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Ohio Department of Agriculture | Divisions and Programs

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Assistant Director

Howard F. Wise
Amusement Ride Safety/Enforcement

Gary Hill
Animal Health

Tony M. Forshey, DVM
Chief Financial Officer

Cathy Dodson

Erica Pitchford Hawkins
Deputy Director

Janelle Mead
Deputy Director

John Schlichter
Farmland Preservation

Denise Franz King
Facilities and Operations

Robert E. Kibler, CCM
Food Safety

Charles Kirchner
Human Resources

Traci Orahood
Information Technology

Steve Swayne

Dr. Beverly Byrum
Legislative Liaison

Erin Honnold
Legislative Liaison

George McNab
Livestock Environmental Permitting

Kevin Elder
Meat Inspection

Dr. Mike Hockman
Plant Health

Matt Beal
Weights & Measures

Fran Elson-Houston
W. Michael Hockman, DVM

Dr. W. Michael Hockman is the chief of the Division of Meat Inspection, which helps assure all meat and poultry establishments with a state license are producing safe, wholesome and truthfully labeled products in a sanitary environment.

Dr. Hockman began his career working for the United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service, where he held many progressively responsible positions within the agency, ultimately leading to the position of circuit supervisor and acting assistant area supervisor in Springfield, IL. Dr. Hockman also served the federal Food Safety Inspection Service as a veterinary recruiter for nearly 20 years, and as a field epidemiology officer. In 1997, he began his tenure with the Ohio Department of Agriculture as assistant chief of the state's Division of Meat Inspection.

Kevin Elder

Kevin Elder is chief of the Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting. In this capacity, he oversees environmental compliance of the state's largest livestock and poultry farms. Beginning in 2001, he worked with stakeholders and advisory boards to establish the policies, laws and rules necessary to implement and manage the newly created program. Prior to joining ODA, Elder served as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Conservation, Engineering Section administrator and as an agricultural pollution abatement specialist. He was also previously employed at the Fairfield Soil and Water Conservation District as program administrator and district technician.

Elder has participated as a member of the Phosphorus Task Force, Certified Crop Advisory Board, the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation Service-State EQUIP Technical Advisory Board, Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan Training and Certification Team, Ohio Livestock Environment Assurance Program Development and Advisory Group; and is a Certified Assessor for the National Pork Producers, Odor and Environmental Assurance Program.

Matt Beal

Matt Beal is the chief of the Division of Plant Health, which is responsible for overseeing the following consumer and public protection regulations: label statements on feed and fertilizers; nursery stock; financial stability of grain elevators; pesticides; pesticide applicators; pesticide use complaints; and work with the federal government to control invasive pest species. He has served at ODA since 1985 as pesticide control specialist, pesticide control supervisor, agriculture inspection administrator, and assistant chief. In 2010 he was appointed to acting chief, and in 2011 promoted to chief of the division. Prior to joining ODA, he was employed by Torco Pest Control.

Recent efforts include working with The Ohio State University Extension to consolidate private applicator pesticide-use categories; protecting farmers by overseeing the grain indemnity fund in grain insolvency cases; creating an emergency response plan to the Asian Longhorned Beetle; and continuing work with the US Environmental Protection Agency to find an answer to the state's growing bed bug problem.

Gary Hill

Gary Hill serves the department as chief of two divisions - Enforcement and Amusement Ride Safety. He started his ODA career in 2000 as an enforcement agent, accepted a position as assistant chief, and was appointed Enforcement chief in 2006. In this capacity, he works with other department divisions to uphold compliance with Ohio agricultural laws and regulations. Hill has also served as chief of Amusement Ride Safety since 2008, where he oversees the safety and regulation of all Ohio amusement rides.

Prior to joining ODA, he worked at the Columbus Police Department until his retirement in 1995, serving as uniformed patrol, a member of the SWAT team for more than 10 years, and an abuse investigator on the Juvenile Bureau for more than five years. Hill also worked as a White Collar Crime Unit investigator in the Intelligence Bureau, focusing on embezzlement, fraud, gambling, and organized crime cases. Hill was also employed at the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation as a contract consultant.

Charles Kirchner

Charles L. Kirchner was named chief of the Division of Food Safety in 2006, and is responsible for overseeing program areas that include food processing, retail food safety, and food sampling. The division conducts 500 federal inspections annually for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and conducts food sampling and Country of Origin Labeling review inspections for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Prior to joining the department, Kirchner began working in 1973 at Borden, Inc., where he held several positions. Initially he worked in the corporate Science and Technology Division as a food inspector auditing Borden food operations across the United States for compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices and with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point programs. Kirchner was promoted to Borden's International Foods Division and assisted the Central and South American Borden Food Operations with Quality Assurance and Quality Control related programs and sanitation. He was then promoted to Technical Director for the Borden International Foods Division in Europe.

