Senator Mike Braun (IN), United States Senate

Mike Braun is honored to represent the state of Indiana in the U.S. Senate.  In the Senate, he serves on the Aging Committee, Agriculture Committee, Budget Committee, Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP). Before Braun’s victory in 2018, he was the founder and CEO of Meyer Distributing, a company he built in his hometown of Jasper that employs hundreds of Americans across the country. Mike graduated from Jasper High School in 1972, and went on to graduate from Wabash College where he earned an economics degree, graduated summa cum laude, and served as President of the Student Body. In 1976, Mike entered Harvard Business School, earning an M.B.A. in 1978. After graduation, Mike took a different path than many of his classmates and moved back to Jasper to start his career. In 1979, he co-founded Crystal Farms, Inc. which later became one of the largest turkey operations in the Midwest. After starting at Meyer Body Company in 1981 and eventually acquiring full ownership, Mike transitioned from the manufacturing sector to the distribution markets, forming Meyer Distributing. Since then, Meyer has grown to be among the industry leaders in auto parts distribution. Today, Meyer is a nationwide contender in the third-party logistics business. Mike is an avid outdoorsman and enthusiastic mushroom hunter every spring.

     Pipa Elias, Director of Agriculture, North America, The Nature Conservancy

Pipa Elias is Director of Agriculture in North America. Skilled at applying scientific research to advance policy and conservation solutions, Pipa leads an interdisciplinary team of experts in a collaborative approach to help producers meet the growing demand for food while protecting critical lands and waters. She works closely with colleagues from across the organization and stakeholders throughout the food and agriculture supply chain to achieve a sustainable food system. Elias joined TNC in 2015 as a senior policy advisor, leading land use policy advocacy at the United Nations climate negotiations and other multilateral venues. In her eight years working on the UN climate negotiations, including six years before joining TNC, she led a coalition of nearly a dozen NGOs that helped influence the system of incentives and measurements for the land-use sector in global climate agreements. Elias also served as policy lead on the team that helped to establish TNC’s Natural Climate Solutions work. In January 2017, she joined the North America Agriculture team as Soil Health Strategy Manager.

  Ted McKinney, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Under Secretary McKinney leads the development and implementation of the Department’s trade policy, oversees and facilitates foreign market access, and promotes opportunities for U.S. agriculture through various trade programs and high-level government negotiations. In 2014, McKinney was appointed by then-Governor Mike Pence to serve as Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, a position he held until joining USDA in 2017. His career also included 19 years with Dow AgroSciences and 14 years with Elanco, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company, where he was Director of Global Corporate Affairs. His industry and civic involvement has included service on the National FFA Convention Local Organizing Committee, Indiana State Fair Commission, and Purdue College of Agriculture Dean’s Advisory Council, as well as on the boards of directors of the International Food Information Council, the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and International Federation of Animal Health. McKinney grew up on a family grain and livestock farm in Tipton, Indiana, and was a 10-year 4- H member and an Indiana State FFA Officer. He graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. degree in Agricultural Economics in 1981 and received the G.A. Ross Award as the outstanding senior male graduate. In 2002, he was named a Purdue Agriculture Distinguished Alumnus and, in 2004, received an FFA Honorary American degree. He and his wife, Julie, have three children and four grandchildren.

  Martin Oberman, Vice Chairman, U.S. Surface Transportation Board

Marty Oberman was sworn in as a Member of the Surface Transportation Board on January 22, 2019. Marty has had an extensive career in both the public and private sectors. His first public position was serving as the first General Counsel to the Illinois Racing Board from 1973 to 1974, where he worked closely with the Board’s chairman to bring long needed reforms to the Illinois horse racing industry. From 1975-1987, Marty served on the Chicago City Council as Alderman of the City’s 43rd Ward where he earned a reputation as a reform leader, committed to promoting transparency in key governing processes while also working to reduce government corruption and profligate spending. Following his departure from the Council, the Mayor of Chicago appointed Marty as Chairman of a special commission to fix Chicago”s eroding shoreline. In 2013, Marty was appointed to the board of Metra, the Chicago region’s commuter railroad, the second largest in the U.S.  In 2014, he was unanimously elected Metra chairman and served until the end of 2016. Most recently, he served on the board of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) until November 2018. Since 1975, Marty also maintained a successful practice in Chicago as both a trial and appellate lawyer. Marty graduated from Yale University and the University of Wisconsin Law School, cum laude, and served as a Note Editor of the Wisconsin Law Review.  He has been married to his wife, Bonnie, since 1971, and has two children, and three grandchildren.  Marty is a native of Springfield, Illinois.

