Agricultural and Food Ventures Conference 2001 at Morrisville State College
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Conference Speakers and Panelists

The following are brief biographical sketches of speakers and panelists for the Agricultural and Food Ventures Conference 2001:

Nathan L. Rudgers Nathan L. Rudgers is the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.  He was confirmed by the State Senate as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets on June 9, 1999. He began his tenure with the Department of Agriculture and Markets in 1995, serving as Deputy Commissioner, First Deputy Commissioner, and then Acting Commissioner. Prior to joining the Department, Mr. Rudgers worked for several agri-business firms in the Northeast.  Much of Mr. Rudgers' experience in the private sector has involved the dairy industry and agricultural economics.Top

Bill Magee The election of Bill Magee to the Assembly in 1990 marked the first time in at least a century that a Democrat from Madison County was elected to serve in the New York State Assembly.  Having received a degree in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University; having been elected ten times to serve as the Town Supervisor from Nelson - a largely rural and agriculturally oriented town; and having worked as, among other things, Manager of Agriculture and Livestock and as Livestock, Equestrian Events Manager, Assemblyman Magee had a great love and understanding of farming and agriculture. In 1999, after being elected to a fifth term in the Assembly, Assemblyman Magee was appointed chair of both the Assembly Agriculture Committee and the Legislative Commission on Dairy Industry Development, where he has pushed for a broader approach to assisting agriculture that includes lowering taxes and production costs; providing agriculture economic development assistance; and working with producers to find new and expand existing markets for their products.  As he begins his second full term as the Chair of the Agriculture Committee, Assemblyman Magee has introduced a multifaceted legislative package that takes a more holistic approach to assisting agriculture.  In addition to the Agriculture Committee, Assemblyman Magee also serves on the Assembly's Aging, Banks, Higher Education and Local Governments Committees. Moreover, he is also a member of the Morrisville State College College Council, the Boards of Directors of both Community Memorial Hospital and the Crouse Community Center and is a member of both the Cazenovia Civic Club and the Hamilton Lions Club.Top

Paul F. "Rick" Zimmerman Rick Zimmerman is Deputy Commissioner for Economic Development and Agricultural Policy for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. He is responsible for Department programs, policies, and divisions which focus on the vitality and growth of New York's agricultural industry.  For 13 years, Mr. Zimmerman was Director of Governmental Relations for New York Farm Bureau, a 30,000 farm family member organization.  He was responsible for coordinating the organization's programs and activities designed to improve state and federal public policies on behalf of New York's agricultural industry.Top

Patrick H. Brennan Patrick Brennan was appointed by Governor George E. Pataki in March of 1998 to be his Environmental Bond Act Coordinator and Agricultural Policy Analyst for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. In October 1999, Mr. Brennan was promoted to Special Assistant for Agricultural Economic Development for the Department of Agriculture and Markets. His responsibilities include assisting agricultural producers and agribusinesses in New York to overcome technical challenges and regulatory obstacles as they develop and grow their businesses. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Brennan worked in the New York State Legislature, serving State Senator Raymond Meier. He also spent two years as a field representative for the New York Farm Bureau, advocating for New York State's 36,000 farm families. Mr. Brennan is most proud of his practical experience in agriculture-that of a working dairy farmer. He was raised on a large dairy farm in Central New York. The dairy is still in operation and Mr. Brennan remains active on a part-time basis.Top

Dr. Ray Cross Dr. Cross is the President of the State University College of Agriculture and Technology (SUNY) at Morrisville.  Since joining Morrisville State College as president in April 1998, technological advancement was one of the many initiatives that have been a part of Cross's plan to make Morrisville State College synonymous with technology.  Cross has not only taken a leadership role at the campus but also with the Madison County Industrial Development Agency Board and the Crouse Community Center Board where he serves as a board member.Top

Dr. Charles Blaas Dr. Blaas is the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Morrisville State College.Top

Dave Evans Dave Evans is the President of the New York Small Scale Food Processors Association, Inc., and the Executive Director of the Adirondack Kitchen Project, Inc.  Also, he is presently the owner of Sprig Mountain Nursery, Premier Foods (specializes in distribution of specialty and health foods) and New England Sampler (distributor of specialty products to help promote new entrepreneur products).Top

