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  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development

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 and Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Global Development. 

“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” Van de Valk added.

Graduates and their home institutions include: 

  • 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: Program Mgr., Food Systems and Resiliency, 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

LeadNY 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 LeadNY alumni serving in leadership positions in private business, local, state and federal government positions, not-for-profit organizations, and educational institutions. 


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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