Board Nominations

Each year, the ACS Nominating Committee seeks nominations of cheese industry professionals to serve in leadership positions on the ACS Board of Directors. The number of slots available and category of nominees sought is announced each year in advance of the nominating period. Review the eligibility requirements here.

In 2021 the Nominating Committee is seeking to fill 3 positions in 2 categories:

1 PRODUCER MEMBER

The Producer category is for cheesemakers only—individuals and companies involved in the production of cheese and dairy products. Learn more.

2 TRADE AFFILIATE MEMBERS

The Trade Affiliate category is for individuals and companies involved in the distribution and marketing of cheese and/or cheese-related products—retailers, foodservice/restaurateurs, distributors, suppliers, writers/PR, educators, affineurs and technical members. Learn more.

Board Nominees

Producer Members:

Veronica Pedraza

Veronica Pedraza is the Head Cheesemaker and Operations Manager for Blakesville Creamery in Port Washington, WI. Veronica got her start in 2007 with an apprenticeship at Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, GA. Over her 14 year career, she has spent time both slinging curds at the vat and in the cheese shop, working for Saxelby Cheesemongers, Jasper Hill Farm, Meadowood Farms, and Pastoral. She has previously served ACS as a member of the Education Committee and is a Certified Cheese Professional.

Veronica’s Statement of Intent:
Given that ACS is the only thing uniting American cheesemakers within our industry, it is important for the viability of our industry that our members are aligned and united regarding issues of food safety and sustainability. We are only as strong as our weakest member. My goal for service to the Board is to strengthen our understanding of these issues and provide members with the necessary resources to thrive.

 

Britton Welsh

Britton Welsh proudly serves as the President of Beehive Cheese, an artisan creamery in Northern Utah. Britton is a second-generation cheesemaker and was kindly compelled to join the family company at the age of 14 which sparked a lifelong passion for artisan cheese. He was on the career path of applying to medical school, when he attended his first ACS conference in 2014 in Sacramento. He caught the cheese fever and has dedicated his career to bettering the family company and spreading the word on artisan cheese. Britton has been active in serving in the ACS community and holds both the ACS CCP and ACS CCSE certifications. He holds an MBA from Weber State University and has spearheaded tackling new challenges with relish including focusing Beehive Cheese’s quality and marketing efforts. He is the proud parent of a cheese-loving goldendoodle, Copper.

Britton’s Statement of Intent:
As a board member of the ACS, I intend to work hard to secure the future of cheesemakers and serve our unique food community. The American Cheese Society is a network of exceptional men and women who have lifted the quality of American-made cheese to be a world leader of amazing food traditions. I would listen to these members in order to ensure that the ACS is positioned to handle the challenges and opportunities of a post-COVID world. I have seen giants in the community work hard and draw on their values and work ethic to provide leadership as the industry has developed. My goal is to maintain the integrity and innovation of our forebearers in order to continue the ACS’s vision of supporting and promoting American cheeses for many years to come.

 

Trade Affiliate Members:

Adam Brock

Adam Brock has spent the last 2 decades traversing the food industry, always looking for an opportunity to ensure the safety and quality of dairy products. After cutting his teeth bagging groceries, collecting carts, and stocking dairy products at a small, local company (Kroger) in Cincinnati; Adam took a leap of faith and moved to Wisconsin to study Chemistry and German at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. It was during his time in Green Bay that has was first introduced to the different cheeses of the region – and fell in love! He has held Production, Quality Systems, and Research & Development roles at several major companies (Smithfield Foods, Sargento Foods, and Papa John’s International) and has obtained additional education and training through Kansas State University (Food Science), Michigan State University (Food Safety), Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin Madison and the Culinary Institute of America. He is a Certified Food Scientist, Certified Quality Auditor and PCHF PCQI Lead Instructor.

Adam’s Statement of Intent:
Serving on the board is a way to give back to an industry that I love and has given so much to me over the past 15 years.

If elected, I plan to focus on three core areas: (1) brand protection, (2) marketing & communications, and (3) education. Brand protection is something that is critical to the entire cheese industry, but it often stops at the 4 walls of the factory or at the final destination – this is a problem. A recall does not damage one company – it can harm the entire cheese industry. We must work together, from small artisan to large multi-national, to protect our members and also the ACS brand. But…brand protection is not enough. We need strong marketing and communications to help tell the story of our members and to tell the stories of ACS now and in the future – we must be persistent and consistent in our messaging. But…marketing and communications is not enough. We must also ensure that those cheesemakers and cheesemongers continue to have the required education needed to be the absolute best. Some regions don’t have enough resources and need to make sure that have access to those resources. As generations retire, it is imperative that we continue to invest in the next generation to ensure the success of the industry and the organization.

Julia Powers

Julia Powers is a passionate cheese lover.  Her background is speckled with opportunity that has ultimately given her this cheesy lot in life.  An Air Force brat having traveled with her family to domestic/international destinations, and then her own travels during and college and beyond, provided a wonderful foundation to seed the passion for cheese.  She is a member of the American Cheese Society (ACS) with CCP (Certified Cheese Professional) credentials, ACS Judging & Competition Committee, Slow Food USA, Oregon Cheese Guild, and, member/past Board member of the Washington State Cheesemakers Association.  Moreover, her education includes course work at Academie Opus Caseus @ Maison Mons in France.

