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: Kari Skibbie, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery
Staff Liaison: Rebecca Halfhill

Members: Jane Bauer, Bauer Consulting; 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

Conference Planning 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.

Members: Michele Haram, Cypress Grove; Jane Bauer, Bauer Consulting; Rebekah Baker, Tillamook; Erin Clancy, Caves of Faribault; Nathan Aldridge, GFI; Robert Aguilera, CHR HANSEN.

Education Committee

Responsible for review, selection, and coordination of the educational programming offered at the ACS Annual Conference and throughout the year. 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.

Co-Chair: Brie Hurd, Cheese Shop of Salem
Co-Chair: Lance Lynn, ACS CCP™, Scardello Artisan Cheese
Vice Chair: Sue Miller, Birchrun Hills Farm
ACS Board Liaisons: Kat Spann, Prodigal Farm; Kerry Kaylegian, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Staff Liaisons: Heather Tucker, Program Coordinator

Members: Robert Aguilera, CHR HANSEN; Mariana Marques de Almeida, Ms. J and Co; Eric Meredith, Fromaginary; Jamie Png, Stony Pond Farm; Reuben Nilsson, Prairie Farms; 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: Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm & Farms for City Kids Foundation, ACS Board President
Staff Liaison: TBD

Members: Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., ACS Board Vice President, Mike Koch, Firefly Farms, ACS Board Treasurer; Michele Haram, Cypress Grove, ACS Board Secretary; Marianne Smukowski, Center for Dairy Research, 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 Board Treasurer
Staff Liaison:TBD

Members: Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., ACS Board Vice President; Jeff Jirik (adivsory non-voting), Caves of Faribault; Marianne Smukowski, Center for Dairy Research, ACS Board Chair; Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm & Farms for City Kids Foundation, ACS Board President

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.

Co-Chair: Rachel Perez™, ACS CCP™ Cowgirl Creamery
Co-Chair: Rich Rogers, ACS CCP™, Scardello Artisan Cheese
Immediate Past Chair:  Stephanie Clark, Ph.D., Iowa State University
ACS Board Liaison: Rachel Perez, ACS CCP™, Cowgirl Creamery
Staff Liaison: TBD

Members: Alyce Birchenough, Sweet Home Farm; Mariah Christensen, ACS CCP™, Harmons; 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: Michele Haram, Cypress Grove; Steve Jones, Springbrook Farm; Kerry Kaylegian, PhD, Pennsylvania State University; Cristi Menard, Firefly Farms

Regulatory & Academic Committee

The R & A 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 participation in working groups to advance specific programs and products.

Chair: Dan Utano, Daniel Utano Consulting
Vice Chair: Adam Brock, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
ACS Board of Directors Liaison: Kerry Kaylegian, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Staff Liaison: Sarah Spira, Resource Manager

Members: Brian Bailey, Yancey’s Fancy; Amanda Bernhardt, ACS CCP™, DiBruno Brothers; Paul McNeely, ACS CCP™, ACS CCSE™, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese; Eric Meredith, Fromaginary; Michele Pfannenstiel, Dirigo Food Safety; Ron Tanner, Tanner Food Group; Andrew Torrens

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.

Board Liaison: Jessica Little, Sweet Grass Dairy
Staff Liaison: Sarah Spira, Resource Manager

Members: Katie Bray, Oregon Cheese Guild; Kelsie Parsons, Sobeys Inc.; Carlos Yescas, Oldways Cheese Coalition

Marketing Advisory Panel

To do our best marketing and communication work, we turn to our volunteer advisory 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 from  strategy and positioning to social media and engagement, from public relations to personas are encouraged to apply.

Chair: Max McCalman, The Wine Room: Winter Park & Delray Beach
Board Liaison: Mike Koch, FireFly Farms
Staff Liaison: TBD

Members: David Gibbons, Journalist; Brian Keyser, Casellula Cheese & Wine Café; Greg O’Neill, Victory Cheese; Kat Spann, Prodigal Farms

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
Staff Liaison: TBD

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