Mary Kaul-Hottinger joins Together We Grow Board

Mary Kaul-Hottinger – an agriculture executive with commitment to the workforce and diversity – joined the Together We Grow board. Kaul-Hottinger is the executive vice president and chief human resources officer for CHS, Inc., a leading global agribusiness and the largest farmer-owned cooperative in the United States.

Together We Grow, a consortium of major agribusiness and food companies, higher education institutions, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies, is an organization committed to improving and expanding diversity in the agriculture and food sector. The 9-member Board of Directors is focused on shaping the long-term strategy of the organization to ensure the greatest impact towards Together We Grow’s mission and maximizing value for its members.

In Kaul-Hottinger’s role at CHS, Inc., she is responsible for setting direction and strategy to help CHS, Inc., achieve key priorities with a focus on helping the organization attract, develop, and retain high-performing and diverse talent to drive business growth and the company’s strategies. She also has responsibility for the company’s community giving and employee volunteerism.

Kaul-Hottinger has more than 36 years of experience in human resources. She joined CHS in 2018 after serving 11 years at Ecolab as vice president, human resources for Ecolab’s global businesses where she and her team supported multiple business units with more than 30,000 employees in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific. Prior to joining Ecolab in 2007, Kaul-Hottinger served in human resource leadership roles supporting operating divisions at General Mills and Pillsbury. She also held human resources roles at Securian Financial, formerly Minnesota Life.

Kaul-Hottinger earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota.


Born and raised in Tuskegee, Alabama, Dr. Billie Grant, currently serves as the Career and Workforce Development (CWD) Coordinator at Tuskegee University. She has many years in education from K-12 to higher education, in varying capacities. Her work in education from 8th grade teacher to Retention Coordinator, Academic Advisor, Adjunct Professor, CWD Coordinator, and as a Substitute Teacher, has provided a diversified perspective of the importance of education. She likens it to fire, water, and air, they are essentials to life. Dr. Grant earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Tuskegee University, a Master of Science from Louisiana State University, and a Doctorate of Education from Argosy University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading biographies, autobiographies, and self help books. Do Audibles count? 

Dr. Grant is passionate about assisting people create a vision even without seeing the full picture. 


 In April 2021, Dr. Antonio McLaren joined the 1890 Universities Foundation as the Vice President for Program Innovation and Implementation. In this role, he assists in the mobilization of resources to facilitate broad-based educational and outreach programs, initiatives, and approaches across the 1890 land-grant institutions to help them respond to new/emerging opportunities and challenges in the 21st century. 

Prior to this appointment, Dr. McLaren worked for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as a National Program Leader between 2015 and 2020. In this role, he provided national leadership, management, and support for NIFA’s 1890 programs portfolio, which was valued at over $180 million in annual federal funds across 6 programs. 

Previously, between 2011 and 2015, Dr. McLaren worked for USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach as the USDA/1890 Program Liaison at Virginia State University (VSU). In that role, he worked to advance VSU’s 1890 land-grant programs by emphasizing outreach to the university and surrounding community, and recruitment of students to VSU’s College of Agriculture. In 2003 to 2011, Dr. McLaren worked as a USDA/NIFA program specialist – providing support for competitive programs that targeted limited-resource and underserved farmers and producers. In all, he has more than 22 years of federal service – all with USDA. 

Dr. McLaren was selected as a USDA/1890 National Scholar in 1997. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business/Economics in 2001, and his Master of Arts degree in Economics and Finance in 2003 – both from Virginia State University. In May 2015, he graduated with a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. McLaren was a recipient of NIFA’s A.J. Dye Diversity Award in 2009, and APLU’s inaugural 1890 Universities Career Exemplar Award in 2015. 


Elias G. Quiñonez is the Manager of Student Life and Diversity at Colorado State University, College of Agricultural Sciences. He is the first in his family of 12 siblings to complete college. He has a masters in Educational Leadership with an emphasis on Higher Education and Student Affairs and in his 5th year of the Higher Education Leadership doctoral program at CSU. He is the advisor to CSU’s MANRRS Chapter. He has 14 years’ experience in higher education advocating for underrepresented students in higher education. 


