National Pork Board Chief Executive Officer Chris Novak will step down after six years of service to the pork industry and the Pork Checkoff. Novak is leaving Oct. 3, to assume leadership of the National Corn Growers Association.
"We're grateful to Chris for his leadership these past several years," said Dale Norton, board president and a pork producer from Bronson, Michigan. "With Chris’ guidance, our Pork Checkoff team built stronger relationships with pork producers across the country, with our state pork associations and with our partners in the food chain. Chris brought a spirit of collaboration that served our organization and our industry well."
During his six-year tenure with the National Pork Board, Novak worked tirelessly to advance the strategic goals of the Pork Checkoff. For example, a commitment to refresh the image of pork with consumers led to the creation of the new “Pork. Be inspired” campaign. Since the campaign launch in 2011, pork has led all proteins in growth within foodservice, and consumer demand for U.S. pork is at an all-time high. The National Pork Board also has implemented innovative new programs in animal welfare, disease research, food chain communication and environmental sustainability.
"The pork industry is truly leading the way in responding to consumers with new programs that provide greater assurance of quality, animal welfare and sustainability. I have been honored to be a part of a team that is committed to meeting the needs of our farmers and consumers," Novak said in looking back over his time at the Pork Checkoff. "I'm grateful to the farmers who invest in the Pork Checkoff, the Pork Checkoff's board of directors and the Pork Checkoff state and national staff members for the opportunity to serve this great industry. I look forward to continuing to work with the livestock industry from my new position."
The National Pork Board will immediately engage an executive search firm to assist in a national search for Novak's replacement. Details of the search process will be announced later in September. To ensure a seamless transition, the board has named John Johnson, chief operating officer, as interim CEO. Johnson will oversee the many initiatives currently underway, including finalization of a new strategic plan and development of the 2015 budget.
"Our Strategic Planning Task Force just completed work on a new five-year strategic plan that will be presented to our board this week," Johnson said. "We have been working on the development of this plan throughout 2014, and we are well-positioned to continue pork's growth and innovation."Additionally, the Pork Checkoff will continue to facilitate the work of the Industry On-farm Audit Task Force, grow relationships with foodservice and retail leadership and finalize the metrics required for implementation of the pork industry's new sustainability framework.