ACS Announces New Executive Director

3 years ago Jasmine Romero 3 Minute(s) to read

DENVER (August 18, 2021) – Following the success of its virtual 38th Annual Conference, the American
Cheese Society announces Tara Holmes as the new executive director who will guide the leading industry
organization toward its 39th conference in Portland in 2022. Holmes will serve alongside board members led
by president Lynn Giacomini Stray of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, and vice-president Mike Koch
of FireFly Farms. Jamie Png becomes the ACS Cheese Industry Professional.

The virtual 38th ACS Annual Conference, which was held July 28-30, 2021, enabled an international audience of
cheese professionals from the US to Europe and New Zealand, to hear from renowned speakers and engage in
timely education and networking sessions that would not have been possible without a virtual platform. In his
opening address, ACS past president, Jeremy Stephenson, noted the extraordinary challenges and triumphs
experienced by the cheese industry during the pandemic, echoed by others including Kurt Dammeier from
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Adeline Druart from Vermont Creamery, Jessica Fernández from Lactography
and Mexican Mongers, and Ari Weinzweig from Zingerman's.

For the first time, access to the ACS educational sessions and Exhibit Hall remains available to registrants
until the end of October. This offers unprecedented opportunities for cheese professionals to attend every
scheduled program, including popular sessions like “Virtual Tastings and Instruction: Why They’re Here to
Stay”. 2300 sessions have already been viewed, and post-conference registration is still available.

Holmes, who will transition from team leader for ACS at Civica Management, notes, “Before taking over
as executive director, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the ACS board, staff, committees, and
members in the run up to the last Annual Conference. I’m proud of what the team has been able to
accomplish in a short amount of time, and while I know there is a lot of work to be done, I’m looking
forward to helping this vibrant community move forward towards new possibilities equipped with timely
education, professional certifications, and a strong voice,” she notes.

The ACS voice will be amplified by its recent acquisition of Victory Cheese, an initiative launched by
cheesemakers, mongers, chefs, and cheese enthusiasts to help support and sustain specialty and artisan
cheesemakers in the United States during and after the pandemic. Co-founder, Greg O’Neill notes, “ACS
is the perfect home for Victory Cheese because it will serve as the association’s business to consumer
(B2C) voice supporting artisan and specialty cheese. Strengthening the vital B2C connection for the long
term is good for the entire industry.”

Focusing on the future, the ACS team will be organizing the American Cheese Society Judging and
Competition (J&C), the largest event of its kind for American-made cheeses. The 2022 J&C will open for
entries in October 2021, with 1500 expected to be entered in 120 categories. Cheeses will be received
May 17-18, 2022, with competition judging from May 19-20, at the TCF Bank Stadium on the University
of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus. Winners will be announced at the 39th ACS Annual Conference,
‘Blazing the Trail for Cheese’, in Portland, Oregon, July 20-23, 2022.

“The success of the virtual conference this year is testament to the resilience of our cheese industry
professionals,” notes Lynn Giacomini Stray, board president. “None of this would be possible without the
commitment of our conference sponsors, and we’d particularly like to thank our Partners with Purpose –
Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, DPI Specialty Foods, Gourmet Foods International, Murray’s Cheese, Whole
Foods Market, and the American Cheese Education Foundation – and Platinum Sponsors, Dairy
Connection, and Real California Milk.”

Post-conference registration for access to educational sessions is still available. For more information

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