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, a 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.

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.

Josie Van Lent

Josie Van Lent

Josie’s career has spanned service in the areas of extension, ag business, education, research, farming and ranching. She has also served on numerous ag and community boards, associations, and committees over the years. She is an active partner in a multi-generational family business, Staden Farms (est. 1908), which includes enterprises in bison, beef and crops. It has been her privilege to be involved in agriculture in various capacities her entire life and agriculture is, no doubt, her passion. She has a strong interest in research and extension from exploratory to applied and has a deep belief that research is critical to agriculture’s productivity, profitability and competitiveness.

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,
Executive Director, Research

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,
Executive Director, Operations

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.

Tanushi Khanna

Tanushi Khanna,
Administrative Coordinator

Tanushi is passionate about taking up administrative roles. She finds that the most important thing is to help others with care and compassion. She holds a Bsc. in Environmental and Conservation Science from the University of Alberta and cares a lot about sustainability, agriculture, and reclamation. Throughout these years she has worked as an office administrator, resident assistant, project intern, receptionist, teacher, executive director, and volunteer which has taught her how to deal with a diverse set of audiences. She is excited to be a part of the team to help support agricultural advancement.

Research Team

Trevor Prout

Trevor Prout,
Research Manager, Value Added Industries

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.

Dr. David Simbo

Dr. David Simbo,
Research Program Manager, Crops

David is a Professional Agrologist with several years of experience in applied agriculture research.  With several years of research program management and grant administration, David uses his experience to support programs and projects that benefit crop producers in Alberta and beyond. David’s education spans across several disciplines in the plant sciences with a Bachelor of Science in Botany, a Master of Science in Horticulture, and a PhD in Bioscience Engineering. 

Nathan Anderson

Nathan Anderson,
Management Systems Analyst

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.

Lisa Singh

Lisa Singh,
Program Coordinator

Lisa joins us from the University of Calgary where she worked as a Research Grants and Agreements Officer. She holds a B.A. in International Relations and over 6 years of experience in the non-profit and public sectors, including 4 years of experience in research grant administration. She is passionate about animal welfare, environmentally sustainable agriculture, and transdisciplinary research. Lisa is excited about the future of agriculture and looks forward to supporting producer-led agriculture research.

Adaly Gordillo

Adaly Gordillo,
Program Coordinator

Janelle Fouhse

Janelle Fouhse,
Research Program Officer

Janelle is passionate about bridging the gap between research and reality to improve economic, social, and environmental sustainability of Alberta agriculture. Janelle has an extensive background in livestock research and has experience collaborating with producers and industry partners. She holds a BSc in Agriculture and MSc in Animal Nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan and a PhD in Animal Nutrition from the University of Alberta.

Samuel Peprah

Samuel Peprah,
Research Program Officer

Samuel believes producer-led research is the future of environmentally sustainable agriculture. Having worked directly with producers over the years for the betterment of their operations, Samuel’s research program ensures the applicability of results back to the industry. Samuel has also collaborated with scientists, government and industry partners in the prairies to increase the adoption of novel agricultural technologies through knowledge transfer and extension. He has in-depth experience in agriculture that spans across grazing animals, plants, soil and organic farming systems management. He holds an MSc in Forages and Ruminant Nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan.

Natalie Diether

Natalie Diether,
Research Program Officer

Natalie is passionate about the role of applied agriculture research in supporting livestock producers. Her background as a research project manager and knowledge translation specialist has allowed her to work on a diverse range of project types prior to joining RDAR. Natalie holds a PhD in Animal Science with a background in microbiome and multi-omics research focused on improving animal health and productivity.


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.

Amanda Scully

Amanda Scully,
Digital Communications Specialist

Amanda holds a Bachelor of Communications with a Major in Professional Communication from MacEwan University and has spent the majority of her career working in the non-profit sector. Amanda is passionate about research and delivering communications that are clear, effective and accessible. She is excited to utilize her expertise in digital content, social media and graphic design in order to advance Alberta’s agriculture.


Chao Wang

Chao Wang,

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.

Sheri Buskas

Sheri Buskas,
Assistant Controller

Sheri completed her CPA designation in 2020 after receiving a Bachelor of Commerce from MacEwan University. Having grown up on a farm, she has firsthand experience with the types of issues producers face and cares deeply about the future of agriculture in Alberta. Bringing a combined 20 years of experience in industry and public practice, Sheri is passionate about the agriculture and not-for-profit sectors, and is excited to support RDAR in fulfilling its mandate.


Fiona Briody

Fiona Briody,
Program Manager

Fiona brings over 20 years of experience working in the agriculture/environment field. She has developed and delivered numerous programs to Alberta farmers and ranchers including the first Ag Policy Framework beneficial management program and the Environment Farm Plan. She brings a broad range of experience working within government, the private sector and non-profit organizations including crop insurance, lending, and environment policy work (e.g. AB Water Council) as well as work on the ecosystems service framework. She was the first in Canada to get a license to grow hemp. She is a first-generation owner/operator of a black angus cow calf operation for the last 25 years. Fiona has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Alberta.

Christy Hoy

Christy Hoy,
Technical Lead

Christy grew up on a mixed farm and is passionate about agriculture. She holds a B.A. from Augustana University College in Biology and a B.Sc. from the University of Alberta in Environmental and Conservation Sciences. She has over 14 years of public service experience in crop research and collaborating with producers. Christy is excited to join RDAR and to support sustainable agriculture.

Franklin Efekalam

Franklin Efekalam,
Grant Administrator

Franklin is a highly motivated professional with over 5 years of experience working as an administrator in the educational and financial industry. He has a Bachelor of Science degree (BSc) in Statistics and a Master of Science (MSc) in Economics. Franklin recently worked with one of the top four Canadian banks as an Operations Officer, He is result-oriented and enjoys providing administrative support and value-added solutions.

Lori Duchesnay

Lori Duchesnay,
OFCAF Administrative Coordinator

Lori has over 25 years of administrative experience working in various roles in the natural gas utilities industry.  She holds a Legal Assistant Diploma from the Career College in Calgary.  Lori is an active member of the Association of Administrative Professionals, Edmonton Chapter.  In the past, Lori participated in an international agricultural exchange program to New Zealand where she learned about agriculture practices down under on a dairy farm.  She lives north of Edmonton in an agricultural community and cares deeply about the future of farming in Alberta.

Vishal Bhagria

Vishal Bhagria,
Project Accountant

Vishal is a highly motivated professional who brings a passion for success and an attitude to deliver results. He is an excellent team player and helps keep morale up during times of uncertainty. Although the agriculture industry is new to Vishal, he comes from the construction industry where the working environment is also fast paced. Vishal is excited to gain knowledge in this industry. He is passionate about seeing goals being met. Vishal graduated from NAIT with a Bachelor of Administration and is excited to join RDAR and to see the organization thrive in this growing industry.