Spudman

May/June 2022

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during 2020-21," Raybould said. "In a short amount of time, Hollee led the effort to take a multi-day convention and turn it into a virtual event that delivered valuable information to growers and kept our industry partners engaged. She turned around in 2022 and pulled off a successful, in-person event, despite last-minute hiccups. "Hollee's service reflects so many of the things we value as potato growers. She continually looks for ways to do more for the industry, solve problems and lift up her colleagues. I remain incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to work with Hollee for so many years." Prior to the creation of Potato Expo, the NPC had separate meetings for various segments of the industry, such as chips and tablestock. Members complained of having to attend too many meetings, so the idea was formed to create sort of a one-stop shop for growers and other industry members to see more people and get more done with less travel. "The first year, we were hoping for 500 attendees," Alexander recalled. "We got 800. The second year we got 1,100. Then it was 1,300. Now, we're getting about 2,000 attendees a year." The first part of planning a show is deciding on a location and securing its availability — Expo occurs in early to mid-January to coincide with farmers' off season. The process for this starts years in advance. For example, Potato Expo 2023 will be held at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado, just outside Denver. That site was picked and booked as early as 2020. "We look at venues that are a good size, of course, but we want it to be when the potato industry gets there, it takes over. We want to be the big fish," Alexander said. "Coming up here in 2023, we'll basically be taking over the entire property. So, everybody that you see there, in the hallways, in the marketplace, in the restaurants — they'll all be related to the potato industry. I think that's where people get the biggest value in attending." Once the site is determined, Alexander and the NPC team start working on the trade show and Spudman • May/June 2022 9 Alexander works closely with NPC members to coordinate events and meetings that further the council's mission of representing the potato industry. Photos: NPC The Hollee Alexander File Job: Vice President of Industry Rela ons and Events for the Na onal Potato Council. Hometown: Alexander, nee Stubblebine, was born in the Netherlands into a military family. Her family se led in Virginia by the me she was in elementary school. Educa on: Bachelor's degree in poli cal science from Old Dominion University. Family: Husband, Andy, and daughters Rylee, 14, and Finley, 11. Hobbies: Biking and traveling with her family. Favorite way to eat potatoes: Baked with a li le oil, salt and pepper.

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