CHAIR: Jess McCluer
Jess manages NGFA’s wide-ranging operational programs concerning employee safety and industrial health, environmental issues, grain-handling facility design and equipment, and grain inspection and weighing issues. He is principal staff liaison to the Safety, Health and Environmental Quality Committee, Grain Grades and Weights Committee, Biotechnology Committee, and Agroterrorism and Facility Security Committee.
He joined NGFA’s staff in 2007 after serving since April 2003 as a program analyst at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Office of Outreach Services and Alliances. In that capacity, he worked with trade associations, professional societies, academia, unions and government agencies to coordinate the implementation of national alliances and the development of compliance assistance resources. He was honored twice – in 2003 and 2005 – as recipient of the Secretary of Labor’s Exceptional Achievement Award. Before joining OSHA, McCluer served from 1999-2003 as manager of government affairs for the Shipbuilders Council of America, overseeing the association’s Safety, Environmental and Human Resources Committees.
McCluer was staff assistant for both the Dole/Kemp ’96 presidential campaign and the 1996 Republican National Committee convention. A native of Dallas, Texas, he was graduated from Texas A&M University with degrees in political science and international studies. He also received a master’s degree in political management from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
VICE CHAIR: Kelsey Billings
Kelsey serves as the Director of Government Affairs and Treasurer of NCFC CO-OP/PAC at the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC). In her role as Director, Kelsey is responsible for the sustainability, biotechnology, workplace safety and animal agriculture issue areas of NCFC’s public affairs agenda. As PAC Treasurer, she manages the PAC’s finances and coordinates events with members of Congress who support NCFC’s mission. In 2012 Kelsey served as a Public Policy Fellow at the Fund for American Studies and is an alumnus of the International Institute for Political and Economic System, and the Institute on Business and Governmental Affairs with the same program. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Missouri in 2010. Kelsey has a Master of Business Administration degree from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a Master of Science with a concentration in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University.
SECRETARY/TREASURER: Michael Pankonin
Michael is a Senior Director, Technical and Safety Services at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). He began his career in test engineering and has served industry in the agricultural, construction, utility and forestry sectors. Michael currently has responsibility for the Technical and Safety Services at AEM and works with AEM product groups including the Manufacturers of Earthmoving and Mining Equipment. He serves on several ISO standards committees, is a member of American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and is the AEM staff contact for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and emissions-related activities
Nicole serves as the Director of Sustainability Initiatives at National Milk Producers Federation. Nicole leads the FARM Environmental Stewardship and FARM Workforce Development programs. She focuses on developing tools and resources to help U.S. dairy farms improve their environmental and labor outcomes.
Before joining NMPF, Ayache worked as a consultant for the FARM program and for a variety of clients in the food and ag sector. She developed sustainability programs / reports, procurement policies and research studies for dairy cooperatives, environmental NGOs, and protein processors. Her past experience spans multiple industries and disciplines, giving her a broad perspective on sustainability – including consulting for pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies; working at an international conservation non-profit; and, serving as an internal management consultant for a leading prosecutor’s office. Nicole holds a M.S. in Agriculture, Food and Environment from Tufts University and B.S. in Biology from Yale University.
Flint Belk is the Manager of Occupational Health at WCF Mutual Insurance Company. Flint oversees the industrial hygiene staff at WCF as well as field consultants in the Western US. Flint has over 25 years of experience as a safety professional with the Idaho National Laboratory and WCF. Flint has served as a member of an ANSI standards development committee and comes from a family farm background. Flint is a graduate of Utah State University with a BS in Industrial Hygiene and is a Board Certified Safety Professional (BCSP) and Industrial Hygienist (CIH).
Allison Crittenden serves as the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Director of Congressional Relations. Her issue portfolio encompasses specific issues such as immigration, labor, and pesticides.
Allison came to the American Farm Bureau Federation in March 2019. Prior to her time at AFBF she was Senior Legislative Assistant for Rep. Rick Crawford where she handled his agriculture, trade, energy, natural resources, judiciary, and environmental issues. Allison worked alongside Rep. Crawford throughout the negotiations of the 2018 Farm Bill including his work as a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee. Previously, she worked at The Russell Group, a lobbying and government relations firm that specializes in serving clients in the food and agriculture industry. Allison was raised on her family’s third generation fruit and vegetable farm in Deltaville, Virginia where they grow cantaloupes, peppers, and cucumbers to be sold commercially to grocery stores throughout the East coast.