Rebecca Popara is the Program Associate of International Agriculture with CSU Spur, part of the CSU System. She supports International Agriculture programs through partnership development, communications, and budgetary and project management.

Rebecca received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, Spanish, and International Studies with a Concentration in International Relations from Gonzaga University. She is pursuing a Master’s in Media and Communication Management from CSU Online. Rebecca came to CSUS from the Colorado Governor’s Office and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, where she worked on special projects and initiatives as an Executive Assistant and Speechwriting Intern.   


Janelle Duray has over fifteen years of experience in education and workforce development consulting and nonprofit management. She serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Jobs for America’s Graduates, a national nonprofit that has served 1.5 million youth since its inception 40+ years ago, and currently serves 75,000 youth across 1,500 communities. In her role, Janelle oversees JAG’s internal and external efforts and collaborates with national and state public and private sector leaders, to provide critical services to youth and young adults through the JAG programming.

Janelle has served in many roles at JAG since 2012. In January 2020, she was named Executive Vice President and subsequently led the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic making critical investments in technology, student engagement programming, Federal procurement infrastructure, and overall organizational development for the JAG National Office and its national network made of up of 39 State Affiliates. Her leadership throughout the pandemic led the Board of Directors to adopt JAG’s Youth Opportunity and Outcomes 2024 Strategic Goals – the most ambitious goals in JAG’s history. 

Prior to her commitment to JAG, Janelle has consulted with leading Fortune 500 companies and national nonprofits, including ADM, HCA, United Way Worldwide, the AARP Foundation, the National Urban League, and more, to grow their fund development, external affairs efforts, and overall strategy. 

Janelle received her Master of Arts in Public Administration from George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. 

Throughout her post-secondary education, Janelle held positions at the Association of American Law Schools and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s office.

Outside of JAG, Janelle enjoys traveling, concerts, good wine, musing about the cosmos, and her first passion, playing piano.


Karl Binns is a nationally recognized advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion and currently serving as the Black Farmer Equity Manager at Cargill.  Prior to this position, Karl was the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Manufacturing Institute. Karl has also served in other roles in corporations, such as a Human Resources Business Partner where he led strategy and execution for Future Talent and DEI in the U.S. for Merck Animal Health.

Karl has a decade of experience in leadership roles in non-profits, private sector, and higher education. In his past roles, he served as Coordinator of the Agriculture Center of Excellence for the Penn State Small Business Development Center. He also held multiple leadership roles within the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in recruitment and institutional advancement. Karl is a workforce development expert with a specialty in cultivating talent from underserved communities.  He is a former national officer of Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) and founder of both the Maryland Junior MANRRS Leadership Institute and Maryland World Food Prize Youth Institute.

Mr. Binns is a proud HBCU graduate, a LEAD Maryland Class X Fellow, Herrsching International Seminar Fellow, and a Climate Reality Action Fellow. 


Robert Thomas is a junior from Huffman, Texas attending Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU). He is an 1890/USDA and University Regents scholarship recipient studying Agriculture with a plant and soil science concentration. He is a 2022-2023 national officer for MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences) as well as a member of the PVAMU Honors Program. Mr. Thomas specializes in soil science research and aspires to conduct globally impactful research at a post-doc level. He started his research journey through PVAMU in 2017 as a high school student and has since continued the path as a 2021 Intern for the Soil Health Institute and a current undergraduate research student at PVAMU. Mr. Thomas is a regular in the presentation and conference arena, having attended and presented at various events such as the 2022 World Congress of Soil Science in Glasgow, Scotland.


Moses Thairu Kairo was appointed professor, dean and Director of Land Grant Programs in the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences (SANS) at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in 2012. He provides leadership to UMES Research and Extension efforts in agriculture, natural resources and the environment as well as three academic departments. He is also the Director of the 1890 Center of Excellence for Global Food Security and Defense. Prior to joining UMES, Moses spent nearly seven years at Florida A&M University as a professor of entomology and director of the Center for Excellence in Biological Control, and as the associate research director for 1890 programs. Moses started his career as an entomologist in 1985 with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute before joining what is now known as CABI, where he served in various capacities, starting as an entomologist at CABI’s base in the United Kingdom and culminating with leadership of the organization’s activities in the Caribbean and Latin America region. Moses is also a courtesy professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida.

