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Keynote Speakers | Agricultural Bankers Conference

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Rob Dongoski, Ernst and Young, Chicago, IL

As EY’s global Food and Agribusiness leader, Rob is at the forefront of industry issues working directly with executives to optimize their approach in the global markets. Rob works across the food and agriculture value chain integrating innovation, driving digital adoption and developing strategy. Through his work with corporate clients, private equity firms, venture capitalists and the accelerator community Rob has become a knowledge leader on matters of critical importance to global and market-leading companies.

Rob leads EY’s Food and Agribusiness sector and focuses on strategy, innovation and M&A for many of our clients in the Agribusiness and Food sectors. As EY’s global leader, he is at the forefront of industry issues and works directly with client executives to optimize their approach in the global markets.  He works across the entire agri/food value chain including crop inputs, ag retailers, processors, food manufacturers and distribution.  Rob has also worked extensively to foster innovation and digital adoption across the industry with corporate clients, private equity, venture capital and incubator/accelerator communities.

Rob’s experience ranges from growth strategy to operating model design to digital innovation across the agri/food value chain.  He works directly with client executives in the design and implementation of the appropriate operating model for their business, including strategy/portfolio management, marketing/merchandising, digital, operational areas and backoffice efficiency.  

Jason Henderson, PhD, Director of Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, Senior Associate Dean of Purdue College of Agriculture, and Assistant Vice President of Engagement, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

A nationally recognized expert in agricultural and rural issues, Jason R. Henderson is the Senior Associate Dean in the Purdue University College of Agriculture and Director of Purdue Extension. In this role, he leads statewide public engagement and research-based education in 4-H Youth Development, Agricultural and Natural Resources, Community Development, and Health and Human Sciences. As Purdue’s Assistant Vice President for Engagement, he provides leadership in university-wide initiatives that connect Purdue expertise and resources to statewide needs and helps form effective partnerships to grow Indiana’s economy and improve quality of life for its residents.

Jason previously served as Vice President and Omaha Branch Executive at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. While serving as the Bank’s regional economist and Nebraska representative, he also led Federal Reserve efforts to track agricultural and rural economies, including the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions and the Federal Reserve System’s Agricultural Finance Databook. He also managed the Main Street Economist, a bimonthly publication covering economic issues affecting rural areas, and has published more than 60 agricultural economics research articles in academic and Federal Reserve publications on such topics as land values, entrepreneurship, electronic commerce in agriculture, demographics, and many more. He holds masters and doctorate degrees in agricultural economics from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Central College in Pella, Iowa.

David M. Kohl, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Virginia Tech, AgriVisions, LLC, Blacksburg, VA

Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.  He taught in the Agricultural and Applied Economics Department for 25 years.  

Dr. Kohl currently energizes agricultural lenders, producers, and business people with his keen insight into the agricultural industry gained through extensive travel, research, and exposure during his career.  He has traveled over 9 million miles in his career; conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural audiences; published more than 2,100 articles; and writes for many leading publications.  Kohl has addressed the American Bankers Agricultural Conference for more than 40 consecutive years.  Dr. Kohl was recently inducted into the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame.  Dr. Kohl’s personal involvement with agriculture and interaction with key industry players provide a unique perspective into future trends of the agricultural industry and economy.

Travis Mills, Motivational Speaker, Retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant, Quadruple Amputee, New York Times Best Selling Author, Founder – Travis Mills Foundation

On April 10, 2012, United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne was critically injured on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan by an IED (improvised explosive device). As a result of the blast Travis suffered the loss of both arms and both legs. He is one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Enduring a grueling rehabilitation program, Travis committed himself not only to recovery, but to fatherhood and to giving back to the veteran community any way he could.

In September 2013, Travis and his wife Kelsey founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed to benefit and assist post 9/11 veterans who have been injured in active duty or as a result of their service to our nation. Critical to the foundation’s mission is for the veteran’s family to be included, not just the vet. Through the foundation, the veteran and their family receive an all-inclusive, all-expenses paid, barrier-free vacation to Maine where they spend time with Travis and his family, and participate in adaptive activities, bond with other veteran families, and enjoy much needed rest and relaxation in Maine’s great outdoors.

Travis’s story has been featured extensively on local and national news including The Ellen DeGeneres Show, NBC, CBS, Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, CNN and countless other outlets.

Kristi Piehl, Founder & CEO, Media Minefield, Minneapolis, MN

Kristi Piehl launched Media Minefield in 2010 following a 12-year career as an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter. Media Minefield is a one-of-a-kind PR agency specializing in earned media, crisis communication and social media.

Kristi is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs of all genders and ethnicities. She is a founding board member of The Demon Angels, a diverse group of angel investors who support Chicago-based entrepreneurs. She is also a founding member of DePaul University's Women in Entrepreneurship Institute. Media Minefield is a WBENC-certified Women’s Business Enterprise

Kristi is dedicated to creating a unique workplace culture with policies that value families, flexibility and health. In 2020, Media Minefield took the #1 spot on the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Best Places to Work list in its category. Kristi was named one of Minnesota’s 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders in 2020 and 2021. In 2019, she was named a Women in Business honoree by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and a Women 2 Watch nominee by Women Presidents’ Organization. Kristi was Bethel University’s 2015 Alumna of the Year and is on the Board of Trustees at Bethel University. Kristi is also a founding member of The 25 at Bethel University, a four-year cohort program that aims to empower women to use their strengths, passion and skills to uncover their potential. 

Kristi launched the Flip Your Script podcast in 2020. She is honored to host the show and interview people who faced a critical turning point in their life and explore how they found the inspiration to move forward and rewrite their own unique story. 

Eric Snodgrass, Principal Atmospheric Scientist, Nutrien Ag Solutions

Eric Snodgrass is the Principal Atmospheric Scientist for Nutrien Ag Solutions, where he develops predictive, analytical software solutions to manage weather risk for global production agriculture. He provides frequent weather updates that focus on how high-impact weather events influence global agriculture productivity. His current research uses machine learning to better understand field-level weather impacts on yields in the US and to increase confidence in long-range weather prediction. He presents his research as a featured speaker at over 50 conferences annually where he provides logistical guidance and solutions to weather sensitive financial institutions, farmers, commodity traders, and other stakeholders. 

Before transitioning to Nutrien Ag Solutions, Eric was the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2006-2018. Each year, he guided over 1800 students through the wild side of weather in ATMS 120: Severe and Hazardous Weather. He taught advanced courses on General Physical Meteorology (ATMS 201), Meteorological Instrumentation (ATMS 315), Economics of Weather (ATMS 491) and supervised numerous Capstone Research projects. Snodgrass also taught ENSU 310: Renewable and Alternative Energy for the Environmental Sustainability Program. He also advised all undergraduate majors and minors in atmospheric science (~100 students) and supervised graduate teaching assistants and master’s students. He won many prestigious teaching awards at the University of Illinois including College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence award, the Campus Teaching Excellence Award, and the Campus Teaching Excellent Award in Online and Distance Education. Also, his online version of ATMS 120 was awarded the 2012 "Best Online Course" from the University Professional Continuing Education Association (a national organization).  

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Get updates on the Agricultural Bankers Conference as we develop this year's program. Contact Cynthia Watkins if you have any questions.