2023 Insights Summit Speaker Bios

 

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 Courtney Dorsett
VP, Food Safety and Sustainability
Premium Peanut

 

A native of Savannah, G., Courtney Dorsett received her undergraduate degree in Horticulture from the University of Georgia and a master’s in food safety from the University of Arkansas. She has enjoyed a variety of employment opportunities, including organic farming in New York, invasive plant research in the Southwest U.S., and oyster bed rehabilitation work along the Georgia coast, to name a few.  Finally, marriage and the need for retirement savings forced her to settle down and choose a career. Thankfully, in 2013, she stumbled into peanuts and immediately fell in love with the industry. In addition to her role with Premium Peanut, Courtney serves on the American Peanut Shellers Association’s Regulatory Compliance Committee, the board for The Peanut Research Foundation, and the board for Keep Douglas Beautiful. She and her husband Andy feel very much at home in Douglas, Ga., and spend their free time travelling, enjoying the outdoors, and collecting stray animals. 

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Riannon John
VP, Sustainability
Argyle

 

Riannon John is a senior communications leader with a passion for change. She has more than 15 years’ experience working in major Canadian not-for-profit organizations and at leading communications agencies Edelman and Argyle. Riannon spent five years at World Wildlife Fund Canada, where she worked closely with corporate partners –  including Coca-Cola and HP –  on collaborative campaigns, messaging and storytelling regarding their sustainability efforts. As a consultant, Riannon has worked with numerous organizations on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) positioning and reporting as well as advising on strategic charitable and non-profit partnerships.

Riannon helps lead Argyle’s growing Sustainable Value practice, bringing her commitment to conservation and continuous learning to everything she does. 

 

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Doug McKalip (invited)
Chief Agricultural Negotiator
U.S. Trade Representative
 

Ambassador Doug McKalip is the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative. He was nominated by President Biden in June of 2022, approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 22, 2022. Prior to joining USTR, he served the Agriculture Department with a distinguished career in farm conservation programs, agriculture marketing, and animal and plant health. He also advised Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on all agricultural matters relating to trade, national security, animal and plant health regulations, and a wide portfolio of domestic and international issues. He previously served as senior advisor for the White House Domestic Policy Council and as director of the White House Rural Council. He led the Executive Branch’s response to the nationwide drought emergency in 2012 and 2013. 

 

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 Seth Meyer
Chief Economist
U.S. Department of Agriculture
 

Dr. Seth Meyer was appointed the Agriculture Department’s chief economist in January 2021, returning to USDA after two years. Prior to his return, Seth was a research professor and the associate director for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri.

Seth was previously the head of the World Agricultural Outlook Board in the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE), the agency at USDA charged with bringing together USDA resources in the assessment of crops around the world. The OCE also publishes findings in the ‘WASDE’ report, which is closely watched by agricultural markets here and abroad.

Previously, Seth served as an economist with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and as a visiting scholar at several research institutions around the world. He grew up in eastern Iowa and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri.

 

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Marshall Rabil
Director of Sales and Marketing

Hubbard Peanut Company

Prior to working in his family's peanut business, Hubbard Peanut Company, Marshall Rabil spent his twenties in international education. His first job after college (Sewanee-The University of the South) was in the JET Program in Nishiyoshino, Japan, through the Japanese Ministry of Education. He worked in its school system for two years before leading college students around the developing world on experiential learning semesters with Carpe Diem Education and Putney Student Travel. Afterward, he taught world history and geography in Franklin and Southampton County, Va. before moving to Nashville, where his career took him to Whole Foods where he immersed himself in the specialty and natural food grocery business. With this experience, he returned to the Hubbard Peanut Company in 2016.

