Celebrating Keystone's Female Leaders

Mar 08, 2024


On International Women's Day (and every day of the year), we're fortunate to have a number of female leaders who are OUTSTANDING in their fields. To learn more about the women leading our cooperative into the future, check out these profiles:

ANGELA MACKE HUDGINS, VP, HR & TALENT MANAGEMENT 

Education: BA – University of Kansas; MAHR – Ottawa, KS; MBA – Wichita State University 

What’s your impact at Keystone: I help our leaders reach their business goals through effective utilization of human capital. 

What are your thoughts on changing business climate in your area? The labor market has changed significantly in the last 25 years. On the employer side, the fight for talent is fierce. I truly believe how companies master the competition for talent will determine their financial success in the future, more than any other factor. 

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders? Your career does not make a life. Take the time to invest in yourself outside of the workplace, you will be a better person for it. 


SINA PARKS, STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST 

Education/Certifications:  BS Agricultural Economics, Purdue University 

What impact does your role have at Keystone?  My understanding of the conservation space and being on the cutting edge of sustainability lets us be a market leader.  

What are your thoughts on the changing climate in your area of the business? Sustainability is constantly evolving and we must agile be enough to cope with the changes coming at us, while still being able to sit down with the farmer to talk through the challenges. Understanding their operation is important when sharing market opportunities – as for many of them these operations run generations deep – and we want to help them pass it along to the next generation. 

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders in their arena?  Don’t give up. Work hard. Build trust and relationships. Agriculture is a great industry to be a part of.  


AMY KINSLER, VP, SALES, MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS 

Education: Bachelors and Masters Degree – Purdue University 

What’s your impact at Keystone: I help tell the cooperative story and ensure our sales team delivers on our promise of being a trusted business partner to our farmer-owners. 

What are your thoughts on changing business climate in your area? We continue to be challenged with change in our industry. Whether it is change in technology, data access, generational shifts or simply the value of a growing crop, our team has to navigate many unknown variables and new influences. We have a record of successes due to the high-quality team that has executed and managed through many seasons of change. As we look to the future, the willingness to adapt to new opportunities and embrace the uncomfortable process of change will lead the company to further success.  

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders? Hard work will be recognized. High performers will be rewarded. Attitude is everything.  


EMILY THRASHER, AVP, AGRONOMY 

Education: BS in Business Administration; Majors in Marketing and Operations Management – Kansas State University 

What are your thoughts on changing business climate in your area? Crop nutrition products and application practices will continue to evolve as new, enhanced efficiency fertilizers enter the market. Government regulations will also drive the direction of application rates and fertilizer placement. Additionally, government involvement in setting import and export tariffs can have significant impact on product trade flows and production economics.  

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders? Work hard to be the best in your chosen field. Your excellence will be recognized. Let leadership know you are ready for additional or different responsibilities, but be patient. Take time to know those that work around you and appreciate how hard they work as well. Give grace to get grace, that creates a team that can elevate together.  


ELIZABETH A. SOUTH, VP & GENERAL COUNSEL 

Education: BA – Purdue University; Doctorate of Jurisprudence (J.D>) – The Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law; Master of Laws (LLM) – The Michigan State University School of Law 

What’s your impact at Keystone? I manage all legal matters and risk management programs for the company.  

What are your thoughts on changing business climate in your area? Many facets of our business have always been highly regulated, but the challenges are when there are political leadership changes and focus on specific areas become more intense. The ESG aspects of contracting are making vendor management and partnerships more difficult to manage due to contracting requirements.  

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders? Nothing will get you ahead like good work and solving problems. Stay focused on what you want and ask for what you need to get there. 


TRACIE EGGER, PHD, DIRECTOR OF LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT 

Name and Title: Tracie Egger, Ph.D., Director, Learning & Development 

Education/Certifications: AS, Agribusiness – LakeLand College (Mattoon, IL); BS, Agriculture Communication – Purdue University; MS, Agricultural Education – Oklahoma State University; Ph.D, Curriculum & Instruction/Agricultural Education – Purdue University; Certified Executive Coach – Center for Executive Coaching 

What impact does your role have at Keystone?  As a visionary leader, I am passionate about people development and relationship building. In this new role at Keystone, I’m excited to be a resource for all employees to become the best in their role they can be. Whether it’s leadership development, coaching, or facilitation of learning, I’m enthusiastically ready to help take Keystone’s people to the next level!  

What are your thoughts on the changing climate in your area of the business? Agriculture is my life! We are living in an exciting time where our customers seek business relationships rather than quick fixes. While innovation & adaptability are crucial drivers of business success, I’m excited to prepare leaders how to be agile to meet our demands in their daily work landscape while staying curious, instilling grit, and always displaying courage.  

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders in their arena? I encourage others to find a platform for collaboration. Taking part in learning opportunities that bring women together to address inclusivity, innovation, and career success is imperative for growth & professional development. Being part of professional communities filled with female leaders in agribusiness has helped me establish a network of beneficial relationships.  


JACKIE MULLET, GOSHEN AGRONOMY LOCATION MANAGER 

Education: BA, Education and BS, Business Management 
I worked for an independent ag company for 29 years as the admin. In 2020 I was hired on as the location manager and have been in that position for 4 years. Fun fact: I did not grow up on a farm and had zero knowledge of agronomy when I started. My first day I was like “What is potash?” 😊 

What are your thoughts on changes you’ve seen in your part of the ag industry? The increase in technology is phenomenal. When I started as an admin I did not even have a computer. Everything was hand billed and put on large spreadsheets to calculate monthly totals. Now everything is digital. I still have a problem with keeping everything digital. I print everything out and have files with paper copies for everything. I think because of how I started it is in my blood now to always have a paper backup to the digital. And not just with office work but the technology in the field and the race to get the highest yields all revolves around technology. 

