Kristin Kirkpatrick: April message

Together We Grow members and community,

Wherever you find yourself consuming this newsletter, I hope it finds you and your teams well – and that your strategies to adapt to the current reality are keeping your stakeholders healthy and able to engage in the work the world needs.

As we respond to keep our communities safe and productive, I hope we will all commit to maintaining the focus that brought each of us to Together We Grow. As we focus on the pipeline of talent that will enable us to feed the future, we cannot afford to let our momentum slip.

I was humbled last month to join the TEDxCSU conference in Colorado to talk about how diversity can help us feed the future. A third of the speakers during the daylong TED conference had connections to ag. One speaker, a student of ag education at CSU and a father of three, found his way into agriculture after connecting to food as a form of ministry to meet the health needs of his community. This student spoke about the “cost of an opportunity” and what happens when a single mistake prevents you from bringing your ideas and perspective into the workforce. For him, that mistake as a young man had resulted in a felony conviction.

Another speaker was CSU’s famed Dr. Temple Grandin, who spoke about how the world needs different kinds of minds. Dr. Grandin is autistic and has revolutionized our approach to animals throughout the ag industry. She worries about the talent we lose in our readiness to put labels on people, and if by doing so we limit the exposure and opportunity for some of the brightest and most creative minds to join our teams and help us revolutionize our approach to our current challenges. Nearly all of the speakers shared brave personal stories about their experiences within our education systems and employment structures and reinforced the crucial work we are all engaged in to move our organizations into more inclusive spaces where people feel seen and valued.

I left feeling that the work we are doing collectively through Together We Grow is crucial, that the sea change we are creating is growing ever more complex and urgent. These are the voices our organizations need to drive the innovation and adaptation that is crucial to our future – and also, the very skills we are flexing every minute of the day right now as we discover new ways to meet the demands of our workforce, our students, and our members in this current crisis.

I’ve included several important updates below including news about changes to our membership structure.

Be well,



This message was included in Together We Grow’s April newsletter. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter.

Melissa Harper, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Enbridge

Melissa Harper joined Enbridge in April 2021 as Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer,leading Enbridge’s Human Resources and Real Estate and Workplace Services. This portfolio includes HRBusiness Partners, Centers of Excellence, Operations, Rewards and Analytics, Talent Management, and Diversity and Inclusion.

Prior to joining Enbridge, Melissa held the role of Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Bayer AG whereshe was responsible for the company’s global HR strategies and its Centers of Excellence includingresponsibility for Compensation & Benefits, Talent Acquisition & Development, Diversity & Inclusion, Digital Analytics, Leadership Development & Succession. Melissa joined Bayer through its merger with MonsantoCorporation where she spent nine years in a variety of increasingly senior HR roles supporting the company’sgrowth, including leading its HR integration with Bayer AG in 2018.

Melissa holds a Master of Business Administration and brings a breadth of experience in multiple industries including manufacturing, banking, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals.

Melissa has been active in her profession and community, sitting on the Boards of the St. Louis YMCA, Junior Achievement, Together We Grow and St. Louis Opera. She has also been recognized as a Top 100 HR Professional, and Diverse Business Leader.

Ms. Harper lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, Charles, and has a daughter and a son.

Russell Schiller, Social and Digital Content Coordinator, Together We Grow

Russell Schiller is the Social & Digital Content Coordinator for Together We Grow, located at Colorado State University. In this role, Russell works alongside a consortium of many of the world’s largest agribusiness interests, including members of industry, non-governmental organizations, higher education, and government institutions in order to tell their stories and bring awareness to the agricultural world. Together We Grow is focused on building a skilled, diverse, and inclusive agricultural workforce that can power the innovation needed to feed the future, Russell looks to bring that to life through a social and digital lens.

Russell has a passion for communications in all facets, looking to develop relationships and establish strong, genuine connections across a diverse field of industries. Russell believes we all have the ability to connect and can work together to do so through communication.

