consultant to local and multinational companies on issues related to customer satisfaction and loyalty. He has also served on the boards of directors or advisers to for-profit and non-profit organizations including the Colorado Innovation Network; Junior Achievement – Rocky Mountain, Inc.; Colorado National Bancorp; World’s Fresh Waters, Chile; Convera Corporation; Women’s Vision Foundation; Envirofit Corporation; and the Better Business Bureau of Northern Colorado.

Menon has received numerous teaching awards, including “Professor of the Year” from the CSU College of Business.

Nebraska young rancher interns with CAB

Fifth generation on her family’s 120-year-old Diamond Bar Ranch near Stapleton, Neb., Natalie Jones joined the Certified Angus Beef LLC producer communications team this fall as an intern.

“Besides her writing skills, Natalie brings an insider’s perspective on Sandhills cattle ranching, from health to genetics and grazing management,” said CAB team director Miranda Reiman, Cozad, Neb. The internship fits into Jones’s last semester at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where she’s completing her bachelor of science in agricultural and environmental sciences communication with a minor in the Nebraska Beef Industry Scholars program.

Working from the Beef State, Jones helps the CAB team across the country craft stories about outstanding Angus producers and inform audiences through technical articles, features, news releases, video scripts and social media.

“I come from a place where cattle are king, so I know the value in ‘Targeting the Brand’ through sire selection and herd management,” she said. “People work hard to make their living in livestock, so I hope to help point out ways to add value to their cattle.”

Jones formerly interned with Superior Livestock Auction in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up showing livestock in 4-H. A member of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, she also served UNL student government as a senator for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. ❖

Nebrasda LEAD announces 2019-21 fellows

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska LEAD Group 39 participants have been announced by the program’s director, Terry Hejny. The two-year program will begin in September.

The newest members of Nebraska’s premier two-year agricultural leadership development program are involved in production agriculture and/or agribusiness in Nebraska.

Fellows in the Nebraska Leadership Education/Action Development program will participate in monthly three-day seminars across Nebraska, a 10-day national study/travel seminar and a two-week international study/travel seminar. The goal of the program is to develop problem solvers, decision makers and spokespersons for agriculture and Nebraska.

Seminar themes include leadership assessment and potential, natural resources and energy, leadership through communication, agricultural policy, international trade and finance, Nebraska’s political process, global perspectives, nuclear energy, social and cultural issues, understanding and developing leadership skills, agribusiness and marketing, information technology, advances in health care, the resources and people of Nebraska’s Panhandle, and other areas designed to develop leaders through exposure to a broad array of current topics and issues and how they interrelate.

The Nebraska LEAD Program is sponsored by the nonprofit Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council in cooperation with the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and 12 other institutions of higher education throughout Nebraska.

Nebraska LEAD 39 Fellows by hometown are: Albion: John Krohn; Arthur: Jason Christensen; Bellevue: John Bronner, Derek Brown; Blue Hill: Alex Buschow; Clarkson: Mike Podany; Clatonia: Monte Murkle; Colon: Jeff Meduna; Columbus: Justin Lorenz; Cozad: Zack Jenner; Elgin: Tiffany Hemenway; Grand Island: Andy Paul; Holdrege: Molly Trausch; Hordville: Rebekah Nortrup; Kearney: Elyse Schlake; Lincoln: Travis Harrison, Laurel Mastro, Blythe McAfee, Brett Muhlbach, Tony Sibert; Mullen: Kory Phillips; Neligh: Koryn Koinzan; Omaha: Craig Davidson, Benjamin Grabenstein, Ashley Peters; Stromsburg: Cale Pallas; Sutherland: Thomas Kelly, Zachary Paulman; Sutton: Jesse Mohnike; and Utica: Mindy Wolf.

AFT hires Fink as policy director

WASHINGTON, D.C. – American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food, has hired Tim Fink as its new policy director. Fink is charged with developing AFT’s overall policy direction and strategies, overseeing the implementation of those strategies, coordinating AFT’s federal policy work and all relevant state policy work in close collaboration with AFT’s national initiative leaders and regional directors.

Fink comes to AFT from the Supporters of Agricultural Research, or SoAR, Foundation where as the director of research and policy analysis he oversaw federal relations and science policy. There he successfully advocated for increases in USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative from $325 million in FY 2015 to $415 million in FY 2019. Fink also managed and successfully fundraised for the National Academies’ Science Breakthroughs 2030 project on behalf of SoAR. In addition, he served as project lead in developing a series of Farm Bill Research Policy Recommendations endorsed by 66 organizations.

Prior to joining SoAR, he was project manager for the 25x’25 Alliance where he led collaborations among government agencies, non-profits, academia and private industry that produced reports on topics such as agricultural adaptation to climate change and rural renewable energy policy. He was also responsible for promoting and tracking developments related to the farm bill Energy Title.

Fink has extensive experience in politics, including four political campaigns and as a legislative assistant to the chair of the House Energy Committee for Iowa’s General Assembly. He has also worked on faith and environmental issues as the first executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light and the faith program director for ecoAmerica. A proud native Iowan, he holds a master of theological studies from Harvard and a bachelor of arts degree from Luther College with a double major in political science and history.