Kirchner is the past President of National Egg Regulatory Officials, represents the department on the Utility Radiological Safety Board, is commissioned as an officer of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and is a Registered Sanitarian in Ohio.

Janelle Mead

Mead's responsibilities include overseeing the department's legislative, communication and marketing efforts, and shaping department policy. She also works on promoting agribusiness opportunities in the state.

Mead, who joined the department in 2011 and most recently served as chief of the Markets division, has also worked for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. She has also previously worked in communications for the Ohio State Alumni Association and Mycogen Seeds.

She is a graduate of The Ohio State University where she earned a degree in agricultural communications.

Fran Elson-Houston

Fran Elson-Houston is the chief deputy state sealer for the Division of Weights & Measures, and is responsible for overseeing fair weighing and measuring standards in Ohio. Elson-Houston has been employed with ODA’s Division of Weights & Measures since 2000, when she served as administrative assistant to the chief. She was appointed chief of the division in 2008. Prior to joining ODA, she was a grant writer/administrator for the Ohio Department of Development and a Licensure Specialist for the Ohio Respiratory Care Board.

She is a member of the National Conference on Weights & Measures (NCWM) where she currently serves as chair of the Central Weights & Measures Association and serves on the National Weights & Measures Credentialing Committee. She has also served as past chair of the NCWM Retail Motor Fuel Dispenser Workgroup, past chair of the Professional Development Committee for the Central Weights & Measures Association, and is a current member of the International Society of Weights & Measures and the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Elson-Houston holds a Business Administration degree and is also a Certified Business Analyst for the State of Ohio. She also currently serves on the Quality Assurance Technical Advisory Board at Columbus State Community College.

Howard F. Wise

Wise oversees the department's day-to-day regulatory operations and laboratories, in addition to the department's policies and procedures. Prior to his recent appointment as Assistant Director, Wise served as the department's assistant director from 2004 through 2006.

From July 1999 to June 2004, he served as the executive director of the department's Office of Farmland Preservation. Wise has served in several leadership capacities at the Ohio Department of Development.

He is a graduate of The Ohio State University where he earned a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees in political science and public administration.

Erica Pitchford Hawkins

Erica Pitchford Hawkins is director of the Communications Office, serving as the primary spokesperson for the department. Appointed Communications Director in March 2012, she is responsible for coordinating media and public outreach efforts, monitoring agency-related news stories, and managing the department's social media outreach.

Hawkins began her Ohio Department of Agriculture career as a public information officer in January 2011, working to develop and implement a strategic communication plan to educate the agriculture community on Ohio Livestock Care Standards, developing the state-wide Ag is Cool visual arts program, and planning Ohio Agriculture Day. Prior to employment at the department, she worked as a Legislative Aide in the Ohio Senate and as a Legislative Service Commission Fellow. She is a 2011 graduate of The Jo Ann Davidson Ohio Leadership Institute.

Hawkins is a graduate of Ashland University where she earned bachelor's degrees in political science and religion and was a scholar with The John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs.

Roger Tedrick

Roger Tedrick was appointed chief of the Dairy Division in 2011. He is responsible for the daily operations of the division, which oversees dairy producers, processors, haulers, weigher, sampler, and testers within the state.

A registered sanitarian, Tedrick joined the Dairy Division in 1999 as plant section head. He was named assistant chief in 2008, and appointed as acting chief in 2010. Prior to employment at the department, he was field supervisor for Milk Marketing Inc./DFA. Tedrick is the president of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Alumni Society, and is a member of Council I of the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipments, the Ohio Association of Food Protection, and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

Tony M. Forshey, DVM

Dr. Tony Forshey is chief of the Division of Animal Health, which is charged with protecting and promoting the health of Ohio's livestock and poultry industries. Dr. Forshey serves as the state veterinarian and oversees operations for the division.

