Beth Ford, CEO, Land O'Lakes

Prior to assuming the CEO, Ford was Chief Operating Officer of Land O’Lakes Businesses, in which role she oversaw Land O’Lakes’ WinField United, Purina Animal Nutrition and Dairy Foods business units. Prior to that, Ford was head of Land O’Lakes’ Dairy Foods and Purina Animal Nutrition businesses, where she led record performance and growth, leveraging innovation through R&D to strengthen both brands.  She also was instrumental in the acquisition of Vermont Creamery in early 2017.

Prior to joining Land O’Lakes in 2011, Ford had excelled in executive operations management and supply chain roles at International Flavors and Fragrances, Mobil Corporation, PepsiCo and Pepsi Bottling Company and Scholastic. Ford has more than 20 years’ experience specifically in the areas of technology and R&D, as well, across these four companies.

Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Beth earned an MBA at Columbia University Business School and a BBA at Iowa State University. She remains involved in both universities, sitting on the Deming Center Board of Advisors for Columbia Business School and the Dean's Advisory Committee for the College of Business at Iowa State. Ford and her spouse, Jill Schurtz, have three teenage children and live in Minneapolis.
James M. Foote, President and Chief Executive Officer, CSX

James Foote was named Chief Executive Officer of CSX in December 2017. Prior to this role, Foote served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer from October to December 2017. As COO, Foote aligned CSX’s Operations and Sales and Marketing Departments to advance the Scheduled Railroading transformation begun by the late E. Hunter Harrison. Before joining CSX, Foote was President and Chief Executive Officer of Bright Rail Energy, an innovative technology company that develops and sells products that allow railroads to switch locomotives to natural gas power.

Foote began his railroad career at the age of 18 in the Mechanical Department on the Soo Line Railroad in Wisconsin, repairing locomotives and performing a variety of operations jobs. Moving rapidly from the front lines into management positions of increasing responsibility, he joined the Chicago and North Western Railroad, where he held senior positions in finance, law, labor relations and corporate communications, eventually becoming Vice President of Corporate Development, Investor Relations and Tax. In 1995, Foote joined the Canadian National Railway (CN) and again ascended through roles of increasing responsibility, being named Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing in 1999. He was in that position in 2003 when the CN named Mr. Harrison as CEO and began its implementation of Scheduled Railroading. Foote worked closely with Mr. Harrison throughout the CN’s transformation that turned a $2 billion company into one worth more than $24 billion.

Foote pursued an aggressive marketing strategy that included the introduction of new intermodal and carload services that, in coordination with the operations team, greatly reduced transit times and resulted in major traffic growth. Foote left the CN in 2009, and in 2012 formed Bright Rail Energy.

Foote holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and a Juris Doctor degree from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
Eric Wilkey, President, Arizona Grain Inc., Chairman of the Board, NGFA

Wilkey joined Arizona Grain in 1991 after beginning his career six years earlier with the Continental Grain Co. From 1996-2006, he served as the company’s vice president and director of merchandising and risk management prior to becoming the firm’s top officer in 2006. In addition, he has been a member of the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council since 2004, and is a past chair of that organization. An Illinois native, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois.
Dr. Derek Scissors, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Chief Economist, China Beige Book

Derek M. Scissors is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses on the Chinese and Indian economies and on US economic relations with Asia. He is concurrently chief economist of the China Beige Book.

Dr. Scissors is the author of the China Global Investment Tracker. In late 2008, he authored a series of papers that chronicled the end of pro-market Chinese reform and predicted economic stagnation in China as a result. He has also written multiple papers on the best course for Indian economic development.

Before joining AEI, Dr. Scissors was a senior research fellow in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation and an adjunct professor of economics at George Washington University. He has worked for London-based Intelligence Research Ltd., taught economics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, and served as an action officer in international economics and energy for the US Department of Defense.

Dr. Scissors has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate from Stanford University.