Allison graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Applied Economic Management (Agricultural Economics) and lives in Washington, D.C.
Heather Fowler, VMD PhD MPH DACVPM
Dr. Heather Fowler completed her Veterinary Medical degree at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. After veterinary school, she received a Master in Public Health in Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. In 2011, Dr. Fowler began the 2-year Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CSTE/CDC) Applied Epidemiology Fellowship, working alongside members of the Zoonoses group at the Minnesota Department of Health under the supervision of Drs. Joni Scheftel and Kirk Smith. During her fellowship Dr. Fowler received valuable on-the-job-training in public health practice. She was also able to conduct a study of occupational hazards present in the clinical veterinary setting in the state. In 2013, Dr. Fowler began a PhD program at the University of Washington School of Public Health in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences. During her time in Seattle she also worked as the Associate Director of Animal Health for the Center for One Health Research (COHR) under the leadership of Center Director Dr. Peter Rabinowitz. Her dissertation work focused on the hazards present in veterinary medicine with the goal of establishing a national cohort of veterinary personnel. After completing her PhD in the summer of 2017, Dr. Fowler began work as the Director of Producer and Public Health at the National Pork Board where she oversees public health as well as occupational safety and health issues as they relate to swine production in the United States.
Paul Gunderson, PhD
Paul Gunderson is Director of the Dakota Precision Ag Center, Devil’s Lake, ND. Paul’s career exploring the health impact of human activity in agricultural work settings began in 1976 with research on the respiratory effect of working in poultry barns, and continued until his initial retirement in 2000. He has conducted numerous research initiatives exploring the health effects of agricultural exposures, convened scientific meetings and seminars and chaired scientific review mechanisms that rate applications for federal funding.
Barbara Lee, PhD
Dr. Lee is a senior scientist with the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wisconsin, where she has directed the NIOSH-funded National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety since 1997. She has chaired major efforts to launch, then update, the national agenda for childhood agricultural injury prevention. She is a past President of the International Society for Ag Safety and Health. Barbara co-led a feasibility study with agri-business and farm organization leaders leading to the creation of the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America in 2007 and served as the Executive Director till 2016.
Dennis Murphy, PhD
Dr. Murphy retired from the Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, College of Agricultural Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University on June 30, 2017, as the Nationwide Insurance Professor of Agricultural Safety & Health and a Certified Safety Professional. He currently holds the title of Nationwide Insurance Professor Emeritus. He founded Murphy Agricultural Safety Consulting, LLC, July 1, 2017. Program areas from his time at Penn State included applied research and education for: tractor and machinery safety issues; youth safety; classification of agricultural deaths and injuries; agricultural safety and health management, methods of modifying farm worker safety behavior; evaluating safety interventions; dairy farm and manure handling safety; and responding to farm injury emergencies. He consults nationally and internationally with other groups and organizations on farm safety education program development. He is a co-founder of the Agricultural Safety & Health Council of America™ (ASHCA), and is an instructor for the International Society of Agricultural Safety & Health’s (ISASH) Agricultural Safety and Health Certificate Course, and ASHCA’s AgSHARP™ certificate course.
Rick Naerebout grew up on his family’s dairy farm in McBain, Michigan, where he learned the value of hard work, integrity, and an appreciation for agriculture that can only be learned on the farm. He moved west with his family after the family dairy was sold in the late 90s and shortly thereafter began a family and his schooling at the College of Southern Idaho and Idaho State University. Naerebout has been married to his wife, Angi, for 17 years, and together they have three daughters.
Rick has been with the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Inc. for over 15 years, assisting with the Association’s environmental, legal, economic, legislative and stewardship efforts. The IDA is a progressive Association that represents all of Idaho’s nearly 500 dairy farms. Recently named CEO of the Association, he manages the day-to- day operations of the organization, which includes IDA Consulting Services, a new division within IDA that provides on-farm services, through its highly skilled staff, ranging from nutrient management planning to dairy worker training and safety programs.
