Where we are TODAY

On March 9th, 2021 RDAR elected a new Board of Directors. This group of Directors was elected from the membership of RDAR (including marketing boards, commission and associations representing Alberta producers) and will lead the organization.

Where we started

In March 2020, an interim Board of Directors (appointed by the Minister of Agriculture & Forestry) were chosen to guide RDAR. These directors, supported by staff and consultants, lifted RDAR off the ground by establishing a framework for long-term success. 

RDAR is committed to excellence in governance.

Our organization’s foundations are documented in our By-laws, passed by our Members in March, 2021.

Our Board of Directors and staff follow a strict Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy to ensure responsible stewardship of RDAR’s resources.

Board of Directors

Dr. David Chalack

Dr. David Chalack,

David is a veterinarian, Canadian Agricultural Hall of Famer, and partner of Rocky Mountain Holsteins Ltd. He has a strong interest in organization governance and is a member of ICD.D. Extremely active in the meat and livestock industry, David has served on the boards of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede and Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA). With 30 years of sales at Alta Genetics Inc., David brings extensive international insight.

Melissa Downing

Melissa Downing,

Passionate about all aspects of the cattle industry, Melissa enjoys working with producers to advance sustainable beef production. She’s a professional Agrologist with a Bachelor’s Degree focused in Sustainable Agriculture from University of Alberta, provincial coordinator for the Verified Beef Production Plus program and along with her husband is raising the fifth generation on their family farm.

Steve Kenyon

Steve Kenyon

As a rancher for over 24 years, Steve is passionate about environmentally sustainable agriculture in Alberta. He has hands on experience working with Alberta’s Applied Research and Forage Associations and has served as Director for the Gateway Research Organization and Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta for over 20 years. Steve is driven to ensure that Alberta’s agricultural producers remain competitive, profitable, and sustainable.

Dr. Stanford Blade

Dr. Stanford Blade

Stanford is the Dean of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences. He has served on many agriculture boards and the University of Alberta Senate, while becoming the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions Corporation—an agency that leads and manages innovation in Alberta’s agriculture, food and forestry sectors.

D’Arcy Hilgartner

D’Arcy Hilgartner

Agriculture research drives D’Arcy.  As a new-generation farmer, he is driven to seek out ways for Alberta producers to utilize agriculture research to improve farm production. He holds a BSc in Medial Laboratory Science from the University of Alberta and has held numerous positions on pulse and grain boards; Vice Chair of the Alberta Pulse Grower’s Association, Director for the Western Grains Research Council and Chair of the Alberta Grains Council. D’Arcy is ready to push the boundaries of Alberta’s agriculture potential.

Fred Lozeman

Fred Lozeman

Fred has been farming and ranching in Alberta for almost 30 years. Dedicated to research and promoting good governance on agriculture boards, Fred has served as Director for Alberta Beef Producers (ABP), Chair for the ABP Research Committee and Council Member for the Beef and Cattle Research Council. During his extensive career he has had numerous opportunities to advise and oversee agriculture research and technology transfer proposals that have helped advance Alberta’s agriculture industry. Fred holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of Alberta and a D.Phil. in Biochemistry from Oxford University.

Jason Lenz

Jason Lenz

Jason has an extensive agriculture governance background. He has served as Director on numerous agriculture commissions and councils such as the Alberta Wheat Research Commission, the Western Grains Research Foundation, and the Canada Grains Council. Additionally, Jason has served on various regional agriculture advisory councils such as ALUS Canada Lacombe County and AgSmart Olds. Jason looks forward to guiding RDAR and helping to create opportunities for Alberta’s producers to positively impact our agriculture industry.

Brian Brewin

Brian Brewin

A 3rd generation farmer, Brian’s farming roots in South-Western Alberta go back over 110 years. Brian has served on numerous agricultural and regional economic boards in and around Taber. Appointed by the Alberta Minister of Agriculture, since 2013 Brian has served in the capacity of Board Member and Chairman for the Alberta Irrigation Council. Deeply connected to advocating the needs of rural Alberta communities, Brian served as the District one Director for the Rural Municipalities of Alberta.

JP Brouwer

JP Brouwer

JP has a passion and keen interest in agricultural research, innovation and sustainability. He is motivated to provide citizens with quality agricultural products and help the Alberta agriculture industry compete on a global scale. He has an extensive background in dairy operations and has served on various committees such as the Alberta Milk Research and Extension Committee, Dairy Research Extension Consortium of Alberta, the Western Dairy Research and Extension Council and as Director for the Alberta Milk Board. JP has also completed coursework in the areas of governance and parliamentary procedure.

John Kolk

John Kolk

John has a strong interest in sustainable farming practices and biodiversity. He has served on many agricultural Boards during his career and is dedicated to supporting the success of Alberta’s agriculture industry. John has served as a Board Member for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute for over a decade, was the Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee for Farming Smarter Association and was a Board Member for the Alberta Water Council. Driven to be energy efficient, John built and lives in an Energy Plus home and holds a BA from Dordt College, Iowa.

