Dairy checkoff program Dairy Management Inc. has a new leader after CEO Tom Gallagher announced Sept. 28 he would conclude his 30-year tenure to devote more time to teaching and other opportunities.
Barbara O’Brien, president of DMI and CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, has been named by the board of directors as the next CEO. The board leadership, Gallagher and O’Brien will work on a transition plan.
“I am proud of the success of the checkoff during the past 30 years and the steady foundation it created for future impact, and I am leaving with complete confidence that Barb will continue to drive this success forward in new ways,” Gallagher said. “My work for America’s dairy farmers will always be the highlight of my career.”
In her current role, O’Brien has instilled a sales growth and outcomes-based mentality within her leadership team and staff, overseeing operating structures for business development, domestic and international sales, science and insights, marketing communications and finance.
Through an evolution of the checkoff business plan, O’Brien created robust integration and category strategies that have led to strong year-over-year sales growth for dairy through new food service and retail partnerships and product innovation, as well as increases in positive consumer perceptions around dairy and dairy farming.
“I look forward to this new opportunity and my ability to continue serving dairy farmers and importers,” O’Brien said. “Over the last 20 years, I’ve developed deep relationships with dairy farmers, the dairy community, and other companies and organizations that will ensure we sustain DMI’s impact while continuing to build a secure future for the industry. I will bring strategic continuity to the checkoff programs and, at the same time as we navigate the accelerating pace of change, I will set a vision that harnesses the strong legacy Tom built and leads to new long-term growth."