Amanda Hoey will begin work as CEO of the Oregon Wheat Commission and Oregon Wheat Growers League beginning Jan. 2.

She is currently executive director of the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, headquartered in The Dalles, Ore. The district serves Hood River, Wasco and Sherman counties in Oregon and Skamania and Klickitat counties in Washington.

Hoey has led the district 11 years. It has a staff of 22 people and an annual budget of $7 million to $8 million. She has an economics degree from Whitman College.

She grew up on a dryland wheat farm in Wasco County, Ore.

She replaces Blake Rowe, who will retire early next year. Rowe joined the organization as CEO in 2010.

“I’m really looking forward to what we’ll be able to do together for Oregon Wheat,” Hoey said during a Dec. 12 conference call.

The commission and league are well-positioned to support the wheat industry long-term, Hoey said.

“She has extensive experience in leading what really is a very diverse organization, lots of stakeholders,” Rowe said during the conference call. “She comes highly regarded with managing staff and setting and managing budgets. ... She comes with high marks from everyone.”

Hoey’s family has also been involved in the league, said Walter Powell, chairman of the Oregon Wheat Commission.

Powell said he welcomes Hoey’s experience as Northwest wheat growers work to protect dams on the Snake River. Environmentalists have called for the removal of four dams on the lower Snake, while agriculture advocates say their arguments are simplistic and don’t factor in the economic impacts on growers who rely on the river for irrigation, transportation of crops and rural communities.

“We are bringing in a CEO with some experience in dealing with this issue,” Powell said during the conference call.

In January, Hoey will split her time equally between the two wheat organizations and the economic development district, Rowe said. In February, she will work 75% for Oregon Wheat and 25% for the economic development district.

She will join Oregon Wheat full-time in March.

Hoey will participate in key events in Washington, D.C., Pendleton and The Dalles, including opportunities for growers to meet her, Rowe said.

Hoey’s salary is 60% paid by the commission and 40% by the league, according to Oregon Wheat documents.

Rowe praised everyone involved in the hiring process, including Hoey, staff members and members of the screening, nomination and selection committees.

“I just commend you — I think you picked a great person, but I can tell you that, in my experience, you also ran an excellent process,” Rowe said. “I can’t think of anything I would say that you really could have done better.”

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