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Operations Managers Conference Speakers

Keynote Speakers and Panelists

Betsey Cunningham
Alliance Dairies
“People are the heartbeat behind the headache.”  Visualizing life’s challenges with an introspective view like that has always been part of Betsey Cunningham’s genetic makeup.  Born and raised in Western New York, Betsey grew-up answering phones and working at her family’s Animal Hospital, along with taking care of her registered Guernsey cattle.  It was there that she developed her true passion for working in the dairy and agricultural industries. She attended Cornell University, during which time she worked in many parts of both the United States and United Kingdom.  These experiences gave her valuable experience with various companies, different aspects of the industry, a wide array of cultures, and even some “headaches.”  After graduating with a BS in Animal Science with a focus in Business, Betsey moved to Florida to work for the Alliance Dairies Group. As the Director of Human Resource Management, she was quickly introduced to the day-to-day challenges of getting 13,000 cows milked and building a culture of engagement. Working with over 250 employees on a multi-site facility, Betsey was, and continues to be, exposed to a variety of employment elements, from recruitment to retention and everything in between.  Most recently, she has started Law School in California with a concentration in business and employment law.  She continues to work with dairies to help reduce the headache of human resources by recognizing the heartbeat (and the story) in each person.  “We’ve built our culture at Alliance not be ‘soft’ but to be fair and accountable.  We try to see the story behind every action, and in doing so, we see through the headaches and ultimately find solutions.”

Dr. Robert Hagevoort
New Mexico State University
Dr. Robert Hagevoort, a native of The Netherlands, is an Associate Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist at New Mexico State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Tropical Animal Production from the College for Tropical Agriculture in Deventer, The Netherlands. He received a M.S. and a Ph.D. both from Texas A&M University. Prior to joining New Mexico State University as an Extension Dairy Specialist, Dr. Hagevoort served as an independent dairy consultant primarily in the Southwestern U.S. As an Extension Specialist, he has been working closely with the dairy industry focusing regulatory and environmental issues, and initiated an effort to rebuild a dairy program at NMSU through the formation of the U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium. A key component of his current extension program is the development and implementation of a comprehensive dairy workforce training & safety program.

Jon Huseth
Clay View Dairy
Jon Huseth is a 4th generation dairy businessman who was afforded an opportunity to make a difference by raising quality cattle and growing a family operation. Clay View Dairy LLP is built on the virtues of Generosity, Integrity, and Passion. Those virtues have sustained 4 generations and have remained the backbone of an operation that now milks nearly 1200 cows.

In 2013, realizing that many businesses were experiencing a reduced level of engagement in their workforce, Jon seized the opportunity to create Ag Pathways LLC.  In 2014 through the help and organization of many, Jon’s team hired their first Visa TN's.  Together, Byron and Jon focused on building a culture for Clay View Dairy, and because of their experiences, they decided to share with others.

Byron Ramirez
Ag Pathways LLC
Byron Ramirez came to the United States from Guatemala in 1994, when he was 9 years old.  Growing up an immigrant in the United States teaches valuable lessons only those tough circumstances can. Through Ag Pathways, Byron has had the opportunity to interview thousands of people in Mexico, Guatemala and other countries as a professional recruiter. Today, he feels blessed to be able to extend the same opportunity to other people, given to him by his parents Vilma and Dino.

Pamela Sanchez
Seneca Zoo Park Society
Pamela Reed Sanchez joined the Seneca Park Zoo Society as its President and CEO in June of 2014.  Under her leadership, the Zoo has significantly increased community awareness of zoos as conservation and education organizations, dedicated to saving animals from extinction.  The rebranding of the Seneca Park Zoo has touched every aspect of its operations, reinforcing the mission for our guests and the public. 

Ms. Reed Sanchez has more than twenty years of nonprofit management experience, including strategic planning, resource development, marketing and communications, and more.  Sanchez completed her doctoral coursework at the Maxwell School of Citizenship at Syracuse University, where she focused her research on organization theory and technology policy. 