Marshall currently serves as the president of the Franklin/Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce and as grants chair for Franklin Southampton Charities. He is a member of the Franklin Southampton Economic Development Board and the Camp Foundation.


spkr Alexis Taylor

Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Affairs
U.S. Department of Agriculture
 

Alexis Taylor is an Iowa native, with a career focused on U.S. agricultural and trade policy.  Prior to her appointment as under secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Alexis was appointed by Oregon Governor Kate Brown as director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture in December 2016. As director, she worked to promote and regulate agriculture and food, keeping the mission to ensure healthy natural resources, environment, and economy for Oregonians now and into the future at the forefront. 

Prior to Alexis’ appointment, she oversaw the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. While traveling the world she worked to open new markets and improve the competitive position of U.S. agricultural products in the marketplace. Before joining USDA, Alexis worked for several U.S. Congressman, staffing members from Montana and her home state.  

Alexis is a graduate of Iowa State University and grew up on her family farm in Iowa, which has been in her family for 160 years. While still in high school, she enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. During her junior​ year in college her army unit was deployed to Iraq, where she served one tour with the 389th Combat Engineer Battalion. While no longer an active reservist, Alexis continues to advocate for veterans.​​​​​​​​​​​​


spkr ken walshv2
Award-winning White House Correspondent
U.S. News & World Report Columnist
 

Kenneth T. Walsh is a widely known author and speaker and the award-winning White House correspondent and columnist for U.S. News & World Report. Historian Douglas Brinkley has written, “No journalist today covers U.S. presidential politics with the same bedrock self-assurance, analytical thought, and literary aplomb as Ken Walsh.” He has covered the White House since 1986 and has won the most prestigious honors for reporting on the presidency, the Aldo Beckman Award in 1991 and 2007, and the Gerald R. Ford Prize in 1993, 1998, and 2009. In 2006, he won the Fitzwater Prize for Leadership in Public Communication presented by the Fitzwater Center at Franklin Pierce College. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Washington Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.

Walsh joined the magazine in 1984 as a congressional correspondent and has covered the presidency, presidential campaigns, and national politics since 1986. Before joining the magazine, Walsh was a political reporter, columnist, and Washington correspondent for the Denver Post. Before that, he was a Denver-based reporter and editor for the Associated Press. Walsh was president of the White House Correspondents’ Association from 1994 to 1995. He served on the WHCA board for many years and started the association’s highly successful scholarship program. As an adjunct professorial lecturer in communication at American University in Washington, D.C., Walsh has taught courses on politics and the media, media ethics, how the media shape history, and the “PR presidency.”

 

 

spkr dan ward
Owner
Dan Ward Farms
 

Dan Ward is part of a multi-generational farm in Southeastern North Carolina that produces peanuts, corn and soybeans. He currently serves as president of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association and is a board member of the Southern States Cooperative that serves farmers in five states. Dan has served on the American Peanut Council’s Sustainability Committee for many years, as well as on The Peanut Research Foundation. He also served as president of the National Peanut Board in 2019. Dan’s wife, Julie, serves as an alternate on the National Peanut Board. Together, they have two daughters, Abby and Emily, whose husband is active in their farming operation, and one granddaughter. When not serving the peanut industry, Dan is an active member of his church and community.

 

spkr kimmi wernli
Owner
Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter Company
 

Kimmi Wernli is a second-generation business owner to one of the oldest natural food companies in America – Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter Company. Kimmi took over the business from her father in 2015 and was insistent that Crazy Richard’s was more than ‘just a peanut butter company.’ She repositioned the company into the 21st century by rebranding, tapping into a savvy social media marketing audience and product innovation. Her leadership style and fortitude has helped increase annual revenue by 20%. 

Kimmi has launched several new product lines one of which won a prestigious ‘Nexty Award’ for innovation in the Natural Foods industry. Kimmi is also passionate about the environment and implemented sustainable practices that helped Crazy Richard’s become the first B Corporation Certified nut butter company. She also started a humanitarian initiative called the Healthy Kids Happy Future™ project that makes Crazy Richard’s premium products available to all families through service, donations, and intentional affordable prices.

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