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By Andrea Durmiaki
  • Cornell AgriTech
  • Food Science
  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development
  • Development

LeadNY is pleased to announce that members of its 19th class have successfully completed the “Leadership Fundamentals” portion of the training program. Class members were recognized at a graduation ceremony on April 9 in Binghamton following the first year of intensive training.

LeadNY, a leadership development program at Cornell University for adult professionals in the food, agriculture and natural resource sectors, also formally recognized members of the 18th class, as the 2020 graduation ceremony was postponed due to the pandemic.

“LeadNY is all about building teams of aspiring leaders who support each other on their development journey, and we are incredibly proud to recognize these graduates for their remarkable achievements,” said Larry Van De Valk, executive director of LeadNY.

“This year’s graduates overcame a multitude of challenges during the pandemic, and really developed and showcased the type of leadership skills that will make a huge impact for New York and the Northeast throughout their careers.”

The 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. In the second year of the program, participants will turn their attention outward, spending less time on skill development and more time on issues awareness, critical thinking, and developing a global perspective.

Leadership Fundamentals Graduates

  • John Auwaerter (Bayport Flower Houses)
  • Trevor Bathel (CoBank)
  • Whitney Beaman (NOFA-NY and NYWGF)
  • David Bittner (Bittner-Singer Orchards)
  • Karl Bitz (CNY Feeds)
  • Mark Bordeau (Rural Health Network of SCNY)
  • David Chan (Farm Together)
  • Renee Ciardi (NYFB)
  • Shannon Crow (Violet Genetics)
  • Christina Day (NYCAMH)
  • Jessica Decker (Bonduelle)
  • Lars Demander (Clover Nook Farm)
  • Kate Downes (NYFarmNet)
  • Kim Feeny London (SUNY Adirondack)
  • Victoria Giarratano (Cornell Cooperative Extension)
  • Leslie Hamilton (Triple H Farms)
  • Jay Harris (Wagner Hardwoods)
  • Jessica Henesy (NYSDAM)
  • Lucas Irwin (CaroVail)
  • John Kelder (Kelder’s Farm)
  • Richard Kimmich (Dairy Farmers of America)
  • Jerome Kingston (Seneca Foods)
  • Colleen Klein (NY Corn & Soybean Growers Assoc.)
  • Samantha Levy (American Farmland Trust)
  • Heather Meehan (Quail Hill Farm)
  • Kathleen Noble-Wolfley (Ever.Ag)
  • Dave Patterson (Food Bank of the Southern Tier)
  • Matt Pinckney (Syngenta)
  • Julie Raway (Broome-Tioga BOCES)
  • Nolan Reeves (Reeves Farms)
  • Olu Roberts (Bright Farms)
  • Emily Robertson (Farm Credit East)
  • Steve Schiano (S.E. Schiano Logging)
  • Adam Seybolt (Stewarts Shops)
  • Madeline Skellie (Farm Journal Foundation)
  • Marty Slade (AHDC, CVM Cornell)
  • Callan Space (Millbrook Farms)
  • Shirley Spencer (Farm Credit East)
  • Jolie Spiers (CCE Livingston County)
  • Renee St. Jacques (NYFB)
  • Emma Swarthout (ADA Northeast)
  • Matt Toussaint (Toussaint Farms)
  • Kim Trombly (NYFB)
  • Chad Wall (NYSDAM)
  • Matt Wells (NY Apple Sales)
  • James Williams (Intergrow Greenhouses)
  • Hannah Worden (ABS Global)
  • Bruno Xavier (Cornell Food Venture Center)

LeadNY consists of seminars, workshops, and field travel experiences both in and out of New York State, including a 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. There are more than 500 LeadNY 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 at 607-255-7907 or at ljv4 [at] (ljv4[at]cornell[dot]edu). Additional information is also available on the LeadNY website at


for leaders in the agriculture and food sectors who wish to step up and make a difference in their community.

Our pioneering training program helps you improve your leadership skills, self-awareness, issues analysis, critical thinking and civic engagement. The skills and knowledge you learn here will help launch your career to new heights and make an impact in the communities in which we live and work.

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