AURORA, COLO. – Former American Dairy Association North East (ADANE) chief executive officer Rick Naczi received the 2022 Richard E. Lyng Award during this year’s annual joint meeting of the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB), National Milk Producers Federation and United Dairy Industry Association.
Naczi earned the award, which is named for former US Department of Agriculture Secretary Lyng, for his significant contributions and service to promoting dairy.
During his career, Naczi played a key role in combining three Northeast regional dairy promotion organizations into ADANE, a move which the dairy industry credits with consolidating farmers’ checkoff investments and improving efficiencies in the region.
He first joined American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, Inc. (ADADC) as vice president of operations in 1990, before becoming the organization’s CEO. Additionally, Naczi took on senior management roles at Dairy Management Inc. (DMI). Leaders at the checkoff shared that he played a pivotal role in helping the checkoff partner with national organizations and companies, such as McDonald’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell and the NFL.
His decades of work within the industry began as a dairy promotion intern in 1980, at Milk Promotion Services Inc. Naczi would join the organization in a professional role in 1981, after graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in animal science.
“No matter what role Rick held, he was adamant about making sure that everything he did was in the dairy farmers’ best interests, and he built many personal connections with us along the way,” said Alex Peterson, NDB chair and dairy farmer from Missouri. “He was part of a lot of changes in dairy promotion for 40 years and it wasn’t always easy, but with a smile on his face and a positive attitude, the results greatly benefited our checkoff investment.”
NDB also will contribute $2,500 in Naczi’s name to the Dawn Houppert Memorial Scholarship, given to a college student who is a current or former New York dairy ambassador.