The American Soybean Association (ASA) announces the promotion of two staff members in an organizational realignment aimed at elevating ASA’s success as the industry’s policy organization. Wendy Brannen, who has served as Director of Policy Communications, has been promoted to Senior Director of Marketing and Communications. Abby Podkul, ASA Director of Commodity Classic, will now lead a new Meetings and Conventions Department as its Director.
Brannen joined ASA in June 2018 with a depth of experience directing non-profit marketing, research, and education organizations in the agriculture industry, and developing creative public relations and promotion programs. Over the last year Wendy has provided expert guidance in policy communications on trade challenges and farm policy while also leading a website redesign and other internal projects.
“Wendy came on board at an unusual time, when trade issues with China were escalating, and with that, media attention on our industry. She has demonstrated an ability to not only handle her role in policy communications, but in addition, add insight to our long-term communications strategy,” said ASA CEO Ryan Findlay.
Prior to joining ASA, Brannen served as executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission in California and spent several years with U.S. Apple Association, Washington, D.C., and the Vidalia® Onion Committee, Vidalia, Ga. Before entering the ag industry, the Statesboro, Ga., native was a television news journalist throughout the southeast.
“Wendy’s experience in agriculture, media and marketing will have continued value in her new role leading our Marketing and Communications Department,” added Findlay. Brannen will continue directing policy communications outreach in the ASA D.C. office while working more closely with department staff in the St. Louis, Mo., headquarters.
Podkul has been with ASA for more than 11 years as the organization’s Director of Commodity Classic, an agriculture convention and trade show jointly owned by ASA and the National Corn Growers Association and produced by five commodity groups each year. Commodity Classic is ASA’s largest event and has grown in farmer attendance, vendor sponsorships and overall revenue during Podkul’s engagement, with more than 9,000 attendees annually.
“Abby has an incredible ability to organize, plan and execute an event. Her attention to detail is remarkable, as is her ability to make sure the team is focused on improving the overall experience for meeting attendees,” said Findlay.
In the newly-formed Meetings and Conventions Department, Podkul will direct the planning, coordination, and implementation of the more than 25 meetings and events ASA hosts annually. She will continue to serve as the ASA Director of Commodity Classic.
Prior to joining ASA, Podkul spent nearly 10 years working as event manager for the largest convention center in St. Louis, successfully managing conventions, trade shows, business meetings, entertainment and special events for associations and corporate clients.
Findlay added, “Abby has continued to prove during her tenure with ASA that she has the right skill set to keep elevating the bar for our events.”
Brannen and Podkul joined the senior leadership effective May 1