ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) announced on Aug. 1 four domestic staff promotions effective immediately.

Steve Wirsching is named vice-president, director of West Coast Office in Portland, Oregon, U.S In USW’s Arlington, Virginia, U.S., headquarters, Shannon Schlecht is named vice-president of policy, Steve Mercer is named vice-president of communications and Julia Debes is named assistant director of communications.

“At every meeting, I tell our directors how proud I am of our entire staff,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “The work of these four people has earned special attention from their colleagues and our partners outside the organization. I am pleased to recognize their work and expect them to contribute even more to the U.S. wheat industry in these strong leadership roles.”

Wirsching has been with USW since 1992, starting as assistant director in the West Coast Office. He then served as regional director in the South American Regional Office in Santiago, Chile, and in the Mexican, Central American, Caribbean Office in Mexico City, Mexico, before returning to the West Coast Office as assistant director in 2008. He was named director in 2010. Wirsching grew up on a family farm in Idaho and earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness/animal science and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Idaho.

Schlecht joined USW in 2001 as assistant director in the West Coast Office, then transferred to Cairo, Egypt, as assistant regional director, Middle East, East and North Africa. He became deputy director of policy in September 2009 and was named director of policy in 2011. Schlecht hails from a North Dakota farm family and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University.

Mercer joined USW as director of communications in 2006. As a marketing communications writer and manager, Mercer worked primarily for public relations and advertising agencies serving clients in commercial agricultural supply industries, including crop protection, animal health, seed and livestock equipment. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in agricultural journalism, Mercer grew up in a rural community in Illinois.

Before joining USW as communications specialist in 2010, Debes worked on a Florida state legislator's communications staff and as deputy press secretary at the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office. Debes earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and journalism from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in media and communication studies from Florida State University. Her family operates a diversified crop and livestock farming operation in central Kansas.