Tom Gallagher, who has served as CEO of Dairy Management Inc. leading Dairy Checkoff efforts, is leaving the organization to devote more time to teaching and other opportunities.

Barbara O’Brien, president of DMI and CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, has been named by the board of directors to take the reins.

Gallagher has committed his support during the transition.

O’Brien’s knowledge and experience with the dairy industry will provide a seamless transition and a steady continuation of the checkoff’s value to dairy farmers, DMI said in a press release.

“I am proud of the success of the checkoff during the past 30 years and the steady foundation it created for future impact, and I am leaving with complete confidence that Barb will continue to drive this success forward in new ways,” Gallagher said.

In her current role, O’Brien has instilled a sales growth and outcomes-based mentality within her leadership team and staff, overseeing operating structures for business development, domestic and international sales, science and insights, marketing communications and finance.

Through an evolution of the checkoff business plan, O’Brien created robust integration and category strategies that have led to strong year-over-year sales growth for dairy through new food service and retail partnerships and product innovation, as well as increases in positive consumer perceptions around dairy and dairy farming, according to DMI.

“I look forward to this new opportunity and my ability to continue serving dairy farmers and importers,” O’Brien said.

“Over the last 20 years, I’ve developed deep relationships with dairy farmers, the dairy community and other companies and organizations that will ensure we sustain DMI’s impact while continuing to build a secure future for the industry,” she said.

She thanked Gallagher for his leadership and trust during the past 20 years.

“His imprint on the Dairy Checkoff will be felt for years to come, and we look forward to building on his amazing legacy,” she said.

During Gallagher’s tenure, he oversaw the creation or management of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, National Dairy Council, Newtrient, Global Dairy Platform and GENYOUth.

Marilyn Hershey, DMI chair and a Pennsylvania dairy farmer, also thanked Gallagher for his “amazing service and accomplishments.”

“His vision and leadership led DMI to where it is today,” she said.

The board is thrilled O’Brien has agreed to become CEO, she said.

“With her steady leadership and vision, we can continue the work on behalf of dairy farmers nationwide and importers,” she said.

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