Fink will be based in AFT’s Washington, D.C., office. He enjoys hiking, history, guitar, microbreweries, and Chicago Bears football. One of his goals is to visit each of the 58 U.S. national parks with his wife.

Creech receives award from Crop Science Society of America

The Crop Science Society of America has announced that it will award its 2019 Early Career Award to Cody F. Creech, dryland cropping systems specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center.

The award will be formally presented at the CSSA Awards Ceremony on Nov. 13 during the scientific society’s annual conference at San Antonio, Texas.

The annual awards are presented for outstanding contributions to agronomy through education, national and international service, and research.

Creech, an assistant professor in the UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Utah State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska.

His research and extension efforts focus on enhancing agronomic practices to increase profitability, optimizing soil water conservation, and delivering weed management solutions. His research has refined the seeding recommendations for winter wheat and evaluated the role wheat residue has in facilitating soil water conservation.

He is an active member of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and national and regional Weed Science societies. Creech serves as the faculty supervisor for the High Plains Ag Lab and as an associate editor for the Agronomy Journal. He is also a Robert B. Daugherty Institute Global Water for Food Faculty Fellow.

According to a news release from CSSA, the Early Career Award recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in crop science within seven years of completing their final degree. The award consists of a certificate, a complimentary ticket to the award ceremony, and $2,000.

Award nominees are evaluated on evidence of quality teaching at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels; effectiveness in extension and outreach activities; significance and originality of basic and/or applied research; achievements in private sector application of agronomy, crop and/or soil science; or contributions to the public or professional organizations and institutions.

NASDA hires Pitts as executive administrator

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, which held its annual meeting in Albuquerque recently has hired Lacy Pitts as the executive administrator to NASDA CEO Barbara Glenn.

Pitts most recently interned in the office of Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan.

She has also worked for the city of Manhattan, Kan., and in the president’s office of Kansas State University, from which she recently graduated with a bachelor of science in agriculture.

Guthrie earns BioZyme master dealer status

SAINT JOSEPH, Mo. — Vincent Guthrie, Alma, Neb., has recently completed the necessary training needed to be named a BioZyme master dealer.

As a master dealer, Gutrhie completed multiple online training modules to further his education about the brands and product lines BioZyme offers. The master dealers will be able to share expanded knowledge of the BioZyme products with potential customers.

“We are excited to certify this dealer knowing he excels in knowledge about our product lines, and he will be an excellent resource for all product needs and questions,” said Kristi Stevens, BioZyme marketing operations manager. “Vincent has taken the time to complete our strenuous training program, and has committed to stocking or is willing to order our full product line. Feel confident that he is one of the most informed dealers that our company works with.”

Master dealers will receive special designation on the online dealer locator, signage for their store and apparel that indicates their master dealer certification so customers can easily identify those who have gone the extra mile to provide excellent knowledge and service.

Nassif to be honored for contributions to the fresh produce industry

IRVINE, Calif. – Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers since 2002, has been named the 2019 Award of Honor recipient for his innovative approach to addressing key issues confronting agriculture and unprecedented influence in shaping the fresh produce industry. The Award of Honor is Western Growers’ highest recognition of industry achievement.

Prior to Nassif’s tenure at Western Growers, he was as a lawyer specializing in agricultural labor, where he represented the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and was one of the first attorneys to try a case before the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. He also served as a partner at DLA Piper, a global law firm. He later used his skills as a labor negotiator to help drive the completion of an immigration bill in 2013 that passed the Senate with bipartisan support. Unfortunately the bill was not taken up by the House.

Nassif’s passion for protecting the long-term viability of farms in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico has directly resulted in laws and programs that will have a lasting impact on the industry. Shortly after taking the leadership reins at Western Growers, Nassif spearheaded the effort to prioritize specialty crops on a federal level. He helped pass the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act as part of the Agriculture Appropriations Bill; this was the first time in history that specialty crops received recognition in federal policy. He also played a vital role in the successful implementation of specialty crop provisions in the Farm Bill.

Additionally, Nassif helped navigate the industry through the tumultuous 2006 spinach E. coli outbreak, which led the creation of the industry’s first self-regulating food safety regime—the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. He continues to aid the advancement of the industry through groundbreaking agricultural technology initiatives, providing growers access to viable technologies that will allow their farm to remain sustainable in the face of escalating global competition and an increasingly stringent regulatory environment. This includes the launch of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology — a premier agtech incubator — and the AgSharks® Competition.

Nassif’s remarkable career is highlighted by his service in President Ronald Reagan’s administration where he worked in several capacities, including deputy and acting chief of protocol for the White House; deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East and South Asian affairs; and ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco. Nassif’s achievements and service to the industry will be recognized at the Award of Honor Dinner at Western Growers’ Annual Meeting in Maui, Hawaii, on November 12, 2019. There, Nassif will be honored by his peers, friends and family. To attend the ceremony, visit

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