Her work to create a mission-based culture with widely shared and practiced workplace values and ethics resulted in the organization receiving a Top Workplace Award in 2018. Pamela is an accomplished and dynamic public speaker who looks forward to sharing how her experiences can inform the dairy management industry. 

Dr. Conrad Spangler
Riverview LLP
Conrad was born and raised on a small dairy farm in Southeast Iowa, where he developed his passion for the dairy industry.  After receiving his BS in Dairy Science from Iowa State and his DVM from the University of Minnesota, he practiced dairy production medicine in Dalhart, TX for 2.5 years.  For the last 7 years, Conrad has served as the Director of Animal Health for Riverview, LLP, where he works together with the dairy and calf site managers and employees to ensure the health, welfare, and production of the herd.

Dr. Rich Stup
Cornell University
Richard Stup addresses challenges facing the agricultural industry through educational programs and applied research. He also provides leadership as a liaison between the agricultural industry and employment-focused regulatory authorities. His focus is on human resource management, enhancing employee engagement, regulatory compliance, and leadership development at the farm level.

Prior to joining Cornell University, Dr. Stup founded Ag Workforce Development, a firm focused on improving individual and team performance through organization development and technology solutions. He also served agriculture in the Farm Credit system as a branch manager and senior leader, gaining extensive experience leading teams in sales, credit, accounting and records, business consulting, risk management, and crop insurance. Earlier in his career, Richard was an Extension specialist with Penn State University, where he led the Dairy Alliance team and developed award-winning educational programming in human resource management. He earned his doctorate from Penn State in the field of Workforce Education and Development, including innovative research into the effects of human resource management on farm employee organizational commitment.

Breakout Session Speakers

Dr. Ariel Avgar
Cornell University ILR School
Ariel Avgar is an Associate Professor at the ILR School at Cornell University and Associate Director for Research and Student Engagement with the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution. His research focuses on two primary areas within employment relations. First, he explores the role that employment relations factors play in the healthcare industry. As such, he examines the effects of a variety of workplace innovations, including new technology, delivery of care models, and innovative work practices, on patients, frontline employees, and organizational performance. Second, he studies conflict and its management in organizations with a focus on the strategic choices made by firms. He seeks to better understand the consequences of conflict for employees and employers. In addition, his research investigates the adoption and implementation of organizational level conflict management practices and systems. He received a Ph.D. in Industrial Relations from the ILR School at Cornell University and a B.A. in Sociology and an LL.B in Law from Hebrew University. He served as Law Clerk for the President of the Israeli National Labor Court before being admitted into the Israeli Bar. Prior to joining ILR, he was an associate professor (2014-2016) and assistant professor (2008-2014) at the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Michelle Barrett
Dr. Michele Barrett is the veterinarian serving the Northeastern United States for the Dairy Technical Services team of Zoetis. In this role, she works with veterinarians, producers, researchers, industry stakeholders, and the public to support the dairy industry. Her areas of focus include milk quality, bilingual employee training and labor management, records analysis, calf health, and preventative medicine.

Dr. Barrett completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science at Rutgers University prior to earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Cornell University in 2009. While at Cornell, she was inducted into the Phi Zeta Honor Society for Veterinary Medicine and was the recipient of the prestigious Michele and Agnese Cestone Scholarship. She spent seven years in clinical practice working with producers in the Finger Lakes region of New York prior to joining Zoetis in 2016. While in practice, she focused on Dairy Production Medicine, and conducted grant-supported research on both Lactococcus mastitis and Salmonella Dublin control measures.

In both private practice and as a member of the Zoetis team, Dr. Barrett has shown dedication to the dairy industry that she serves. She is a mentor, advocate, and educational resource for veterinary students; serves as a judge for the regional Dairy Challenge; is a participant in numerous dairy discussion groups for young farmers; and is a member of several veterinary industry groups (American Association of Bovine Practitioners, National Mastitis Council, American Dairy Science Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council). Furthermore, she is the regional lead in Zoetis’ Antibiotic Stewardship initiatives.

