- President and CEO
- Domestic & International Policy
- Finance & Administration
- Meetings & Services
President and CEO
Andrew W. “Andy” LaVigne
President & CEO
Andy has had a 25-year career in government relations, public affairs advocacy and management. Within the areas of agriculture, food policy and international trade, he has a broad range of expertise.
Prior to being named CEO of ASTA in 2006, Andy was Executive Vice President/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, representing citrus growers on issues affecting their business. Earlier, he spent four years as President and Executive Director of Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association, a non-profit agricultural trade organization representing companies that specialize in crop protection and plant nutrition products.
Andy has served on the Agriculture Trade Advisory Committee for Fruits and Vegetables for USDA; Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee for the USDA and USTR; USDA-APHIS Systems Approach Review Group; U.S. Chamber of Commerce Food and Agriculture Committee; and several other state and national industry committees and advisory groups.
Prior to entering the association management field, Andy worked for a decade on Capitol Hill, as Legislative Director for Rep. Charles Canady and earlier, as Agriculture Committee staffer for Rep. Tom Lewis. He holds a B.A. in political science with a minor in economics from the University of Florida.
Libby joined ASTA in February 2020 from the U.S. Beet Sugar Association (USBSA) where she worked as the Director of Administration. In her role at USBSA, Libby oversaw all administrative functions of the association as well as finance and budgeting aspects.
Prior to her time at USBSA, Libby spent 10 years in Monsanto Company’s Washington, D.C. office; first as the Executive Assistant to the VP of Government Affairs and later as the Office Manager. Over her 10 year tenure, Libby performed many administrative and operational duties. She also served as Administrative Assistant to the President of the Council for Responsible Nutrition.
As a Navy brat, Libby grew up all over the east coast, but she now calls Woodbridge, VA home with her husband and daughter. Libby holds a B.S. in Exercise Science from Stetson University and an M.S. in Exercise Science from Appalachian State University.
Vice President, Strategic Communications
Bethany leads ASTA’s Better Seed, Better Life public-facing communications program, as well as policy communications efforts around the seed industry’s legislative and regulatory priorities.
Prior to joining ASTA in 2015, Bethany ran the communications department at the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). Before NACD, Bethany served as a Press Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy, and as a Legislative Assistant and Correspondence Director for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.
Bethany is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, and received a degree in Communications and Marketing from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.
Director, Marketing & Communications
Kaitlin joined ASTA in March 2018. Prior to joining ASTA, she worked for the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau in California, where she spearheaded the reform of the communications program.
Born and raised in California, Kaitlin grew up in the agriculture industry raising sheep and rabbits through 4-H and FFA. In 2012, she received her American FFA Degree.
Kaitlin received her B.S. in Agricultural Communications from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a minor in Psychology.
Manager, Membership Engagement
Jordan joined the ASTA team in 2021. Before coming on board, she served as the Policy Specialist for the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). At TDA, Jordan analyzed agricultural legislation on both a state and federal level and educated stakeholders and legislators to ensure forward thinking policy was enacted to better the agriculture industry. She also acted as the Texas contact for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and participated in federal discussions such as the Tri-National Accords.
Jordan holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Communications from Texas Tech University, and a Master of Public Affairs from The University of Texas at Austin. During college, she interned for Congressman John Carter in Washington, D.C., working on agricultural issues for Central Texas.
Jordan’s love of agriculture runs deep. She was raised in Troy, Texas on a small farm and showed goats and cattle through the FFA. Jordan is a proud alumnae member of her local FFA chapter and continues to volunteer with the Texas FFA Organization as a competition judge. She currently resides in Austin, Texas with her rescue dog, Clyde.
Domestic & International Policy
Fan-Li Chou, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Scientific Affairs & Policy
Fan-Li Chou joined the ASTA team in 2020. Prior to ASTA, Fan-Li served at USDA for over 10 years, including as the Agricultural Biotechnology Advisor to the Office of the Secretary and in positions with the Foreign Agricultural Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. She is an accomplished policy and program leader, with expertise in agricultural biotechnology regulatory, trade issues, and multilateral negotiations.
Fan-Li is an alumna of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology Policy Diplomacy Fellow (2005-2006). She holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics from the University of Pittsburgh and completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the Scripps Research Institute and University of California, San Diego. She currently resides in Maryland with her husband, two daughters and her mother.
Vice President, Government Affairs
Janae Brady joined the ASTA team in 2020. Brady served as staff for Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry during his time as both Chairman and Ranking Member. Most recently as Senior Professional Staff, she advised the Chairman on policy issues including international trade, agricultural research, biotechnology, crop protection and agricultural defense. Brady successfully led negotiations on the trade and research titles during Senate and Conference consideration of the 2018 Farm Bill. Additionally, Brady represented the Chairman during the consultation process for multiple international trade negotiations, including the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Brady previously worked on trade and food security policy issues at Gordley Associates, an agriculture policy government relations firm, where she represented organizations such as the American Soybean Association. Prior to this, Brady served as a high school English teacher.
Brady grew up working on her family’s wheat and sorghum farm located in Kansas. Janae holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Kansas State University as well as a master’s degree at the George Washington University.
Ric Dunkle, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Seed Health and Trade
Ric joined ASTA in January, 2008 after a 35-year career in state and Federal government. He handles phytosanitary issues associated with international seed movement and coordinates issues related to seed quality, testing, and research.
