Annual Convention Speakers sharing their expertise and insight

NARA Opening General Session Keynote Speaker

Randy Russell

The Russell Group

Randy Russell will present “The Current Political Outlook & Rendering Opportunities” during our Opening General Session.

Randy Russell is principal of The Russell Group, NARA’s new lobbying firm. He brings decades of agricultural policy experience in and out of government to rendering, with a strong record of success. Randy served as Chief of Staff for Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block, Deputy USDA Assistant Secretary for Economics, among other positions. He received an undergraduate degree in Public Administration and graduate degree in Economics from George Mason University. Randy was a proud member of GMU’s baseball team where he played catcher.

Randy serves as Chairman of the Board for the World Food Program USA, which raises awareness and funding to fight global hunger. He is also on the Board of Governors of the Bryce Harlow Foundation, encouraging the highest standards for professional lobbying and government affairs. Randy has been actively involved in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program. He and his wife Beth co-founded The Golden Phoenix Foundation which works to address the issue of childhood abandonment around the world. Randy, Beth and their family live in McLean, Virginia, and also have a small farm where they raise alpacas, chickens and turkeys. 

NARA Welcome Luncheon Guest Speaker

Lowell Catlett, PhD

Lowell B. Catlett, PhD, retired as a Regent’s Professor/Dean and Chief Administrative Officer at New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in July, 2015. While at New Mexico State University he received honors as “College of Agriculture and Home Economics Advisor of the Year” and “Teacher of the Year”.

An exciting futurist, his knowledge of technologies and their implications on the way we will live and work is addressed in his varied and upbeat presentations. Lowell works both nationally and internationally, presenting his “take” on trends in health care, agriculture, the environment, education, and more. He has been a consultant for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior of Defense and Labor; as well as many Fortune 500 companies. 

Dr. Lowell Catlett received his doctorate in Economics from Iowa State University and his Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business and Economics from West Texas State University. He has received countless awards in teaching, and received the New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award in 2013 because of his dedication to public service and to the betterment of life in New Mexico.

He and his wife, Joni, share their home in Mesilla, New Mexico, with three dogs, a passel of cats and a barn full of bats.

NARA Industry Issues Forum

Randy Blach


Randy Blach will present “Market Outlook for the U.S. & Global Livestock Industry" during Thursday's Industry Issues Forum.

Randy is CEO of CattleFax, an organization focused on helping member cattle producers make more profitable marketing and management decisions. Randy joined CattleFax in 1981 and served as director of market analysis for 15 years and accepted his current role in 2001.

A Colorado native, Randy and his family remain actively involved in cattle ranching with cow/calf, stocker and finished cattle. He was raised on his family’s ranch in Yuma, Colo., and graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in animal science.  

Randy and his wife have two children. Their son plays for the San Francisco Giants baseball team and their daughter attends Creighton University and competes in soccer. Randy’s family enjoys spending time together at sporting events and at their ranch in eastern Colorado.

NARA Industry Issues Forum

Jason Breslaw


Jason Breslaw is the Business Development Manager responsible for BP’s commercial trading strategy across the biodistillate value chain in the Americas, including renewable feedstocks and their pretreatment.

He played a leading role in developing the company’s co-processing project at the BP Cherry Point refinery in Washington State and is continuing to grow the company’s renewable fuel production capability, both in volume and through the diversification of feedstocks.

Jason has been with BP for 14 years and has held a number of roles in London and Chicago including in freight analytics, jet operations, distillate trading and blending where he held responsibilities for the production and trading in markets including West African gasoil, marine fuels and military fuels. Outside of his renewable diesel-related responsibilities he works to further BP’s “Advancing the Energy Transition” Group strategy through supporting the company’s de-carbonization efforts in the aviation and marine markets alongside AirBP and BP Marine.

Born in London, UK, Jason majored in chemistry at the University of Cambridge. A foodie and avid traveler, he’s an air-miles enthusiast who enjoys spending time with his friends and family both at home and abroad.

NARA Industry Issues Forum

Dana Brooks

Pet Food Institute

Dana Brooks will present “The Whole Bowl – Partnering with Pet Food” during Thursday’s Industry Issues Forum.

Dana serves as the president and CEO for the Pet Food Institute (PFI). She has over 30 years of experience across the food and agriculture industries.

Previously, Dana was Senior Director of Government Relations at Land O’Lakes, Inc. and Director of Government Relations for Elanco Animal Health. She also worked as Senior Vice President of Government Relations at the National Milk Producers Federation and Director of Public Policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

Dana began her career in the nation’s capital as a Legislative Assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives for former Reps. Marion Berry and JoAnn Emerson. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Arkansas-Monticello and a master’s degree in Agribusiness from Kansas State University. Dana’s passions include scuba diving, spear fishing, boating, horseback riding, skeet shooting, and hosting Women in Agriculture events.


NARA Industry Issues Forum

John Bullock

Darling Ingredients Inc.

John Bullock will be participating on the Biofuels Panel during “The Future of Renewable Diesel” presentation at the Industry Issues Forum.

