OTA adds two policy experts

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has hired two experienced government affairs professionals to join its team.

Kelley Poole (above, left) is now OTA’s Vice President of Government Affairs. In addition, Megan DeBates (above, right) has been named Director of Legislative Affairs and Coalitions Both based at OTA’s Washington, D.C., office at the Hall of the States, they will help introduce organic food and farming to the new Administration and Congress.

Poole most recently served as Director of Government Relations for Verto Solutions LLC. She has provided oversight of federal legislative, public policy and regulatory activities in the U.S. and across the globe for food industry associations including The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States and The American Spice Trade Association. Previously, she served in the Bush Administration as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services and Director of Legislative and Public Affairs for Rural Development while assigned to USDA from 2003 to 2009. Earlier, she provided strategic planning and insight for communications and events for the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Trade & Development Agency, and the U.S. Department of Labor, and as a White House press advance representative to President George W. Bush, Mrs. Laura Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Poole previously served as Chief Cabinet Aide to the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and as Staff Director for the Florida Senate Majority Office.

Now serving as OTA’s liaison with the Administration, Congress and stakeholder groups, DeBates most recently was Senior Legislative Assistant to U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), who was an author of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 that established national organic standards. Graduating from the University of Oregon with a dual degree in international studies and environmental studies, she advised and helped develop legislative strategy for this senior member of Congress on key issue concerning agriculture, defense, trade, foreign affairs, small business, homeland security and natural resource policy. She also served as the lead staff for the House Organic Caucus. //