His research interests have focused on biological control, invasive species management and crop protection. Over the years, he has carried out work in many countries in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. Moses has also undertaken consultancy work with several international organizations including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He has also secured many grants and published his work widely. Moses continues to serve the land-grant community through various bodies or committees of the Board of Agriculture Assembly of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. He is the immediate past Chair of the Experiment Station Committee on Policy (ESCOP). He has also served as secretary and chair of ARD. Moses received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in entomology from the University of London, a Master of Science degree with distinction in applied entomology from Imperial College, London and a Bachelor of Science First Class Honors degree in zoology from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.


Jennifer grew up working in her family’s farm equipment dealership and helping on the farm in southwestern Ontario. She has worked in the field of human resource research and development for more than twenty years. Jennifer has worked with several industries, including agriculture, leading initiatives related to inclusion and diversity, attraction and retention, work integrated learning, labour market research, skills development, training and education. In addition to her work experience, she holds a Masters of Business Administration from Royal Roads University. Jennifer worked with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council as a consultant for more than ten years before joining the staff in 2019 and is currently serving as the Executive Director.


Mikiyah Baldwin is an Animal Science Pre-Veterinary Medicine Scholar from Little Rock, Arkansas, and a senior at Florida Agricultural University & Mechanical University. She currently serves as the 2022-2023 National Undergraduate Student Parliamentarian. On her campus, Mikiyah is a World Class Scholar and currently conducts research in the College of Food and Agricultural Sciences. In the past, she has also participated in the Kansas State Research and Extension Fellowship as well as the Emerging Scholars REU at the University of Georgia. Additionally, she is a USDA David A. Scott scholarship recipient and a student leader among organizations at FAMU. 


Renee Aaron is the Business Development Specialist at STEMconnector and a proud graduate of University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She leads the strategic partnership work at STEMconnector. STEMconnector is a community of practice and a leading organization dedicated to accelerating innovation in diverse STEM talent development. Renee has extensive knowledge and experience in business development, corporate employee engagement, and diversity relations across many industries.


Raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Brytany Gama is an Agricultural Education-Leadership student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While at UNL, she helped establish the UNL MANRRS Chapter to create a space that promotes diversity and inclusion for underrepresented students on campus. She serves as a National Ambassador for MANRRS. Upon graduation, she hopes to secure a position that allows her to work towards increasing diversity and inclusion in agriculture and natural resources. 


Jahqethea Johnson is an agricultural economics student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an agricultural statistician for the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Jahqethea became an agricultural enthusiast in 2014 when she joined her Urban FFA Chapter at Fort Hayes Career Center. Jahqethea received her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Kentucky, where she joined the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Organization.

Jahqethea has matriculated through the organization and now actively serves as the National MANRRS Graduate Student President. Jahqethea’s interests include risk management, urban farming, food equity, and urban agricultural education.


Jessica Johnson is a Researcher at STEMconnector, focused on the data and strategies that bridge the diversity gap present across all ages and stages of STEM workforce development, including K-12 education, postsecondary education, and the workforce. The Atlanta native earned her M.S. in Animal Science from Iowa State University, one of the most influential land grant universities in the nation, and her B.S. in Animal Science from Tuskegee University, an 1890 land grant institution, and the #3 ranked HBCU in the country. 


Jeannette Robles is the Director, Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at ADM. She is a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) executive, human resource professional and trainer with subject matter expertise leading inclusive leadership development, coaching, strategic planning, and goal setting in large complex organizations. Her experience spans the public sector, tech, and financial industries. Her focus has been on developing and implementing successful diversity and inclusion strategies for leadership accountability, the development of employee engagement and retention efforts as well as internal and external partnerships.  Jeannette has her degree in Human Resources Management from DePaul University and holds various industry certifications in coaching, human resources, training and DEIB. On a personal note, she is a Chicago native with deep Puerto Rican roots and loves to go “glamping” with her family as often as she can.


