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IDFA Launches Career-Building Initiative for Dairy Industry Professionals

May 29, 2014
David Ahlem, COO of Hilmar Cheese Company, is an advisor to the NextGEN Dairy Network.

Peggy Armstrong

(202) 220-3508

(Washington, D.C. – May 29, 2014) Today the International Dairy Foods Association launched the NextGEN Dairy Network, an initiative focused on helping up-and-coming dairy industry professionals build their careers. Through online forums, networking and targeted training sessions, the NextGEN Dairy Network will provide professionals who have less than 15 years of dairy experience with access to the information, tools and expertise necessary to be successful in the industry.

"The NextGEN Dairy Network enables industry professionals at all levels to grow, collaborate, network, solve problems and develop the skills necessary to hold leadership positions in their companies, as well as in IDFA and its constituent organizations," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president and general counsel.

Backed by IDFA’s successful track record of providing dairy-specific educational programs and trainings, NextGEN Dairy Network will encourage members to:

  • Network with industry peers who are also building their careers;
  • Gain a better understanding of hot topics and emerging issues;
  • Participate in online career development forums, have specific access to articles and interviews with IDFA and dairy industry leaders;
  • Learn how industry peers solve challenges and advance their careers;
  • Receive special invitations to and discounts for IDFA trainings and events that will help develop the skills and knowledge necessary for career-building;
  • Participate in a range of special activities that will help participants build the skills necessary to prepare for leadership opportunities in their respective organizations; and
  • Connect in person at meetings sponsored by IDFA throughout the year.

"Dairy is a unique and exciting industry. There’s a certain camaraderie that you do not find in other industries," said David Ahlem, chief operating officer of Hilmar Cheese Company. "NextGEN Dairy takes advantage of this camaraderie to help grow our next generation of plant managers, marketing executives, R&D professionals and other individuals who continue to make our industry great."

Ahlem is a board member of the National Cheese Institute and serves as an advisor to the NextGEN Dairy Network.

The network is open to all employees of IDFA member companies and business partners who have less than 15 years of experience in the dairy industry.

There is no cost to join. Simply log on to and complete a brief registration form.

To learn more about this IDFA member benefit, contact Robin Cornelison, IDFA trade show director, at She is leading the association’s efforts on the NextGEN Dairy Network. View the NextGEN FAQs for more details.

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies within a $125-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's nearly 200 dairy processing members run nearly 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.

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