Kam Quarles tabbed as new National Potato Council CEO

Kam Quarles tabbed as new National Potato Council CEO

The National Potato Council has promoted Kam Quarles to chief executive officer.

Current CEO John Keeling will be retiring in June after 17 years with the NPC.

Quarles has been vice president of public policy and communications for NPC since December 2016.

Mike Wenkel, the executive director of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, has been hired to fill the newly-created role of chief operations officer, according to a news release.

“I’m extremely pleased to make this announcement of such a strong executive team,” Larry Alsum, president of Alsum Farms & Produce and the 2019 NPC president, said in the release. “The NPC has delivered great value for our industry during its time in Washington, D.C. Kam and Mike share our goals of enhancing that value long into the future.”

Before coming to the NPC, Quarles was the lead agriculture lobbyist for the international law firm of McDermott Will & Emery for clients including the National Potato Council, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Sunkist Growers, Chiquita Brands International and the California Avocado Commission, according to the release. Quarles also was vice president for the United Fresh Produce Association and vice president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

“It’s very exciting to take on this new role. I’ve spent nearly twenty years in D.C. advancing farmers’ interests, and half of that time working for NPC. This strong new team will relentlessly pursue federal and international policies that maximize the competitiveness of the potato industry,” Quarles said in the release.

Wenkel joined the Michigan Potato Industry Commission in August 2012 as the executive director, according to the release, and also managed legislative activities for the Potato Growers of Michigan Inc. Previously, Wenkel was the manager of the membership and field services department for the Michigan Farm Bureau for its 193,000 members.

“I am excited to join the staff of the National Potato Council and work to advance the industry on a national level by applying all that I have learned serving Michigan agriculture over the past twenty-four years,” Wenkel said in the release.

The new executive team at NPC will join Hollee Alexander, senior director of programs and events, and Hillary Hutchins, manager of programs and events, on the staff at NPC.