  Vince Poscente, Author, Radical Safety

Vince Poscente is a New York Times bestselling author of nine books and in-demand, keynote speaker. He helps audiences with ‘setbacks and breakthroughs’ in any high-performing or competitive landscape. He’s an Olympian and Hall of Fame Speaker in both Canada and the USA. Since 2006, Vince has led expeditions to name Himalayan mountains after everyday heroes. His Radical Safety program is backed by years of leading climbing expeditions in the Himalayas (14 years, zero incident), as a skier the Olympics, NY Times bestselling author and risk-aware partnerships with safety culture leaders around the world.

  Brittany Schaefer, Logistics Manager, Bunge North America, Chair, BDT Steering Committee

Brittany Schaefer is a Logistics Manager for Bunge North America at their export facility in Destrehan, Louisiana. She received her M.B.A. from Indiana University Kelley School of Business; her M.S. in Food and Agribusiness Management from Purdue University; and her B.S. in Agribusiness, Markets, and Management from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Miss Schaefer started her career with Bunge in 2010 as a Merchandiser Trainee and has worked in various roles including as an Export Soybean Trader, Commercial Manager, and Interior Logistics Analyst. In 2018, she was asked by Bunge to work on the Barge Digital Transformation (BDT) project. She was then appointed by NGFA as the chair of the BDT steering committee, which was formed to oversee the development of the project following a three-day workshop in October 2018. The steering committee has directed the development of this initiative from its inception into the industry-led project that is now deep in final development.

  Petya Sechanova, Trade Operations Leader, Cargill

Petya has 20 years of experience in multinational companies across diverse industries: Consulting, IT, Logistics, Commodity Trading & Operations. Petya joined Cargill in 2009 and after several leadership roles and international assignments in the agricultural commodities trade operations domain became the Global Trade Operations Leader for Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain.Petya is one of founders and key members of the Covantis initiative (, an industry initiative that started in 2018 by Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), Bunge, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) and Glencore Agri to modernise and digitalize the global agricultural post-trade processes. Petya has a Master’s Degree in International Business and MBA degree from SDA Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.

    Ryan Sirolli, Global Row Crop Sustainability Director, Cargill

Ryan is the Global Row Crop Sustainability Director for Cargill.  In his role, he is responsible for leading strategy development and implementation of row crop sustainability programs and initiatives across Cargill’s enterprises. Focus areas include optimizing farmer productivity and prosperity while lessening impact on water and climate through scalable adoption of soil health best practices and supply chain alignment.  Ryan has spent his entire career working along the food and agriculture value chain.  His experiences range from managing a row crop and beef operation in Maryland to creating integrated supply chain solutions between dairy producers, growers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies.  Most recently, he has led the launch of a soil health program at a global FMCG before returning to Cargill to lead row crop sustainability within Cargill’s Sustainability Hub.  Ryan holds a B.S. in Animal Science from Virginia Tech and a M.S. in Economics from the University of Delaware.  

    Stefan Vogel, Head of Agri Commodity Research and Global Sector Strategist, Grains & Oilseeds, RaboResearch F&A, Rabobank
Stefan has a wealth of market research and corporate strategy experience and is responsible for fundamental market analysis and price forecasting of agricommodities. In addition, as Global Sector Strategist,Grains & Oilseeds he leads the bank’s research in this sector and advises clients on sector trends and strategic implications. Prior to joining Rabobank Stefan has worked in different agricultural market research and strategy positions, including Head of Economics Department of ADM Germany (former Toepfer International) and Director of Market Research & Business Analytics of Archer Daniels Midland in the US. Stefan also was Vice President of the European Grain Trading association and a member of the EU Commission’s Expert Group on Agricultural Commodity Derivatives and Spot Markets. Stefan holds a Diploma (equivalent to Master´s Degree) in Agricultural Economics from the University of Giessenin Germany.