Ted Wells is the Vice President, Client Services for STEMconnector® — an organization committed to improving the flow of information to stakeholders in STEM education. Clients include non-profit organizations, government entities, and corporations. Projects include developing communications strategies, convening stakeholders, and facilitating strategic planning. As the son of an engineer and an educator, this field is not far from his roots. He began his career as a French and Spanish teacher after attending Washington and Lee University. After teaching for 6 years, Ted attended graduate school in International Affairs at the Elliott School at The George Washington University focusing on International Economic Affairs and International Development. During his graduate studies, he completed internships at the Treasury Department, the Inter-American Dialogue, The Organization for International Investment, Tata, and Wells Fargo. Prior to working at STEMconnector®, Ted operated a small business in the District while helping found a non-profit organization working in Haiti.


Theressa Cooper, serves as the assistant dean for diversity for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and adjunct assistant professor in the department of agricultural education and studies at Iowa State University. She has served in this position since 2013. Theressa’s responsibilities include the coordination, management and implementation of the college’s diversity and inclusion programs. One of the signature programs under her umbrella is the George Washington Carver Summer Internship program, which has be in existence for over 28 years. She also leads efforts to identify new opportunities to enhance diversity and inclusion goals to benefit students, faculty and staff; and connects with minority serving institutions nationwide in terms of teaching, research and outreach/extension activities.

Before arriving at Iowa State University, Theressa was the director of academic success programs and outreach initiatives in the college of agricultural sciences and natural resources at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Theressa served the college of agricultural sciences and natural resources for nine years.

Theressa’s research areas focus on increasing the pipeline of underrepresented groups in agriculture and the life sciences, multicultural education and youth development. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in agricultural education, youth development, diversity, and multicultural education.

Cooper earned her doctorate in cultural studies from the University of Tennessee. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural development and master’s degree in agricultural education at Texas A&M University.


Philomena serves as Director of Diversity Equity & Inclusion and External Strategic Partnerships at Land O’Lakes.  She joined Land O’Lakes June 2017, bringing more than 30 years of human resource experience in diversity and inclusion, community relations, work life and wellbeing. Before joining Land O’Lakes, she worked at Wells Fargo & Company.   Her previous roles included VP of Organizational Effectiveness Development, Diversity and Inclusion; Community Outreach Consultant; and Senior HR Consultant.

Philomena has extensive experience in developing and implementing diversity strategies, including internal initiatives and community-focused pipelines. Previously, Philomena participated in a Middle East Fellows project, in partnership with Hamline University and the U.S. State Department and traveled to the Middle East as a part of the peace and economic development project. 

Philomena joined the Board of Directors for the Cookie Cart organization and leads the Governance Committee. Philomena serves on the Agriculture D and I Consortium (Together We Grow), the Dairy Girl Network Diversity Coalition, Minnesota Business Racial Equity Coalition (MBCRE) and co-chairs the Twin Cities DEI Roundtable. She co led the Equity Team for the 2022 Women’s NCAA Basketball Tourney.  She also serves on the Parish Council at St Thomas Becket in Eagan MN.

Philomena previously served on Leadership Advisory Board for SHIFT and the Board of SHIFT (nonprofit focused on people in midlife) for 8 years.  Minnesota Workforce Citizen Commission on Aging, Minneapolis Workforce Council, the Executive Leadership Council for Honoring Women Worldwide, the Goodwill Easter Seals, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES), Lifeworks, HIRED and Resource Inc. Advisory Boards. She also co led the 2020 Women on Boards initiative for Minnesota.

Philomena has received numerous awards, including AARP/Pollen 50 over 50, the Minneapolis Business Journal’s Woman Change Maker and Minority Advocate, Minnesota Business The (Real) Power 50 Award and the University of Phoenix Diversity Leadership Award. Philomena has an MA in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University and a BA in Public Administration and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse. Philomena has taught as an Adjunct Professor at the University of St Catherine in the Master of Organizational Leadership Graduate Program.


