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2019 Summer Meeting Speakers

Confirmed Speakers

NASDA President Jeff Witte, NM Secretary of Agriculture

Jeff Witte was named the director/secretary of New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) beginning May 16, 2011.  He is also the Cabinet secretary for NMDA under Governor Susana Martinez and serves as the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) President.

Witte comes from a ranching family in northern New Mexico. He is a graduate of New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business Management and a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Economics.  

NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr

Matthew Lohr was appointed to serve as chief of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in December of 2018. In this role, Lohr oversees the 3,000 NRCS field offices and their employees across the nation.

Lohr was raised in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley on a century farm and now operates Valley Pike Farm, Inc., with his wife Beth and their six children. He previously served in Virginia’s House of Delegates from 2006-2010 and as Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010 to 2013. In recent years, Lohr worked as knowledge center director for Farm Credit of the Virginias and has been farming full-time on the family operation since June 2017, raising poultry, beef cattle, row crops and sweet corn. 

Western Landowners Alliance Executive Director Lesli Allison

Allison is a founding member of both the Western Landowners Alliance and Chama Peak Land Alliance, where she was most recently named executive director. Through both organizations, Allison has worked with private landowners and multiple stakeholders to advance conservation, sustain working lands and support rural communities.

Previously, Allison managed a large ranch in the southern San Juan Mountains of Colorado. During her 16-year tenure, Allison implemented progressive conservation management through award-winning programs in restoration forestry, prescribed fire, grazing, stream restoration, hunting and wildlife management, and scientific research and monitoring. 

In 2014, Allison received the honorable Petchesky award from the New Mexico Land Conservancy due to her extensive work with private landowners and managers to advance conservation, sustain working lands and support rural communities. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree from St. John’s College, Santa Fe.

Invited Speakers

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt

David Bernhardt serves as the 53rd Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.  As Secretary of the Interior, Bernhardt leads an agency with more than 70,000 employees who are stewards for 20 percent of the nation’s lands.

Bernhardt is a native of Rifle, Colo. He earned a B.A. in political science with a minor in business administration from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in 1990. He graduated with honors from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1994. 

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