Dr. Forshey practiced veterinary medicine for 27 years with an interest in swine production. He served on several major swine health manufacturer advisory boards including Elanco Animal Health, Pfizer Animal Health, Newport Laboratories and Schering Plough. He has served as an Adjunct Associate Professor at The Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine for the past 10 years. Dr. Forshey serves as the vice-chair of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board; co-chair, the Swine Update Program, Department of Preventive Medicine, OSU; chair, the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association Swine Sub-Committee to the Ohio Department of Agriculture; chair, the equine and the aquaculture task forces for the department; and an ex-officio member of the Ohio Livestock Coalition and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation boards of directors. He is a member of the Ohio Swine Health Advisory Board; the steering committee of The Ohio Pork Industry Center; the American Veterinary Medical Association; the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association; the United States Animal Health Association and the National Institute of Animal Agriculture boards of directors; the Ohio Pork Producer Council (OPPC) Producer Education Committee; the OPPC Swine Health and Research Committee; the Ohio Livestock Export Council; and the OSU Extension 4-H Animal Sciences Strategic Advisory Committee.

His honors and awards include: the National Institute for Animal Agriculture's Chairman's Award (2012); the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association's Veterinarian of the Year Award (2010); Ohio Pork Producers Council Service Award for Outstanding Service to the Ohio Swine Industry (1998); the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association's Meritorious Award for service to the Ohio Swine Industry(1997); the Outstanding Alumnus Award, Shenandoah High School, Sarahsville, Ohio (1996); Who's Who in American Society and Business Citation (1992); and the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, The Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine (1987).

Dr. Forshey served as interim director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture from Nov. 15, 2011 to Feb. 15, 2012.

Dr. Beverly Byrum

Dr. Beverly Byrum is Director of Laboratories for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, with oversight of the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) and the Consumer Protection Lab. These two labs work in conjunction to maintain a safe food supply and protect public health. The ADDL is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians and is a member of the National Animal Health Lab Network. Sections of Consumer Protection Laboratory are accredited according to ISO 17025 standards. In addition, the Consumer Protection Laboratory is a cooperative agreement lab for microbiology and chemistry with the FDA Food Emergency Response Network and the FSIS Food Emergency Response Network. It also houses the official equine drug testing lab for the Ohio State Racing Commission.

Dr. Byrum is an adjunct faculty member with the Ohio State University Department of Preventive Medicine. She currently is Chair of the AAVLD Accreditation Committee. Prior to working the veterinary diagnostics, Dr. Byrum worked as research microbiologist in the medical nutritional industry.

Steve Swayne

Steve Swayne was appointed Chief Information Officer for the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2011. He leads and oversees the delivery of the agency's information technology strategy, enterprise architecture, enterprise application development, infrastructure management, and computing technologies to all of the divisions and programs in the department.

Prior to joining the department, Swayne completed a 29-year career in law enforcement and law enforcement training that spanned several departments and positions. The career began as a Deputy Sheriff in Southeastern Ohio and concluded as the Assistant Chief of the Office of Law Enforcement at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. At ODNR he served as project manager for the Multi-Agency Radio Communications System and as the project manager for the Field Based Reporting initiative.

Swayne possesses several industry certifications and maintains membership in the Central Ohio Chapter of the Information Systems Security Association and in the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists. He represents the department on the Cyber Security Working Group of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Central Ohio InfraGard in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

David T. Daniels

Director David T. Daniels was formally appointed Ohio Agriculture Director by Governor John R. Kasich on February 15, 2012.

He is a native of Greenfield, Ohio, where he was born and raised, and where he and his family managed Daniels Brothers farm.

Director Daniels brings the perspective of a family farmer, small businessman and local government official to the department. During his career of public service he fought against unnecessary red tape and regulations and to foster a healthy business climate to create new opportunities for jobs.

Following four successful terms in the Ohio House of Representatives, he was elected to the Ohio Senate in 2010 to serve the families of the 17th Ohio Senate District, which includes Clinton, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Pike, Ross, Vinton and portions of Lawrence and Pickaway counties. Prior to being elected to the Ohio General Assembly, he served four years on the Greenfield City Council and eight as Mayor. He also served as a Highland County Commissioner for six years.

Food and agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Ohio, adding more than $107 billion to the economy each year. In addition to providing leadership for the agricultural industry, the director of agriculture administers numerous regulatory, food safety, and consumer protection programs for the benefit of all Ohioans.

Director Daniels lives in Greenfield with his wife Karen. They have four children and six grandchildren.

Denise Franz King

King is responsible for overseeing and promoting the department’s farmland preservation program. She brings more than 20 years of experience with natural resources management and conservation policy to the department.

King, who most recently served as a deputy superintendent with the Ohio Department of Commerce, has previously worked as a government relations program director for The Nature Conservancy, as chief of the division of Recycling and Litter Prevention and as chief of policy for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

She is currently a Washington Township trustee and has previously served on Dublin City Council and as vice-mayor of Dublin.