Randy Irving serves as the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Nutrien where he has responsibility for the Retail organization, Supplier Diversity, and the ERG’s. Randy joined Nutrien from FedEx where he served as the Managing Director of HR Service Delivery for FedEx Logistics and led an organization of over 100 HR professionals providing strategic guidance to the FedEx Supply Chain organization encompassing 130 sites and 15,000 team members across the United States and Canada. In his 15 years with FedEx, he led various Employee Relations teams. He was the Manager of Diversity and Inclusion for FedEx Services where he was responsible for aligning the Diversity and Inclusion strategies for FedEx Services and the Enterprise Diversity Councils. He also led the FedEx Services HR Business consulting team responsible for HR strategy, employee relations, and guidance to executive leadership on complex HR issues. Before joining FedEx, he was the HR manager at Roadway Express for six years.

He currently is the VP of Diversity and Inclusion on the Board of Directors for SHRM Memphis and serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board for Setting the Standard Enterprises focusing on mentorship for at-risk high school and college students. He was also voted to the Board of Directors for Girls Inc., in September of 2021.

Randy holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin in business management, an MBA from Union University, and PHR certification from SHRM.

He is a 2011 recipient of the FedEx Five Star Award, awarded each year to the top two percent of employees. He is a proud member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity and founded the Germantown graduate chapter. He is very involved in community empowerment. Most importantly, he is the father of two special kids, Ryan Charles Irving and Taliyah Rose Irving.


Crystal Andrews Banks is the Global Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Kraft Heinz. As a proven cultural transformation change agent with over ten years of experience, she furthers Kraft Heinz’s DEI&B efforts by identifying and formulating viable solutions to drive innovation. She drives the organization’s DEI&B strategy, serves as the enterprise DEI&B consultant, and provides oversight for a myriad of diversity initiatives.  Crystal’s background includes stints in Marketing and Internal Communications which assist in her big picture ideology and creative approaches.

She studied at St. John’s University and received her MA in Sociology and BS in Communication with a business minor while a member of the Women’s Basketball Team. A sought after thought leader and speaker, she was recognized by Essence Magazine as a revolutionary beauty industry executive and selected as one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ Notable Executives in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She also serves a Board Member of Girls in the Game and Strategic Planning Committee member for Together We Grow. Previously, Crystal worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, KPMG, Baxalta, Johnson Controls and Ulta Beauty where she added value to develop and strengthen their DEI&B agendas.


Emily Best is the founder and CEO of Seed&Spark and Film Forward. The two companies together make entertainment more diverse, inclusive, connected and essential. Seed&Spark is the #1 crowdfunding platform in the world for diverse storytelling, and Film Forward delivers those award-winning stories into workplaces, replacing boring corporate training videos with cinematic learning experiences that drive innovation and inclusion. Since launching Film Forward in 2021, Best and her team have worked with organizations across industries such as Wells Fargo, Sony, Blue Shield of California, and The Guggenheim to drive powerful learning outcomes and deep executive insights that build more resilient and effective organizations.


Ian Smith is the National Jr. MANRRS Coordinator at MANRRS, an organization focused on promoting academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences. Ian started his MANRRS journey while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Entomology at Purdue University in 2006. After graduating in 2007, he then went on to obtain a Masters in Entomology at Kansas State University and graduated in 2010. Ian has nearly 10 years of experience as an educator and 16 years of experience working with middle and high school students in a mentor compacity. He founded and ran his own youth nonprofit organization, “The Ian Smith Foundation” with a mission to help youth obtain higher education.


Dr. Ronda Hamm is the Global Academic Relations Leader for Corteva Agriscience where she develops and implements strategies and relationships to promote people and innovations for the future of agriculture. Dr. Hamm is passionate about providing enriching science and agriculture experiences for everyone. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education at Fresno State University. She taught at Clovis East and Sierra High Schools before starting her graduate education. She received her Master of Science and Doctorate degrees in Entomology at Cornell University. She has previously held roles as a Patent Liaison, Six Sigma Project Leader, and Senior Biologist conducting both laboratory and field research in Urban Pest Management and Northern Crops.  Dr. Hamm has been recognized via numerous awards and achievements, including being named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) If/Then Ambassador and a 2019 Indiana Woman of Achievement with Distinction in Science Education.


