Agricultural Issues Center
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About Us - Advisory Board

Charles D. Ahlem

Charles D. Ahlem is the owner/operator of Charles Ahlem Ranch in Turlock with 4,000 Jersey milking cows and farming 1,100 acres. In addition, he is a founding partner of Hilmar Cheese Company, which annually produces more cheese from its Hilmar, California site than any other facility in the world. He serves as member on the USDA Trade Policy Committee (APAC), the California Milk Advisory Board and the UC Davis Western Institute for Food Safety and Security. Ahlem has served as Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture in the Schwarzenegger administration. Other positions of leadership have included serving as dairy industry representative on the State Board of Food and Agriculture and memberships on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and the UC President’s Advisory Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. A lifetime resident of the Central Valley, Ahlem graduated with a degree in dairy science from California State University, Fresno.

Devry Boughner Vorwerk
Devry Boughner Vorwerk serves as a senior policy advisor in Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice, focusing on trade and investment policy and agriculture policy. In this role, she works closely with the firm’s international trade policy and Cuba policy practices, among others, assisting clients who have international business dealings in, or who are considering expansion into, the Latin American and Asian markets. Prior to joining Akin Gump, Vorwerk served as Director of Cargil’s International Business Relations based in Washington, D.C. For eight years she specialized in Cargill’s Asia Pacific trade and investment portfolio, which included short assignments living in India and China. As Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Vorwerk managed Cargill’s global government relations activities in Washington and oversaw Corporate Affairs for Latin America, which included management and oversight for government relations, communications and corporate responsibility across the region. Prior to joining Cargill, Vorwerk worked at the U.S. International Trade Commission in the Office of Industries and as Economic Advisor to the Chairman. Vorwerk also served as Senior Economist in Agricultural Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which is part of the Executive Office of the President. Vorwerk holds a dual degree in Agricultural Economics and Managerial Economics from the University of California, Davis. She also holds a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics, with a specialization in Public Policy and International Trade, from Cornell University. Vorwerk serves on the Boards of Alliance to End Hunger, the Business Council for Global Development, and is a founding member of IMPACT FFA, which is a career development program for young women agriculture. She is Chair of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba and co-chair of the U.S. Business Coalition for the Transpacific Partnership. Devry also serves on the Advisory Board of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center and Cornell University’s Dyson School Advisory Council. Vorwerk is an Arthur Page Society Future Leader and was named a 2014 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Devry is an avid runner and a member of Potomac Runners, a Washington, D.C.-based running club. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her husband, Doug Vorwerk and their son, Charlie.

Karen Caplan
Caplan is president and CEO of Los Angeles-based Frieda's Inc. The daughter of entrepreneur Frieda Caplan, she has developed the corporation to an annual sales level approaching $23 million, pioneering in quality control and merchandising of exotic fruit and vegetable products. A leader in the produce industry, she was the first female president of the Fresh Produce Council. She has served on the boards of the UC Davis Institute of Governmental Affairs, the UCD Cal Aggie Alumni Association and was recently appointed to a 3 year term as director of the Federal Reserve Bank Board in San Francisco. She earned her BS degree in agricultural economics and business management at UC Davis

Darrell Corti
Highly respected and often controversial, wine and food expert Darrell Corti has been at the forefront of the development and growth of the California wine industry since joining his family's grocery business, Corti Brothers in Sacramento, in 1964. By seeking out new California fine wines, he has been instrumental in creating a larger market for emerging wineries, especially for those in Napa Valley. Darrell Corti has been a catalyst in the re-evaluation and renaissance of zinfandel, a leader in advocating wider use of Italian varieties or grapes in California, and has been integral to the rediscovery of the Sierra Foothills as a fine wine growing region. Corti is an internationally sought after member of wine and olive oil tasting panels and has mentored a generation of seminal food and wine professionals with his impeccable taste and articulate discourse.

Daniel M. Dooley
Dan. Dooley is of counsel to the law firm Bolen Fransen Sawyers LLP. He has over 35 years of experience in agricultural, resources and water policy/legal issues. Since January of 2008, he served the University of California, Office of the President, first as the VP of Agriculture and Natural Resources and then as the Senior VP for External Relations. Prior to that, Mr. Dooley practiced law in Visalia for nearly 30 years, specializing in water, natural resources and business matters. He has served as the Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Food & Agriculture, Chair of the California Water Commission and member of the National Academy Sciences, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources. He comes from a farming family and was a partner from 1980-2002 in the family-owned Dooley Farms, a diversified San Joaquin Valley farming operation producing cotton, alfalfa, tomatoes and walnuts, which continues operation under next generation family management.

