The ESS Excellence in Leadership Awards recognizes leaders who have personified the highest level of excellence by enhancing the cause of regional associations and ESS in achieving the mission. They also provided significant, dynamic and high quality performance with regional, national or international impacts and have a record of significant accomplishments in the agricultural sciences.
Five national awards, one from each ESS region, were presented:
From the Association of Research Directors (ARD):
Carolyn Brooks, Executive Director, Association of 1890 Research Directors
Brooks has provided exemplary leadership and trusted advocacy beginning as a dean and director and currently as the executive director of the Association of 1890 Research Directors (ARD). She served as chair of ARD; was the elected 1890 Representative to serve on the first Policy Board of Directors; member of the Design and Implementation Team for FSLI; Board Chair of LEAD 21; CREATE21 Task Force member; member of the Committee on Opportunities in Agriculture-NRC of the National Academies of Sciences, and served on boards and councils of the NE Regional Aquaculture and the Rural Development Centers. She has served on numerous task forces and committees representing women and minorities in agriculture and as evaluator for university, national, international and federal programs.
From the West:
Colin Kaltenbach, Dean and Director Emeritus, The University of Arizona
Kaltenbach served as a critical thinking and creative force in his 28 years as director, regional association and ESCOP chair, proposer of the first edition of the Science Road Map, first ESS representative to the newly constituted Policy Board of Directors, key leadership with Competitive Multistate Programs, and support for the current communications and marketing effort.
From the North Central:
Arlen Leholm, Executive Director (retired), North Central Regional Association
Leholm served with distinction as the executive director of NCRA; provided leadership and support for the communications and marketing effort and to the LEAD 21 Board. He has generously shared his collaborative system-wide training in Winning Teams/Winning Grants workshops and has indoctrinated a system of values necessity of emotional intelligence across all segments of the land-grant university system. Leholm has longstanding administrative successes at the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University and has consistently provided enthusiastic support, leadership and an infectious attitude that result in innovation and action across public and private sectors.
From the Northeast:
Bruce McPheron, Dean and Director (former), The Pennsylvania State University; Vice President and Dean (current), The Ohio State University
McPheron has provided visionary and insightful leadership at all levels of the agricultural research system, including director and dean at the institutional level; chair of the Northeast Regional Association (NERA), Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development Board of Directors, and Northeast Administrative Heads Section at the regional level; chair of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council, LEAD 21Board, ESCOP, Administrative Heads Section, and BAA Policy Board of Directors at the national level; chair of the IPM-Innovation Laboratory Board of Directors at the international level. He has been an articulate and passionate champion for the land-grant system.
From the South:
Craig Nessler, Director, Texas A&M Agrilife Research
Nessler has provided outstanding leadership in Agricultural Experiment Station administration since 2004. During this period, he has served as director of the Virginia AES and associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies at Virginia Tech. During his tenure leading the Virginia AES, the college's national NSF ranking went from 14th to fifth for research expenditures in agriculture and natural resources. Since 2009, he has served as director of Texas A&M Agrilife Research. During this time, he also served as chair of SAAESD, administrative advisor to numerous multi-state projects, including NRSP-6. Within ESCOP, Nessler has represented SAAESD on the NRSP Review Committee and the Executive Committee. He continues to be a strong proponent of integrated, partnership-driven solutions to enhance sustainability of agriculture and our natural resources.
The Experiment Station is a unit of APLU’s Commission on Food, Environment, and Renewable Resources’ (CFERR) Board on Agriculture Assembly. Members are the designated administrators of the agricultural experiment stations of all the states and territories.