Dr. Victor Cabrera
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Victor E. Cabrera is a professor and extension specialist in dairy management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Dairy Science Department. Dr. Cabrera combines applied research, interdisciplinary approaches, and participatory methods to deliver practical, user-friendly, and scholarly decision support tools for dairy farm management. These scientific tools are aimed to improve dairy farm profitability, environmental stewardship, and long-term sustainability of the dairy farm industry. During his short career, Dr. Cabrera has developed more than 40 decision support tools, published 58 refereed articles, and 5 book chapters, presented in more than 100 scientific sessions, and given talks in more than 170 extension meetings in Wisconsin, other States, and several other countries. Dr. Cabrera work in the past 10 years has been pivotal to attract more than $4.0 million to support his research and extension initiatives. Dr. Cabrera has been distinguished with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Vilas Faculty Mid-Career Investigator Award, Second Mile Extension award of the Wisconsin Association of County Agricultural Agents, the Pound Extension Award and the Alfred Toepfer Faculty Fellow Award from the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Foundation Scholar Award in Dairy Production from the American Dairy Science Association.

Dr. Matthew Digman
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
In 2016 Matthew brought his experience in agricultural equipment design and testing to UW-River Falls. His equipment design experience comes from his time spent at the USDA Dairy Forage Research Center, followed by several years with Kuhn North America. As an adjunct faculty member at UW-Madison he redesigned a core course in instrumentation and control, and mentored both undergraduate and graduate students on various applied research projects. Matt grew up on a Wisconsin family farm and earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and his M.S. and PhD. in Biological Systems Engineering from UW-Madison.

Ms. Libby Eiholzer
Cornell Cooperative Extension - NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team
Libby Eiholzer grew up on a dairy farm in Central NY.  After graduating from Cornell University with a major in Animal Science and a minor in Spanish, she spent two years in Guatemala on an assignment with the Peace Corps.  She now works for Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Northwest NY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team as a dairy specialist.  Some of her responsibilities include providing Spanish-language job training to farm employees, facilitating on-farm meetings, and organizing workshops for the dairy community. 

Libby’s experience working with both farm owners and employees across WNY give her a unique perspective to represent the needs of both.  Libby’s husband Garrett is a partner in Ivy Lakes Dairy, LLC in Stanley, NY, and she enjoys helping him on the farm in her spare time.

Dr. Julio Giordano
Cornell University
Dr. Julio Giordano is Associate Professor of Dairy Cattle Biology and Management in the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University. His expertise is in dairy cattle reproduction, health, and the implications of herd performance on the economics of dairy farms. His basic research focuses on the elucidation of physiological mechanisms controlling reproductive function and changes in physiological parameters during disease in dairy cattle. His applied program incorporates novel technologies to develop new and simplify established reproductive and health management programs for dairy cattle. Through the integration of these basic and applied research components, Dr. Giordano’s laboratory strives to enhance the reproductive performance, health, and productivity of cows thus, the economic viability of dairy farms.

Courtney Karszes
Raymond Corporation
Courtney Karszes is a Manufacturing TPS Specialist with The Raymond Corporations in Greene, NY. Starting with The Raymond Corporation, a subsidiary of Toyota, after graduating from Clarkson University with a degree in Global Supply Chain Management, as a Quality Analyst, she then moved into the Manufacturing TPS (Toyota Production System) department. Her current role is on implementing various lean manufacturing tools on the shop floor.

Over the past four years, she has completed various Lean Manufacturing Certificate programs and is halfway through an M.S. in Lean Manufacturing from Kettering University. 

While growing up on a heifer replacement farm in Stanley, NY, she had no intention of going into the agricultural field. However, now residing in Greene, NY with a dog and four chickens, she misses the agricultural field so started working part-time at a neighboring family-owned dairy farm milking cows two days a week. At the farm, implementation of some of the Lean System concepts have helped improve the milking process. She is interested in bringing more Lean principles to the agricultural field.

Jason Karszes
As a senior extension associate with the PRO-DAIRY program at Cornell University, Jason works with 80 to 100 dairy producers a year, focusing on education and research around annual business performance, budgeting, decision making, and goal setting to improve business performance.  He also coordinates activities across the state for Cornell University’s Dairy Farm Business Summary and Analysis Program, business discussion groups, and activity cost analysis projects.  With a focus on management education, he coordinates the Cornell Dairy Executive Program and works closely with the Academy for Dairy Executives Program in New York.

