BOSTON, MASSACHUSSETS, US – The recipients of the 2021 Women in Agribusiness (WIA) Demeter Award of Excellence were announced on July 27. The honor is bestowed each year to women who have achieved excellence in their field and/or who have exhibited an outstanding contribution to the agribusiness industry.

Presented by HighQuest’s WIA division, this year’s recipients are: Dr. Toni Bucci of AgBiome; Anne Cleary of Wilbur-Ellis; and Dr. Vicky Salin of Texas A&M University.

Each recipient will be recognized at the 10th annual Women in Agribusiness (WIA) Summit, which will be held in-person (and online) Sept. 21-23 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US.

The annual award, named for Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture, also recognizes women who have demonstrated a positive impact on their clients, company, colleagues, or the agribusiness sector as a whole. 

Toni Bucci, chief operating officer, AgBiome. Photos courtesy of HighQuest.

Bucci has over 20 years of experience in the agricultural sector – from an R&D biologist at BASF to currently AgBiome’s chief operating officer, a position she has held since 2018. She also leads the commercial organization where she is responsible for attracting and retaining scientific and commercial talent. Under Bucci’s leadership, Howler, a revolutionary fungicide that harnesses the power of the plant microbiome, was launched and is now registered in 49 states. She is currently working on her second fungicide launch – Theia.

Cleary is credited with centralizing Wilbur-Ellis’ HR systems across the United States, Canada and Asia and for the creation of THRIVE (a nod to the company’s purpose) to unify and enhance the recruiting, onboarding and ‘reboarding’ experience for all employees. 

Anne Cleary, vice president of human resources, Wilbur-Ellis.
When in-depth analysis of the company’s demographics revealed that women represented only 30% of their workforce, Cleary drove efforts to look at pay equity, growth opportunities, recruiting practices and culture for women. This led to the establishment of the first employee resource group, the Women of Wilbur-Ellis (WoW), and to incorporating diversity and inclusion as part of the broader company business plans. 

Salin was one of the founding supporters and board members of WIA and has been instrumental in growing WIA’s student scholarship program.

“Dr. Salin was eager to be a part of the creation of Women in Agribusiness in 2012 and remained the on advisory board for several years,” said Joy O’Shaughnessy, WIA event director and COO of HighQuest. “She continues to be involved in this event in various ways, including supporting several of her ag students in attending the WIA Summit each year. This feeds the workforce pipeline and results in a high percentage of these students becoming the new hires with our attending companies.”

Vicky Salin, professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University.
Salin, who also is chair of the Intercollegiate Faculty of Agribusiness at Texas A&M University, does research on food safety, traceability and efficiency of enterprises involved in food distribution. She provides economic and financial research for the Scientific Advisory Council of the World Food Logistics Organization, an affiliate of the Global Cold Chain Alliance.