Chairman, IALF Board
Daniel T. Kelley operates a corn and soybean farm near Normal, IL with his son and two brothers. He was chairman of the board and president of GROWMARK, Inc. from September 2000 – August of 2013. Dan has served on the boards of Evergreen FS, Inc. Bloomington, IL; Farmland Mutual Insurance Company, Des Moines, IA. AgriBank FCB, St. Paul, MN: and 1st Farm Credit Services, Bloomington, IL. He recently ended 16 years of service on the board of CoBank, Denver, Colorado and 15 years on the board of Nationwide Mutual Insurance, Columbus Ohio. Dan is active in his community and is a past member of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Ag Council. Dan also serves on the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board and the Illinois State University Foundation board. He is chairman of the board for the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation, Bloomington, IL and serves on the board of the Global Farmer Network (GFN), Des Moines, Ia. He is a 1970 graduate of Illinois State University with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and is a 1984 graduate of the Illinois Agriculture Leadership Foundation Program.
Vice Chairman, IALF Board
Chet Boruff serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA). As the Association’s CEO, he is responsible for managing its seed certification programs, developing new services and business relationships for certification agencies, and serving as the spokesperson for the organization. AOSCA represents seed certification agencies in 45 states in the U.S., Canada, and several other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile. AOSCA and its member agencies also provide services related to ISO, organic, and quality assurance certification to support seed and commodity markets that require these activities. Chet was raised on a diversified family farm in Rock Island, County, Illinois, and received an agricultural degree from Iowa State University. During his career, Chet has worked in agricultural finance, sales, marketing, and for seven years served as the Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Throughout his career, he has operated a farming operation in his home area. He is a 1984 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program.
Treasurer, IALF Board
Enid Schlipf owns and operates a grain and livestock farm in McLean County with wife and son-in-law. Schlipf Farms Inc. produces corn, specialty soybeans, and beef cattle, including embryo transplant work. He also is a Real Estate Broker with Prairieland Gold Real Estate. He attended Illinois State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Education in 1970. While at ISU, he was a member of the Livestock Judging Team. Enid has served as vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. He also served as vice president of the companies that constitute Country Insurance, IAA Trust Company, AgriVisor Services Inc., and the IAA Foundation. He was President of the McLean County Farm Bureau from 1981 to 1986. He presently serves as president of Ag Guild of Illinois, LLC, a 50 member “new generation cooperative” in central Illinois. They have been successful in developing a niche for value-added soybeans into the food and industrial markets. He is a member of the Chicago Farmers and McLean County Ag Club and is a founding member of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation.
Secretary, IALF Board
Kim Morton is retired, having most recently served as the Chicago based Director of Development for the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Science. Prior to that, she was the first Northeastern Illinois Legislative Coordinator for the Illinois Farm Bureau, a role created to lobby members of the Illinois General Assembly from Cook and the collar counties who may have little if any, familiarity with production agriculture. She was a farm manager with The Northern Trust Company from 1984-2001, working with trusts & estates which owned farmland or timber. During this time, she became the second woman in the nation to receive the Accredited Farm Manager designation and she was a member of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation Class of 1998. Kim is a native of Taylorville, IL, where she still owns the small family farm. She graduated from the University of Illinois College of Agriculture in 1982 with her bachelors in agricultural economics and received her MBA from DePaul University in 1990. She is a 25-year member and former president of The Chicago Farmer and sits on the Cook County Farm Bureau Public Policy and Political Action Committees.
Gary Baise retired from the law firm of Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman, and Matz PC. As the nation’s premier FDA, USDA, and health care law firm, serving clients before federal agencies, courts, and Congress, Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman, Bode, and Matz PC uses their background in government, medicine, and industry to create innovative solutions for clients in the food, pharmaceutical, medical device, and agricultural industries. Mr. Baise is an undergraduate alumnus of Western Illinois University and earned his J.D. from Indiana University. In the Federal Government, he served as the first Chief of Staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and later served as Executive Assistant to the Director of the F.B.I., Associate Deputy Attorney General and Acting Deputy Attorney General. He has earned the Arthur S. Fleming Award thus identifying him as one of the top ten outstanding young men and women in the Federal Service. Gary has served in various leadership capacities with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Attwoods, Inc., Chesapeake Bay – Citizens Advisory Committee, Farm Foundation (Trustee and former Chairman), and USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force. His publication record spans four decades.