Most recently, Ric was Deputy Administrator of APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine, where he oversaw USDA’s plant regulatory and trade programs related to phytosanitary issues. Prior to that role, he held positions in research, management, and executive leadership at the USDA Agricultural Research Service. He began working for the USDA in 1981, serving in the Secretary’s Office of Environmental Quality as liaison to the Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA and university agricultural research.
Ric’s career began in 1973 with the California Department of Food and Agriculture as a field entomologist. He holds a B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis.
Samuel Crowell, Ph.D.
Senior Director, International Programs and Policy
Samuel Crowell joined ASTA in 2022. Prior to ASTA, Sam served in the U.S. government for seven years, including as a Section Chief for Biotechnology and Trade at the U.S. Department of State, a Director for Agricultural Affairs in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Policy Fellow within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Chief Scientists. In these roles, he was a proud advocate for U.S. agriculture and served as the lead on negotiations and initiatives related to food security, trade, regulatory, and science policy issues.
Sam grew up in West Virginia and completed his B.S. in biology at West Virginia University. He holds a Ph.D. in the plant sciences and international development from Cornell University, where he conducted field work on rice germplasm, genomics, and high-throughput phenotyping at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Philippines.
Director, State Government Affairs
With ASTA since 2007, Pat works with state and regional seed industry associations to monitor seed-related state initiatives and to assist with legislative, regulatory and grassroots activities. He also directs ASTA’s Seed Advocate program, informing and mobilizing seed industry activists.
A 25-year veteran of the ag industry, Pat formerly ran an association management firm and counted among his clients the Texas Ag Industries Association; the Texas Certified Crop Advisers program; the Texas Plant Protection Conference; the Texas Independent Ag Consultants Association; and the Texas Agricultural Aviation Association. Pat holds a B.A. in marketing from the University of North Texas.
Director, Government Affairs
Payton joined ASTA in April 2021 from the U.S. Senate, where she worked on Ag policy for Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO). Prior to joining Senator Hawley’s office, she worked on his successful campaign bid for the U.S. Senate in 2018.
Born and raised in rural Missouri, Payton credits her passion for the industry to her family farm operation of over 75 years. Payton received a degree in Health Science from the University of Missouri.
Manager, International Programs
Lainey joined ASTA from Texas A&M University, where she completed a Masters of Science in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management with a focus in Fundraising and Philanthropy from the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
Prior to her graduate studies, Lainey interned at the National Association of Wheat Growers in Washington, D.C. and completed a Bachelors of Science in Animal Science at Texas A&M University. She has also worked in ruminant nutrition research and graduate and professional studies advising while at Texas A&M. Lainey was raised in beef cattle production in Northeastern Texas and still enjoys working cattle when home.
Finance & Administration
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Ann has been with ASTA for over 21 years, currently providing the association with “institutional memory” and serving as its head of finance, human resources and administration. She began as an accounts payable clerk and progressed up to vice president of the department in 2001. In 2003, in response to member demand, Ann established ASTA’s International Arbitration Chamber through the International Seed Foundation. In 2004, she helped to create the Seed Association of the Americas, and in 2006, she spearheaded efforts to establish the First – the Seed Foundation. Twice, since working at ASTA, Ann has managed the contractual and build-out aspects of the office relocation.
Ann began her career working in accounting for the Marriott Corporation, then for Guest Quarters hotels. She later provided accounting support for Advantage International, a sports marketing firm.
Currently, in addition to her financial at ASTA, she serves as Secretary/Treasurer of the American Seed Research Foundation, the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders, First-the Seed Foundation, ASTA and the Seed Association of the Americas.
Ann graduated from the American University in Washington, DC with Bachelor of Science degree.
Assistant to the COO
Ann Ward joined the ASTA team in January 2021. She has had a 26-year career in the trade association industry. The last 12-years have been in trade show and event planning services.
Her experience ranges from administrative to managerial at the Freeman Decorating Company, American Sportfishing Association, National Chain Drugs Stores Association, United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association (now United Fresh Produce Association) and the National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association.
Early in her career, Ann spent a little time on Capitol Hill working as an intern for a Congressman and on the Subcommittee on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources.
Ann graduated from Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, Virginia with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology.
She and her husband live in Hollin Hills in Alexandria with their chocolate lab.
Meetings & Services
Senior Director, Meetings & Services
Jennifer has planned and managed ASTA’s major annual conferences for 20 years. In this role, she directs the strategic design of all ASTA meetings; manages all venue, sponsorship, vendor and exhibitor contracts; and provides around-the-clock on-site support at each event. During her tenure at ASTA, she has entirely redesigned two of ASTA’s annual conventions, converted events to both virtual and hybrid virtual formats, implemented a series of new event design enhancements and established a partnership between ASTA and Disney from 2016-2017.
Prior to joining ASTA, Jennifer served as Conference Services Manager at The Fairmont in Washington, D.C. and as Coordinator, Meetings & Exhibits for the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. She began her career as a production, marketing and contracting assistant, supporting both artist rosters and large venue productions, for concert promoter Cellar Door Productions (now part of Live Nation). Jennifer received her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 2022 and earned a Master’s degree in event management/tourism administration at the George Washington University in 2002, after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from the School of Journalism at the University of Maryland in 1997. Her training included conducting an event management study at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and serving as Director of Concerts for the University of Maryland at College Park.