Standing Committees and Advisory Panels

As with any association, much of ACS’s work is done through volunteer efforts provided by ACS committees and advisors. Each member provides support and advice to the Board of Directors through the chair(s) on actions and initiatives directed by the Board. ACS Bylaws require that committee chair(s) provide periodic reports to the Board of Directors through minutes of meetings. Not all chairs are members of the Board of Directors, except in the cases where the association’s Bylaws require it. To ensure open, two-way communications between the Board and committees, a Board Liaison serves on each committee.

Membership on standing committees is open to any member currently holding Professional membership in the American Cheese Society. All members are encouraged to participate in ACS committee or advisory panel work where their time and special talents allow. If you wish to be a contributing member of any of the committees or panels listed below, please contact the chair or ACS staff liaison, and inform them of your interest.

Conference Planning Committee

2018 Co-Chairs:

Lydia Burns, Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine
Kerry Kaylegian, Pennsylvania State University
Brian Keyser, Casellula

ACS Staff Liaison: Nora Weiser, Executive Director

The conference planning committee advises and assists in the planning of the program and activities associated with the Annual Conference & Competition. Committee members develop the annual conference theme, suggest guest speakers, seminar and general session topics, events, tours, and help recruit volunteers for conference events. Through its work, the conference planning committee assumes responsibility for developing and monitoring the conference budget and ensuring that the conference provides both an informative and enlightening experience for conference attendees.

Festival of Cheese Sub-Committee

Leads: Tara Harmon, ACS CCP, Schuman Cheese and Tina Mooney, ACS CCP, The Fox and Crow


Judging & Competition Committee

Chair: Stephanie Clark, Ph.D., Iowa State University
Vice Chair: Rich Rogers, ACS CCPScardello
Board Liaison & Immediate Past Chair:  John Antonelli, ACS CCP, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
ACS Staff Liaison: Michelle Lee, Programs & Operations Director

Members at large: Patrick Bleck, ACS CCP, Specialty Food Sherpa; Matt Bonano, Brooklyn South Cheese; Craig Gile, ACS CCP, Cabot Creamery Cooperative; John Greeley, Gourmet Foods International; David Lockwood, Neal’s Yard Dairy; Kirsten Hindes, ACS CCP, Laura Chenel Chevre; Tom Kooiman, Portland Creamery; Rachel Perez, ACS CCP, Tony’s Fine Foods; Julia Powers, ACS CCP, Peterson Company; Rich Rogers, ACS CCP, Scardello; and Karen & Richard Silverston

The Judging & Competition Committee is inherently linked to the Annual Conference. This committee is responsible for determining all criteria for the cheeses entered into the competition by ACS member cheesemakers. The committee determines the roster of judges and their compensation, the categories of cheeses, the judging processes, scoring, reporting, and awards criteria. The committee also coordinates volunteers and guides production of a printed awards brochure that is published onsite and made available to attendees at the Festival of Cheese.

Certification Committee

Chair: Bill Stephenson, DPI Specialty Foods
Co-Chair: Kelsie Parsons, ACS CCP, Sobeys Inc.
Board Liaison: Tim Gaddis, ACS CCP, In Demand Cheese
Staff Liaison: Jane Bauer, Certification Manager

Members at large: Stephanie Ciano, World’s Best Cheeses; Cole Mathers, ACS CCP, Restaurant Gary Danko; Emilio Mignucci, Di Bruno Brothers; Debbie Peterson, ACS CCP, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese; Brandon Schilling, ACS CCP, The Kroger Company.

The Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the creation, maintenance, and operation of the Certified Cheese Professional™ Exam and the Technical, Aesthetic, and Sensory Tasting Evaluation (T.A.S.T.E™) Test.  Working groups within the committee handle review of applications, appeals processes, exam writing and question analysis, governance, and scoring functions.

Education Committee

Chair: Eric Meredith, Neal’s Yard Dairy
Vice Chair: Brie Hurd, Cheese Shop of Salem
Staff Liaisons: Michelle Lee, Programs & Operations Director and Eliza Wetherill, Membership & Programs Manager

Members at large: CJ Bienert, The Cheese Shop of Des Moines; Béné Coudé, Schuman Cheese; Sara Hill, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board; Lance Lynn, ACS CCP, Scardello Artisan Cheese; Veronica Pedraza, ACS CCP; Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm; Sue Miller, Birchrun Farms; Andy Hatch, Uplands Cheese.


