May/June 2022

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COVER STORY Hollee Alexander is 2022 Spudwoman of the Year Alexander has grown Potato Expo, navigated it through pandemic W hen the National Potato Council (NPC) opted to move its headquarters to Washington, D.C. in 2001, its first move was to hire John Keeling as chief executive officer. The first person Keeling hired to fill out the NPC staff was Hollee Alexander. It proved to be a sage personnel move. Feb. 17, 2022 marked Alexander's 20th anniversary with the council, making her the senior member of the five-person staff in terms of longevity. Her role has grown and evolved over time, first as a coordinator of meetings, grower relations and communications and now as the vice president of industry relations and events. Then, in 2007, the NPC launched Potato Expo — a collection of education seminars, networking events and a trade show. It has grown to become the biggest event of the year for the U.S. potato industry, and it serves as a major revenue source for the NPC, which the industry relies on for advocacy and leadership. Alexander, whose current title is vice president of industry relations and events, has been the biggest driving force behind planning and execution for the Expo since the start. Planning a single Expo takes years from start to finish, meaning Alexander is juggling multiple Expos at any given time, in addition to all of her other grower outreach and event planning work. She's also heavily involved in planning non-Potato Expo meetings and coordinating the Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) over the years. Since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Alexander was key in navigating the uncertainty of the 2021 and 2022 events. The 2021 Expo was turned into a virtual event, while the 2022 show returned to in-person, but with numerous logistical obstacles due to ongoing pandemic restrictions. For all her work with Potato Expo and the National Potato Council over the past two decades, Hollee Alexander has been named the 2022 Spudwoman of the Year, which is proudly sponsored by Lockwood Manufacturing and UPL OpenAg. "Her creativity has been on display over the entirety of the life of the Potato Expo, but none more than the past two years," said NPC CEO Kam Quarles. Britt Raybould of Raybould Brothers Farms in Idaho served several years on the NPC's executive committee, including as its president in 2020. Raybould was also chair of the Potato Expo planning committee, and a former Spudwoman of the Year winner herself. "I had a front-row seat to watch how Hollee handled the challenges we faced By Zeke Jennings EDITORIAL DIRECTOR 8 Spudman.com Hollee Alexander celebrated her 20th anniversary with the National Potato Council earlier this year. She has been instrumental in growing and evolving the U.S. potato industry's biggest event: Potato Expo. Photo: National Potato Council

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