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Illinois Ag News Headlines
Illinois Farm Bureau Announces New Senior Leadership Team
Illinois Ag Connection - 09/20/2023

Illinois Farm Bureau President, Richard Guebert Jr., has announced changes to his senior leadership team, aiming to strategically position the organization to meet the evolving needs of its members. Mark Gebhards has been appointed as the organization's first Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and will work on the Organizational Member Strategy (OMS) to ensure IFB and county Farm Bureaus can deliver future programs and services effectively. Kevin Semlow, who has served as IFB's director of state legislation for 20 years, will now take on the role of Executive Director of the Governmental Affairs and Commodities Division.

Ryan Ford and Matt Wettersten will assume leadership positions, filling the vacancies left by retirees in the Field and Member Services Division and Marketing and Communications Division, respectively. These new leaders will focus on member engagement, advocacy, youth education, marketing, and communications.

The changes come in response to shifting demographics among IFB members and their evolving needs. The organization seeks to innovate and adapt to ensure its continued strength and relevance. IFB's success relies on member engagement, addressing key issues affecting members, and continuous innovation.

Gebhards, as CSO and assistant to the president, will work with an advisory committee comprising IFB directors, county Farm Bureau presidents and managers, and Young Leaders to lead the OMS initiative.

Semlow's responsibilities include advocacy for members among government bodies, educating members on legislative and regulatory matters, and managing agreements with affiliate organizations.

Ford will oversee membership, youth education, Young Leader programs, county Farm Bureau Managers, and more.

Wettersten will lead the marketing, communications, and news functions of the organization, which encompass various media channels, publications, and engagement efforts.

The existing senior leadership team members, Chief Financial Officer Alan Dodds and General Counsel Jennifer Vance will continue to contribute to IFB's strategic initiatives.

Guebert emphasizes that the organization's decisions are informed by member input, and any changes will align with the preferences of IFB's counties and members. An advisory committee guides the process, and a delegate body will meet at the Annual Meeting in December to ensure members' voices are heard.

The Illinois Farm Bureau, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, represents the interests of farmers and ranchers and boasts a substantial membership, with over 366,000 members and 76,500 farmer members.

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