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Mary Knigge
The Holstein Foundation has selected Mary Knigge of Falls Church, VA as the 2022 Young Dairy Leaders Institute Distinguished Alumni Leader. The Holstein Foundation recognizes one Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI) graduate annually who has made noteworthy contributions and applied skills gained during their YDLI experience for the advancement of the dairy industry.

Knigge completed Class 6 of YDLI early in her career and says the experience helped her to identify her unique strengths and skill set. It also was the foundation for many meaningful connections with others in the dairy industry.

“At YDLI, I was exposed to people working in different facets of the industry from a variety of locations. Hearing different perspectives, from organic to conventional, large and small and even Canadians, was important for a girl from Wisconsin. I learned from and developed strong relationships with other attendees,” Knigge said. “Those relationships continued to grow at various industry meetings where our paths would cross after our class with YDLI was complete.”

Knigge is currently the Vice President of Government Relations for the Dairy Farmers of America, where she advocates on behalf of dairy farmer member owners on Capitol Hill and with U.S. Government Agencies. Prior to that, she spent eight years working for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee of Agriculture and seven years with the National Milk Producers Federation.

Outside of her career in the dairy industry and government relations for Dairy Farmers of America, she currently serves on the Dairy Girl Network Board and is involved in the Association of Women in Agriculture. She has also volunteered with the National Dairy Shrine as a publicity committee member and scholarship judge.

“YDLI helped expose me to the variety of careers in the dairy industry and cemented my passion for working directly for and with dairy farmers. That was something I always thought I was interested in, but after going through YDLI, it became much clearer,” Knigge explained. “In the three different positions I have held since graduating from college, my role has been focused on the betterment of dairy farmers and their communities.”

Knigge will be honored during the upcoming YDLI Class 12, Phase I program being held February 15 – 18 in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Young Dairy Leaders Institute, a program of the Holstein Foundation, is a national recognized three-phase leadership and communication skills development program for young adults (ages 22-45) working in the dairy industry. For more information about YDLI or Holstein Foundation programs, visit or contact Jodi Hoynoski at 800.952.5200 ext. 4261 or by email.