The National Corn Growers Association Tuesday announced that current National Pork Board CEO Chris Novak will become NCGA's next chief executive officer, taking the place of 14-year veteran Rick Tolman, who earlier this year announced his intention to retire from the organization.
"We're thrilled to have Chris join us at NCGA," said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a corn grower from Illinois. "He has all the right qualifications to take the reins of this growing organization and keep it moving in the right direction, continuing the tradition of success we saw under Rick Tolman."
Novak's first day as NCGA CEO will be Oct. 13. His last day at the National Pork Board, where he has been CEO since October 2008, will be Oct. 3.
"We're grateful to Chris for his leadership these past several years," said Dale Norton, National Pork Board president. "With Chris' guidance, our Pork Checkoff team built stronger relationships with pork producers across the country, with our state pork associations and with our partners in the food chain. Chris brought a spirit of collaboration that served our organization and our industry well."
Prior Novak's time at the National Pork Board, from 2004 to 2008, he was executive director of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, the Indiana Corn Growers Association and the Indiana Soybean Alliance. Novak also has served in positions at Syngenta and the American Soybean Association, and worked on Capitol Hill.
"I am very excited about this opportunity to work with a terrific team of grower leaders, state affiliates and the NCGA staff," Novak said. "With a record corn crop predicted for this year, corn farmers must work together to build new markets that keep up with our increasing productivity. I'm looking forward to working with the team to meet this challenge."
Novak holds a master's degree in business administration from Purdue University, a law degree from the University of Iowa and a bachelor's degree in public service and administration from Iowa State University. Novak and his wife, Julie, have three children.
Barbre appointed a cross-functional search committee to aid in the placement, led by NCGA Chairwoman Pam Johnson. The committee retained the services of Kincannon & Reed, an executive recruitment firm that specializes in the global food and agriculture sectors and has extensive recruiting experience for agricultural associations.
"Our search committee was impressed with the caliber of candidates, and we faced a lot of tough decisions, but in the end, we knew Chris would be a great fit with NCGA," said Johnson. "I'm grateful for the hard work of our search committee and for the guidance of Kincannon & Reed for making this a great process."
Outgoing CEO Tolman had announced in March that he would be retiring from NCGA at the end of the association's fiscal year, to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren.
"NCGA has a great future ahead of itself with Chris as its new chief executive," Tolman said. "I am extremely confident that he has the experience and expertise to lead it boldly and continue its trajectory as a respected national trade association growing in membership and influence. In the weeks ahead, we will be working together on a smooth and productive transition as corn farmers face continuing challenges from several fronts."
Tolman joined NCGA in September 2000, having previously served as executive director of the U.S. Grains Council, and has received numerous awards and recognition in his time at NCGA. Later this year, he and his wife, Linda, will relocate closer to family in Utah, where they are building a home.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Novak as the CEO of the National Pork Producers Council, not the National Pork Board.