Alumni Board Representative
Blair Bruns is the Business Development Manager at Rooster Strategic Solutions, a strategic marketing company helping food and agricultural companies solve their sales and marketing challenges. He has been with Rooster since 2019, joining fellow IALF classmate and Rooster founder, Josh Turney as he was establishing the company. Prior to Rooster, Bruns spent time in sales management roles with Pioneer and LG Seeds.
Blair also serves on committees for the Heartland chapter of the National Agrimarketing Association (NAMA) and the Country Club of Decatur. He has previously served on the boards for IlliDell of Alpha Gamma Sigma and the Logan County Farm Bureau Young Leaders.
Blair grew up on a corn, soybeans, and cattle farm outside of Lincoln, Illinois. He and his wife, Madison, currently reside in Decatur and have one daughter, Blake. Bruns is 2013 graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in crop sciences and is a 2020 graduate of the Illinois Agriculture Leadership Program.
Nick Block is Director, Marketing & Sales, John Deere Power Systems. His organization is responsible for product planning and management for the company as well as the OEM business for engines, drivetrains, and battery electric powertrain.
Nick started his career with John Deere in 1996 and has held various roles in the US sales organization developing the dealer channel and growing Deere’s sales of agriculture and turf products. He has also held other leadership positions within Deere’s Integrated Solutions Group (ISG) which is responsible for delivering on the company’s precision ag strategy, and more recently led the start-up of the company’s ISG organization in South America, based in Brazil. Additional experiences came in the product marketing and innovation space where he directed the marketing function for Deere’s Global Crop Care Platform (application equipment, planters, seeding, and tillage) as well as led the company’s advanced marketing unit which was responsible for linking customer requirements into the Enterprise’s innovation process globally.
Nick was raised on a dairy farm in northern Illinois where his family remains active in the operation today. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture economics from the University of Illinois and holds an executive MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas. Nick is a Class of 2000 graduate of the Illinois Agriculture Leadership Program.
Ed L. Cooper, III
Ed Cooper, Senior Vice President and Director Food and Agribusiness, joined HTLF- Heartland Financial USA in 2021. He is responsible for new business development and managing client relationships for the Food and Agribusiness Commercial Banking Office. Prior to joining HTLF, Ed held positions at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and BMO-Harris. In addition to his company responsibilities, Ed has conducted speaking engagements at industry conferences and has published articles in the ABA and RMA Journals. He is a board of director for John Carroll University, Arrupe Collage – Loyola University of Chicago and Maryville Academy. Ed is also a member of the Union League Club of Chicago where he served as President. Ed received his MBA from Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and his B.S./B.A. from John Carroll University. Ed is a graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program, Class of 1994.
Tami Craig Schilling
St Louis, MO
Tami Craig Schilling is a fifth-generation farm girl who began her career on a small livestock operation in Illinois and continues it today as Bayer Crop Science North America Agronomy Knowledge Transfer Lead.
Throughout her 28 year career, Tami has worked in sales, marketing, operations, sustainability, corporate communications, community engagement, and research and development. During her lifelong agricultural journey, she has advocated for agriculture’s role in conserving our environment and enabling communities as well as working with farmers on the adoption of science innovations and sustainability pract6ices. She has participated on several company-wide concept and product launches and champions the importance of dialogue with the many stakeholders interested in food, agriculture, and the environment.
