Leadership Summit

FEB. 10  |  11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The irrigation industry was not immune to the challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Fortunately, through strong leadership throughout our industry, we remain viable and essential. During the Irrigation Association’s Leadership Summit, we will discuss insights to help current business executives build skills for success in leading projects, teams and organizations. We will also identify the common traps that many business leaders fall into, and learn how to build positive, lasting change in your company — all through the lens of irrigation. This opportunity is open to both seasoned and future leaders of our industry.

By Jan. 22  |  Member $99  |  Nonmember $129
After Jan. 22  |  Member $119  |  Nonmember $149

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Conference Schedule

Conference times are Eastern Time zone. Times and schedule are subject to change.

11:00 a.m.
Welcome & Keynote Speaker
Kelly Schulz, Maryland Secretary of Commerce

11:30 a.m.
CEO Roundtable – Leadership & Resilience
Mike Hemman, Netafim USA
Greg Hunter, Hunter Industries Inc.
Jon Topham, Irrigation Design and Construction LLC and Agri-Valley Irrigation LLC
Doug York, Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply

This panel of CEOs will discuss leadership strategies that have worked for them, their employees and their businesses.

12:15 p.m.
Cutting Through the Noise: Communication Strategies
David Almacy, Founder, CapitalGig, LLC (former White House Internet and E-communications Director for George W. Bush)
Johanna Maska, host of Pod is a Woman and CEO of the Global Situation Room communications firm (former Director of White House Press Advance for Barack Obama)

Irrigation companies each have a good story to tell. What is the best way to get your stories to your customers? How can you build your business through sound communication? This session will focus on the best strategies to build your business through sound communication.

1:00 p.m. | Break

1:15 p.m.
Leadership in the Irrigation Industry
Kurtis Kammerer, Senior Director, SolutionView
Phil Stephens, General Manager, Horizon

Hear from your peers in the irrigation industry on what leadership means to them and how it is an essential component to their personal and professional growth.

Technology & the Future of Global Business
Tim Day, Principal, Calfee Strategic Solutions (former Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center)
Karen Hildebrand, Head, Solutions Agriculture, Amazon Web Services
Julie Bushell, President, Paige Wireless

While irrigation continues to innovate, global technology development is moving at a rapid pace. From AI to automated vehicles to IoT, the irrigation industry needs to be prepared for what is on the horizon. This panel of experts will talk about global technology development and what we can expect in the future.

2:45 p.m.
Strategies for Success in a Post-Pandemic World
Joel Lipsitch, VP, Product Management and Marketing, Sound Agriculture
Tina May, VP, Rural Services and Chief of Staff to the CEO, Land O’ Lakes

This panel will discuss topics such as employee engagement, work-life balance and diversity and inclusion. They will also address any questions from the attendees relating to success strategies for leaders in these and other areas.

Speakers and Panelists

David Almacy
Founder | CapitalGig LLC
Former White House Internet and E-communications Director for George W. Bush
A recognized leader in communications, David Almacy brings over 20 years of experience at the intersection of public relations, digital, media, government and public affairs, including positions at Edelman, Waggener Edstrom, The White House, U.S. Department of Education, C-SPAN, Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and the Republican National Committee.


Julie Bushell
President | Paige Wireless
Julie Bushell is the director of sales and marketing for the ag division of Paige Electric Co. and the president of Paige Wireless. Bushell’s career has been focused on agriculture since joining Paige in 2004. She began her role as director of sales and marketing for the ag division in 2012. Her passion drives Paige precision ag, from products and services to emerging technology and advocacy. She became a partner of Paige Electric in 2013. In March 2019, Bushell became president of Paige Wireless, a new innovative arm of Paige Electric. Paige Wireless was born from her love of agriculture and dedication to continuous improvement.


Tim Day
Principal | Calfee Strategic Solutions
Former Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center
Tim Day is a senior government affairs professional with extensive federal, state, corporate and association management experience. He has a successful bipartisan track record of developing and implementing policy advocacy, political campaigns, strategic planning, coalition building and community outreach. Prior to his current position, Day served as senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


Mike Hemman
President & CEO | Netafim USA
Mike Hemman currently serves as president and CEO for Netafim USA. Prior to joining Netafim USA, he held leadership roles with Corteva Agriscience, Pioneer Seed, DuPont Crop Protection and Dow AgroSciences. Raised on the West Coast, Hemman has spent the majority of his career focused on specialty agriculture. He studied at California State University, Fresno where he earned his bachelor’s in plant science. He has held multiple board positions with the Agricultural Retailers Association, Western Plant Health Association and California Association of Pest Control Advisers. In addition to his industry service, Hemman has served on the board of directors for the “When I Grow Up” children’s charity and has been active in their fundraising efforts for impoverished children in Kenya, Haiti and Guatemala.


Karen Hildebrand, PhD
Head | Solutions Agriculture, Amazon Web Services
Karen Hildebrand is the head of solutions architecture for the agriculture industry at AWS and is responsible for understanding the unique technical challenges of producing the world’s food supplies. She advises customers along their cloud transformation journey, from businesses born in the cloud to those that are moving their enterprise infrastructure. As a fourth-generation farmer, she is passionate about working backwards from the customer and using technology in innovative ways. Prior to joining AWS she gained over 15+ years of progressive leadership experience, including executive roles in data science leading global teams through agile and cloud transformations at several Fortune 500 organizations as well as founding a successful startup in the agriculture space.


