ARLINGTON, VA – Krysta Harden, the first woman to lead the U.S. Dairy Export Council and a former U.S. Agriculture Department deputy secretary, has been elected board chair by the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees.
Harden will focus on extending opportunity to all American youth by leading National 4-H Council’s ambitious three-year strategic plan, advancing 4-H’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and deepening the board’s collaborative work with Cooperative Extension and USDA to grow 4-H programs.
4‑H is America’s largest youth development organization—empowering nearly six million young people with the skills to lead for a lifetime. 4-H programs use hands-on learning to teach youth about a variety of topic areas including STEM, civic engagement, healthy living, agriculture, and more.
National 4‑H Council, the nonprofit partner to USDA and Cooperative Extension, is committed to providing leadership and resources so that 4‑H programs are available to all youth across the U.S. National 4-H Council supports national and state 4‑H programs with a focus on fundraising, telling the 4-H story, and convening the 4-H system.
“We are honored to welcome Krysta Harden as National 4-H Council’s new board chair. A trailblazer in the public and private sectors, her leadership will be invaluable as we further our goals to expand opportunities for all of America’s youth through increased investment and participation in high-quality 4‑H programs,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president & CEO, National 4‑H Council.
Throughout her career in agriculture, Harden has focused on expanding opportunities for women, young people, immigrants, socially disadvantaged producers, returning veterans and retirees, among others.
Harden learned about 4-H while growing up on a Georgia peanut farm.
“4-H opened up many doors for me,” said Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, a nonprofit that accelerates dairy exports for its members. “Through my involvement in various 4-H competitions and camps, I was exposed to new experiences – and many life lessons that I have carried with me.”
“When I think of the most positive influences on my life, I begin with my parents, who were 4-H’ers themselves and encouraged and supported participation in 4-H for my sister and me.”
Harden, who has served on the National 4-H Council’s Board of Trustees for four years, added, “I see the positive impact 4-H has on our youth and I’m excited to help 4-H develop the next generation of diversely talented leaders in agriculture.”
Harden became president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council in 2021, leveraging her experience with agriculture, sustainability, food policy, and the federal government to help fulfill USDEC’s mission to promote U.S. dairy exports while enriching the well-being of people, communities, and the planet.
Before that, Harden served dual roles as USDEC’s chief operating officer and executive vice-president of global environmental strategy for Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program.
Prior to joining DMI, Harden served as chief sustainability officer with Corteva and DuPont. Harden also spent seven years working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She served as assistant secretary for congressional relations, chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and deputy secretary.
Harden spent 12 years on Capitol Hill as staff director for the House subcommittee on peanuts and tobacco and as chief of staff and press secretary for former Congressman Charles Hatcher.
The U.S. Dairy Export Council is a non-profit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. Its mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and assist the U.S. industry to increase its global dairy ingredient sales and exports of U.S. dairy products. USDEC accomplishes this through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers and advance industry trade policy goals. USDEC is supported by staff across the United States and overseas in Mexico, South America, Asia, Middle East and Europe. The U.S. Dairy Export Council prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, disability, national origin, race, color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, marital status, military status, and arrest or conviction record. www.usdec.org.