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SARL names Kay Johnson Smith as Acting Executive Director

The officers and Board of the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders (SARL) are proud to announce that Kay Johnson Smith has been hired as the acting executive director. Smith will be responsible for the overall management of the SARL organization and serve as a liaison between its members and key stakeholders interested in the viability of rural communities and agriculture.

Smith has vast experience leading and managing agricultural nonprofit organizations, having served as the chief executive officer of the Animal Agriculture Alliance for 27 years, and more recently, as the chief operating officer for Dairy MAX. Having spent the vast majority of her career in agriculture, her passion runs deep for the people and organizations involved in farming and ranching, as well as those who support and depend on them.

Smith also has a long history of working with state and provincial legislators and government leaders in agriculture as her involvement with SARL as a past speaker and sponsor began in 2006. “Serving as SARL’s Acting Executive Director is truly an honor. I am excited to continue to grow and strengthen this important organization that provides a unique forum connecting legislative leaders across North America who are working to ensure the future of agriculture and rural communities,” said Smith.

“As we look toward SARL’s pinnacle event, the annual Ag Chairs Summit, we are excited to have someone with Kay’s experience and passion leading SARL at this time,” said SARL President Norine Hammond, Representative from Illinois. Hammond also noted Smith will be working alongside former SARL Executive Director (2006 – 2019) and Founder, Dr. Carolyn Orr to ensure continuity of processes and services leading up to the Summit, which is set for January 3-5, 2025, in Des Moines, Iowa.

SARL was founded in 2001 when a group of rural legislators organized a national meeting to discuss issues of importance to rural communities. After five years of hosting this Legislative Ag Chairs Summit, SARL was incorporated in 2006 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. SARL is dedicated to promoting and fostering cooperation, leadership and educational opportunities among and for state and provincial legislators who are passionate about agriculture and rural communities.