Greg Hunter
President | Hunter Industries Inc.
Having built his first rotor at the age of eight, Greg Hunter was destined for a career in manufacturing. Since earning a mechanical engineering degree from Cornell University, he has played an important role in the development of some of the most significant irrigation innovations of our time. Hunter was promoted to chief executive officer of Hunter in 2013. Prior to assuming this role, he held executive leadership positions within several key departments at Hunter including engineering, product management, information systems and marketing. He is also a past president of the Irrigation Association. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.


Kurtis Kammerer
Senior Director of Sales | SolutionView
Kurtis Kammerer is the senior director of sales for SolutionView. He advises home services contractors and franchisors around the country to increase their revenue by cultivating a repeatable sales approach. He also delivers sales training seminars and provides one-on-one support for contractors within the SolutionView network.


Joel Lipsitch
VP, Product Management and Marketing | Sound Agriculture
Joel Lipsitch has devoted nearly two decades of his career to understanding the challenges of production agriculture and developing and delivering solutions including farm machinery, crop protection, and data and analytics. At Sound Agriculture, he leads the product management and product marketing teams. Prior to joining Sound Agriculture, Lipsitch worked for John Deere, Bayer CropScience and Iteris ClearAg. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Williams College and master’s degrees from Duke University.


Johanna Maska
Host | Pod is a Woman
CEO | Global Situation Room communications firm

Former Director of White House Press Advance for Barack Obama
Maska served as White House Director of Press Advance for President Obama until 2015, where she managed the public image of the president across the United States and the world. After leaving the White House, she held senior leadership roles at media and technology companies, taught at the University of Southern California, and served as a Dole Institute fellow at the University of Kansas (her alma mater).


Tina May
VP, Rural Services and Chief of Staff to the CEO | Land O’ Lakes
Tina May currently leads the innovation team for SUSTAIN at Land O’ Lakes Inc. where she is tasked with creating innovative solutions for farmers and co-op member owners, harnessing the nexus of policy and business. Prior to her time at Land O’ Lakes, May worked for over 12 years in multiple roles in government on agriculture and food policy, as a Silicon Valley executive, and co-founder of the first-ever D.C.-based lobbying firm to incorporate as a Public Benefit Corporation. While in government, May served as a political appointee for President Obama, first as the legislative director for U.S. Department of Agriculture, then in the second term as chief of staff to USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, where she managed the departmental implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. She started her career as an international grain trader and logistics coordinator with The Scoular Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She also worked for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, D.C.


Kelly M. Schulz
Secretary | Maryland Department of Commerce
Kelly M. Schulz brings a wealth of knowledge to the Maryland Department of Commerce from her years of experience working in the government, in the private sector and as a small business owner. She previously served as the secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation since her confirmation in February 2015. She is also a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates.


Phil Stephens
General Manager | Horizon
Phil Stephens is a long-time Horizon employee with almost 25 years’ experience in the green industry. He has held several positions at Horizon throughout his tenure, including vice president of sales and most recently general manager of the Horizon West division. With a priority on growth, Stephens has developed a pipeline of talent that has allowed for not just expansion in Horizon’s business but created opportunities that have resulted in 15 promotions in the last three years in his division. His passion for creating leaders expands beyond our industry, as he is the founder of the Stockton Downtown Sportsmen’s Club, a nonprofit philanthropic group focused on helping at-risk youth.


Jon Topham
Chief Operating Officer | Irrigation Design and Construction LLC and Agri-Valley Irrigation LLC
Jon Topham is the chief operating officer at Irrigation Design and Construction LLC and Agri-Valley Irrigation LLC. Prior to becoming COO in 2017, he served as general manager for 14 years. Before joining IDC, he worked in technical sales at Bayer MaterialScience. Topham served on the IA Board of Directors and was the president in 2020. He also served on the California Agricultural Irrigation Association Board and was president in 2011. Topham began his irrigation career working in his family’s irrigation dealership during high school. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering technology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Over the past 20 years, he has gained experience in all aspects of running an irrigation equipment dealership.


Douglas W. York
President | Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply
Doug York holds more than 30 years of experience in the distribution sector of the green industry. As president of Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply — a four-generation, family-owned distribution company — York oversees operations for more than 220 branch locations in 26 states. York has served Ewing in a variety of capacities, including branch management, regional management, sales, new facilities construction, accounting, human resources, marketing and acquisition management. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from the University of Southern California and formerly served as an industrial engineer for Paper Mate. He served as the 2020 National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors Chairman of the Board and has previously served as the president of the Irrigation Association and the International Association of Plastics Distributors, as well as an executive board member for the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association. York is committed to providing industry-leading education programs and guiding Ewing in its mission to serve as a comprehensive water management solutions provider and active supporter of local and national water management and conservation initiatives.


To access digital ads, logos and a media brief specific to this summit, go to the Leadership Summit Media Brief dropbox.