Lead New York Announces 20th Class Completes “Leadership Fundamentals”

ITHACA, N.Y. — Lead New York is pleased to announce that members of its 20th class have successfully completed the “Leadership Fundamentals” portion of the training program. Class members were recognized at a graduation ceremony on April 6 in Binghamton, NY. The ceremony came at the conclusion of the first year of intensive leadership development training, culminating in a session on local leadership and civic engagement. Congratulations to them all!

“This first year of the program focuses on leadership skill development, heightened self-awareness, improved understanding of the food, agriculture and natural resource sectors in New York State, and building a team of aspiring leaders that will support each other on their development journey” said Larry Van De Valk, Executive Director of the program. “In the second year, we turn our attention outward, spending less time on skill development and more time on issues awareness, critical thinking, and developing a global perspective” he continued.

Leadership Fundamentals Graduates



Jacob Adams

Loan Officer, Farm Credit East

Kaitlyn Anderson

Materials Coordinator, Andrew & Sons

Ashley Bliss

Financial Analyst, 2020 Consulting

Lisa Bolduc

Risk Management Advisor, Brown & Brown

Amie Collins

Food Systems Advocate

Ben Crockett

Climate Smart Ag Program Mgr., Berkshire Ag Ventures

Gabriel DeBrita

Forester, Greene Lumber Co.

Sarah DeFrank

Dir. of Policy, Programs & Partnerships, Food Bank ST

Olivia Fuller

NY Communications Manager, American Farmland Trust

Kendall Hough

Econ. Dev. Prog. Specialist, NYS Dept. of Ag & Markets

Mackenzie Krisher

General Manager, Country Crossroads Feed & Seed

Lauren McGrath

County Manager, NY Farm Bureau

Sarah Morrison

Research Scientist, William H. Miner Institute

Larkin Podsiedlik

Exec. Dir., Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison Co.

Catie Rowe

Professional Development Coord., NY Ag Ed Outreach

Jenn Smith

Sr. Director, Food & Ag Innovation Programs, GROW-NY

Bryan Stocks

Director Membership, Dairy Farmers of America

Kelvin Taitt

Co-Founder, East Brooklyn Mutual Aid

Stephen Taylor

Sales Manager, Bully Hill Vineyards

Precious Tshabalala

Food Systems Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Katherine Vail

Agronomist, Carolina Eastern-Vail

Michael Volino

Operations Consultant, Donderewicz & Daughter

Zach Wightman

Crop Consultant, Nutrien Ag Solutions

Marion Zuefle

Senior Extension Associate, NYS IPM Program

Lead New York is a leadership development program for adult professionals in the food, agriculture and natural resource sectors. It consists of seminars, workshops, and field travel experiences both in and out of New York State, including an international study trip. The program focuses on leadership skill development, enhanced self-awareness, civic engagement, a greater understanding of issues facing our food system and rural communities, and cultivating leadership networks. Currently, there are over 500 Lead New York alumni serving in leadership positions in private business, local, state and federal government positions, not-for-profit organizations, and educational institutions.

For more information, contact Larry Van De Valk, Executive Director of Lead New York at 607-255-7907 or at [email protected].  Additional information is also available on the Lead New York website at www.leadny.org.

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New York Wine & Grape Foundation

The mission of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation is to promote the world-class image of New York grapes and wines from our diverse regions to responsibly benefit farmers, producers and consumers through innovative marketing, research, communication, and advocacy.