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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sorghum Checkoff Names Norma Ritz Johnson as Executive Director

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications.After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations.In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

LUBBOCK, Texas (Jan. 4, 2021) – After an extensive nationwide search, the United Sorghum Checkoff Program has selected Norma Ritz Johnson as the organization’s third executive director.

“Johnson brings strong organizational management with a background in agriculture and sorghum,” Sorghum Checkoff CEO Tim Lust said. “I am excited to have Norma back on Team Sorghum. She has proven over the last 15 years her leadership abilities to take on major projects and shepherd them through government and private industry processes to success.”

“The Sorghum Checkoff board of directors and I look forward to working with Johnson and are extremely confident in her leadership ability to move this organization forward,” said Sorghum Checkoff Chairman Kent Martin, a sorghum farmer from Alva, Oklahoma. “We believe her vast experience and past sorghum industry relationships will be beneficial in furthering the program priorities of the Checkoff to increase the value of sorghum and improve profitability for our growers.”

Johnson most recently served as Executive Vice President for the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, a 5-Star accredited organization that represents almost 1,700 businesses and over 79,000 employees on the South Plains of Texas where she led strategic initiatives and staff communications with an emphasis on transportation, agriculture and health care. As a leader, her teams implemented programs that were awarded the national Chamber of the Year twice in the last 11 years. Norma also served as Communications Director for National Sorghum Producers in the early 2000s. Her expertise in strategic planning and leadership make her a valuable asset to the checkoff program.

“This is an amazing opportunity, and I very much look forward to stepping into this position at the Sorghum Checkoff to help build on its great foundation of success,” Johnson said. “My entire career has led me to this role returning to the sorghum industry, and I’m eager to roll my sleeves up and get to work helping to bring value to the organization and sorghum producers as we accelerate this important industry’s growth nationally and globally.”

Johnson replaces Florentino Lopez who has served as the organization’s executive director since 2011. Lopez will continue to serve the sorghum industry in a new capacity consulting on international market development.

“I would like to thank Florentino Lopez for his strong leadership and service to the Sorghum Checkoff and sorghum farmers,” CEO Lust said. “Lopez has been a tremendous asset to our organization and our industry, and I have no doubt that Johnson will continue to lead our industry with the same level of vision and integrity.”

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