Bonnie Johnson is the Marketing and Communications Manager at, a provider of global talent solutions in agriculture and food. In her role, Bonnie focuses on connecting candidates and agri-food employers to feed the world with talent. She has diversified success in marketing, communications, public relations, management, customer service, event planning, and career development. Bonnie also has experience in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing for agriculture, retail, and promotional products.


Martha Montoya is the founder and CEO of AgTools Inc., an award winning, food supply platform offering real-time news and information to farmers and agriculture buyers, on everything from distribution to pricing. The company’s product aims to help growers, especially small farmers, manage market volatility, increase profitability, and reduce the world’s food waste and CO2, SO2 footprint. Martha has more than 28 years of worldwide food/agricultural and supply chain experience. Traveling while setting up production lines and delivering projects in more than four continents, Martha has dealt with both small and industrial size stakeholders or suppliers, government entities, and sophisticated buyers. She was appointed to the Board of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Department of Commerce Export Council, and has served on the Worldwide Advisory Board of Women for Walmart, Board of United States Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, and several additional boards. As a child born to educators for working and rural families in Bogotá, Colombia, Martha began her professional career as a teacher of chemistry, biology, and English in her native country.


Russell Schiller is the Social & Digital Content Coordinator for Together We Grow, headquartered at CSU Spur. In this role, Russell works to tell stories and bring awareness to the agricultural and food world, as well as bring TWG’s mission to life through a social and digital lens.  Russell graduated from Howard University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of the Arts Degree with a focus in strategic, legal, management communications and 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.


Jazmin Albarran is the Executive Director of Seed Your Future, the movement to promote horticulture and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants. Jazmin joined Seed Your Future with over a decade of change and systems management experience. She has experience in a broad range of nonprofit organizations, including those focused on crisis support, youth development, and workforce development. Before taking on her role at Seed Your Future, Jazmin gained experience in volunteer development and created diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities within the camp industry as the Eastern Region Director at the American Camp Association.


Dr. Tyler is the director of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. He is charged with helping the organization’s administrative leadership team set priorities and help direct the work of more than 600 colleagues throughout the state that serve the needs of Michigan’s communities. Dr. Tyler joined the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources team as associate dean and director of diversity, equity and inclusion in 2018 after his time as assistant dean at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture where he led civil rights’ reviews in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Dr. Tyler was recognized in Workforce Magazine for his role in increasing the diversity of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service and served on Kentucky’s Urban Extension Task Force. Shortly after joining MSU, he was awarded the Excellence in Diversity ‘Individual-Emerging’ award. He is also the advisory board chair for the national collegiate organization Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. Dr. Tyler earned bachelor and master’s degrees in agricultural economics and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Kentucky. He holds a diversity and inclusion professional certificates from Cornell and the University of South Florida.


Stephen Ritz is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning educator, author of best-selling book, “The Power Of A Plant“, and Founder of Green Bronx Machine. Known as America’s favorite teacher and 2015 Top Ten Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, Stephen is responsible for creating the first edible classroom in the world. He and his students have grown more than 165,000 pounds of vegetables in the South Bronx, were celebrated at the Obama White House three times, have been featured on the cover of TIME for KIDS, and are the subject of a new, full-feature documentary, “Generation Growth“. A replica of his classroom was installed in the U.S. Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC, and his curriculum is being used in hundreds of schools across the United States, and internationally from Colombia to Dubai, Canada to Cairo, Doha, and beyond. To date, Stephen’s work has been featured by Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, TNT, Disney, Discovery TV, NPR, Teach Middle East, The Gulf National, and countless others. Stephen is also showcased on the Emmy Award winning documentary “Growing a Greener World” with Joe Gardener and has spoken at many of the largest organizations in the world. 


Dr. Goldmon is the Senior Advisor of Racial Justice and Equity to the Secretary of Agriculture in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Dr. Goldmon served as Executive Director of the National Black Growers Council (NBGC), a Washington, D.C. based organization that advocates to improve the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of Black row crop farmers. He has more than 30 years of experience in the agricultural sector and is also a farmer in southeast Arkansas. Before joining the NGBC, he helped to form the organization and served as its initial advisor. Dr. Goldmon received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas and his Ph.D. from Iowa State University, all in agronomy.