The Swine Health Information Center’s executive director, Dr. Paul Sundberg, has announced he will retire at the end of 2023. Upon accepting Sundberg’s retirement request, the SHIC board of directors moved to promote Associate Director Dr. Megan Niederwerder to executive director effective January 1, 2024. A transition plan is in place, ensuring a smooth handoff and business continuity for SHIC.
“Having Megan on board since April 2022 has allowed for interaction between her, Paul, and the board so we can mesh her talents and strengths with the ongoing success we have had under Paul’s leadership,” said SHIC Board Chair Dr. Russ Nugent. “A person of Paul’s talents is not easily replaced, but we will all do our best to continue his legacy of SHIC success and the board is very excited to have Megan taking us forward into the future.”
Niederwerder has been involved in, and exposed to, all facets of SHIC for more than a year, according to Nugent. As associate director, Niederwerder oversees some key SHIC programs and efforts. While helping direct SHIC’s operations, and being mentored by Sundberg, Niederwerder grew to understand the organization’s efforts from the inside out.
“We are all very clear on the SHIC mission statement. That keeps us grounded to our focus on a daily basis,” Nugent observed.
The mission statement reads: The Swine Health Information Center, launched in 2015 with Pork Checkoff funding, protects and enhances the health of the U.S. swine herd by minimizing the impact of emerging disease threats through preparedness, coordinated communications, global disease monitoring, analysis of swine health data, and targeted research investments. This statement guides not only day-to-day effort but the transition process as well.
“SHIC was formed because pork producers believed there was a better way to prepare for potential disease threats that were not yet in the U.S. That has been our focus since 2015,” Nugent said. “SHIC’s staff must be well aware of pork production disease threats worldwide as well as have the vision and scientific contacts to lead an effort to assess risk, likelihood, magnitude and ability for us to generate valuable insight into potential emerging diseases.”
Nugent believes SHIC remains as relevant as ever, and said: “Our executive director must also have the vision to think outside the box and find new innovative ways to create value for Checkoff-paying producers in this arena; for example recent and ongoing Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Program research will pay dividends for all producers against many existing and potentially emerging disease threats that may rob profit on an ongoing and/or future basis.”
Sundberg has been SHIC’s only executive director and, for years, its only paid staff. “
You simply do not replace someone like Paul Sundberg,” Nugent said. “He has been an asset to this industry for years. Megan will use her vast talents, along with lessons and wisdom learned from Paul, to continue the strong legacy of SHIC to help U.S. pork producers develop innovative ways to protect our ability to produce a healthy, sustainable, cost-effective food supply for our country. Megan won’t try to be Paul, but we sure won’t forget all that we have learned from him.”