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Above and beyond Honoring the recipients of DFA's 2017 Be More Awards.

Dairy Farmers of America employees have a reputation for being dedicated. Each year, the Cooperative recognizes employees who go above and beyond with the Be More Awards. Employees throughout DFA have an opportunity to nominate co-workers for a Be More Award, which honors employees who excel in the Cooperative’s core values of integrity, accountability, passion, quality, innovation and community.

Scroll down to learn more about this year’s winners who were recently recognized in front of their peers at DFA’s Team Development Conference in San Francisco, Calif.

Kyle Wright has been a part of the DFA family for eight years. She currently manages the talent acquisition function of HR and serves as a business partner to the HR groups throughout the company. Beyond her daily job duties, Kyle took on the setup process of every single new HR hire in the past year — without anyone asking her — because she wanted to make those individual’s first days exciting and memorable.

“One of the biggest values Kyle demonstrates is passion. Kyle is a go-getter. She has so much passion for her job and it is transparent in everything she does.” – Krista Gartelos, Talent Acquisition Partner, Human Resources, Headquarters

Kara Wolff leads Mideast Area field representatives through all things related to DFA's Gold Standard Dairy Program, the FARM Program and animal care. Throughout her five years at DFA, Kara has learned the importance of understanding members’ needs and puts them first in everything she does.

“Kara’s attitude inspires her colleagues to work harder and be more invested in the members. She is friendly to everyone and always has a kind word to say about others.” – Bailey Venable, Senior Member Service Specialist, Mideast Area

Linda Wade is responsible for maintaining an accurate production schedule, ordering raw materials to support production and coordinating material release to the floor. She has worked at the Ventura facility since its opening in 1997 and holds herself and her staff accountable to get the job done regardless of the hours needed to do so.

“Linda is the heart and soul of the Ventura plant. Her tenacity for getting things right and her dedication to the company stands as a testament to her passion.” – Mike Goodfellow, Operations Manager, DFA Ventura, Calif., Plant

For more than nine years, Kay Vannatta has been a counted-on team member — stretching beyond her typical role and volunteering to help with whatever is needed. Kay is responsible for the Portales' HR and safety initiatives. Beyond her home facility, Kay assists with the Winnsboro, Texas, and Garden City, Kan., plants with their employee communication efforts.

“Kay is not your typical HR manager, in that she is first in line to volunteer in any area that needs help. She is very passionate about her work, this plant and DFA.” – Joey Martin, Plant Manager, DFA Portales, N.M., Plant

Rhonda Rose oversees the Southwest Area accounting department. She was nominated by nine of her colleagues, including her supervisor Thomas June, for her dedication to the job and to members. Rhonda comes in early and works late to ensure members are paid on time and is diligent that the Area delivers an accurate pool price to members.

“Rhonda is the kind of role model that makes you want to care about the pay price and how it affects our members, our customers and our organization as a whole.” – Elizabeth Gunsolus, Supervisor, Account Services II, Southwest Area

Throughout his 11 years of service, Kyle Punton has always been someone his team could count on. When ice cream didn’t arrive for DFA's Annual Meeting 2017 product display, Kyle cancelled his flight, packed his car with ice cream and dry ice, and drove overnight to deliver it in time. Kyle is responsible for Kemps’ branded Supervalu business and drives sales and insights.

“Kyle exhibits DFA’s values through his attitude and actions, which makes it easy for others to look to him as a role model and someone they can always count on.” – Peyson Shields, Communications Content Coordinator, Headquarters

Dwayne McMahan has been working in the dairy industry for 22 years and currently manages Dairy Maid Dairy's customer bases and drives sales growth in each account. When Dairy Maid experienced warehouse challenges that created customer complaints, Dwayne spent time beyond his day-to-day duties by going to customer locations to clean leaked product and worked in the warehouse to train second-shift employees on proper procedures.

“Dwayne’s dedication and willingness to roll up his sleeves and become part of the solution is infectious. His spirit has lifted the commitment levels of many employees around him.” – Chris Keyes, Vice President of Sales Strategy, Fluid Milk and Ice Cream Division

As a key member of the technical team at the DairiConcepts El Dorado Springs, Mo., Plant, Erick McGuirk embodies the notion of 'consider.' When working with Erick, it's apparent his skills and talent are not all God given. He has studied the processes and become knowledgeable, and that experience and knowledge are helping the El Dorado Plant accept more, achieve more and grow more.

“Erick has the respect of his peers and the management team. His focus is not about himself, rather it is on the people and how we, as a team, will create the improvements in this operation.” – Bill Pruyne, Plant Manager, DairiConcepts, El Dorado Springs, Mo.

Armando Martinez serves as the production supervisor and safety coordinator at the Goshen Plant. For 26 years, he has performed whatever has been thrown his way with a positive, can-do attitude. Last year, Armando volunteered to assume the safety coordinator role. He jumped into the role with the commitment of being able to make Goshen an accident-free facility, and he diligently watches for warning signs regarding employee and food safety.

“His strong work ethic and genuine concern for his employees is what makes the rest of us eager to do better with our own folks.” – John Brown, Plant Manager, DFA Goshen, Ind., Plant

Steve Jefferies serves as the manager of forecasting, scheduling and logistics for the Springfield, Mo., plant. Steve is a trusted manager who has been at the Springfield location for 22 years. He is known to go above and beyond to support not only his facility, but sister locations as well. His level-headed approach to issues and tense situations helps keep everyone’s emotions in check and allows him to operate with a high level of trust and respect from others.

“Mr. Jeffries balances our customer’s needs with our plant’s capabilities, thereby creating the best production plan to support both requirements.” – Jean DeGeere, Inventory Control Specialist, DFA Springfield, Mo., Plant

Ken Holmer is a vital part of the support services team and has been for more than 17 years. He handles IT support for all of DFA’s major meetings nationwide and is a counted-on team member to many throughout the Cooperative — from board members to employees. It’s not uncommon to see Ken working late nights or offering to assist anyone who needs it regardless of the time. Ken truly embodies what it means to be a Be More Award winner.

“Ken’s endless patience and persistence in solving IT issues in all circumstances is beyond compare. His passion and commitment is an inspiration to all who have worked with him.” – Carol Pearce, Executive Assistant, Headquarters

Lee has been dedicated to assisting members in reducing their potential for workers’ compensation claims for 11 years. He is known for his customer service, which is often times reported straight from members to his supervisor.

“Lee not only exemplifies DFA’s core values, but does so with a smile on his face and always develops the best relationships, both internally and externally.” – Sean Vallely, Manager of Loss Control, DFA Insurance

Rosanne Green has been a key member of the Legal department for more than seven years, serving as an executive assistant. Rosanne not only supports Senior Vice President and General Counsel Alex Bachelor and General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer Renee Cool, but serves as a role model to those within and outside the Legal department.

“Rosanne’s passion is one of her key strengths. Her dedication and willingness to pitch in and help others is felt by those that work with her.” – Alex Bachelor, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Headquarters

Steph Carver serves as the human resources and safety manager of the ingredients plant in Fort Morgan, Colo. Steph has only been with DFA for seven months, but immediately assessed the gaps and need for world-class safety and overall site culture. She challenges leadership to continuously improve and better the working environment for all employees.

“Steph has only been with DFA for seven months, but she immediately embraced our values and has had an amazing impact on the site culture.” – Vince Mooney, Plant Manager, DFA Fort Morgan, Colo., Plant

Congrats to the 2017 Be More Award winners!

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Anna Laurin
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