Dr. Christopher Lu Dr. Lu is the Dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Morrisville State College.Top

Amanda Hewitt Amanda Hewitt is the Corporate Administrator of the New York Small Scale Food Processors Association, Inc. She is also Nutrition Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension Service.Top

Parker Bosley Parker Bosley is owner and chef of Parker's Restaurant and Bistro in Cleveland, Ohio.  He has been working in the restaurant business for many years.  He is well known for his use of locally grown and in-season produce.Top

Jerry Nash Jerry Nash is an Executive Chef with Wellington House in Fayetteville, New York.Top

Tim Pezzolesi Tim Pezzolesi is an Agricultural Extension Educator and Program Leader with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County.  He works on a variety of agricultural development and marketing projects to promote economic growth and has recently co-chaired a regional effort to develop a farmer to restaurant pilot project, through the Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty.Top

Jim Putnam Jim Putnam is Senior Vice President at First Pioneer Farm Credit working out of Enfield, Connecticut. First Pioneer is the region's largest Farm Credit lender serving some 9500 customers with $1.3 billion of loans and $6 million of financial services. His organization covers a 6-state area including southern New England, New Jersey, and New York State east of Route 81.  Jim heads up First Pioneer's business consulting program which provides a wide variety of assistance to clients including business planning, estate and retirement planning, expansion planning, farm entity selection, and setup and business management. He also shares responsibility for First Pioneer's own strategic and business planning function.  Jim also operated his family's small business from 1991 to 1997.  This consisted of a retail farm market specializing in New England regional baked goods from scratch as well as local farm produce in season.Top

John M. Kohan John M. Kohan is President and Owner of Food Tech, Poughkeepsie, New York, a food laboratory that provides technical development and consultation to the food industry.  Food Tech's capabilities include product development, shelf-life studies, nutritional labeling, supplier audits, feasibility studies, and HACCP implementation.  John's career includes extensive technical experience, having worked for Penick and Ford, Ltd., Stange Company, Clinton Corn Processing Company, Hubinger Company, Chris Hansen Labs, and IBM.Top

Jim Chenot Jim Chenot works for Greenbush Tape and Label in Albany, New York.Top

Amy Machamer Amy Machamer is Co-owner of Hurd Orchards, New York.Top

Adele Hayes Adele Hayes is Co-owner and Manager of Sap Bush Hollow Farm in Warnerville, a diverse sustainable New York livestock enterprise since 1979.  She is a former Director of Schoharie County Planning and Development Agency and Executive Director of the county's Industrial Development Agency.Top

Alison Clarke Alison Clarke is a Consultant with New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group in Rochester, New York.  She has a business administration and marketing background as has been a community organizer in food systems for 25 years.Top

Gary Comstock Gary Comstock is a Marketing Director with Butternut Farms in Nicholas, New York.Top

William Kimball William Kimball is with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Top

Trisha Torrey Trisha Torrey is a Marketing Specialist with Eric Mower and Associates in Syracuse, New York. She has more than 16 years of background in marketing communications and a keen interest in the use of technology for marketing.  Her expertise in strategic planning for interactive services has enabled dozens of local, regional, and international organizations to tell their stories on the internet and through the use of other technologies. Her work entails needs assessments and planning for marketing-focused websites and CD ROMs.Top

Mark Bitz Mark Bitz is President and CEO of Plainville Turkey Farms in Plainville, New York.  He received his M.Sc. from Cornell University and B.Sc. from Purdue University.Top

Cynthia Barstow Cynthia Barstow is a marketing consultant and adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture.  Her current clients include the World Wildlife Fund/ Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association/University of Madison eco-label program; the New England Forestry Foundation (FSC certification); and the North East Sustainable Agriculture Working Group.  She is on the board of the Biodynamic Farmland Conservation Trust/Brookfield Farm and the New England Small Farm Institute.  Ms. Barstow is a frequent speaker on the natural products consumer, market trends, and eco-labeling/certification programs.Top

Tracy Frisch Tracy Frisch is Founder and Executive Director of the Regional Farm and Food project (RFFP), an independent membership organization of farmers and consumers formed in 1996.  This group's mission is to create sustainable opportunities for family-scale agriculture and to promote connections among farmers, consumers, and communities. Based in Albany, New York, RFFP has initiated a wide variety of education and community development activities.Top