Dr. Quirine Ketterings
Cornell University
Quirine Ketterings joined Cornell University in August 2000 to provide leadership for the field crop nutrient management extension and applied research program of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Quirine received her MS from Wageningen Agricultural University and her PhD from The Ohio State University. She established and leads the CALS Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP), an applied research, teaching and extension program for field crop fertility management that aims to improve grower and agricultural industry management of crop nutrient needs (using manure, compost, rotations, cover crops, fertilizer). Research findings are extended to stakeholders through extension articles, software, factsheets, talks, and the NMSP website (

Joe Lawrence
Joe Lawrence joined the Cornell University PRO-DAIRY team in 2016 as a Forage Systems Specialist. He holds undergraduate degrees in engineering and agronomy and completed a master’s degree in crop and soil sciences with the Nutrient Management Spear Program at Cornell University.  He has worked in the New York dairy industry for over 10 years with a strong focus on a whole farm approach to forage management.

Albert McFadden
Pleasant Valley Farms of Berkshire LLC
Albert McFadden was born and raised in Richford, VT and has lived in the immediate area his entire life. He is married to his beautiful wife of 23 years, Tricia, and together they have been busy raising their three children in Franklin, VT, one town over from Pleasant Valley Farms. Albert has worked at Pleasant Valley Farms for the past four years.

Albert started his career as a parts counter person and moved to the dealership level as parts manager of the local Ford and Chevrolet dealerships. In addition, he has owned and operated a landscaping business for the past 20 years. His past experiences made him a prime candidate for this new position at this growing farm business.

Albert is currently enjoying life on the farm working as operations manager of the maintenance division. His duties include purchasing, shipping, receiving and parts inventory management. He has also implemented paper and electronic record keeping for equipment and repairs. Albert’s front office is the central hub for the maintenance division and everything associated with it.

Dr. Jamie Perry
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, School of Hotel Administration
Professor Jamie Perry is an assistant professor of human resources management and the Rachel Etess Green '98 and Jason Green Faculty Fellow at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

Professor Perry's work focuses on team effectiveness, with an interest in how compositional factors and conflict influence team dynamics. She explores how power and status affect interactions within the workplace and broader society. Her work has been published in academic journals, such as Personnel Psychology, American Psychologist, Psychological Bulletin, and Academy of Management Annals. Professor Perry received the 2015 Rutgers Business School Academic Excellence Award. She is also the recipient of the 2016 Society of Industrial Organizational Psychology S. Rains Wallace Dissertation Award.

Professor Perry received her MA in psychology and PhD in organization management from Rutgers University.

Dr. Kelly Reed
Diamond V
Dr. Reed grew up on a small family farm in Northern NY and completed both her Bachelor's & Veterinary degrees at Cornell. After graduation, she practiced in the Yakima Valley of Washington State and managed a 5000-cow dairy for 7 years. She has worked for Diamond V for 2.5 years and has a special interest in calves and heifers.

Dr. Rick Watters
Quality Milk Production Services
Rick Watters was born in a small rural town in Columbia county, Wisconsin were as a kid he would spend every minute he could on his uncle’s farm bringing cows in from the pasture and carrying pails of milk back to the milk house.  He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he attained bachelor degrees in Dairy Science and Agronomy.  Upon graduation from Madison he started a career in animal nutrition and then moved into a technical support role with a milking equipment manufacturer.  Eventually, he found his way back to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a Master Degree in Ruminant Nutrition with his research focusing on reproduction and animal health in cows receiving a shortened dry period.  Following the completion of his masters he traveled to the northeast to begin a PhD in Animal Science at Cornell University.  His research focused on milking routines and oxytocin profiles in cows milked three times daily.  After completion of his PhD he made his way back to the Midwest and into the dairy industry working as a milk quality and udder health specialist for a milking equipment manufacturer.  In 2012 he returned to Cornell University as the Director of Quality Milk Production Services Western Laboratory.  He is a member of NMC and is on the Board of Directors for the Dairy Practices Council.