Russell graduated from Howard University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of the Arts Degree with a focus in Strategic, Legal, Management Communications: Specializing in Advertising and a minor in Electronic Studio Art. He worked with Footlocker INC for three years with the Sports & Performance Division, Eastbay, to bring to life Marketing, Branding, Social, and Campaign efforts with vendor partners such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. He loves to continue learning through freelance and manages social media accounts for professional athletes such as Kevon Looney, Sahvir Wheeler, and others.

Michael D'Ambrose, Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Boeing

Michael D’Ambrose is the Executive Vice President of Human Resources for The Boeing Company as of July 2020. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s leadership and learning, talent planning, employee and labor relations, total rewards, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. He is also a member of the company’s executive council.

D’Ambrose has been a leader in human resources for over three decades, focused on leveraging innovative human strategies to influence business strategy, empower leaders, embrace change, and deliver business results. He is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion and brings deep expertise in talent management, succession, compensation, M&A, labor/union negotiations, and creating high performing teams that drive extraordinary results.

Prior to joining Boeing, D’Ambrose spent almost 14 years as the Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for ADM, where he oversaw global human resources, helping to lead a corporate culture of innovation, inclusion, and integrity. Previously, he served in a series of executive-level business and HR positions, including Chief Human Resources Officer at Citigroup, First Data, and Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., along with senior HR roles at Travelers Mortgage Services and Ingersoll-Rand Corporation. He also served as the CEO of Shadow Broadcasting Services and as Chief Operating Officer for Westwood One, Inc.

In addition, D’Ambrose has extensive corporate board experience, serving on the board of directors for Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) as chair of the Resource Development Committee. He is chairman of the board of directors for The Cornell Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies (CAHRS), and serves on several other high-profile boards, including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Center for Executive Succession at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, and the CEO advisory board for the USC Marshall Center for Effective Organizations.

In 2016, D’Ambrose earned HR’s highest honor as a fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources, a distinction that — when he was inducted — had only been granted to 163 individuals since 1992. He also helped to create Together We Grow.

D’Ambrose holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Melissa Werneck, Global Chief People Officer, Kraft-Heinz

Melissa Werneck is the Global Chief People Officer for The Kraft Heinz Company. She is responsible for overseeing the global human resources function.

Melissa joined Heinz in 2013 to implement the new performance methodology and the integrated management system. Prior to joining Heinz, Melissa served as Performance Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at America Latina Logistica (ALL).

Melissa received a degree in chemical engineering from Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil and a Master of Business Administration from Federal University of Rio De Janeiro.

Deborah Borg, Chief Human Resources & Communications Officer, Bunge

Deborah Borg assumed the role of Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer in January 2016. She is responsible for people, culture, and communications strategy and operations for the 35,000-employee global agribusiness and food organization based in New York. She is a seasoned business and human resources leader with a proven track record in general management and developing people and culture-based programs in support of business performance and growth. Deborah joined Bunge from Dow Chemical, where she served as President Dow USA, a role in which she was responsible for overall business performance, regional business strategy, new business development, and external relationships with customers, government organizations, and joint venture partners. She has served on the board of SWM International since 2019. Deborah has lived and worked in three continents, and currently lives in Manhattan, N.Y.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, Executive Director, Together We Grow

Kristin Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director for Together We Grow and the Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agribusiness, located at Colorado State University. In this role, Kristin works alongside a consortium of many of the world’s largest agribusiness interests, including members of industry, non-governmental organizations, higher education, and government institutions. Together We Grow is focused on building a skilled, diverse, and inclusive agricultural workforce that can power the innovation needed to feed the future.   

Kristin has always had a passion for systems change that creates more equitable opportunities and has done this work through the lenses of public health, policy advocacy, and community development. Most recently, she helped lead Kimbal Musk’s national nonprofit Big Green, which integrates food literacy education into school curriculums across the country.

Kristin has been an instructor with the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU and served as Chief of Wellness Planning for Bellisimo Development Inc., helping lead the master planning, design, and actualization of the award-winning Bucking Horse and landmark Jessup Farm projects in Fort Collins, Colo. She earned a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science from CSU and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado.