Board of Director Candidates

2019 Producer Candidates

Rebekah BakerRebekah Baker

Biography
Rebekah has been working in specialty cheese for 10 years. The first half of her career was spent in retail at Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine, Whole Foods, and as Corporate Director of Cheese for Nugget Market. Next, she moved into distribution, as the Category Director of Cheese for Tony’s Fine Foods. Presently she is the Western Regional Specialty Sales Manager for Tillamook where she is helping to introduce and establish their specialty portfolio. She has served on the Board of the California Artisan Cheese Guild and as its President in 2018. With ACS, she volunteers with the Scholarship Selection Panel, presented on a panel at the 2018 conference, is a Co-Chair of the Portland 2020 Host Committee, and received her CCP® certification in 2014. Rebekah will receive her Executive MBA in summer 2019 and is strongly committed—as a matter of vocation—to advancing the specialty cheese industry.

Statement of Intent
I am passionate about supporting the greater cheese community. Having worked across a variety of roles in the industry (Cheesemonger, retail buyer, distribution, producer) I can contribute a unique viewpoint and insight to the Board. My central goal is to extend opportunities for education and access among ACS members and the larger specialty cheese community, and thereby deepen the mission of ACS. My experience and education provide a basis for accomplishing this goal in strategic and effective ways. Furthermore, I intend to utilize my Executive MBA and business experience to support the long-term financial health of the organization. It would be an honor to support ACS with my experience, knowledge and expertise by serving on the Board of Directors.

Mike KochMike Koch

Biography
A local food advocate and award-winning entrepreneur with a distinguished track record of innovation, Mike has a depth and breadth of more than two decades of business experience. Mike has led the FireFly Farms team to create a successful, highly-touted cheese business grounded in partnerships with local family farms and a commitment to sustainable operations. Mike’s career has demonstrated expertise in strategic marketing and communications, and honed a fiscal acumen formed from over two decades in leadership roles in the financial services industry.

Statement of Intent
I have been involved in the ACS since 2002, and I have watched with admiration as the organization has grown, evolved, and increased its impact on its members and the industry it serves. Most important to me at this juncture is to encourage a renewed and expanded focus on the sustainability components of its mission in a manner that addresses and highlights the importance of “triple bottom-line” sustainability: economic, social, and environmental. American cheesemakers – especially those that retain this focus on sustainability – have a unique opportunity to contribute to the rebuilding and revitalization of American family farms, regional food systems, and local economies across the nation.

2019 Trade Affiliate Candidates

Rachel PerezRachel Perez

Biography
Growing up with a French father, cheese was always in Rachel’s blood. Even as a child, she gave her family detailed tasting notes about the cheese plate at the dinner table. She joined the cheese world in 2006. Rachel worked as a Cheesemonger at South End Formaggio in Boston and Whole Foods Market in Boston, London, and New York City. She then worked for World’s Best Cheese and represented the French Cheese Club nationwide. She is currently a category specialist for Tony’s Fine Foods. Rachel has been an active member of the ACS Judging & Competition committee since 2011 and is currently Vice-Chair. She was a 2012 Official Conference Cheesemonger in Raleigh, NC and has moderated both tasting and educational panels at the last three ACS conferences. She has also volunteered for three years with the Good Food Awards and is a Garde et Jure of the Guilde Internationale des Fromagers.

Statement of Intent
As part of the ACS Board of Directors, I would like to focus on two goals: increasing member participation and gaining new members through focused volunteer opportunities, and making our Conference & Competition greener. Volunteer opportunities exist beyond conference from writing questions for the CCP® exam to promoting American Cheese Month, there are creative ways to encourage participation. For example, I feel making a few hours of volunteering a recertification requirement for CCPs is a direct way to get members involved and “pay it forward” to members whose donated time created the exam. Working with local guilds, distributors, and partners, we have already started consolidating competition entries, reducing the use of Styrofoam and ice packs and decreasing our carbon footprint. We’ve started making steps in the right direction, and with a bit more focus we can push this initiative forward. I feel that my extensive volunteer experience with ACS gives me a unique perspective to achieve these goals.

 

Kari Skibbie

Biography
Kari has a passion for cheese, and it is with this enthusiasm that she earned her Wisconsin Cheesemaker License. Kari currently works at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin as an account manager working with cheese/dairy companies. Prior to that she worked as the sales and marketing manager at Marieke Gouda. Kari has been a long-time volunteer at the U.S. and World Cheese Championships. She volunteers each year at the ACS Conference in a variety of roles including judging, registration, and Festival of Cheese. Kari is also one of contributors to the ACS Body of Knowledge and has taught classes for the Certified Cheese Professional® (CCP®) exam.  Kari holds a Bachelor’s in Agricultural Business and Animal Science as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.  Through Kari’s education and life experiences, she is able to understand the entire process of cheesemaking from farm to table.

Statement of Intent
From my first ACS Conference back in 2012, I have been a strong supporter of ACS and all that it has accomplished. There have been amazing and monumental changes to the organization over the years in every area. My goal would be to help with the continuous improvement of the great changes already happening in any area that the Board feels would be a good fit for me. ACS provides the cheese industry with educational resources and networking opportunities, while encouraging the highest standards of cheesemaking focused on safety and sustainability. I believe in this mission and know that my background in areas such as finance, marketing, cheesemaking, judging, and education/training can be used to advance the work of this exceptional organization. It truly would be an honor and privilege to be part of the ACS Board of Directors, and I would appreciate your vote.