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 currently serves on the board of CoBank, Denver, Colorado and 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. 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
Siamak (Mak) Mirhakimi is the General Manager of Electronics & System Integration Division with Caterpillar Inc. He began his career at Caterpillar in 1986 when he joined Caterpillar’s College Graduate Training (CGT) program. He held a variety of positions ranging from Development Engineer to Supervising Engineer in the Electrical and Electronics Division in Mossville, Illinois. In 2000, Mak became industrial sales & marketing manager for the Europe-Africa-Middle East (EAME) Division, located in Geneva, Switzerland and then Peterborough UK. He moved back to the US in 2005, as OEM Solutions General Manager with worldwide responsibility for sales and marketing of Caterpillar components to OEM customers. He moved to his current position as General Manager of Electronics and System Integration in August of 2010. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1984 and a Master of Science degree in 1986 from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.
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 currently serves with 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
Sheri Bane is a graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Class of 2010, and retired Vice President of Commercial Agribusiness Operations for COUNTRY Financial. Sheri, her husband Patrick and two daughters, are all University of Illinois graduates, Sheri in Ag Economics in 1985. Sheri worked 32 years at COUNTRY in a variety of underwriting, marketing, project management, and leadership roles. During her career, Sheri earned her Chartered Property Casualty Underwriting (CPCU) designation, chaired the YWCA of McLean County Foundation, served two terms and was secretary on the Tri-Valley Board of Education, served as President of the National Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau and was named to the Illinois State University Insurance, Finance and Law Advisory Board. Sheri and her husband, Patrick live on a breed to wean pig farm in Arrowsmith, Illinois.
Nick Block is Director, Precision Ag, and Innovation for John Deere in Latin America. His organization is responsible for definition, development, and integration of precision ag technologies into John Deere equipment to support the unique challenges customers face in the southern hemisphere. 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 which is responsible for delivering on the company’s precision ag strategy in addition to directing the marketing function for Deere’s Global Crop Care Platform (application equipment, planters, seeding, and tillage). Most recently, Nick directed 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.
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.
Ed L. Cooper, III
Ed Cooper, Senior Vice President, joined Wells Fargo Bank in April 2005. He is responsible for new business development and managing client relationships for the Food and Agribusiness Commercial Banking Office. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Ed held positions at Cole Taylor Bank, Bank of America and Harris Trust and Savings Bank. 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 the past Chairman of the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention, a member of Posse Foundation’s Chicago Leadership Council and a member of the Union League Club of Chicago where he served on the board of directors and currently serves as Vice 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 Agrible, Aptimmune, 1st Farm Credit Services, Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) and the Riley Memorial Foundation. Easter’s academic expertise is in swine nutrition and production. His teaching has been recognized by the Midwest Section of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) and his research with ASAS American Feed Industry Association Award in Non-ruminant Nutrition Organization. He is a recipient of the Illinois Farm Bureau Charles Schuman award.
John L. Huston
John L. Huston retired as executive vice president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association after 32 years of service. Since retiring, Huston has served as an advisor to Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, and made marketing presentations at two World Meat Congresses, plus several regional conferences. A native of Roseville, Illinois, Huston grew up on a general livestock and grain farm. He has a B.S. degree in Agricultural Education with an Animal Science option from the University of Illinois and received the Coultas Memorial Award as the College of Agriculture’s outstanding senior. John was inducted into the International Stockmen’s Hall of Fame and named Agri-Marketer of the Year in 1995 by the Chicago Chapter of NAMA. Huston currently serves as a director of Extension Partners, a delegate to the National Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching. John also serves as the President of the Alumni Association at the University of Illinois, College of ACES.
Renee M. Roberts
Renee Roberts serves as the Vice President of Refined Oils Sales for Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur, IL. Since joining the ADM team in 2013, she currently manages U.S. and Canada sales teams for all of ADM Refined Oils. She developed the first Field to Fork sustainable oil execution for a major food company. Her career of more than 20 years has included grain merchandising, logistics and strategic, customer, relationship management. Renee is a 2014 graduate of the Harvard Executive Program, a 2008 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program, and she earned a degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois.
Becky graduated from the University of Illinois in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications. She earned her MBA with an emphasis in Marketing from Illinois State University in 2000. Becky started her career at GROWMARK in 1994 first as an intern in the Corporate Communications area then full time in the Marketing Communications area as an Advertising Coordinator. In 1998, she moved into the Agronomy area as a Communications Manager and in 2000 became the Agronomy Marketing Manager, responsible for the marketing direction of Agronomy Division products and services. In 2007, Becky became the Manager of GROWMARK’s Career Development Department. January of 2012 Becky became the Director of Organization and System Development, and in January 2014 she became the Director of Talent Management for GROWMARK, Inc. providing leadership and direction to the Talent Acquisition, Member Employment, University Relations, and Organization and System Development Divisions. In the spring of 2017, Becky accepted the position as Director of Compliance and Communications leading the overall communication efforts of the GROWMARK System.
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.