Gary Kushner, Partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP
Gary Kushner has served as the National Pasta Association’s legal counsel for over 40 years. He knows the food industry inside and out, as his clients are some of the largest food corporations in the world as well as their trade associations. Because of his extensive exposure to the industry at all levels, Gary approaches his clients' challenges from the perspective of a food industry executive.
Jim Peterson, Marketing Director, North Dakota Wheat Commission
Jim Peterson is the North Dakota Wheat Commission's marketing director. He assists with three major program areas: export marketing, trade policy and issues, and research/customer service. Peterson's specific responsibilities include foreign customer service, gathering and analyzing market information, and evaluating transportation issues affecting North Dakota wheat producers. He also studies U.S. domestic and export programs as well as trade agreements related to wheat. Peterson presents programs to wheat producers and customers on spring wheat and durum use, their economic and quality advantages, and supply and demand outlook. He is also involved with efforts to maintain and enhance the quality of U.S. wheat by serving on the Wheat Quality Council's Spring Wheat Committee and U.S. Wheat Associates' Wheat Quality Committee. Peterson joined the Commission as a marketing specialist in 1991 and assumed the duties of marketing director in 1998. Earlier in his career, Peterson was a grain merchandiser for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Decatur, Ill. He worked with corn and soybean purchasing at an Illinois river terminal and with canola in Velva, N.D. Peterson is a graduate of North Dakota State University with a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics. He grew up on a farm near Makoti, N.D., where he continues to be involved in the family's small grain, sheep and beef cattle operation.
Alexandra Smith-Ozerkis, NPA Communications Director, Kellen Communications
Alexandra Smith-Ozerkis brings over 17 years of experience in public relations and marketing with knowledge in a wide range of sectors, both corporate and nonprofit, and a strong background in food and nutrition communications. At Kellen, Alex has overseen the marketing and communications efforts for NPA since 2009, including the association's hosting of World Pasta Day in New York City, and design and execution of the Pasta Fits program which launched in 2011. Alex holds a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University and serves as a Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador. She has lectured on the topic of public relations at the National Society of Association Executives, New York Women in Communications, Fashion Institute of Technology, and The New School in New York City. She is also a pasta-lover who comes from a long line of Italian home cooks!