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SARL names Kay Johnson Smith as acting executive director

Her past experience includes 27 years with the Animal Agriculture Alliance.

Kay Johnson Smith
Kay Johnson Smith
Courtesy SARL

Kay Johnson Smith has been hired as the acting executive director of the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders (SARL). Smith will be responsible for the overall management of the organization and serve as a liaison between its members and key stakeholders interested in the viability of rural communities and agriculture.

Smith has extensive experience leading and managing agricultural nonprofit organizations, having served as the chief executive officer of the Animal Agriculture Alliance for 27 years, and more recently, as the chief operating officer for Dairy MAX. Having spent the vast majority of her career in agriculture, her passion runs deep for the people and organizations involved in farming and ranching, as well as those who support and depend on them.

Smith also has a long history of working with state and provincial legislators and government leaders in agriculture as her involvement with SARL as a past speaker and sponsor began in 2006. In 2015, she was appointed by the governor to serve on the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services (2015-2022), and her career started as the campaign manager for and legislative assistant to a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

“Serving as SARL’s acting executive director is truly an honor. I am excited to continue to grow and strengthen this important organization that provides a unique forum connecting legislative leaders across North America who are working to ensure the future of agriculture and rural communities,” said Smith.

“As we look toward SARL’s pinnacle event, the annual Legislative Ag Chairs Summit, we are excited to have someone with Kay’s experience and passion leading SARL at this time,” said Norine Hammond, SARL president and IL representative. Hammond also noted Smith will be working alongside former SARL Executive Director (2006 – 2019) and co-founder Dr. Carolyn Orr to ensure continuity of processes and services leading up to the Summit, which is set for January 3-5, 2025, in Des Moines, Iowa.

About State Agriculture and Rural Leaders

Founded in 2005, SARL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and fostering cooperation, leadership and educational opportunities among and for state and provincial legislators who are passionate about agriculture and rural communities.

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