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders in ag? Be yourself and go for it. If the Ag Industry brings you life, then follow your passion. I chose not to pursue a career teaching because I realized I enjoyed what I was doing in the Ag industry so I went back to school for the Management degree and the rest is history. I often think if I had made one different choice in life how would my life be different. The choice to work in Ag is one of those. When I was first offered the admin position in 1991 I said no. Then later went back and said maybe I would be interested. And just like that I have now worked 33 years in Agronomy. So my best advice is to follow your heart and your passion. You don’t want to work a “J.O.B.” all your life, you want a career that brings joy.         


JULIE LAMBERSON, DIRECTOR OF SAFETY & RISK 
Education: BS, Public Health, major in Environmental Sciences and minors in Chemistry and Geology; CDL; Certified in Food Safety for Grain; Certified in Fall Protection 
 
What’s your impact at Keystone? At the co-op I work, behind-the-scenes, helping employees work safely and in compliance with state and federal regulations. This may be helping them study for applicator exams, or helping with housekeeping audits at grain facilities. The Safety and Risk department assists with compliance and safety in all divisions with all the products we market.  

What are your thoughts on the changing business climate in your area? Embracing technology is the trend of the future, from the monitors in equipment to the hazard monitoring systems on grain facilities. We need to study trends and weather, maintenance of equipment, seed performance, and work comp data. To get better you must be willing to study what you're currently doing and ask hard questions about the story the data tells and how we can change to be better. We can't stay focused on, " This is how we have always done it." Agriculture is a fast-paced, weather driven environment. Be willing to give it all you got during "busy season".  

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders? Ask questions! Every employee at the co-op has an area of specialty they would love to share or teach the next generation of employees. Understanding how everyone else does their job will make you better at your job. Don't stop learning. 


MOLLY BOHLANDER, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE 

Education/Certifications: BS, Agribusiness Management – Purdue University  

What impact does your role have at Keystone?  I am excited to bridge the gap between Credit & Finance and the different operational divisions to help Keystone operate as one unified business. Identifying areas within Energy and Agronomy where we can amplify the business and take it to the next level of service for our customers through our finance offerings and credit procedures.  

What are your thoughts on the changing climate in your area of the business? Retail financing becomes more crucial as our customers grow while also facing volatile interest rates and input prices. Our members depend on us to provide them with the most advantageous options to finance their operations and be a true partner in their business.  

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders in their arena? Work hard, have a good attitude, and stay curious. Putting in the hard work is rewarding and never goes unnoticed. A good attitude is contagious and supports a positive working environment. Lastly, staying curious is important to professional growth and opens up opportunities in and outside of your team.  


BETSY BOWER, AGRONOMIST 

Education/Certifications: BS, Agronomy – Purdue University; MS, Agronomy – University of Nebraska. Certified Crops Advisor (CCA) and Technical Service Provider (TSP) with NRCS. I also hold a Custom Applicator license to control crop pets and apply crop nutrients. 

What impact does your role have at Keystone? I work with our customers, branch sales professionals, branch managers and summer interns on all this agronomy – how to grow and protect are agronomic crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat.  

What are your thoughts on the changing climate in your area of the business? Over the past several years our nutrient and pest management practices have changed on the farm and at our branches. We have experienced a lot of consolidation at the farm level and ag retail branch/company level. New technology on the farm and at the branch every year is commonplace.  

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders in their arena? A career in agronomy, helping farmers feed and protect crops is a very rewarding career. Take the time to build relationships. Care about a customer’s farm as much as they do.  


LAUREN TAYLOR, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING 

Education/Certifications: BS, Agriculture Communications - Purdue University  

What impact does your role have at Keystone? Right now is an exciting time to be in marketing as we are establishing who Keystone Cooperative is and what we do. We have an awesome story to tell as a farmer-owned cooperative and the services we provide across the four divisions.  

What are your thoughts on the changing climate in your area of the business? The marketing landscape is always evolving especially with the changes and enhancements in technology. Staying ahead of the curve is essential for our team to be successful. Everything from social media, AI tools, to the influencer space allows for opportunity for us to be efficient and effective.   

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders in their arena? Find your tribe. Surround yourself with those who can provide support and encouragement but push you to step outside your comfort zone.  


LINDSAY SANKEY, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS 

Education/Certifications: BS, Agriculture Communications – Purdue University 

What impact does your role have at Keystone? My role at Keystone is to ensure our 100-year cooperative story is being told carefully and accurately. Keystone is such a large part of our Midwest landscape, and I help to ensure we’re doing the next right thing for our employees, our towns, our home counties, and at the state level. My role includes discovering ways our cooperative business can invest in the rural communities so many of us call home through service and support. By serving our communities with time, talents and financial support, our farmer-owned business helps to create a vibrant space which multiple generations can thrive in for years to come.  

What are your thoughts on the changing climate in your area of the business?  It has been a trend for some time for high school graduates to leave the rural areas in which they were raised to find better opportunity elsewhere. By focusing on our rural communities and investing in their long-term success, we are creating tremendous opportunities for young people to make a life in the place they’ve always known as home. We’ve created a business that you can grow up knowing locally, raise a family in, and eventually retire in. 

What advice do you have for women who aspire to be leaders in their arena? Understand your own personal Why: why you’re doing the day-to-day work, and how that matters to you as an individual. If you can understand your Why and live it, this makes the work, the time, and the investment of your talents so worthwhile.  

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Mar 29, 2024
Keystone Cooperative remains committed to on-farm safety every day of the year.