Work experience includes current employment with The Peterson Company – a specialty food distributor and importer.  Previously, she represented McKenna Marketing – a national specialty food broker, managed Mt. Townsend Creamery Cheese Shop in Pike Place, and, began it all mongering at Metropolitan Market.

Julia’s Statement of Intent:
If there is anything that the last year has taught us, it is that someone out there kept throwing the biggest workplace and personal challenges at us, and then sold tickets and made popcorn and watched us react.  My biggest solace was connecting with my cheese tribe, albeit virtual, and, in this spirit I am taking it one more step and throwing my lyre in the ring for the ACS Board of Directors.

My intent for my role as a member of the board:

  • Assist with the continued goal of providing educational support for all members of ACS.
  • Share the process of guiding the actions and decision-making of the organization through COVID and beyond.
  • Thoughtfully and purposefully continue to walk in each other’s shoes – practice makes permanent when we have a mutual understanding of what each of our challenges may be and prioritizing that list together.

 

Bill Stephenson

Bill’s career in cheese began in 2006. While working days for the procurement team at DPI Specialty Foods, he worked evenings behind the counter at Steve’s Cheese in Portland, Oregon. At DPI, Bill’s unique academic, manufacturing and supply chain background led him to create an educational curriculum that helped many understand the world of cheese more broadly, while his CCP Study Group helped over 100 candidates earn their certification. Bill’s decade of experience serving on various committees and boards include the ACS Certification Committee from 2011-2019, serving as chairperson from 2015-2018. While chair, the committee proposed, developed and successfully launched the TASTE Test. Bill spearheaded original consumer research in the areas of raw milk, pasture-based dairy, and washed rind cheeses and has presented on this research at several conferences. Bill earned an MS in Food Science from the University of California, Davis in 2003, with an emphasis in fermentation science.

Bill’s Statement of Intent:
It is my great honor to be considered for a position on the ACS Board of Directors. I am a strong proponent of our cheesemakers and share the values expressed in the ACS mission; that safety is the foundation of all efforts; that sustainability, both environmental and human/capital make the endeavor possible; and that networking and education are the tools with which we grow. My years of service with the ACS Certification Committee have given me a deep familiarity with the organization and have demonstrated the strategic thinking, determination, dedication, collaboration and collegiality that I will bring to the ACS Board. These are transformative times and there is much to do. If elected, I will work hard alongside fellow board members to help execute on a strategic vision that will ensure that the ACS will continue to grow our industry as the leading voice in supporting and promoting American cheeses.

 

Joey Wells

Joey Wells, Whole Foods Market Executive Leader is the Global Specialty Senior Principal Product Development and Innovation Expert.  His cheese career began over 20 years ago, working in stores representing three regions, as a Regional Leader, and is currently driving cheese retail and educational excellence globally.  As a Regional Coordinator, he led trainings for ACS CCPs to be present in every Florida store.  He joined the Global Team in 2017 leading education, cheese innovation and marketing.  He earned his ACS CCP in 2012 (inaugural year).  He is a current member of the ACS Certification Committee, an ACS volunteer supporting exam activities and events, a recognized global cheese judge, and has been recognized by the Internationale Guilde des Fromagers.  He is committed to industry education as he travels extensively to build upon and share his knowledge and unique skillset.  Joey’s expertise in product development and creation of unique flavors has led to award winning cheeses, and specialty foods.

Joey’s Statement of Intent:
The ACS stands at the front of our community leading the charge of awareness and education across all channels touched by the cheese industry.  In my work with Whole Foods Market it is my mission and honor for over 20 years to drive retail excellence and education in meaningful ways to elevate the industry.  It is a great honor to volunteer with the ACS through exam activities and judging and now serving the Certification Committee.   ACS provides a unique forum to bring cheese professionals together to create a collective of knowledge and expertise sharing.  All roads have led me to the desire to serve the ACS and help lead the mission, education and visibility beyond the website and annual conference.  The love of cheese, from the grass eaten by the animals to the final product the customer consumes, every step along the way holds a fascination and my goal as an ACS Board Member is to share it!

Voting

ACS members with voting privileges should have received an email ballot on May 17th, 2021. If you did not receive it, please contact Tara Holmes at [email protected]

Election process & deadlines

Below are the key dates and activities that make up the election process.

  • February: Call for Nominations announced in Weekly News Roundup and on the ACS website and social media channels
  • March 14: Deadline for Nominations
  • March: Nominating Committee contacts all nominees to explain next steps and conduct interviews
  • April: Nominating Committee recommends slate of Candidates for Board approval
  • April: Candidates must submit a photo, brief biography, and statement of intent to the ACS office
  • May: ACS members with voting privileges will receive an online ballot, and will be asked to select candidates. (Note: additional reminders to vote will be sent to those who have not yet voted up until the deadline.)
  • June 30th: Election closes, the candidate(s) who receive the most votes will be elected
  • July 15th: Candidates will be notified of results within two weeks of close of elections
  • At Annual ACS Conference: New Board members will be introduced at the ACS Business Meeting/Lunch at the Annual Conference