Kimberly is Vice President and Agricultural Specialist with Zenith Insurance Company. A California native, Kimberly Naffziger has been involved with the agricultural industry for most of her life. Kimberly joined Zenith Insurance Company as an agricultural specialist in 2008 to help build strong relationships with California’s agricultural industry, and to work collaboratively with Zenith’s servicing departments throughout the state to help improve the health and safety of the agricultural and dairy policyholders’ workforce. This successful approach has positioned Zenith as the premier agricultural insurance carrier in California.
Some of her accomplishments include developing innovative programs and resources for Zenith agricultural policyholders such as the Zenith Ag Leadership Program and the “Spotlight on Wellness” initiative. In addition, Kimberly currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Agricultural Safety & Health Council of America, and is a current board member of the Agricultural Personnel Management Association.
Kimberly’s background includes serving as Program Development Specialist at California State University, Fresno’s Center for Agricultural Business. In 1997, she was named the Executive Director for AgSafe, a non-profit organization. During her tenure at both the university and at AgSafe she has played an integral part in the development and implementation of educational programs for the industry including the California Agricultural Safety Certificate Program; the Farm Labor Contractor’s Education Institute; the Motor Vehicle Education Program for Spanish speaking workers; the Ag Lenders Institute and the Supervisor Development Program to name a few.
Kimberly has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Business from California State University, Fresno. In her free time, she enjoys competing in the sport of barrel racing with her horses Sam and Rap.
Paul Riley, MBA, CSP
Paul is originally from Portland, Oregon, but now calls Utah his home. He is a Certified Safety Professional with over 26 years of experience in Occupational Safety and Health. He received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental & Occupational Safety & Health from Brigham Young University and his Master’s degree in Business Administration. He has worked in the Safety and Health profession in several different industries including Mining, Agriculture, Insurance, Government, and Construction. Paul is currently the Corporate Safety, Health, and Environmental Director for AgReserves, Inc. AgReserves, Inc. is a global agriculture company with segment operations that include include cattle (beef & dairy), permanent planting (nuts, citrus, peaches, olives, etc.), and row crops (potatoes, corn, wheat, soybeans, etc.). Paul has served as President of the Utah Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and other national leadership positions within ASSE and other organizations.
Joel Sherman is Vice President, Safety & Corporate Affairs, for Grimmway Farms, a large vegetable grower/packer/shipper based in Kern County, California. Mr. Sherman oversees three departments responsible for the safety and workers’ compensation issues for more than 10,000 employees and contract laborers. Joel has more than thirty years’ experience in the safety and workers’ compensation field. He has served in a variety of capacities including claims adjuster, loss control consultant, policy services representative, and as the workers’ compensation liaison for a large industrial medicine practice. A certified self-insurance administrator, Joel presently teaches Introduction to Workers’ Compensation at CSUB, and was also certified by the state as a continuing education provider for Qualified Medical Evaluators. He was the Chairman of the board of directors of the California Coalition on Workers’ Compensation (CCWC) for 2009 and 2010 and was recently elected to the board of directors of the California Self-Insurance Association (CSIA). He was actively involved in the comp reforms of 2004 and continues to participate in legislative reform of the system. In December of 2010, Governor Schwarzeneggar appointed him to the Fraud Assessment Commission. Joel was also recently invited to participate in the Agricultural Sector of the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda, and is a member of the Cal/OSHA Advisory Committee.
Sean Vallely is the Manager of Loss Control for the Workers’ Comp program. His primary role and responsibility is providing comprehensive loss prevention services for Agri-Services Agency. Sean oversees three Loss Control Consultants providing risk assessments, field evaluations, safety training and support for the program.
Sean is experienced in all lines of property & casualty insurance, with over 25 years in the business. Prior to joining ASA in 2017, Sean was the Manager of Loss Control at Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company. Prior to the move to Ag in 2012, Sean was a Senior Risk Engineer for Zurich and Travelers serving as a Construction Specialist for large accounts.
Sean has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering from Cornell University, his AFIS designation, and is also an authorized OSHA Outreach Trainer.
Aaron Yoder, PhD
Aaron Yoder is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center working with the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health. Prior to that, he was a Penn State Instructor and Extension Safety Associate, where he provided national leadership for the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program by coordinating online instructor training and educational programs for 4-Hers, volunteers and county educators. In addition, he taught within the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and participated in other research and outreach programs for the Penn State Agricultural Safety and Health Program.