AgriNovus Indiana names acting CEO; Bechdol to transition to UN post

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INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 20, 2020) — AgriNovus Indiana, the state’s initiative to promote and accelerate the growth of the agbiosciences sector, announced in December 2019 that current president and CEO, Beth Bechdol, was confirmed by the United Nations to be the Deputy Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy. During the transition and search period, Aaron Schacht, executive vice president of Innovation, Regulatory and Business Development for Elanco and chair of the AgriNovus Board and CEO search committee, will serve as acting-CEO of the initiative.

The FAO is an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to alleviate world hunger and malnutrition. New executive leadership of the agency has prioritized food and agriculture innovation in driving new global solutions. With Bechdol’s appointment, many on the global stage have taken notice of Indiana’s agbioscience leadership and the work of AgriNovus to enhance and grow the sector.

“Being a part of AgriNovus has without a doubt been the most rewarding professional experience of my career,” said Bechdol. “Promoting Indiana’s deep food and agriculture innovation assets, building a community of partners who share a vision of growth for the State, and growing an organization and a team that is committed to the future of the agbiosciences bring me tremendous pride. There is now an incredible opportunity for me to take the AgriNovus mission and priorities and translate those to the global stage.”

Bechdol’s last day at AgriNovus will be Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, and she will assume her new role in early March.

“The state of Indiana will forever appreciate Beth’s longtime leadership here at home, and we’re equally proud of her new assignment abroad in such a global important role,” said Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “Her personal impact on the growing agbioscience sector here is undeniable as she built AgriNovus from the ground up and cultivated an inner connected ecosystem of partners that continues as a model to attract businesses and talent to our state.”

Elanco gladly supports Schacht as the chair of the leadership search committee and also as acting CEO for AgriNovus.

“I am well aware that I am stepping into a very large role that Beth built and in which she performed so well,” said Schacht. “I’ve learned so much working with Beth, and am grateful for the trust that the AgriNovus Board, staff and the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership leadership has placed in me to lead this organization through this time of change. AgriNovus has an incredibly committed team that will continue to execute and lead critical programs and activities and countless partners that will help realize our shared mission of advancing Indiana’s agbiosciences sector. I’m honored to support their efforts.”

The AgriNovus Executive Committee has formed a special committee to help lead the transition and search for the next president and CEO. Members include:

  • Aaron Schacht, executive vice president of Innovation, Regulatory and Business Development for Elanco – chair of the AgriNovus Board and committee lead
  • Jay Hulbert, president and CEO for Ag Alumni Seed – vice chair of the AgriNovus Board
  • Beth Bechdol, president and CEO for AgriNovus Indiana
  • Bill Johnson, president and CEO for Farm Credit Mid-America
  • David Johnson, president and CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP)
  • Johnny Park, president and CEO for Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN)
  • Karen Plaut, Dean of the College of Agriculture for Purdue University
  • Susanne Wasson, president of crop protection business platform for Corteva Agriscience

“Beth provided the initial organizing strategy for AgriNovus,” said David Johnson, president and CEO of CICP. “She also identified key stakeholders to engage and invest; defined compelling opportunities around talent, technology and entrepreneurship; raised substantial financial support; and assembled a highly talented professional team. Her leadership ensures a bright and successful future for AgriNovus.”

AgriNovus has secured Indianapolis-based Medallion Partners, a national organization development and executive search firm, to lead the president and CEO search. Updates on the search can be found on the AgriNovus website at www.agrinovusindiana.com/agrinovus-ceo-transition/, and interested parties can also submit resumes and inquires directly to tomb@medallionpartnersinc.com.

In addition, AgriNovus team member, Libby Fritz, will serve as interim director of operations, a newly created role to ensure administrative and operational consistency during the transition. She will also retain her role and responsibilities as director of communication and engagement.

About AgriNovus Indiana

AgriNovus Indiana is the state’s initiative focused on advancing the agbiosciences sector as a nationally recognized leader through education, research and talent development; strategic collaborations among corporations, industry associations, government and universities; the creation and support of new companies; and branding and targeted promotions to elevate the sector. AgriNovus Indiana is part of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), an effort dedicated to the region’s continued prosperity and growth. To learn more about AgriNovus Indiana, visit www.agrinovusindiana.com.

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