A graduate of the University of Illinois in agricultural communications, Tami shares her passion for agriculture, rural communities, soil and water conservation and innovation with farm and ag youth organizations as well as consumer groups in the US and beyond. She has been recognized as the Illinois Business and Professional Women Young Careerist, American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet finalist, YWCA Women’s Leader, Illinois 4-H Distinguished Alumni and University of Illinois ACES Alumni Award of Merit honoree. She has served on National Association of Farm Broadcasters Foundation Board, Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation Board, Illinois Agriculture Leadership Foundation Board, Board of Illinois State Fair Advisors, Monsanto’s FFA Alumni Board and enjoys volunteering in her community.
She is most proud of the three children that she and her husband Rodney raise on their grain and cattle farm in southern Illinois.
Robert A. Easter served as President of the University of Illinois System from 2012 to 2015. Prior to his appointment as President, Dr. Easter served as Interim Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign from 2009 to 2011 and as Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) from 2002-2009. He has served as Head of the Department of Animal Sciences from 1996 to 2001 and has been on the Animal Sciences faculty since 1976. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Easter to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD), and in 2007 he was appointed as chair of BIFAD. Dr. Easter is a Fellow of the American Society of Animal Science and an honorary member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He currently serves on the Boards of Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) the Illinois State Fair Foundation and is an advisor to the Serra Ventures Ag Tech Fund and two USAID Innovation Labs Easter’s academic expertise is in swine nutrition and production. He has an honorary doctorate from Iowa State University and is a recipient of the Illinois Farm Bureau Charles Schuman award and the Prairie Farmer Honorary Master Farmer award.
Heather Thompson, Colfax, is Director of Innovation with GROWMARK, Inc. In her role, she is responsible for driving strategic innovation priorities within the organization. She also serves as the business liaison to GROWMARK’s venture capital fund, Cooperative Ventures. Cooperative Ventures is a $50M venture fund investing in early-stage startups in the crop production, supply chain, and sustainability. In her spare time, Heather serves as Secretary of the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board and volunteers as a youth leader with Trinity Lutheran Church in Bloomington. Heather has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Political Science from Illinois College and a Master of Science in Strategic Management from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. She and her husband grow corn and soybeans near Colfax, Ill. and have two children.
IALF Board Members Emeritus
Orion Samuelson is a legendary Hall-of-Fame broadcaster at WGN Radio in Chicago, where he has served as Agribusiness Director since 1960. Orion is also heard daily on 260 radio stations with his syndicated National Farm Report and on 110 stations with his syndicated Samuelson Sez. Orion and Max Armstrong are seen weekly on RFD-TV as co-hosts of This Week in Agri-Business. In 2003, Orion received the highest award in the radio industry when he became the first Agribusiness Broadcaster to be inducted into the National Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Hall of Famer Paul Harvey presented the award to Orion on the national radio broadcast hosted by Larry King. Orion has traveled with his television crew to 43 countries to cover agriculture; four of his trips were official agricultural trade missions with the Secretary of Agriculture. Orion is active outside broadcasting. He is Past-Chairman of the Board of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation, a member of the Farm Foundation Bennett Round Table, a former member of the Board of the Agriculture Future of America, the Board of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, the Board of Directors of the Foods Resource Bank, a Trustee of the Cornerstone Foundation of Lutheran Social Services in Illinois and a former member of the Board of Trustees of the National 4-H Council.
Joyce Watson retired after 30 years as the founding President and CEO of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF). Her professional background includes five years of teaching at the high school and college levels and seven years of experience as Director of Consumer Education with the Illinois Beef Industry Council. She is a graduate of Western Illinois University and is an NWU Kellogg School of Management Executive Scholar. She is a Certified Association Executive and a Certified Fund Raising Executive. Joyce is a past member of the CEO, Education, Special Events, and Associations for a Better Chicagoland committees of the Chicago Society of Association Executives. Also, she was a member of former Governor Ryan’s Commission on the Status of Women in Illinois, a member of the Board of Governors for the Illinois Lincoln Series, a past member of the Board of Directors of Rural Partners, a past member of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army in Macomb, Illinois, and is an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian Church USA.