Committees and Advisory Panels

The American Cheese Society is a network of volunteer leaders who provide resources in services of our members. Want to contribute? Learn about Committee Service and APPLY NOW to get involved.

Certification Committee

Oversees the creation, maintenance, and operation of all ACS certification programs and products including 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.

Chair: Trevor Thomas, ACS CCP®, Lactalis Deli
Vice Chair: Molly Browne, ACS CCP®, ACS CCSE®, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
ACS Board Liaison: Bill Stephenson, DPI Specialty Foods
ACS Staff Liaison: Jamie Png, ACS Cheese Industry Professional

Members: Nicole Easterday, ACS CCP®, FARMcurious; Hunter Fike, ACS CCP®, Julius Silvert; Krista Jacobsen, Ph.D., Murray’s Cheese; Bill Rufenacht, ACS CCP®, Dairy Connection; Gabriel Salazar, ACS CCP®, ACS CCSE®, Sweet Grass Dairy; Sue Sturman, ACS CCP®, ACS CCSE®, Makers and Mongers; Joey Wells, CCP®, Whole Foods Market

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.

Conference Planning Committee

Advises and assists in the planning of the program and activities associated with the Annual ACS Conference.

Chair: TBD
ACS Staff Liaison: Nerissa Magnuson, ACS Conference Planner

Members: TBD

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force

The DEI Task Force will carry out a systematic audit of both existing and new ACS processes, procedures, and programs across all committees, events, initiatives, and communications. From this audit, the Task Force will make an initial series of multi-pronged recommendations with the purpose of increasing the visibility and representation of cheese workers from marginalized communities throughout all levels of ACS.

Co-Chairs: Emiliano Lee, Dan Utano
ACS Staff Liaison: Jamie Png, ACS Cheese Industry Professional

Members: Currently Accepting Applications. Apply here!

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.

Education Committee

Responsible for review, selection, and coordination of the educational programming offered at the ACS Annual Conference . Committee members must commit to attending a two-day planning session each October, and are responsible for coordinating and overseeing 3-5 sessions at conference.

Chair: Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm
Vice Chair: Rueben Nilsson, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery

ACS Board Liaison: Kat Spann, Prodigal Farm
ACS Staff Liaison: Heather Tucker, ACS Program Manager

Members: Brie Hurd, Cheese Shop of Salem; Lance Lynn, Texas A&M; Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm; Rueben Nilsson, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery; Jamie Png, Cheese Culture Coalition; Rachel Schaal, Forage to Fromage

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee, a Bylaws mandated committee, consists of the officers of the Board of Directors. The officers review topics and make recommendations to the full Board, hold monthly meetings to develop Board agendas, and take on required roles/duties of each office per the ACS Bylaws.

ACS Board President: Mike Koch, FireFly Farms
ACS Staff Liaison: Tara Holmes, ACS Executive Director

Members: Larry Hedrich, LaClare Family Creamery, ACS Board Vice President; Jessica Little, Sweet Grass Dairy, ACS Board Treasurer; Britton Welsh, Beehive Cheese Company, ACS Board Secretary; Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., ACS Board Chair.

Finance Committee

The Finance Committee, a Bylaws mandated committee, consists consist of the officers of the Board of Directors, the ACS Executive Director, and at least one other Board member appointed by the Board President. The members are charged with review and recommendation of the annual ACS budget to the Board of Directors, developing financial policies, monitoring quarterly finances, fiduciary oversight of the association’s assets, and ensuring compliance through annual third-party audits.

Chair: Jessica Little, Sweet Grass Dairy, ACS Board Treasurer
ACS Board Chair: Mike Koch, FireFly Farms, ACS Board President
ACS Staff Liaison: Susan Nolte, ACS Director of Finance

Members: John Stueland, Town & Country Markets, Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co

Governance Committee

The Governance Committee (GC) will assist the Board of Directors (BOD) of the American Cheese Society (ACS) in carrying out its mission and responsibilities to uphold the letter and spirit of the ACS Bylaws and BOD approved policies.

Chair: Jeremy Stephenson, Vermont Farm and Cheese Collaborative
ACS Staff Liaison: Kori Sulewski, Membership & Operations Coordinator

Members: Britton Welsh, Beehive Cheese Company; Bob Wills, Cedar Grove Cheese

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.

Judging & Competition Committee

Responsible for determining all criteria for the cheeses entered into the ACS Judging & Competition by ACS member cheesemakers. The committee also oversees the roster of judges, the entry categories, the judging processes, scoring, reporting, and awards criteria. The committee runs the ACS Judging & Competition and Awards Ceremony on-site each year, including  managing logistics and coordinating volunteers.  Committee members should be prepared to assist with the on-site operation of the Judging & Competition, an in-person commitment of up to 6 days annually.

