Agrilyst’s CEO Allison Kopf made a splash in the industry earlier this year, when she posted a public Google doc list of female leaders in agriculture. It started with 75 names but, as of last count, ballooned to more than 430.
The move was in response to the lack of representation by women at ag industry events, but quickly launched a discussion into the role of women in the industry.
We believe this is a conversation worth having, so we connected with Renée A. Vassilos, agricultural economist and founder of Banyan Innovation Group to put together a similar list. Her recommendations, coupled with some of our own, resulted in the draft list of 20 below, intended to share some of the leading women in the industry right now.
But this is just the beginning.
This list is a tribute to the powerhouse women who have helped the agriculture industry survive and thrive. It is far from comprehensive of course, and is in no particular order, but highlights the contributions that the industry is seeing from its female leaders every day.
We’ll be adding to this list over time. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any recommendations.
As the founder of Chess Ag Full Harvest Partners, Warner knows all the ins and outs of agriculture. A native of Nebraska, she worked abroad in Tokyo and London before starting her own asset management company.
Charlene Finck (@charlenefinck)
As president of Farm Journal, Finck is responsible for curating the latest news and reports surrounding the agriculture industry. She has a degree in Science and Agricultural Journalism from the University of Missouri, the nation’s premier journalism school.
Shari Rogge-Fidler (@family_farms)
As the CEO of Family Farms Group, Rogge-Fidler is responsible for building companies that help farms survive and thrive as multi-million dollar businesses. A fifth-generation farmer, she is responsible for managing the four brands within the Family Farms Group brand.
Allison Kopf (@allisonkopf)
The Founder and CEO of Agrilyst, Kopf helps indoor farms make data-driven decisions surrounding their farming and harvesting strategies. Agrilyst was named as Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2016.
The former director of the agribusiness program at Harvard Business school, Shelman remains a powerhouse, keynoting at events across the country. Having written more than 60 case studies, Shelman’s work remains influential to the agriculture community.
Dr. Shefali Mehta (@SoilPartners)
Director of the Soil Health Partnership, Dr. Shefali Mehta is a noted agricultural and environmental economist. She’s also the founder of Ceres Wave, a start-up that helps to increase crop yields.
Seana Day (@betterfoodvc)
As a partner in Better Food Ventures, Day is a vital component to helping agriculture merge with Silicon Valley. Better Food Ventures is a venture capital firm that specializes in technology that could aid the agriculture industry.
Kellee James (@Ksemaj)
Kellee James was a White House Fellow in 2009 and is currently the Founder and CEO of Mercaris, a trading platform for organic grains. She was also named to Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine “40 Under 40.”
President of the Dairy and Culinary sectors of Ireland-based company Kerry, Michele Fite also served as a President at DuPont and was part of the Biotech Advisory Team.
Jennifer Goggin (@jenngoggin)
A start-up prodigy, Goggin created and sold two companies in the food industry. Her new project is Startle, a company that helps find new ways to grow and distribute food.
A Chartered Financial Analyst, Julie Koeninger serves as Director of Agriculture for Conservation Resource Partners. She’s a former Vice President at Hancock Natural Resource Group, where she managed $3 billion in farmland assets.
As the Agriculture Program Director at The Nature Conservancy, Caroline Wade works to protect wildlife and natural areas.
Sarah Carlson (@practicalfarmer)
Carlson works as Strategic Initiatives Director for Practical Farmers of Iowa and specializes in cover crop and small grain research. She works directly with farmers to hear their problems and develop solutions.
Dr. Patricia Tice (@agrimanners)
An etiquette expert and author of Agri-Manners, Tice is a professional manners expert who provides corporate training to companies. Her experience includes both public schools, colleges and human resources.
Robyn Metcalfe (@FoodMiracle)
As the Director of Food+City, based in Austin, Metcalfe helps to share stories of what changes are happening in food and agriculture. She was also a founding director and CEO of the Kelmscott Rare Breeds Foundation and Farm.
Ros Harvey (@ros_harvey)
Australian-based Ros Harvey is founder of The Yield, an agricultural technology company. She’s also worked as an adjunct professor at Queensland University of Technology and was co-founder of Food Agility CRC in Sydney.
Sarah Nolet (@svnoles)
The Founder and CEO of AgThentic, Nolet provides food-tech and ag-tech startups and innovators with the support they need. She has a Master’s Degree from MIT and serves on the Board of the Future Farmers Network.
Alexandra Brand (@syngenta)
As Chief Sustainability Officer of Syngenta, Brand works to expand the sustainability agenda within the firm. Brand has international experience, having previously worked as Regional Director of Syngenta’s crop protection and seed operations across two continents and the Middle East.
Lisa Sebesta (@LisaSebesta)
Lisa Sebesta is a founding partner of Fresh Source Capital, an investment firm that specializes in sustainable food and agriculture. A Chartered Financial Analyst, Sebesta also served as a Senior Investor in a fund dedicated to sustainable food systems.
Natalie DiNicola, PhD (@nldini)
As president of DiNicola, LLC and VP of Stakeholder Engagement & Communications, Benson Hill Biosystems, Dr. DiNicola has over 20 years of experience in the agri-food industry and a decade of experience in sustainability and agriculture development. Her expertise focuses on business needs assessment and strategy, partnership development and contract negotiation, coalition building, sustainability process and reporting, food and agriculture policy, and communications. Natalie also serves on the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Leadership Council and the Board of Meds and Food for Kids.