Soybean farmers continue to weather challenges from every corner: Supply chain issues, global conflict, inflation and climate change, to name a few. Yet the farm economy remains well-positioned – helped by diverse market demand and clean fuels like biodiesel. We’ll “crystal ball” with soybean organization CEOs in this round table discussion, covering crush capacity, policies including the Farm Bill, the role of soybean farmers in policy and the importance of us working as a united front. We’ll also hear from Kevin Lucke, new head of Chevron Renewable Energy Group. A company with roots dating back to the 1800s, what does this multinational energy company’s shift into biofuels mean for our industry, and America’s energy at large?
Director of Outreach and Development
Clean Fuels Alliance America
Tom Verry serves as the Director of Outreach and Development for Clean Fuels Alliance America and the Executive Director of the Foundation. Verry works to establish synergistic relationships for the benefit of the biodiesel industry with key stakeholders including feed stock suppliers, state soybean associations, fuel suppliers, end-users, policy makers, government agencies, and environmental/ health groups. He also works to identify and access resources that will address the needs of the organization and the industry. Previously, Verry spent 12 years as the Director of Field Services for the Missouri Soybean Association. Verry is a 1987 graduate of the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics
American Soybean Association
Stephen Censky is CEO of the American Soybean Association, a role with which he is very familiar. He returned to ASA in November 2020 after serving as Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture from October 2017 to November 2020. Before his appointment to USDA, he served as ASA CEO for 21 years. Censky began his career working as a legislative assistant for Sen. Jim Abdnor (R-SD). Later, he served in both the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations at USDA.
Iowa Soybean Association
Kirk Leeds is CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association, responsible for overall management and director-level staff. He works with the board leadership to improve the operations of the board and its governance system, as well as being responsible for relationship with national organizations. Founded in 1964 by farmers to serve farmers, ISA is governed by a board of 22 farmers to advocate on behalf of the state’s 40,000 soybean producers, including more than 14,000 ISA farmer members and industry stakeholders. Leeds also serves as Director for the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers and President of ISA Management Solutions.
North Dakota Soybean Council
Stephanie Sinner is the executive director of the North Dakota Soybean Council. Sinner has a Master of Science in International Studies, with an emphasis in International Agriculture Trade and Development, from Oklahoma State University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and an Associate of Arts in Agriculture from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Prior to joining the Soybean Council, Sinner worked for the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. She has more than 17 years of market-development experience promoting North Dakota agriculture both domestically and internationally.
New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association
Colleen Klein has served as the Executive Director of the New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association since August 2015. Prior to that, she spent five years working for the USDA-Farm Service Agency and prior to that for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Wyoming County, New York. She grew up on a dairy farm in Western New York that is still operated today by her parents and brother. At the onset of COVID-19 she served on national COVID-19 Task Forces for the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association. She also served on the American Soybean Association Strategic Planning Committee in 2021 and is a member of the current LeadNY cohort.
Chevron Renewable Energy Group
Kevin Lucke is President, Chevron Renewable Energy Group based in Ames, Iowa. He previously served as Director, Integrated Supply Chain. Lucke has spent 40 years at Chevron in the Downstream and Chemicals business. He started in 1982 as Designs Engineer, El Segundo Refinery and held various engineering and operations roles within El Segundo. In 1990, he moved to Chevron Chemical in Houston and held roles as a Business Analyst, Product Manager and Commercial Manager. In 1997 he was assigned as Chevron Chemical’s Commercial Manager based in Bangkok Thailand.
Kansas Soybean Association
Kaleb Little joined Kansas Soybean in January 2021 as the CEO of the Kansas Soybean Association and Administrator of the Kansas Soybean Commission. In that role, under the direction of soybean farmer boards of directors, he manages and implements production and utilization research, domestic and international market development and education projects for the Commission and federal and state lobbying programs for the Association. Little previously worked at the National Biodiesel Board (now Clean Fuels Alliance America) as the communications director. NBB was his first career stop following graduation from Kansas State University in 2009, where he received an agricultural communications and journalism degree and a leadership studies minor.