Chair: Rachel Perez, ACS CCP®, UNFI Fresh
Vice-Chair: David Lockwood, Neal’s Yard Dairy
Immediate Past Chair: Rich Rogers, ACS CCP®, Scardello Artisan Cheese
ACS Board Liaison: Rachel Perez, ACS CCP®, UNFI Fresh
ACS Staff Liaisons: Kori Sulewski, Membership and Operations Specialist; Nerissa Magnuson, Conference Planner; Tara Holmes, Executive Director

Members: Alyce Birchenough, Sweet Home Farm; Mariah Christensen, ACS CCP®, Harmons; Erin Clancy, Caves of Faribault; Stephanie Clark, Ph.D., Iowa State University; Craig Gile, ACS CCP®, Cabot Creamery Cooperative; John Greeley; Janee’ Muha, ACS CCP®, The Mobile Monger; Julia Powers, ACS CCP®, Peterson Company; Lisa Roberts, Zingerman’s; Rich Rogers, ACS CCP®, Scardello Artisan Cheese; Kari Skibbie, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.

Nominating Committee

The nominating committee is a Bylaws mandated committee. Each year, the Nominating Committee reviews Board make up to assess upcoming openings; reviews, interviews, and vets nominees; and proposes a slate of candidates to the Board of Directors for approval in alignment with ACS Bylaws.

Chair: TBD
Staff Liaison: Tara Holmes, Executive Director

Members: Steve Jones, Gourmet Imports; Cristi Menard, FireFly Farms; Peg Smith, Cowgirl Creamery (retired); 

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.

Regulatory & Academic Committee

With a heavy emphasis on food safety, the R & A committee works to shed light on issues, policies, regulations, and research that impact ACS members. The committee strives to review the science and make sound recommendations to the Board of Directors on ACS positions and actions based on the facts. Committee members commit to participation in working groups to advance specific programs and products.

Chair: Ron Tanner, Tanner Food Group
Vice Chair: Susan Rigg, River Whey Creamery
ACS Board Liaison: Dan Utano, Daniel Utano Consulting
ACS Staff Liaison: Jamie Png, ACS Cheese Industry Professional

Members: Brian Bailey, Yancey’s Fancy; Amanda Bernhardt, ACS CCP®, DiBruno Brothers; Adam Brock, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin; Paul McNeely, ACS CCP®, ACS CCSE®, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese; Taryn Orlemann; Krista Jacobsen, Murray’s Cheese; Kerry Kaylegian, Penn State University

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.

Guild Outreach Working Group

The Guild Outreach Working group was formed in 2020. This working group aims to foster community, connection, information and resource sharing among the grassroots networks of Guild and Guild affiliates who provide regional support for cheesemakers.

ACS Board Liaison: Jessica Little, Sweet Grass Dairy
ACS Staff Liaisons: Tara Holmes, ACS Executive Director; Jamie Png, ACS Cheese Industry Professional

Members: Katie Bray, Oregon Cheese Guild; Jessica Little, Sweet Grass Dairy; Marty Mundy, Vermont Cheese Council; Kelsie Parsons, Sobeys Inc.; Valerie Miller, California Cheese Guild

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.

Marketing and Communications Committee

To do our best marketing and communication work, we turn to our volunteer advisory panel to partner in effectively reaching our members and the community at large. People with a variety of experiences in cheese as well as expertise in aspects of marketing such as strategy & positioning, social media & engagement, and public relations & personas are encouraged to apply.

Chair: Stephanie Skinner, Culture Magazine
ACS Board Liaison: Mike Koch, FireFly Farms, ACS Board President
ACS Staff Liaison: Endsley Eggert, Marketing Manager

Members: TBD

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.

Scholarship Selection Panel

Manages the ACS Conference Scholarships, funded by the American Cheese Education Foundation. The panel sets the scholarship criteria, reviews applications, and selects scholarship recipients.

Chair: Rebekah Baker, ACS CCP®, UNFI
ACS Staff Liaison: Heather Tucker, ACS Program Manager

Members: Stephanie Ciano, ACS CCP®, World’s Best Cheeses; Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm; Jess Perrie, ACS CCP®, Essex Street Cheese; Tom Perry, Shelburne Farms; David Rogers, Standard Market; Charuth Van Beuzekom-Loth, Dutch Girl Creamery

Interested in getting involved? You can read more about this committee here.