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American Cheese Society Names New Executive Director

Extends online access to virtual Annual Conference, readies for 2022 event
American Cheese Society
Photograph: Shutterstock

The American Cheese Society, which recently wrapped its virtual 38th Annual Conference, has named Tara Holmes as its new executive director. Holmes will be in charge of guiding the industry organization toward its 39th conference in Portland, Ore., in 2022.

Holmes will serve alongside board members led by President Lynn Giacomini Stray of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. and VP Mike Koch of FireFly Farms. Jamie Png becomes the American Cheese Society (ACS) Cheese Industry Professional.

American Cheese Society Tara Holmes

Tara Holmes

“Before taking over as executive director, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the ACS board, staff, committees and members in the run up to the last Annual Conference,” said Holmes, who will transition from team leader for ACS at Civica Management. “I’m proud of what the team has been able to accomplish in a short amount of time, and while I know there is a lot of work to be done, I’m looking forward to helping this vibrant community move forward towards new possibilities equipped with timely education, professional certifications and a strong voice.”

This year’s virtual ACS Annual Conference, held July 28-30, drew an international audience of cheese professionals from the U.S., Europe and New Zealand. For the first time, access to the ACS educational sessions and exhibit hall remains available to registrants until the end of October. This offers opportunities for cheese professionals to attend every scheduled program at their convenience.

In his opening address at the conference, Jeremy Stephenson, ACS past president, noted the extraordinary challenges and triumphs experienced by the cheese industry during the pandemic, echoed by others such as Elizabeth Chubbuck of The Kroger Co.-owned Murray’s Cheese, Kurt Dammeier from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Adeline Druart from Vermont Creamery, and Ari Weinzweig from Zingerman’s.

Moving forward, the ACS hopes to further its mission to support the understanding, appreciation and promotion of artisan, farmstead and specialty cheeses produced in the Americas through its recent acquisition of Victory Cheese, an initiative launched by cheesemakers, mongers, chefs and cheese enthusiasts to help support and sustain specialty and artisan cheesemakers in the U.S. during and after the pandemic.

“ACS is the perfect home for Victory Cheese because it will serve as the association's business to consumer (B2C) voice supporting artisan and specialty cheese. Strengthening the vital B2C connection for the long term is good for the entire industry,” said Victory co-founder Greg O’Neill in a statement.

The ACS team will organize the 2022 American Cheese Society Judging and Competition, the largest event of its kind for American-made cheeses. The 2022 competition will open for submissions in October 2021 and expects some 1,500 entries in 120 categories.

Cheeses will be received May 17-18, 2022, with competition judging from May 19-20, 2022, at the TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus. Winners will be announced at the 39th ACS Annual Conference titled, Blazing the Trail for Cheese, in Portland, Ore., July 20-23, 2022.


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