The International Dairy Foods Association presented 2014 Soaring Eagle Awards to three outgoing officers: Mike Nosewicz, vice president, Fresh Dairy, The Kroger Co.; Ed Mullins, executive vice president and CEO, Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.; and Jon Davis, president and CEO, Davisco Foods International, Inc. The awards were presented this week at a special ceremony during IDFA's Dairy Forum at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa in Palm Desert, Calif.
The Soaring Eagle awards recognize the extraordinary service of leaders in the dairy industry and those who have provided exemplary leadership to IDFA, the International Ice Cream Association, the Milk Industry Foundation and the National Cheese Institute.
Mike Nosewicz, Vice President, Fresh Dairy, The Kroger Co.
Mike Nosewicz served as IDFA chairman from 2011-2013 and IDFA vice chairman from 2009 to 2011. He also served as chairman of the Milk Industry Foundation from 2009 to 2011, MIF vice chairman from 2008 to 2009 and MIF treasurer from 2007 to 2008.
Whether engaging in efforts affecting the dairy portion of the Farm Bill or evaluating dairy shows to determine the most productive and successful format for the industry, Nosewicz exuded a quiet strength and inclusive nature that encouraged others to share opinions, work together and accomplish common goals.
"Mike is a guy who cares about people and it shows," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "You really know he wants to hear what you have to talk about and it creates trust in people, and that has been a great quality for a leader of an organization with a lot of different kinds of people representing different companies. It made him a great IDFA chairman," she added.
"Mike is always willing to very carefully and thoughtfully address whatever the issue is," said Mike Reidy, senior vice president, corporate affairs, Leprino Foods Company, and NCI chairman. "He never shied away from anything that we asked him to lead us through, and I think that's a sign of a great leader."
Ed Mullins, Executive Vice President and CEO, Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.
While leading Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., a farmer-owned dairy cooperative headquartered in Carlinville, Ill., Ed Mullins became increasing involved in leadership positions in the industry as well. He served as chairman of the Milk Industry Foundation from 2011 to 2013, vice chairman from 2009 to 2011 and secretary from 2007 to 2009. He also served as IDFA secretary from 2012 to 2013 and treasurer from 2011 to 2012.
"Ed has always been a guy who steps in and takes the lead when he needs to. As a co-op leader, he's really brought a good and different perspective to the leadership of IDFA," said Tipton.
She commended Mullins on his MIF leadership and the good humor he brought on every issue and activity. Others commented on his professionalism and ability to encourage debate to determine the best way forward on dairy issues.
Jon Davis, President and CEO, Davisco Foods International, Inc.
Jon Davis served as the chairman of the National Cheese Institute from 2011 to 2013, vice chairman from 2009 to 2011 and treasurer from 2007 to 2009. He also served as IDFA vice chairman from 2012 to 2013 and secretary from 2011 to 2012.
Davis demonstrated his exemplary leadership and strong passion for protecting the health and growth of the industry when he frequently brought his voice to Capitol Hill. As NCI chairman, he testified in front of the House Agriculture Committee and addressed reporters at the National Press Club, successfully defending dairy companies' opposition to limits on milk production.
"Jon has a really unique quality of being able to be both philosophically true to his ideals and what he believes should be happening in the industry, but also being pragmatic about finding solutions," said Patty Stroup, IDFA chairman and head of procurement, Global Milk Products, for Nestlé, S.A.
Noting his fearless approach to tackling industry issues, Stroup said Davis frequently inspired others to participate, especially within the next generation of dairy leaders. "He needs to stay involved in the leadership, because we need to have people like him who have a passion for the industry and people who understand the industry to get involved and stay involved," Stroup said.
Videos honoring the three officers for their years of service are available at IDFA's YouTube channel. (see video below.)
Previous recipients of the IDFA Soaring Eagle Award include Brian Perry, Gary Vanic, Dave Fuhrmann, Brian Haugh, Mike Reidy, Jim Green, Miriam Erickson Brown, Paul Kruse, Robert Allen, Tom Angott, Tom Badciong, Rick Beaman, C.O. "Tex" Beshears, George Cornell, Howard M. Dean, Jim Erickson, Miles Ezell, Lou Gentine, Betsy Holden, Larry Jensen, John Jeter, John Kinnett, Jr., Ed Kruse, Bill Oldenburg, Delton Parks, Arthur Pappathanasi, Tom Perry, Ronald Rice, David Rufenacht, Don Storhoff, Fay Wells and Gary Wells.