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Global “agvocate” and inspirational professional speaker to present keynote address at inaugural Women in Agribusiness Summit (6.19.2012)
BOSTON, MASS., June 19, 2012 – With unmatched passion and commitment to helping people understand the path from farm gate to the consumer plate, keynote speaker Michele Payn-Knoper will inspire the audience to build connected communities in the industry at the debut of the Women in Agribusiness Summit in New Orleans, Sept. 16-17.
Under the direction of Frances Pratt, co-chairwoman and event director from conference host company HighQuest Partners, the Women in Agribusiness Summit will bring together an unparalleled cross-section of women from the agribusiness and food production sectors. 
At this dynamic event, attendees will gain superior industry knowledge from highly successful stakeholders, share in professional and career path development opportunities, create key relationships with like-minded professionals in the sector, and promote the agribusiness industry to the next generation of women.
“We are excited to host this first-ever Women in Agribusiness Summit, and look forward to Michele helping us celebrate the promise, passion and success of these innovative, talented women,” said Pratt of HighQuest Partners, a globally-recognized strategic advisory and management consulting firm serving the food, agriculture and biofuels sectors. “Through the thoughtful sharing of best practices and industry insights at this event, we hope to encourage the next generation of women in agribusiness.”
Payn-Knoper will address this extraordinary group on how to lead through the significant changes facing agriculture in the 21st century by relaying poignant moments, not only from her years of experience helping farmers in over 25 countries build connections that impact the future of agriculture, but from her years growing up on a farm. 
Interjected with humor and audience involvement, Payn-Knoper’s keynote presentation will be relative to all levels of the agribusiness value chain, providing the knowledge to build connected communities in the industry by leveraging trust to protect the bottom line, and understanding the necessity of proactive positioning.
Payn-Knoper, a Certified Speaking Professional, holds degrees in Agricultural Communications and Animal Science from Michigan State University. Career highlights include a Regional Directorship for the National FFA Foundation, and marketing and selling dairy genetics to more than 25 countries.  Payn-Knoper also is an outspoken proponent of the use of social media to make connections in the ag industry, and founded #AgChat and #FoodChat, a popular weekly moderated discussion on Twitter.
In addition to Payn-Knoper, a high-energy, spirited team of accomplished women in ag, such as Rhonda Cole, Director of Grains and Oils at SunOpta, Inc., Mary Ellen Hennessey-Jones, President of Solera Capital LLC, and Susan Grelling, Vice President of Commodity Risk Management at Land O’Lakes, will bring the key messages to the center stage at the Women in Agribusiness Summit.
The event, which begins with an evening welcome reception on Sunday, Sept. 16 and concludes on Sept. 17 after a full day of activities, is the prelude to the Soy & Grain Trade Summit for domestic and international soybean, oilseed and grain commodity buyers and their suppliers, which runs through Sept. 19 at the same venue.
Opportunities to participate in the Women in Agribusiness Summit, either as a speaker or sponsor, are still available. Contact Pratt, at fpratt@highquestpartners.com, for details.

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