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Presenter Biography's

Kevin Spafford, Event Partner

Just prior to the publication of his book Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners (Marketplace Books®) in 2006, Kevin founded Legacy by Design, a succession planning firm dedicated exclusively to serving the succession planning needs of farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness owners. Since then, he’s identified strategies and spearheaded initiatives to help America’s farm families plan for success.

As the architect, talent, and creative resource behind the Farm Journal Legacy Project, Kevin effected consumer behavior and improved the way farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness owners engage in the succession planning process. Over the last 8 years, Kevin has:

  • Been published more than 300 times in the Ag industry’s leading magazines.
  • Facilitated more than 100 live presentations across the U.S. to 10,000+ participants.
  • Written multiple workbooks and created approximately 50 original client engagement tools.
  • Produced 250 weekly eNews pieces which were distributed to recipients across the U.S.
  • Hosted/wrote/co-produced 5 seasons of ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV.

Today, as a succession planning consult and wealth manager, Kevin serves client families throughout California.

Legacy By Design, LLC
Ryan Wealth Management

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KAREN ROSS was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 12, 2011, by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Secretary Ross has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California. Prior to joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009. Prior to that appointment, she served as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers from 1996- 2009, and as Vice-President of the Agricultural Council of California from 1989-1996. Before moving to California, Secretary Ross served as Director of Government Relations for the Nebraska Rural Electric Association and as Field Representative for U.S. Senator Edward Zorinsky.
Secretary Ross is passionate about fostering the reconnection of consumers to the land and the people who produce their food, and to improving the access of all California citizens to healthy, nutritious California-grown agricultural products, celebrated for their diversity and abundance in serving local, national and global markets.
During Secretary Ross' tenure, the Department has focused on core functions to protect and promote California agriculture in a time of significant budget reductions, and it has emphasized change-management to position the agency to more effectively and efficiently serve its stakeholders in meeting the challenges of the 21st Century.
Secretary Ross has strengthened partnerships across government, academia and the non- profit sector in the drive to maintain and improve environmental stewardship and to develop adaptation strategies for the specific impacts of climate change. She has initiated programs to provide greater opportunities for farmers and ranchers to engage in sustainable environmental stewardship practices through water conservation, energy efficiency, nutrient management and ecosystem services.
Secretary Ross grew up as a 4-H kid on a farm in western Nebraska. She and her husband, Barry, own 800 acres of the family farm where her younger brother, a fourth-generation farmer, grows dryland wheat, feed grains and cattle. The Secretary has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a graduate of the Nebraska Ag Leadership Program. She has served on numerous boards and committees in California
agriculture and with various academic institutions.

California Department of Food & Agriculture
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David Schabazian, Program Manager, Rural-Urban Connections

David Shabazian was named as the Program Manager for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ Rural-Urban Connections Strategy in 2007. This unprecedented program strives to enhance rural economic viability through strategies that expand the region’s food systems. To that end, David has pioneered spatial agricultural economic modeling and market analyses to help public and private interests make better-informed decisions. His work is recognized nationally, including by Harvard’s Ash Center as a “Top 25” program in the 2015 Innovations in American Government Awards competition. David was raised on a small farm in California’s Central Valley. He attended UC Davis where he earned a BS in Agricultural Economics and an MS in regional planning. David serves on the boards of the Center for Land-Based Learning and the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. David is also an alumnus of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation.

Sacramento Area Council of Governments
RUCS Report
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Dr. Marrone is currently CEO/Founder of Marrone Bio Innovations (MBI), a company she started in 2006 to discover and develop bio-based products for pest management and plant health. On August 2, 2013, MBI listed its stock as MBII on NASDAQ. The company’s award winning products, Regalia® Biofungicide, Grandevo® Bioinsecticide, Venerate® Bioinsecticide and Majestene® Bionematicide are used in fruit, nut, vegetable and row crop markets. MBI also is marketing Zequanox® for invasive zebra and quagga mussels. MBI has several more products (bioherbicides, another biofungicide and a biofumigant) in the pipeline. In October 2014, Dr. Marrone was awarded Agrow’s “Best Manager with Strategic Vision” for her career-long leadership in biopesticides. Dr. Marrone received the NRDC’s Growing Green Award in “Business Leader” category, to recognize new pioneers in sustainable farming and food. The company received the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award and a California Department of Pesticide Regulation IPM Innovator award. Dr. Marrone founded AgraQuest in 1995 and served as its CEO, Chairman and President until March 2006. AgraQuest commercialized several biopesticide products that became the biological standards for their categories. Before AgraQuest, she was founding president and business unit head for Entotech, Inc. in Davis (CA), a biopesticide subsidiary of Denmark-based Novo Nordisk. At Monsanto, she led the Insect Biology group, which was seeking alternative ways to control insect pests. Dr. Marrone is an alumni-elected trustee of Cornell University, and is on the Board of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research commissioned by the Farm Bill to fund cutting edge food and Ag research. She is also the Treasurer of the Association for Women in Science and is past-Treasurer of the Organic Farming Research Foundation. She is Founding Chair of the Biopesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA), a trade association of more than 100 biopesticide and related companies. She is on the UC Davis Ag and Environmental Sciences and the Cornell University College of Ag and Life Sciences Dean's Advisory Councils. Dr. Marrone holds more than 40 patents and is in high demand to deliver keynote addresses on the future and potential of biologicals for pest management. She was elected by her peers as a Fellow of AAAS (American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science). She has a B.S. in entomology with Honors and Distinction from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in entomology from North Carolina State University.

Marrone Bio Innovations
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Dr. Stark is President of Holganix LLC where he leads the company’s efforts to expand its business into agriculture. Previously, he was a Senior Associate with the Context Network, a strategy and business management firm that helps companies along the food value chain navigate the ever-changing landscape of agriculture and ag technology.

Dr. Stark spent over 25 years with Monsanto Company where he held various senior leadership roles in technology, corporate affairs and business operations. Most recently he was Vice President, Global Trade Partnerships where he led the platform involving all value chain interactions for the global vegetable business. Prior to joining Monsanto's vegetable business, Dr. Stark was Vice President, Consumer Traits for Monsanto and a member of the Global Technology and Corporate Affairs Leadership teams. In this role he initiated and led Monsanto's efforts to develop crops with enhanced attributes for the food industry and consumer, as well as leading all biotechnology (GMO) issue management with the global food value chain. Prior to this Dr. Stark was Co-President of Monsanto’s global potato biotechnology business, NatureMark, where he helped Monsanto develop and launch its first product of biotechnology, the NewLeaf potato.

Dr. Stark has a B.S. in genetics from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Washington University.

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Roger Isom, President, WAPA

Roger is the President/CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) which represents tree nut hullers and processors of almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. WAPA addresses regulatory and legislative issues for the tree nut industry on critical matters including, environmental, safety, food safety, water, water quality, labor, tax and transportation issues. WAPA also provides key consulting services to its members and clients in these same areas. Roger is also the President/CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, which is a voluntary dues based trade Association representing 100% of the cotton growers and cotton gins in the State of California addressing regulatory and legislative issues. Roger is also President of the Ag Energy Consumers Association (AECA) representing the agricultural industry on ag energy issues, including critical general rate cases with the utilities. He is also Chairman of the Agricultural President’s Council, a coalition of over 30 agricultural organizations that have come together to work on political and legislative matters. Lastly, Roger is also the Chairman of the Citizens Advisory Group of Industry (CAGI), an organization made up of the agribusiness, oil, manufacturing and building industries to address air quality issues in the San Joaquin Valley. Roger is a graduate of California State University, Fresno.

Western Agricultural Processors Association
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