Committees and Advisory Panels

Interested in volunteering with the American Cheese Society? Learn more about Committee Service. 

Certification Committee

The Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing 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. Committee members participate in regular calls (at least monthly).

Chair: Kelsie Parsons, ACS CCP, Sobeys Inc.
Vice Chair: Cole Mathers, ACS CCP, Restaurant Gary Danko
ACS Board Liaison: Tim Gaddis, ACS CCP, In Demand Cheese
Staff Liaison: Certification Manager

Members: Stephanie Ciano, World’s Best Cheeses; Cole Mathers, ACS CCP, Restaurant Gary Danko; Hunter Fike, ACS CCP, Di Bruno Brothers; Debbie Peterson, ACS CCP, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese; Bill Rufenacht, ACS CCP, Dairy Connection; Brandon Schilling, ACS CCP, The Kroger Company; Bill Stephenson, DPI Specialty Foods.

Conference Host Committee

The Conference Host Committee advises and assists in the planning of the program and activities associated with the Annual ACS Conference & Competition. Committee members are located in and around the host city, Through its work, the Conference Host Committee assures that attendees are welcomed enthusiastically, experience the flavor of the host city and region, and leave with a positive, informative, and educational experience.

Co-Chairs: Mike Koch, Firefly Farm; Louella Hill, Southern Cheese Guild
Festival of Cheese Sub-Committee: Tara Harmon, ACS CCP, Schuman Cheese; Tina Mooney, ACS CCP, The Fox and The Crow
Cheese Sale Sub-Committee: Jefferey Mitchell, ACS CCP
Staff Liaison: Karoline Corbett, Meetings & Events Manager

Education Committee

The Education Committee is 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 in Denver, and are responsible for coordinating and overseeing 3-5 sessions at conference.

Chair: Brie Hurd, Cheese Shop of Salem
Vice Chair: Lance Lynn, ACS CCP, Scardello Artisan Cheese
ACS Board Liasons: Kat Spann, Prodigal Farm; Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm & Farms for City Kids Foundation
Staff Liaisons: Michelle Lee, Programs & Operations Director and Eliza Wetherill, Membership & Programs Manager

Members: Robert Aguilera; Béné Coudé, Schuman Cheese; Sara Hill, Hook’s Cheese Company; Eric Meredith, Neal’s Yard Dairy; Mariana Marques de Almeida, Ms. J and Co; Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm; Elena Santogade, ACS CCP

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.

Chair: Cathy Gaffney, Wegman’s Food Markets, ACS President

Members: Marianne Smukowski, Center for Dairy Research, ACS Vice-President; Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm & Farms for City Kids Foundation, ACS Treasurer; Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., ACS Secretary; John Antonelli, ACS CCP, Antonelli’s Cheese, ACS Board Chair

Finance Committee

The Finance Committee, a Bylaws mandated committee, is 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. Membership is defined in the ACS Bylaws.

Chair: Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm & Farms for City Kids Foundation

Members: Cathy Gaffney, Wegman’s Food Markets, ACS President; Marianne Smukowski, Center for Dairy Research, ACS Vice-President;  Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Cheese Co., ACS Secretary; John Antonelli,ACS CCP, Antonelli’s Cheese, ACS Board Chair

Judging & Competition Committee

The Judging & Competition Committee is 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.  In addition to regular calls (weekly/bi-weekly), 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: Rich Rogers, ACS CCP, Scardello
Vice Chair: Rachel Perez, ACS CCP, Tony’s Fine Foods
Immediate Past Chair:  Stephanie Clark, Ph.D., Iowa State University
ACS Board Liaison: Michele Haram, ACS CCP, Cypress Grove
Staff Liaisons: Michelle Lee, Programs & Operations Director and Heather Tucker, Administrative Assistant

Members: Alyce Birchenough, Sweet Home Farm; Matt Bonano, Brooklyn South Cheese; Mariah Christensen, ACS CCP, Harmons; Gordon Edgar, Rainbow Grocery Co-Op; Craig Gile, ACS CCP, Cabot Creamery Cooperative; John Greeley, Gourmet Foods International; David Lockwood, Neal’s Yard Dairy; Shelli Morton, Crystal Imports/World’s Best Cheeses; Janee’ Muha, ACS CCP, The Mobile Monger; Julia Powers, ACS CCP, Peterson Company

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.

Members: Marianne Smukowski, Center for Dairy Research, ACS Vice-President; Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm & Farms for City Kids Foundation, ACS Treasurer; Gordon Edgar, Rainbow Grocery Co-Op.

Regulatory & Academic Committee

The ACS Regulatory & Academic Committee works to shed light on issues, policies, regulations, and research that impact ACS members, and the science and research behind them. The committee strives to review the facts and make sound recommendations to the Board of Directors on ACS positions and actions. Committee members commit to monthly conference calls, ad hoc meetings, and participation in working groups to advance specific programs and products.

Chair and ACS Board Liaison: Dennis D’Amico, PhD, University of Connecticut
Vice Chair: Alyce Birchenough, Sweet Home Farm
Staff Liaison: Sarah Spira, Content Manager

Members: Jill Allen, Tillamook; Brian Bailey, Yancey’s Fancy; Amanda Bernhardt, ACS CCP, DiBruno Brothers; Cathy Gaffney, Wegman’s; Michael Kalish,Food Safety Guides; Paul McNeely, ACS CCP, ACS CCSE, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese; Emilio Mignucci, DiBruno Brothers; Michele Pfannenstiel, Dirigo Food Safety; Vince Razionale, Eden Ciders; Kendall Russell, Larks Meadow Farm; Marianne Smukowski, Center for Dairy Research; Ron Tanner, Specialty Food Association; Andrew Torrens, Eataly; Daniel Utano; Bob Wills, Cedar Grove Cheese.

Marketing & Communications Advisory Panel

The Marketing & Communications Advisory Panel meets on an ad hoc basis to assist ACS in defining and managing the ACS brand through external communications with the media and industry members.

Chair: Meri Spicer, Grafton Village Cheese
Staff Liaison: Rebecca Orozco, Marketing & Communications Director

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

Scholarship Selection Panel

The 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 and ACE Foundation Board Liaison: Brian Keyser, Casellula Cheese & Wine Café
Crompton Scholarship Chair: Linda Luke, Luke & McKenna
Staff Liaison: Eliza Wetherill, Membership & Programs Manager

Members: Rebekah Baker, ACS CCP, Nugget Market;  Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm; Jess Perrie, ACS CCP, Essex Street Cheese; David Rogers, Standard Market

Sponsorship Advisory Panel

The Sponsorship Advisory Panel meets on an ad hoc basis to assist ACS with outreach to sponsor prospects to help defray the expenses of producing the Annual Conference & Competition, and the day-to-day operation of the association. Members of this panel may advise on the sponsorship levels and benefits program, contact industry affiliates, and ensure that sponsor recognition benefits are consistent as outlined in the benefits program.

Chair: Heather Opolony, Alliance Sales & Marketing
Staff Liaison: Rebecca Orozco, Marketing & Communications Director

Members: David Gremmels, Rogue Creamery; Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm & Farms for City Kids Foundation; Lynne Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.; Bob Wills, Cedar Grove Cheese