Dairy Symposium


​​The Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiativ​es support dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products. The Dairy Symposium at World Dairy Expo on October 3, 2023 included a presentation by representatives from each DBI Initiative - Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, Pacific Coast Coalition Dairy Business Innovation Initiative, and Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiative​. The program co​ncluded with a panel discussion from individuals across the country who have benefitted from the DBI Initiative services and grants.​ 


The 2023 World Dairy Expo Dairy Symposium is now available. Access the r​ecording.



R​emarks from U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Randy Romanski


Pacific Coast Coalition Dairy Business Innova​tion Initiative

Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiative

Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center

Dairy Business Innovation Alliance


Panel discussion featuring the four DBI Initiatives​


Closing remarks by DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski


Speaker Profiles


Carmen Licon Presenter PhotoDr. Carmen Licon, is a cheese enthusiast and advocate for the dairy industry. Her research and academic passions involve assisting dairy processing businesses to innovate, improve dairy products, and educate in culturally specific and artisan dairy production. She serves as the Director of the Dairy Products Technology Center at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She received an M.S. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Science and Engineering from the University of Castilla La Mancha, in Spain. She also holds a B.Sc. in Food Engineering from Tecnologico de Monterrey, ITESM, Mexico. She has conducted research in different countries and participated in multiple international and multidisciplinary research projects. 

Susan Pheasant Presenter PhotoDr. Susan Pheasant is “cowkeeper” for the Pacific Coast Coalition – Dairy Business Innovation Initiative, a >$23 million USDA funded capacity building (people, facilities, technical assistance) endeavor spanning 6 states and 8 universities. She also serves as Director for Fresno State's Institute for Food and Agriculture.  An avid life-long learner, her formal educational background stems from Cal Poly-SLO and Washington State University including an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. incorporating ag economics, marketing, education, and rural sociology to evaluate how producers/growers make decisions to adopt new technologies and ideas. Dr. Pheasant has consulted with national and international agribusinesses and non-profit organizations to implement change technologies and educational programs. She is part of a six-generation lineage of tree fruit growers perfecting the practice that apple pie is best a la mode with ice cream.

Liz Eckelkamp Presenter PhotoDr. Elizabeth (Liz) Eckelkamp is Associate Professor of Animal Science at The University of Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee’s State Dairy Extension Specialist, and program director for the Southeast Dairy Business Innovation Initiative. She works with farmers to maximize dairy efficiency through precision technologies and animal health. She also addresses consumer preference and willingness to purchase local products.​

Laura Ginsburg Presenter PhotoLaura Ginsburg leads dairy development and innovation efforts at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, including the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center team. With previous experience operating a farm and creamery in Montana, a Master's degree with a focus on ag policy and Montana's dairy supply management system, and a Fulbright to New Zealand to study their free-market dairy system, Laura brings a diverse background to her work in creating resilient and forward-thinking programs for the dairy community.

Danica Nilsestuen Presenter PhotoDanica Nilsestuen is the Grants & Business Programs Director for the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. She oversees numerous state and federal grant programs that support dairy processors across the mid-west, in addition to supporting WCMA's export and sustainability groups.


Katherine Nathania Panelist PhotoKatherine Nathania is a Food Science MS student born and raised in East Java, Indonesia. She received her undergraduate degree in Food Science from California State University, Fresno in 2023. During her undergraduate degree, she completed an internship under CMAB/CDIC, on "Upcycled Coffee Grounds incorporated on Cheese Rind." She has a strong research interest in value-added products and ways to reuse waste streams in dairy processing. Her current project balances product innovation and sustainability by incorporating dairy by-products, whey, in a beer brewing process.

Randall Tomlinson Panelist PhotoRandall Tomlinson settled into South-East Tennessee in 2011 after stints on several different agricultural operations across the country.  He began his career with Sequatchie Cove Creamery as a dairy hand and functions currently as the director of operations. Randall is driven by his passion for creating good rural jobs, supporting local farmers, and pursuit of excellence in food production. Outside of his work with the creamery; Randall loves to push the edge with rotational grazing practices and spends his free time hiking, fishing, and canoeing in the hills and hollers of the Cumberland Plateau and surrounding areas.


Heather Darby Panelist PhotoHeather Darby is an Extension Agronomist with the University of Vermont. For the last 20 years, she has worked in partnership with the farming community to develop conservation practices that make economic and environmental sense. Heather’s applied research and extension program investigates and highlights innovative forage, crop, manure, and soil management techniques that support the needs and interests of farmers.

Jennifer Orchard Panelist PhotoJennifer Orchard, co-owner of Royal Guernsey Creamery in Columbus, WI, transitioned from a successful career as a partner at a biotechnology company back to the family farm. She introduced diversification to the farm with value-added artisan dairy products by becoming a Wisconsin-licensed buttermaker and cheesemaker. Alongside her sister Julie, she founded the creamery in 2020, crafting small-batch artisan butter with cream sourced from their seventh-generation family farm.​


Corey Geiger Moderator PhotoCorey Geiger has made a career of assessing the information and leadership needs of the dairy industry. For the past 28 years, he served on the Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial team and was just the seventh person to serve as managing editor since its founding in 1885 by Wisconsin Governor W.D. Hoard. During his editorial tenure, Geiger worked tirelessly to bring the best scientific, managerial, and policymaking information to the dairy community. He also led the lau​nch of Hoard’s Dairyman China. Geiger’s resume contains a lengthy list of key leadership roles where he was elected president of National Dairy Shrine, the Wisconsin Holstein Association, and Holstein Association USA. He also has served on the board of directors for the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding and World Dairy Expo where he chairs the Education Committee. Geiger also operates his six-generation family farm and published two award-winning books centered on family, farm life, and the greater dairy industry. Geiger recently took a position as the Lead Dairy Economist with CoBank, one of the largest providers of credit to the dairy and the U.S. rural economy.​