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NAMI Emerging Leaders Program

NAMI is committed to cultivating the next generation of leaders for the meat industry.  Leadership is an essential component of our industry and the NAMI Emerging Leaders Program provides a select group of leaders with year-long programming designed to empower and elevate their leadership skills, build connections and community within the industry, and learn how to advocate on the issues important for NAMI. 

A Future Vision…

The North American Meat Institute and leaders across animal protein are uniting in the largest-ever effort to strengthen animal protein’s contributions to healthy people, healthy animals, healthy communities, and a healthy environment through the Protein PACT for People, Animals and the Climate of Tomorrow. Our vision is to better align the industry with consumer, customer and investor expectations and drive future success of our member businesses.

The Emerging Leaders Program, introduced in 2022, applies this vision to future industry executives, and is designed to guide and prepare mid to senior level meat industry professionals ready to take the next step in their leadership journey. This unique program convenes classes of NAMI members for a multi-faceted, year-long curriculum centered around elevating leadership skills, building relationships, and advocating for the core pillars of NAMI’s Protein PACT, which are, animal welfare, environmental impact, food safety, health and wellness, and labor and human rights.

Empowering and Elevating Diversity

This program is also an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to empowering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the meat industry by expanding access to development opportunities and elevating diverse perspectives and backgrounds – ensuring our industry is well-positioned for a successful future.

Program Goals and Details

This program prepares participants to be leaders in our industry with the knowledge and understanding they need, at both the industry level and operational level, to champion continuous improvement within their own organizations and the industry at large.

Selected individuals will participate in a year-long curated experience, focusing on three major goals:

  • Develop and enhance leadership skills
  • Network and build relationships
  • Advocate for the industry

Members of the Emerging Leaders Program will learn to become leaders of their business and champions of Protein PACT and the meat industry. Participants will have unique opportunities to reach the outlined program goals with a full year of exclusive programming designed around the following pillars:

Empower and Elevate Leadership Skills

  • Participants will come to Washington, DC and for high-level leadership training with the George Washington Leadership Institute at Mount Vernon
  • Develop and elevate their leadership skills and create their own paths for achievement
  • Enhance Leadership capacity and effectiveness.
  • Maximize productivity, overall wellbeing, greater awareness of strengths of self

Build Relationships and Leverage Network

  • Partner with an industry leader mentor to provide coaching, guidance and support.
  • Opportunities to connect with leaders throughout the year at industry events

Advocate for the Industry

  • Learn to advocate on behalf of the meat industry with specialized training
  • Put the training to practice with trip to Washington, D.C. and meetings wtih Congressional Members and staff to speak directly to lawmakers.

Mentorship Program

Participants will be partnered with an industry mentor to help guide them throughout the year. The mentors provide guidance and support to an Emerging Leader based on their unique developmental needs and share experiences they’ve learned from.

Advocacy Trip to Washington, D.C.

Participants will come to Washington, DC and for high-level leadership training with the George Washington Leadership Institute at Mount Vernon.

Additionally, participants will receive specialized training on how to advocate on behalf of the meat industry before participating in several meetings with Members of Congress and Legislative Staff on Capitol Hill.

Virtual Training and Workshops

Specialized virtual workshops and trainings are offered throughout the year exclusively for members of the NAMI Emerging Leaders Program.  These workshops are focused on the top issues leaders are facing in the meat industry. Examples include:

Description: A person standing on a stage
  • Leadership Skills for Success
    • Curated programing focusing on core skills needed for rising leaders in today’s meat processing industry
    • Media Training
  • Subject Matter Expertise
    • Fall Advanced Listeria monocytogenes Intervention and Control Workshop
    • Culture Index Session
    • Advancing Equity in Food & Agriculture
    • Spring Advanced Listeria monocytogenes Intervention and Control Workshop
  • Advocacy: Industry Hot Topics
    • Protein PACT Update

Events and Industry Education

Participants will receive complimentary registration for the annual NAMI operational conferences, the NAMI Protein PACT Summit, the Annual Meat Conference, and NAMI hosted webinars. Special programming is arranged during these events especially for members of the NAMI Emerging Leaders Program. 