Regulatory & Academic Committee

Co-Chair: Dennis D’Amico., PhD, University of Connecticut
Co-Chair: Alyce Birchenough, Sweet Home Farm
Staff Liaison: Sarah Spira, Content Manager

Members at large: Jill Allen, Brian Bailey, Amanda Bernhardt, Cathy Gaffney, Michael Kalish, Emilio Mignucci, Michele Pfannenstiel, Vince Razionale, Kendall Russell, Marianne Smukowski, Kathryn Spann, Ron Tanner, Daniel Utano, Bob Wills

This committee keeps abreast of the growing body of scientific research and ongoing changes in regulations, works on building relationships with FDA and local regulators, and advises the ACS board and members on the latest research, best practices, food safety, regulatory issues, and scientific findings.  This committee has just released the Second Edition of the ACS Best Practices Guide for Cheesemakers, and also develops and maintains relationships with related industry groups.


Marketing & Communications Advisory Panel

Chair: Lynne Devereux, Butter Communications
Staff Liaison: Rebecca Orozco, Marketing & Communications Director

Members at large: Jill Giacomini Basch, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company; Greg O’Neill, Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine; Meri Spicer, Grafton Village Cheese; representatives of ACS’s public relations firm-of-record

The Marketing & Communications Advisory Panel is responsible for defining and managing the ACS brand through external communications with the media. It also has responsibility for educating consumers about the American Cheese Society. This panel consists of an ACS Board liaison, ACS staff liaison, and representatives from the public relations firm of record for the annual conference.


Sponsorship Advisory Panel

Staff Liaison: Rebecca Orozco, Marketing & Communications Director

Members at large: Patrick Bleck, Specialty Foods Sherpa; Mike Gingrich, Uplands Cheese Company; David Gremmels, Rogue Creamery; Heather Opolony, KeHE Distributors; Bob Wills, Cedar Grove Cheese

The Sponsorship Advisory Panel is responsible for outreach to sponsor prospects to help defray the expenses of producing the Annual Conference & Competition, and the day-to-day operation of the association. Typically, the panel develops an annual campaign targeted to those involved in the cheese industry, whether at the producer, retailer, or distributor level, with the goal being an amount determined by the Chairs and the Board of Directors. Members of this panel draft a benefits program, contact industry affiliates, and ensure that sponsor recognition benefits are consistent as outlined in the benefits program.


Scholarship Selection Panel

Cheesemaker Scholarship Chair: Brian Keyser, Casellula
Crompton Scholarship Chair: Linda Luke, Luke & McKenna
Staff Liaison: Eliza Wetherill, Membership & Programs Manager

Members at large: Rebekah Baker, ACS CCP, Nugget Market; John Eggena, Independent Farmer; Emiliano Lee, FarmShop; Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm; Jess Perrie, ACS CCP, Fromagex; David Rogers, Standard Market

Cheesemaker Scholarships provide support for ACS cheesemaker members through scholarships to attend the Annual Conference. The John Crompton Memorial Scholarship provides support for ACS retailer members through scholarships to the Annual Conference.  The panel sets scholarship criteria, communicates scholarship availability and deadlines, reviews applications, and selects scholarship recipients.

Length of Service

Volunteers should serve on a committee for no more than six years, in alignment with Board term limits (two consecutive 3-year terms). This also opens up space on committees for new participation from members. In certain instances, a committee member’s role, expertise, and/or historical contribution may make that volunteer essential to the committee’s smooth operation. The Board will be kept abreast of any instances where committee members are serving longer than six years, and these members should be considered for ad hoc advisory roles instead.

Committee Chairs should serve no more than two years in that role (IN ADDITION to their six years of service on the Committee). Where no adequate replacement has been identified, an exemption may be requested with Board approval to extend this by one year.

Volunteer Statement of Philosophy

As an active non-profit membership organization, the American Cheese Society (ACS) relies on and values the support of volunteers. Volunteers share their passion, knowledge, time, and talents to advance the association and the wider cheese industry. ACS strives to create an atmosphere of engagement, camaraderie, diversity, community, professional growth, respect – and fun – for volunteers by offering opportunities for members at all levels of their career, and at all levels of commitment. ACS is dedicated to ensuring that volunteers feel appreciated and recognized for their contributions. As such, we view a long-term volunteer as one of our greatest assets.