Cornelius L. (Corny) Gallagher
Cornelius L. (Corny) Gallagher is senior vice president and agribusiness executive for Bank of America's Consumer and Commercial Banking Credit Risk Management Administration. Gallagher chairs the Risk Management Association's National Agricultural Lending Committee and is on the California Bankers Association Agricultural Lending Committee. He also chairs the Bank's California Political Action Committee. Gallagher is treasurer of the California 4-H Foundation Board, a member of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo School of Agriculture Advisory Council and the Santa Clara University Advisory Board of the Institute of Agribusiness. He serves on the California Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee, the California Agricultural Roundtable, and is on the board of directors of The Agricultural Network, the California State Fair Agricultural Advisory Council, and the California Food and Fiber Future Advisory Board. Gallagher graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. degree in animal science.

Betsy Marchand
Betsy Marchand served six terms on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors retiring in 1996. Her special interests and activities include water, land use, transportation, and health care. Marchand served as President of the State Board of Reclamation appointed by the Governor from 2001 until 2005. She is a founding board member of the Yolo Basin Foundation, served for eleven years on the Tribal Gaming Commission at Cache Creek Casino Resort for the Yocha deHe Wintun Nation, and now serves as an advisor / consultant to the Yocha deHe Wintun Nation on local government and community matters. Marchand is a member of a pioneer California family; she received a B.A. from Pomona College (Phi Beta Kappa) and an M.A. degree from Vanderbilt University where she was a Ford Foundation Fellow. She has taught high school in both Southern and Northern California. Marchand has received numerous awards for public service at the county and the state level.

S. James Rickert
Jim Rickert, along with his wife Mary Rickert and their son James, own and operate Western Agricultural Services, a professional farm and ranch management and appraisal firm. They provide farm and ranch management services on over 50,000 acres in five counties in Northern California.  The Rickerts also offer appraisal and real estate brokerage services as part of their business model.  They specialize in organic beef production by marketing a branded beef product and supply bovine raw materials for bio-medical device companies. The Rickerts have been managing the Prather Ranch since 1979. Jim is a fourth generation agriculturalist with a background in meat processing. He attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where he majored in agriculture and has a Masters degree from Purdue. He is a leader of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, for which he was president of the California Chapter and is currently the first vice president and is scheduled to become president-elect in fall 2012.  He has been an active member of the California Cattleman’s Association, California Rangeland Trust-Technical Advisory Committee, the Shasta Land Trust among other farm and conservation organizations.  He has also been the recipient of numerous awards for ranching, management, community and conservation contributions.

Steven D. Rystrom
Rystrom is from Chico, is a rice grower in Butte County, and has been an agricultural leader in his community and in the national rice industry. Rystrom graduated from UC Davis and did graduate work at Whitworth College in Washington. He began his farming career in 1976. Over the years, he has served as chair of the Butte County Rice Growers Association, Richvale Seed Growers Association, Northern California Production Credit Association, and the U.S. Rice Producers Group, California. Rystrom has recently served as director of the California Rice Commission, and in various capacities with the USA Rice Federation. Rystrom's interest and expertise concentrate in the area of farm program issues.

Peter K. Thor
Peter K. Thor is president of Bellissimo Foods, a national foodservice buying and marketing group. He has served as managing director and CEO for Pak Tech, a venture capital funded packaging (plastic) technology company and for SPC LIMITED, an Australian based processor and international marketer of vegetable and fruit products. He was executive vice president of Tri Valley Growers from 1989 - 1994 and has served on the faculty of the University of Santa Clara.  Thor graduated with a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis specializing in econometrics, with interests in marketing and finance.

Joe Zanger (Chair)
Zanger is a general partner of Casa de Fruta. Zanger is a graduate of UC Davis. The family business was founded in 1908 by his southern Italian ancestors and has an agricultural history of growing, processing, and packaging apricots, cherries, pears, prunes, walnuts, wine grapes, lettuce and asparagus. Today, the retail location on Highway 152 in the Central Coast of California includes a fruit stand, restaurant, wine tasting/deli, inn, recreational vehicle park, fuel station  and other destination type activities. In addition to his work with the family farming and value added activities and its wine business, Zanger has been active in the public policy arena for agriculture and business. He has served on the Farm Service Agency California State Committee, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Technical Advisory Committee for fruits and vegetables and is past chairman of the international trade committee for the California Farm Bureau. He has served on the California Farm Bureau board of directors and on many of its policy committees. He is also a member for Farm Foundation Roundtable.

Former AIC Board Members

William F. Allewelt (chair)
Jean Auer
Arnold Barcellos
Dan Dooley (chair)
Richard Douglas
Robert M. Eberhardt
Tom Graff
Ralph Grossi
Alfoonso A. Guilin
Les Guthrie
George Hickman
Jyrl James-Massengale
Luther J. Khachigian
Arthur Littleworth
Howard Margueleas
Dorcas Thille McFarlane
Millie Meders
Michael J. Mendes
Peggy Mesinger
Graydon Nichols
Jack Pandol
Victor Pankey
Richard E. Rominger
Lois Salisbury
Henry Schacht
Terry Scranton
Brenda Jahns Southwick
Henry Voss
Richard Zacky 


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