Current Class


2022-2023 Schedule

Date(s) Event Location
September 15, 2022 *Class of 2023 Orientation Virtual
October 12-14, 2022 *Protein PACT Summit 2022 Orlando, FL
November 15, 2022 **Culture Index Session Virtual
December 7, 2022 **Advancing Equity in Food & Agriculture Virtual
January 10, 2023 **Social Media Influencing in the Meat Industry Virtual
February 16, 2023 **Media Training Virtual
March 29, 2023 **Protein PACT Update Virtual
April 18-20, 2023 *Environmental, Labor & Safety Conference and Leadership Workshop Carlsbad, CA
May 9-11, 2023 **Advocacy trip Washington, DC
October 5-6, 2023 *Protein PACT Summit 2023 San Diego, CA

**Exclusive for ELs

Previous Classes

Class of 2022

  • Andrea Perkins, Superior Farms
  • Adriana Ruiz, Sealed Air
  • Ashley Lembke, American Foods Group
  • Clay Eastwood, PIC North America
  • Greta Shimon, Amcor
  • Hugh Albert, Kayem Foods
  • Janeen Butterfield, Old Trapper Smoked Products
  • Jenine Rinn, Sonoma County Meat Co.
  • Jennifer Dibbern, American Foods Group
  • Jennifer Raspaldo, OSI Group
  • Jessica Finck, Merck Animal Health
  • Laura Parvin, EW Grobbel
  • Lyndsey Jones, JBS USA
  • MacKenzie Waro
  • Mindy Henry, Tyson Fresh Meats
  • Nicole Erceg, Certified Angus Beef
  • Paula McGee, Swaggerty’s
  • Sean Flynn, Niman Ranch
  • Suzanne Finstad, Tyson Foods, Inc.
  • Therese Borneman, Jones Dairy Farm


"I found the NAMI Emerging Leaders program a unique opportunity to build relationships with success-driven individuals within the meat industry, as well as gain knowledge and leadership insights to champion sustainability efforts and continuous improvement within my organization. This program has taught me to be more open to taking risks and pushing myself to try new things."
Jessica Finck, PhD, Class of 2022
"Being a part of the Emerging Leaders Program allowed me to expand my involvement in NAMI while promoting and protecting the meat industry through the Protein PACT. The program pulls together quite an assortment of career backgrounds; it’s not just for people in quality/food safety, procurement, harvesting, etc. I enjoyed discussing common topics and seeing how they affect different areas of the industry. This has contributed to a more global picture of the meat industry for me. Being a part of the ground floor of the Protein PACT has also provided new learning opportunities for me to explore and understand better within my own company."
Therese Borneman, Class of 2022
"I am forever grateful for being selected into the inaugural class of Emerging Leaders. This remarkable program brought together dynamic meat industry leaders, newcomers, and seasoned veterans. Together with our Mentors, we fostered motivation while working towards our long-term goals. Emerging Leaders gave us a platform where we can rely on each other to further advance the people, animals, and climate of tomorrow."
Janeen Butterfield, Class of 2022


Applicants must:

  • Be an employee of a NAMI member company or a Protein PACT partner
  • Be a mid to senior level executive at the time the application is received
  • Have the support of senior management at your organization
  • Be a member of one of NAMI's committees listed below:
    • International Affairs
    • Communications and Marketing
    • Cyber Security
    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
    • Food Security
    • Worker Safety and Health
    • Labor and Employment
    • Animal Welfare
    • Health and Wellness
    • Environmental Affairs
    • Scientific Affairs (SAC)
    • Food Safety and Inspection Affairs (FSIAC)

Participation Requirements

Members of the NAMI Emerging Leaders Program should plan to attend the following:

  • Virtual Networking and Protein PACT Presentation briefing webinar to be held shortly after winner announcement (September 2022)
  • 2022 Protein PACT Summit (October 13-14, 2022, Orlando, FL)
  • 2023 Environment, Labor & Safety Conference (April 18-20, 2023, Carlsbad, CA)
  • 2023 Protein PACT Summit (October 5-6, 2023, San Diego, CA)
  • At least five webinars hosted by NAMI throughout the year
  • Various other virtual sessions
  • Washington, D.C. Module (Advocacy and George Washington Leadership Institute Programming)

How to Apply

Applications are currently closed and Class of 2023 has already been selected. Applications for the Class of 2024 will open July 14, 2023. To be notified, contact Megan McCullough at mmccullough@meatinstitute.org.

  • The twelve selected individuals will be announced by September 1, 2023.
  • To determine winners, answers will be scored on the following factors:
    • Commitment to continuous improvement efforts in the meat industry
    • Individual initiative
    • Leadership potential
    • Communication/clarity of information