John has served as Darling Ingredients’ Executive Vice President, North American Specialty Businesses and Chief Strategy Officer since 2014. He is responsible for leading, supporting and developing the company’s strategies and investments globally. Prior to that, he was Darling’s Senior Vice President, Business Development, from May 2012 to December 2013.   

From 2004 to 2012, John operated a boutique consulting firm, JBULL Inc., which specialized in enhancing margin opportunities for agricultural business expansions and developing renewable fuels. He consulted on numerous projects for Darling, including development and construction of the Diamond Green Diesel facility outside of New Orleans which is a joint venture with Valero Energy Corporation. John began his career in 1978 at General Mills, Inc and then led the mergers and acquisitions group of the ConAgra Trading and Processing Companies. 

FPRF Innovate Conference

Annel K. Greene, PhD

Clemson University

Dr. Annel K. Greene will present “ACREC: Next Management Steps and the Latest in Innovation and Progress for Rendering” during Tuesday's FPRF Innovate Conference.

Annel is a Professor in the Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences at Clemson University where she also serves as Center Director for the Animal Co-Products Research & Education Center (ACREC). She conducts research in rendered animal co-products, food microbiology and environmental remediation and teaches animal product-related coursework. 

Industry Issues Forum

Kurt Kovarik

National Biodiesel Board

Kurt Kovarik will join the Biofuels Panel Discussion, “Biodiesel Five Years Forward,” during Thursday's Industry Issues Forum.

Kurt has extensive political and industry experience from his years of work in Congress and at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). As Vice President of Federal Affairs for NBB, Kurt is responsible for directing the association’s federal policy and political programs. He is also in charge of NBB’s lobbying office in Washington, D.C.  

Before joining NBB, Kurt served as the Legislative Director for Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley where he led the policy staff and coordinated legislative efforts. He joined Senator Grassley's office as a press intern in 1997. Kurt next became a Legislative Assistant where he advocated for the senator’s priorities on a variety of issues such as the federal budget, labor and foreign affairs. 

Kurt negotiated and led Senator Grassley's successful efforts to include biodiesel in the Renewable Fuel Standard, developed strategies to expand and extend biodiesel tax incentives, and advocated increased use of biofuels. An Iowa native, Kurt graduated from Luther College with a degree in political science. Outside of work, Kurt is an avid golfer and baseball fan.  He, his wife and three children live on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  

FPRF Innovate Conference

Jennifer Martin, PhD

Colorado State University

Dr. Jennifer Martin, an Assistant Professor in Meat Safety and Quality, received her M.S. (2010) and Ph.D. (2014) from Texas Tech University before joining the Colorado State University faculty in the late Spring of 2015.

Jennifer has an active research program which employs novel technologies and a systems-based approach to understand the complex pathways influencing the safety and quality of meat and related products. Her current research is focused on exploring the relationship between microbial and biochemical deterioration in meats, in addition to the development of strategies to mitigate the presence of foodborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistance. Most notably, while at CSU, she has served as the leader for the Pet Food Alliance—a multi-year effort aimed at serving the needs and futures of the pet food and rendering industries.In addition to research, Jennifer teaches numerous undergraduate and graduate courses, supervises multiple student organizations, and is involved in several local and national youth livestock organizations.

NARA Industry Issues Forum

Amy Parker

Elmira Pet Products

Amy Parker will present “Rendered Proteins in Pet Food" during Thursday's Industry Issues Forum.

Amy works in Procurement & Supply Chain, and Ingredient Sales for Elmira Pet Products & Elmira Ingredients Group. EPP is a private label dry dog and cat food manufacturing plant, alongside EIG who imports and supplies ingredients to other manufacturers in Canada and the USA. Amy’s focus is animal proteins from around the world.     

Amy started her career working for bi-pro Marketing, a third party ingredient trading company, and Sanimax Marketing.  Amy’s main focus was importing and selling Animal Proteins from around the world. 

Amy has experienced many challenges and success’s that surround importing from around the world.  Regulatory and disease, quality, and foreign material contamination, and is passionate to educate people on how each of our industry’s affect each other.

FPRF Innovate Conference

Daniel Whitehead, PhD

Clemson University

Dr. Daniel Whitehead will present “Applications of Tiny Things Including Nanotechnology to Control Big Odors” during Tuesday's FPRF Innovate Conference.

Daniel received his B.S. (2002) and M.S. (2003) degrees in chemistry from Furman University, working in the labs of Professor Larry Trzupek. He earned his Ph. D. (2009) from Michigan State University under the mentorship of Professor Babak Borhan. His doctoral research focused on the development of novel asymmetric olefin halogenation reactions culminating in the development of an asymmetric chlorolactonization protocol. He was a postdoctoral fellow (2009-2011) at North Carolina State University in the labs of Professor Christian Melander. His postdoctoral studies focused on the development of novel therapeutics including anti-biofilm agents, osteoclastogenesis inhibitors, and nanoparticle-drug conjugates for the treatment of HIV infections.

Daniel joined the Clemson University Chemistry Department in 2011. In 2016, he assumed the role of Chemistry Undergraduate Program Coordinator. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in August 2018. The Whitehead group leverages synthetic organic chemistry to explore three focus areas:  1.) new reaction methodology, 2.) materials chemistry, and 3.) bio-organic chemistry.