Restaurant, retail and ag industry leaders to talk consumer engagement at Alliance Summit

Representatives from Ingles Markets, Culvers and AgChat will take the stage

March 17, 2016 – Engaging food chain influencers and promoting consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture is a core part of the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s mission. Attendees at the Alliance’s 2016 Stakeholders Summit will receive advice, insights and recommendations from industry leaders during a panel discussion titled “Cultivating Conversations: Approaches to Consumer Engagement.” The Summit will be held May 5-6, 2016 in Arlington, Va.

The panel discussion will focus on different approaches to connecting with consumers and opening a dialog about food and agriculture. Each panelist brings a unique perspective to the stage. The panel will feature:

  • Phil Keiser, President & CEO of Culver’s. Keiser has been with Culver’s since 1996 and assumed the role of CEO in June 2015. Keiser will share with the audience about Culver’s cause marketing campaign which recognizes the role agriculture has played in the organization’s success and how it provides financial support to young people who wish to pursue a career in agriculture.
  • Leah McGrath, RD, LDN, Corporate Dietitian with Ingles Markets. McGrath has been a Registered Dietician with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 1996. In the past few years she has become well known for her work in social media and is currently the most followed supermarket dietitian (@InglesDietitian) in the U.S on Twitter.  She coordinates both the Facebook and Twitter accounts for Ingles Markets and has developed innovative strategies to connect brands and products to consumers and inform customers about health and nutrition.
  • Jenny Schweigert, Executive Director of the AgChat Foundation. As the executive director, Schweigert focuses on advancing the AgChat Foundation’s mission to empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms. In addition to her social media work with AgChat, Schweigert has also taken the lead in planning in-person consumer engagement events, including the inaugural Illinois Harvest Dinner in September 2015.

“Engaging with consumers about modern animal agriculture is essential to fostering mutual understanding and positive relationships,” said Kay Johnson Smith, president and CEO of the Alliance. “It’s a huge part of what we do at the Alliance, so we’re thrilled to be offering this panel at Summit. Hearing three unique success stories will encourage our attendees to take their own efforts to new heights, and having the opportunity to pose questions to our expert panelists will ensure they walk away with ideas of how to do just that.”

The Stakeholders Summit is a one-of-a-kind conference attended by a diverse group of decision makers, including representatives from farms, ranches, food processors, restaurants, grocery stores, legislatures, universities and government agencies. This year’s Summit will focus on securing a bright future for animal agriculture by finding solutions to the challenges facing the industry today. Attendees will hear from thought-provoking speakers, participate in engaging discussions and leave with actionable ideas that they can immediately implement on their operations or in their businesses.

Be sure to check the Alliance website for the most up-to-date Summit information. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA16 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.


Early registration (available through April 1, 2016) for the one-and-a-half day event is $375 for Alliance members, $425 for non-members and $325 for those in government or academia. Members of the media receive complimentary registration and should contact Hannah Thompson at for instructions on how to register. Registration materials and full event schedule (as of March 1, 2016) can be found at

This year’s Summit will be held at the Westin Arlington Gateway in Arlington, Va. Rooms are available at a special group rate by visiting the hotel’s website or calling 1-888-627-7076.

Refer a Friend:

Help us spread the word about Summit! If you refer a friend to attend the 2016 Stakeholders Summit who has never attended a pervious Stakeholders Summit and they list your name as their recommender when they register for the event, you’ll both be entered in a drawing to win a $100 gift card! Each referral will count as one entry and there is no limit on the number of entries for referrers. We will give away two $100 gift cards at the 2016 Stakeholders Summit – one drawing for referrers and one drawing for those who were referred. All registrations with a referral listed made until online registration closes on May 4 will be entered. Must be present at the 2016 Stakeholders Summit to claim your gift card.

Get involved:

Show your support for the Alliance’s outreach efforts by becoming an official Summit sponsor today! For a complete listing of Summit sponsors or to watch video recordings from the 2015 Summit please visit For more information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Allyson Jones-Brimmer at

Current 2016 sponsors include: U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, Meatingplace, Farm Journal Media, Watt Global Media, Farm Credit, American Feed Industry Association, National Pork Board, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, Alltech, Zoetis, Diamond V, Charleston|Orwig, National Pork Producers Council, Merck Animal Health, Smithfield, Provimi, Bayer Animal Health, PotashCorp, Seaboard Foods, Iowa Soybean Association, Aviagen, Cattle Empire, United Soybean Board, Council for Biotechnology Information/GMO Answers, The National Turkey Federation’s 20 by 2020 Project, United Egg Producers, Kemin Industries, American Veal Association, Cobb-Vantress, GNP Company, Agri Beef Co., National Chicken Council, North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, Dairy MAX and the Food Industry Environmental Network.

In addition to sponsoring the Summit, companies, associations and individuals can support the Alliance’s outreach and engagement efforts by donating to the Silent Auction. Proceeds from the 2016 Silent Auction at the Summit will support the Alliance’s College Aggies Online (CAO) program. CAO helps train the next generation of leaders in agriculture by challenging students to go out of their comfort zone to engage online and on campus about current and emerging issues facing agriculture. Previous auction donations have included goods and services such as artwork, quilts, jewelry, craft items, model farm equipment, celebrity autographed items, gift baskets, gift certificates, food items, wine and sporting or entertainment event tickets. To support CAO through the Silent Auction, contact Allyson Jones-Brimmer at

About the Alliance:

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. We engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation.
Find the Alliance on Facebook and Twitter.

Category: Press Releases

Tag: Consumer Engagement, Restaurant/Retail, Stakeholders Summit,