Traci Orahood

Orahood is responsible for the department’s human resources management and oversees employee and labor relations. She most recently served as a fiscal and human resources manager with the Office of the Governor, and has previously worked for the Ohio Office of Budget and Management and the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

Orahood is a graduate of Franklin University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management and a master’s degree in Business Administration.

Erin Honnold

As legislative liaison, Honnold acts as advocate on behalf of the department to the Ohio General Assembly and U.S. Congress, and works with consumer groups and industry representatives to assist in the research and development of legislative changes.

Honnold most recently worked as the deputy director of communications and community education at the Office of the Ohio Treasury and previously served as an aide in the Ohio House of Representatives.

George McNab

As legislative liaison, McNab acts as advocate on behalf of the department to the Ohio General Assembly and U.S. Congress, and works with consumer groups and industry representatives to assist in the research and development of legislative changes.

Prior to his appointment, McNab worked as an aide in the Ohio Senate.

Mehek Cooke

Mehek Cooke serves as chief counsel of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. She is responsible for advising the Director on legal and ethical matters impacting the various divisions of Agriculture, and for managing the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s in-house legal section.

Prior to serving as chief counsel for the department, Cooke was the Assistant Chief Legal Counsel for Office of Governor John R. Kasich. Before working as a public employee, she was as an attorney in the Government Services Department at Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

Cooke’s other professional experience includes working for the Political Military Affairs Regional Arms Division at the U.S. State Department; serving as a terrorism analyst for Chief Judge Richard Magnus in Singapore; and assisting the U.S. Attorney's Office with criminal and civil forfeiture cases and Counter-Terrorism cases in Columbus, Ohio.

Cooke received her J.D. from Indiana University Maurer School of Law and earned honors in oral advocacy in the annual Sherman Moot Court competition. She received an M.A. in political science from Purdue University, Indianapolis and holds a B.A. in pre-law and political science from The Ohio State University.

Sereana Howard Dresbach, Ph.D.

Dr. Sereana Howard Dresbach serves as Deputy Director, Ohio Department of Agriculture, since October 2012 under Director David Daniels and Governor John Kasich. She oversees the areas of Meat Inspection, Dairy Inspection, Food Safety, Animal Disease Diagnostic Labs, and Consumer Protection Lab. Her background in research, teaching and outreach has provided a solid foundation to ensure regulatory programs operate to serve farmers, consumers and agriculture professionals.

Prior to service at ODA, Dr. Dresbach spent over twenty years at The Ohio State University. She served at various times in the Wexner Medical Center, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and College of Human Ecology. Dr. Dresbach has written and produced numerous publications and programs (200+), secured extensive research and program funds (over $7 million), including grants from W.K. Kellogg Foundation, USDA and several entities in the medical community. In 2012, her work was selected as an outreach and engagement award winner at The Ohio State University. Her scholarly presentations are regularly selected for presentation and publication on transfer of information, quantifying knowledge change and diffusion process.

Her background includes stints with the University of Wyoming, National Park Service, US Forest Service, the YMCA, as well as other state federal agencies as clients for consultation on research design and implementation.

Dr. Dresbach earned her bachelor’s degrees from Iowa State University, graduate degrees from the University of Wyoming and The Ohio State University.

John Schlichter

John Schlichter oversees the divisions of Plant Health, Livestock Environmental Permitting, Weights and Measures and Amusement Ride Safety.

He brings 35 years of agribusiness experience to the department, as a part of Schlichter Farms and Bluegrass Farms of Ohio, Inc. Schlichter was also a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, serving the 85th district for six years, and previously served as a Fayette County Commissioner for four years.

Robert E. Kibler

Kibler has been with the Ohio Department of Agriculture since 2011 as the Facilities and Operations Chief. Prior to his appointment at the department, he served 17 years at the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, designing and constructing air terminals, runways, parking garages, retail/restaurants, and major heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and electrical modifications and replacements.

Kibler also served and retired after 20 years in the Ohio Air National Guard as a non-commissioned officer serving as a Structural Specialist constructing military projects worldwide. He is a nationally accredited American National Standards Institute Certified Construction Manager, of which there are only approximately 3,500 worldwide.

Cathy Dodson

Dodson was appointed in 2013 as Chief Financial Officer, in which she oversees the department’s $53.5 million budget. Prior to her appointment, she served the department as General Accounting Supervisor from 2000 to 2013. Dodson started with the department in 1985 and has 28 years of business management experience in the areas of payables, purchasing, budgeting, federal grants, inventory, records and payroll.