ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — The American Soybean Association (ASA) has expanded its senior leadership team with the promotion of Wendy Brannen and Abby Podkul, effective May 1.
Brannen, who has served as director of policy communications, has been promoted to senior director of marketing and communications.
Brannen joined the ASA in June 2018 with experience in directing non-profit marketing, research, and education organizations in the agriculture industry, and developing creative public relations and promotion programs. Over the last year Brannen has provided guidance in policy communications on trade challenges and farm policy while also leading a web site redesign and other internal projects.
“Wendy came on board at an unusual time, when trade issues with China were escalating, and with that, media attention on our industry,” said Ryan Findlay, chief executive officer of the ASA. “She has demonstrated an ability to not only handle her role in policy communications, but in addition, add insight to our long-term communications strategy.”
Prior to joining the ASA, Brannen was executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission in California and spent several years with U.S. Apple Association, Washington, D.C., and the Vidalia Onion Committee, Vidalia, Georgia, U.S. Before entering the ag industry she was a television news journalist throughout the southeast.
“Wendy’s experience in agriculture, media and marketing will have continued value in her new role leading our marketing and communications department,” Findlay said.
Brannen will continue directing policy communications outreach in the ASA Washington, D.C., U.S., office while working more closely with department staff in the St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., headquarters.
Podkul, ASA director of Commodity Classic, will now lead a new meetings and conventions department as its director.
She has been with the ASA for more than 11 years as the organization’s director of Commodity Classic, an agriculture convention and trade show jointly owned by the ASA and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and produced by five commodity groups each year. Commodity Classic is the ASA’s largest event and has grown in farmer attendance, vendor sponsorships and overall revenue during Podkul’s engagement, with more than 9,000 attendees annually.
“Abby has an incredible ability to organize, plan and execute an event,” Findlay said. “Her attention to detail is remarkable, as is her ability to make sure the team is focused on improving the overall experience for meeting attendees.”
In the newly-formed meetings and conventions department, Podkul will direct the planning, coordination, and implementation of the more than 25 meetings and events ASA hosts annually. She will continue to serve as the ASA director of Commodity Classic.
Prior to joining ASA, Podkul spent nearly 10 years working as event manager for the largest convention center in St. Louis, managing conventions, trade shows, business meetings, entertainment and special events for associations and corporate clients.
“Abby has continued to prove during her tenure with ASA that she has the right skill set to keep elevating the bar for our events,” Findlay said.