William J. “Bill” Even, an agriculture-industry leader with substantial senior management experience in crop and livestock production, will join the National Pork Board as its new CEO on June 6. Currently based in South Dakota, Even is ending his tenure as global industry relations lead with DuPont Pioneer.
Even will begin on June 6, and his first week as CEO will include attending the National Pork Board’s June Board of Directors meeting and World Pork Expo.
“As a fourth-generation farmer, I have deep, personal knowledge of the challenges facing today’s pork producers and I am impressed with and completely support the Pork Checkoff’s strategic plan that guides and directs its programs,” said Even. “I look forward to working on behalf of America’s more than 60,000 pig farmers to build consumer trust, drive sustainable production and grow consumer demand for pork.”
Jon Leafstedt, Jim Gerardot, and Ed Yuhas, principals with Kincannon & Reed, a global executive search firm focused on the food and agribusiness industry, assisted the National Pork Board and its search committee in the recruitment of Bill Even as CEO.
Chris Hodges resigned as the National Pork Board’s CEO in December 2015 after a tenure that lasted less than one year.
Even’s previous leadership experience
Before joining the National Pork Board, Even managed DuPont Pioneer’s global industry relations strategy. In that role, he built collaborative stakeholder relationships in the areas of seed, biotechnology, biofuels and farm policy. Prior to that position, he served as DuPont Pioneer’s Commercial Unit Lead for South Dakota, North Dakota and northwest Minnesota where he was responsible for leading seed sales, operational marketing, agronomy, training, demand planning, precision agriculture and policy needs in the region.
From 2007 to 2010, immediately prior to joining DuPont Pioneer, Even served as South Dakota’s Secretary of Agriculture. During his tenure, he managed six department divisions including Agriculture Regulatory Services, Agriculture Development, State Fair, Wildland Fire, Resource Conservation and Forestry, and Agricultural Policy. He also served as Deputy Secretary of Tourism and State Development, Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, State Energy Policy Director, and policy advisor for South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds.
“Bill’s stellar career in public service has been devoted to defining ag policy and implementing the often difficult changes needed to continuously improve,” said Derrick Sleezer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Cherokee, Iowa. “His ability to build trusted relationships is critical to the U.S. pork industry. I feel confident in his experience and discipline needed to build and lead teams to meet the growing demand for protein in the U.S. and abroad.”
Even holds a degree in agricultural production from Lake Area Technical Institute, a Bachelor of Science in agricultural business and minor in economics from South Dakota State University; and a Juris Doctorate from Drake University Law School, where he was an Opperman Scholar.
He and his family own and operate a fifth-generation diversified crop and livestock operation near Humboldt, South Dakota, where they raise corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cattle. The farm was homesteaded in 1883 by his great-grandfather and Even began farming in 1983. He and his wife, Janell, have three children and currently live in Humboldt, South Dakota, but will relocate to the Des Moines area.