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: Hunter Fike, ACS CCP®, Di Bruno Brothers
Vice Chair: Trevor Thomas, ACS CCP®, Lactalis Deli
ACS Board Liaison: Bill Stephenson, DPI Specialty Foods
ACS Staff Liaison: Jamie Png, ACS Cheese Industry Professional

Members: Molly Browne, ACS CCP®, ACS CCSE®, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin; Nicole Easterday, ACS CCP®, FARMcurious; Krista Jacobsen, Ph.D., Murray’s Cheese; Kelsie Parsons, ACS CCP®, Sobeys Inc.; Debbie Peterson, ACS CCP®, Coombe Castle; Bill Rufenacht, ACS CCP®, Dairy Connection; Gabriel Salazar, ACS CCP®, ACS CCSE®, Gourmet Foods International; Sue Sturman, ACS CCP®, ACS CCSE®, Makers and Mongers; Joey Wells, CCP®, Whole Foods

Conference Planning Committee

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

Chair: Katie Bray, Oregon Cheese Guild
ACS Staff Liaison: Nerissa Magnuson, ACS Conference Planner

Members:  Erin Clancy, Caves of Faribault; Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.

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: Lance Lynn, ACS CCP®, Texas A&M
Vice Chair:  Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm

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

Members: Brie Hurd, Cheese Shop of Salem; Mariana Marques de Almeida, Ms. J and Co; Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm; Eric Meredith, Fromaginary; Rueben Nilsson, Prairie Farms; Jamie Png, Cheese Culture Coalition; Rachel Schaal, Forage to Fromage

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: Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., ACS Board President
ACS Staff Liaison: Tara Holmes, ACS Executive Director

Members:, Mike Koch, FireFly Farms, ACS Board Vice President; Larry Hedrich, LaClare Family Creamery, ACS Board Treasurer; Kari Skibbie, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, ACS Board Secretary; Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm & Farms for City Kids Foundation, 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: Mike Koch, FireFly Farms, ACS Vice President
ACS Board Chair; Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., ACS Board President
ACS Staff Liaison: Susan Nolte, ACS Director of Finance

Members: Jeff Jirik (advisory non-voting), Caves of Faribault; Marianne Smukowski, Center for Dairy Research; Jeremy Stephenson

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
Immediate Past Chair: Rich Rogers, ACS CCP®, Scardello Artisan Cheese
ACS Board Liaison: Rachel Perez, ACS CCP®, Cowgirl Creamery
ACS Staff Liaisons: Sonja Hix, Nerissa Magnuson, Tara Holmes

Members: Alyce Birchenough, Sweet Home Farm; Mariah Christensen, ACS CCP®, Harmons; Stephanie Clark, Ph.D., Iowa State University; Gordon Edgar, Rainbow Grocery Co-Op; Craig Gile, ACS CCP®, Cabot Creamery Cooperative; John Greeley; 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; Lisa Roberts, Zingerman’s; Kari Skibbie, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery

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: Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co; Steve Jones, Gourmet Imports; Cristi Menard, FireFly Farms; Peg Smith, Cowgirl Creamery (retired); Kathryn Spann, Prodigal Farm

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: Adam Brock, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
Vice Chair: Ron Tanner, Tanner Food Group
ACS Board Liaison: Dan Utano, Daniel Utano Consulting
ACS Staff Liaisons: Tara Holmes, ACS Executive Director; Jamie Png, ACS Cheese Industry Professional

Members: Brian Bailey, Yancey’s Fancy; Amanda Bernhardt, ACS CCP®, DiBruno Brothers; Paul McNeely, ACS CCP®, ACS CCSE®, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese; Michele Pfannenstiel, Dirigo Food Safety; Susan Rigg, River Whey Creamery

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.; Anthea Stolz, California Cheese Guild

Marketing Advisory Panel

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 and ACS Board Liaison: Mike Koch, FireFly Farms, ACS Board Vice President
ACS Staff Liaison: Kori Sulewski, ACS Membership Specialist and Tara Holmes, ACS Executive Director

Members: Izzy Creveling, Peterson Cheese; Jessica Little, Sweet Grass Dairy; Haley Nessler, Cypress Grove; Greg O’Neill, GRO(W) Ideas

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