Leadership Team

Dr. Mark Redmond

Dr. Mark Redmond,

With a PhD in infectious diseases, Mark has experience as a scientific researcher, inventor and innovator, senior health system administrator, education leader and entrepreneur. A significant portion of Mark’s professional career has also been spent adding value to agriculture products. He has served as the Director of the Emergence Incubator at PEI BioAlliance, Associate Dean of NAIT’s School of Health and Life Sciences, and Executive Director of the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine. Mark is an asset to our leadership team with his diverse skill set, and he looks forward to leading RDAR as Alberta reorganizes producer-led agricultural research from the ground up.


David Cochrane

David Cochrane,
Chief Financial Officer

David completed his accounting designation in 1997 and MBA in 2003. As the former Chief Financial Officer for Innovative Housing and Boudreau Developments, David brings RDAR years of experience in both industry and not-for-profit sectors.


Clinton Dobson

Clinton Dobson,
Research Director

Producer-led research is what drives RDAR. Since day 1, Clinton has worked alongside founding members to build RDAR and its innovative research program. He brings a wealth of industry knowledge, as the former Director of Agriculture and Forestry Innovation Agriculture Grant section, and the former senior manager of research and policy with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA). He has a wide range of experience in agricultural research, and has his M.Sc. Agriculture and B.Sc. Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan.


Lydia Talpash

Lydia Talpash,
Operations Director

Lydia has nearly 20 years’ experience in private and public sectors, with strategy, business management and organizational transformation as her specialties. She holds a B.A. (with Distinction) and a B. Comm. from the University of Alberta. She brings a wide range of experience to this role, which includes overseeing RDAR’s corporate functions including organizational governance, marketing & communication, HR, information management and technology.


Executive Support

Heather Crosby

Heather Crosby,
Executive Assistant

As an Executive Assistant with an Office Administration Diploma (Executive Secretary specialization) and over 23 years of public service experience, Heather is excited to play a role in the future of Alberta’s agriculture. She joins RDAR after working for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry in the Livestock and Crops Research Branch. 


Research Team

Alexis Brown

Alexis Brown,
Program Coordinator

Although Alexis was born and raised in Alberta, she spent a great deal of her life in Texas and New Zealand, which has added to her diversified skills. She holds a BA and a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Alberta, and after returning to Canada, worked there in the Department of Physics in Financial Administration. 


Brian Karisa

Brian Karisa,
Research Program Officer

Brian believes in close collaboration with the agriculture industry to support research and ensure the sector remains competitive and sustainable. Brian holds a PhD in Animal Science and a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Medicine, and brings extensive expertise in animal health, livestock production and the application of modern technologies. 


Nancy Tout

Nancy Tout,
Research Program Officer

Nancy joins RDAR with 21 years of private industry experience within the Seed and Crop Protection businesses of Syngenta Canada, including 12 years as Head of Research & Development.  She holds a Honours B.Sc. degree (Biology) and Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology. Nancy thrives on the complex challenges and opportunities associated with accelerating innovation to advance modern day agriculture through a customer-centric lens.


Nathan Anderson

Nathan Anderson,
Program Coordinator

Nathan is passionate about research and working in agriculture. He brings hands-on experience collaborating with agricultural societies and producers across rural Alberta. Nathan was the former program and events coordinator for the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies and worked on Open Farm Days. With a B.A Recreation, Sport and Tourism, Nathan looks forward to advising on the research and grant process, and working to strengthen relationships with RDAR members, producers and agricultural organizations across the province.


Trevor Prout

Trevor Prout,
Research Program Officer

Trevor’s wealth of agriculture experience centers on the livestock sector and extensive grant management experience. With a BSc. in Food Science and Technology from the University of Alberta (awarded the Sterling Medal for outstanding academic achievement), Trevor has worked in multiple meat product development positions, program management in the poultry industry, and grant management with the Alberta Meat and Livestock Agency (ALMA) and Department of Agriculture and Forestry.



Janada Hawthorne

Janada Hawthorne,
Communications Lead

Janada is passionate about advancing the voice of Alberta’s agriculture, and contributes her expertise in brand development, project management, social media, digital advertising, and public engagement. No matter the task, she creates meaningful ways for organizations to connect, inform, and inspire. Janada holds a Master of Corporate Communication degree (marketing specialization) from Bond University in Australia, as well as a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Alberta.



Chao Wang

Chao Wang,
Financial Accountant

Chao holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from NAIT. In 2019 she completed the CPA program and received her designation. She has spent the past five years working in public practice, gaining a wealth of experience providing accounting services for both non-profit organizations and profit-oriented companies.