making a difference for dairy

NCI Laureate

Honoring Leaders for Significant Contributions to Cheese Industry


The NCI Laureate Award is given to leaders in the cheese industry or academia who have made significant, prolonged contributions to the development and growth of the industry. A panel of industry professionals chooses a winner each year based on the person's long-term contributions to the industry.

Call for Nominations

The call for nominations is now closed. The 2017 winner will be announced and honored at Dairy Forum 2017, Jan. 29-Feb. 1, at the J.W. Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla.  

2016 Winner

The winner of the 2016 NCI Laureate Award is Gary Vanic, past president and CEO of Great Lakes Cheese Co., Inc., in Hiram, Ohio. The award was presented to Vanic during a special ceremony at IDFA's Dairy Forum 2016 in Phoenix. Read more.

View a brief video about Gary Vanic here.

Past winners of the NCI Laureate Award:

  • Fritz Leeman
  • Robert G. Bush
  • Larry Jensen
  • Lou Gentine
  • Emanuele (Lino) Saputo
  • Mark Johnson
  • Jerome Schuman
  • Larry Ferguson
  • John Jeter
  • Mark Davis
  • Wes Allen
  • Elmer Marth
  • Max Gonzenbach
  • Rudy Nef
  • Betsy Holden
  • Don Menzner
  • Don Storhoff
  • Lester Kielsmeier
  • Hans Epprecht
  • Norm Olson
  • Dave Nusbaum
  • John Nelson
  • Harold Steinke
  • Raymond Goldbach
  • Leonard Gentine Sr.
  • Jack Budahn
  • Vince Zehren