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Secretary Karen Ross, CDFA      

Friday, April 26th - Session 1

KAREN ROSS was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 9, 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom. In re-appointing Secretary Ross, Governor Newsom cited her unmatched leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California; including environmental stewardship, climate change adaptation, and trade. Secretary Ross was initially appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2011.

Before joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009. Prior to that appointment, she served as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers from 1996-2009, and as Vice-President of the Agricultural Council of California from 1989-1996. Her prior experience before moving to California included staff work for a United States Senator, a presidential candidate, and government relations for rural electric cooperatives and public power districts.


Alex Sheen      

 Friday, April 26th - Second Session

Sparked by the loss of his father, Alex began sending promise cards to anyone who requested them at no cost. Since his father’s passing on September 4th, 2012, because I said I would has sent over 10.3 million Promise Cards to more than 150 countries. Alex’s commitment to the betterment of humanity has inspired millions and his promises have been shared virally around the world.

USDA Rural Delevelopment State Director      

Kim Dolbow Vann, RD - USDA Rural Development Director

Kim Dolbow Vann brings more than 20 years of experience and dedication to economic development and the improvement of rural life. As USDA Rural Development State Director, Vann oversees a $6.7 billion portfolio, more than 40 programs and 18 offices resulting in average annual investments of $1 billion into rural California. Previously, Vann spent eleven years as a Colusa County Supervisor representing the first district. During her tenure she served as the chair of Rural Counties Representatives of California, and led the charge on all federal and state issues that affect rural California counties. In addition, from 2016-2017 Vann served as the chair of Sites Reservoir Joint Powers Authority, leading the new public private partnership in creating an above-ground water storage facility in rural Colusa County.

Lupita Cortez Alcalá, Chief Deputy Superintendent; CDE      
 Friday, April 26 - Session 1

Lupita Cortez Alcalá is the Chief Deputy Superintendent of the California Department of Education (CDE). She has 20 years of experience in education, and is the first Latina to serve in this position. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission, and is a prominent voice in the statewide discussion on college affordability and financial aid reform.

 Cortez Alcalá served more than 12 years at the CDE, where she was Deputy Superintendent of the Teaching and Learning Support Branch, and former Director of Government Affairs Division and Charter Schools. During her tenure, she oversaw the creation of the English Learner Division, revamped the migrant education program, initiated the Seal of Biliteracy to recognize students fluent in two or more languages, and oversaw the development of the English language arts/English language development framework and standards, which aim to improve language development for English learners. She also oversaw the implementation of the $500 million California Career Pathways Trust grants and the Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards and Frameworks, and is credited with initiating CDE's first California Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Symposium.

In addition to having experience on a wide range of issues including early learning and care, high school career programs, career technical education, and higher education, she has worked closely with the State Board of Education and served as member and Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

Cortez Alcalá holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego, and a Master’s in Planning Administration and Social Policy from the Harvard University School of Education.


State Convention
Each April, 5,000+ FFA members and guests gather to engage in general sessions, educational leadership workshops, a career show and delegate sessions to accomplish the business of the CA FFA Association.

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