Case Writers for the 2017 Seminar

Denise Cahill Photo_2016.jpgDenise Cahill is a Senior Vice President and Director of the Food and Agribusiness Industry Advisors Group – part of the Middle Market Banking Group. Based in Visalia, CA, she leads a national team of industry specialists who partner with the bankers that lend to Food and Agribusiness companies. Denise is responsible for collaborating with the lending offices, loan supervision, and ag collateral evaluation and monitoring groups to support Wells Fargo as the nation’s largest ag lending bank, playing a role in marketing efforts and credit risk assessment and management. Prior to joining Wells Fargo Commercial Banking as a Relationship Manager in August 2001, Denise was at Bank of America for sixteen years, also in Commercial Banking. 

Denise has a Bachelor of Dairy Science degree from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, and a Juris Doctorate from San Joaquin College of Law. She is a member of the California Bar Association. 

ejnar_knudsen.jpg__300x400_q85_crop_subject_location-350,368_subsampling-2_upscale.jpgEjnar Knudsen is AGR’s founder and CEO, and oversees the investment strategy. AGR Partners is a growth investor who has invested over $230 million of equity and subordinated debt in the last four years in food processors, manufacturers, and agribusinesses. From 2009 to 2012, Ejnar was portfolio manager of Passport Capital’s Agriculture Fund. Prior to Passport Capital, Ejnar served as EVP of Western Milling, a grain and feed milling company that grew from a small California startup to over $1 billion in sales. Ejnar also spent 10 years with Rabobank, in its New York office, managing a loan portfolio and venture capital investments as well as providing corporate advisory services. Ejnar is chair of the Dairy Club and a director of Opal Foods, Icicle Seafoods, Ridley (RIC.ASX), Green Plains (GPRE), and Materra Farming. Ejnar is on the board of the California Ag Leadership Foundation and on the steering committee of the Farm Foundation. Ejnar received his Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and is a CFA charter holder. Ejnar lives in Davis, CA with his wife and their four children.

Chet McCorkle.jpgChester (Chet) McCorkle earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from UC Berkeley. His graduate degrees are in agricultural economics. His UC Davis career spanned 43 years. In 1969, he was appointed the third dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He also served as the campus’s academic vice chancellor and systemwide as executive vice president for the University of California. He has advised state, federal, and foreign governments, as well as private corporations and educational institutions. McCorkle focused on agricultural business organization and management and on the economics of food and fiber production. He authored three books and more than 100 scientific and technical articles. Since retirement, McCorkle has been a consultant to several university administrators. Chet is co-founder, case writer, and instructor for the California Agribusiness Executive Seminar.

Ken McCorkle

Ken McCorkle is retired Executive Vice President in charge of the Agricultural Industries Group for Wells Fargo Bank, the nation’s largest agricultural lender among commercial banks. A graduate of the UC Davis, with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Food Science and Technology. Ken received his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1976, where he subsequently worked under Professor Ray Goldberg, Moffet Professor of Agriculture and Business. Ken is also a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program. In addition, Ken is co-founder, case writer, and long-time instructor for the California Agribusiness Executive Seminar and the Purdue Food and Agribusiness Executive Seminar. Ken, now a resident of Aiken, SC, currently sits on the Boards of Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee, Washington, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity in Kansas City, Missouri, and Kapalua Golf Villas in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii. 

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Edward McLaughlin is the Interim David J. Nolan Dean at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University where he serves as the Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing and Director of the Food Industry Management Program. He received his PhD at Michigan State University. Before his academic appointment, he had extensive international experience, having spent four years in Africa with the U.S. State Department, the United Nations and the World Bank. His research interests include retailing strategies, linking customer satisfaction to firm performance, the economics of retailing and produce marketing. His research appears routinely in academic journals including Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Journal of Retailing and he is the author or co-author of three books. He has won several national awards for his research and teaching and recently was designated a Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow, Cornell University’s most prestigious award for distinguished teaching. Dr. McLaughlin’s work spans the globe: he teaches retailing at Nyenrode, The Netherlands School of Business, at IESEG, Graduate Management School in Lille, France, is Director of the Ahold Retail Academy in The Netherlands and Dean of the Cornell-Japan Retail Management Program of Japan. Professor McLaughlin serves on the board of directors of several food companies.

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Julie I. Morris is an experienced technology executive with over 25 years in leadership roles ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. She is currently Director of Technology Innovation at the World Food Center at the University of Californa, Davis. Prior to joining UC Davis, she was with Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), an ag biotech company based in Davis, California. She was CFO of MBI from its founding in 2006 until 2011, when she assumed the role of VP Corporate Development and led the company’s growing business development activities. During her tenure she raised $70M in capital and was an integral part of the team that completed the Marrone Bio Innovations NASDAQ IPO in August 2013.

Prior to MBI, she spent 11 years as a corporate development executive at Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Agilent Technologies. Prior to HP, Julie worked with Booz, Allen & Hamilton and also spent time as an investment banker in Madrid, Spain. Ms. Morris holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with an emphasis on bioelectronics.


Mary L. Shelman is an internationally recognized thought leader and strategic pathfinder in the global food and agribusiness sector, working with companies, governments, and industry organizations to diagnose and respond to the forces of change shaping the future of the industry. 

Mary is the former Director of the Agribusiness Program at Harvard Business School, which includes the renowned Harvard Agribusiness Seminar, an annual program attended by 200 executives of global food firms. Mary’s work has been published in Harvard Business Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, and Market Leader.

Prior to joining Harvard, Mary was Chairman of the Board and led special projects for RiceTec, now the leading U.S. rice seed company. She has also served on many corporate and association boards including Cooksimple, Fractal Antenna Systems, Stiftung Furst Lichtenstein, and the US Rice Millers Association. She is also a past president of the International Food and Management Association. As a consultant to the Irish government, she co-authored the Pathways for Growth report, which led to the creation of the world’s first country brand based on sustainability and has recently completed a plan to maximize the value of the Irish seafood sector.

Mary is a native of Kentucky where she still owns a farm. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering with High Distinction from the University of Kentucky and an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School.

Rhonda_Head_Shot.jpgRhonda Staelgraeve-Secor is the president of RLS Private Wealth Consulting, Inc., an independent financial planning and wealth management consulting firm in San Juan Bautista, CA. A 20-year veteran of the financial services industry, Rhonda’s expertise is in creating and implementing comprehensive wealth plans for successful business owners and their families. She specializes in working with multi-generational agriculture families. Rhonda is an integral trusted advisor for her clients, and uniquely coordinates and manages advisory relationships with her clients’ attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, asset managers, and other advisors to ensure a cohesive approach to her clients’ wealth plans. 

Prior to starting her own firm, Rhonda worked as a Private Client Advisor with Wells Fargo Private Bank in Visalia, CA, where she was responsible for providing comprehensive wealth management, financial planning, and private banking services. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Rhonda worked for Key Private Bank in Ann Arbor, MI as a Private Banker.

Rhonda is a Certified Financial Planner Professional and holds the Master Planner of Advanced Studies designation. She has a Master of Science degree in Personal Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning, Centennial, CO, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from California State University, Fresno.