Linda LaRosa-Mosner Linda LaRosa-Mosner is the Marketing/Education Coordinator with the South Central New York Resource Conservation and Development Project, Inc. (SoCNY RC&D).  She also works as a private consultant on a limited basis.  Currently Linda is working directly with farm and non-farm business owners in Tioga County as a part of the Agri-cluster 2 Small Business and Community Development Initiative. This project is funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and administered by the SoCNY RC&D office in Norwich, NY. The project assists farm and non-farm rural business owners to develop and enhance businesses, products, and services, in order to meet national consumer standards.Top

D. Sam Witherwax D. Sam Witherwax is with Rose and Kiernan Inc., New York.Top

Steven Markley Steven Markley is Vice President of Small Business Banking, Key Bank, Syracuse, New York.Top

Robin Connell Robin Connell is Management Supervisor with Eric Mower and Associates in Syracuse, New York.  She supervises the development, strategic planning, and marketing of communication programs to diverse agency clients.  She excels with all manners of consumer and business-to-business clients, and brings specialized knowledge to the table for many of the agency's agricultural clients.  Her previous experience includes serving as Communications Project Director for the National Pork Producers Council and Legislative Assistant for the Iowa State Legislature. Top

Dr. Joe Regenstein Dr. Regenstein is a Professor of Food Science in the Department of Food Science and Institute of Food Service at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  He also has an appointment in the Waste Management Institute of Cornell's Center for the Environment, serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Services in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and holds an appointment as a Visiting Professor of Judaic Studies in the Department of Religion at the University of Rochester.Top

Dr. Olga Padilla-Zakour Dr. Padilla-Zakour is an Assistant Professor of Food Processing and also serves as the director of the New York State Food Venture Center and as director of the Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  Her responsibilities include technical assistance to start-up food companies and extension programs to support established industries.  Her research efforts are concentrated on processing technologies for fruits and vegetables to add value and to ensure safety; and in the development of small scale processing techniques for entrepreneurs.Top

Dr. Patricia Laino Dr. Laino is the Executive Director of the Entrepreneur Center of Business Institute in Utica and President and CEO of the Business Training Institute Inc., New York.  Dr. Laino is responsible for bringing business training to entrepreneurs all over New York State. Her Center in Utica and Satellites all over the State have trained more than 1,200 aspiring entrepreneurs who have gone on to start over 700 new businesses and expand over five hundred statewide businesses.Top

David L. Holm David L. Holm is Program Manager for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) in Burlington, Vermont. Prior to his current position, he was Director of the Farm Center, a college-based production farm and educational program to promote sustainability, at Hampshire College.Top

Nancy New Nancy New is Program Division Director with USDA Farm Service Agency in Syracuse, New York.  In her current position as Chief of the Farm Loan Programs for New York State, she directs and oversees the Farm Service Agency lending program throughout the State. She is also a member of the Secretary of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.Top

Ian Cuthill Ian Cuthill is currently President of Cuthill Research Services Inc., Consultants, which specializes in new product development and strategy consulting services for the food and packaging industries. He is also currently U.S. Editor of International Food Marketing and Technology, an international trade journal published by the Dr. Harnisch company of Nurnberg, Germany.  He is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists and is Past President of the Marketing and Management Division of IFT.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology and is active in several professional management organizations.Top

Henry Herrera Henry Herrera is Co-founder and Planner/Development Specialist of the Northeast Neighborhood Alliance (the NENA), a comprehensive neighborhood development initiative. The NENA serves as the Sector Planning Committee for Sector 10 in the City of Rochester's Neighborhoods Building Neighborhoods Program. Hank was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at Hopkins. He has served on the faculties of the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, and the University of Rochester School of Medicine.  Hank maintains a private practice of psychiatry in Rochester.Top

Bob Lewis Bob Lewis is with the State of New York Department of Agriculture and Markets.Top

Morrisville State College State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Morrisville
Marshall Hall
Morrisville, NY 13408

(315) 684-6083 phone
(315) 684-6125 fax

Conference page developed and maintained by Walid H. Shayya, Ph.D.
This page was last updated on February 20, 2008 .