Board of Director Candidates

2023 Producer Candidates


Sheila Flanagan

Sheila has been making cheese and running Nettle Meadow Farm and Cheese Company for the last two decades.  She and her partner Lorraine hung up their legal careers and bought a small 50 acre farm in the Adirondacks in 2005 and since then has been working day and night to improve their craft and the lives of the animals and employees that work with them on a daily basis.  Nettle Meadow is built around the principles of producing an excellent cheese and has more than 50 national and international awards to show for their ongoing efforts to produce excellent cheese.  In addition, with her partner Lorraine, she has spent the last two decades not only working with dairy goats, sheep, and jersey cows, but also growing the farm’s sanctuary which is filled with every kind of retired or differently abled agricultural creature imaginable.  Though Nettle Meadow has grown to a nationally distributed and recognized cheese company, Sheila and Lorraine began their company on a shoestring budget and have experienced and recognize the daily economic challenges of all American cheese producers.

Statement of Intent
If elected, Sheila would like to focus her attention on making the American Cheese Society events more accessible economically and geographically to small and mid-sized cheese producers and cheesemongers.  She is also interested in continuing to monitor the regulations that can make cheesemaking cost prohibitive for our smaller and mid-sized producers and to work on issues of economic and environmental sustainability.

Charuth von Beuzekom

A native of the Netherlands, Charuth attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, graduating with a degree in biology.  There she met her husband, a native Nebraskan. In 1994 they moved back to Nebraska to start a diversified family farm. In 2005, Charuth founded Dutch Girl Creamery, working with milk from her 100 dairy goats and cow milk from a nearby farm.

As a first generation cheesemaker in a “dairy desert” state, Charuth secured three competitive federal grants, which she used to grow her cheese knowledge visiting 27 other creamery operations across 5 states and two other countries.  In 2011, she received an ACS scholarship to attend the  Conference in Montreal.  Since that moment, she has been passionately dedicated to ACS, as a bridge across the isolation of small dairying, to find knowledge and community.  Charuth has presented at conferences, and serves on the Scholarship and Education Committees.  She has also won national awards for her cheese.

Statement of Intent
My husband and I started our farm with a passion for regenerative agriculture.  28 years later, we are more pragmatic, but no less passionate.  These years have brought me an intimate familiarity with the challenges of small scale pasture-based cheese production, and the critical realities of the modern regulatory environment and marketplace.  Cheesemakers must have a community of shared knowledge and support, if we are to survive, improve, and ultimately flourish.  That is ACS.

If elected, I seek to use my grant-writing experience and my experience on the Education Committee to help create new and broader educational opportunities for our membership, beyond the traditional Conference learning.  I also seek to bring other small producers into the ACS community, and to refine and communicate the value of membership to producers who   struggle to include membership in tight budgets.

This organization has given me the strength to persevere through tremendous obstacles. I have found community and support with industry giants and new producers alike.  I want to set ACS firmly on the road to its next 40 years.

Rueben Nilsson

Rueben Nilsson has 17 years of experience in the cheese business. He is the current Director of Operations for Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery at their Menomonie Wisconsin cheese plant. Prior to that he held multiple positions in production and quality at the Caves of Faribault where he started his cheese career. Rueben was also co-owner and head cheesemaker of a small start-up cheese company, The Lone Grazer Creamery in Minneapolis, MN.

Rueben is a Minnesota native raised in a small town at the edge of the North woods and now transplanted to Western Wisconsin. He learned the science behind Cheesemaking at the University of Minnesota, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science.

Rueben has been a member of ACS since 2008, is currently starting his second term on the Education Committee, and is the chair for the new webinar subcommittee. Rueben has also served on the board of directors for the Upper Midwest Dairy Industry Association.

Statement of Intent
Education and sustainability are two key areas for me as I consider how I can serve on the board.

The educational offerings are a large part of what makes conference the New Year’s celebration of my personal cheese calendar. I am perennially reminded of how much I will always have to learn about cheese. The virtual conference forced us to trying new methods of delivering that content, and we need to continue exploring these methods to increase the scope of our offerings and to further lower the barriers to participation.

While the challenges we face evolve and change every year, our goals remain broadly the same. We want to have careers that leave us healthy and financially stable while doing work we find personally rewarding. ACS needs to provide resources for current members working towards these goals and demonstrate to those entering our industry that these goals can be met in the cheese industry.

Trevor Thomas

Lactalis American Group, Sr. Manager of Retail Merchandising & Training – Trevor has spent his entire working life in the cheese industry. He started in a local cheese shop while attending college and this first job led him to a better position at a 29 store supermarket chain. Trevor started as a deli clerk and worked his way up to Director of Delis.

Trevor worked for another seven years before leaving the retail side of the business to become a specialty cheese broker.

In 2013, he accepted a job with Lactalis American Group. Trevor’s passion grew from there, as he became an American Cheese Society, Certified Cheese Professional; Authored a book on PDO Cheeses; was inducted into the Guilde des Fromagers and volunteers on the IDDBA Cheese Merchandising Team. In 2019, he started a cheese blog.

Trevor has volunteered with the ACS every year since 2014 and today is the chair of the ACS Certification Committee.

Statement of Intent
If elected to the Board of Directors, I want to continue to help make the American Cheese Society an organization that is accessible, relevant and useful in our personal and professional lives.

I want to help organize our 1,100+ Certified CCP’s and CCSE’s across the country to help celebrate the level that they have achieved, share jobs and events where the media and the public can better understand the role that we can play in better understanding specialty cheese, all while sharing the amazing benefits, education, and advocacy that the ACS has to offer.

I want to help retailers, distributors, and manufacturers understand the importance of having a CCP/CCSE on staff.

Cheese has a way of uniting, sharing, bringing families together in celebration. I hope that we can collectively share with children and communities the joy of cheese, as we could always use a little more joy in our lives.