Nominate Industry Leaders for 2023 WCMA Recognition Awards

Posted By: Rebekah Sweeney WCMA News ,

Join Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association in honoring dairy processing industry leaders by submitting nominations for 2023 WCMA Recognition Awards. Your nominations are the foundation for these five awards. Visit to learn more and submit your ideas. Nomination time ends August 31.

“WCMA is proud to honor people who have built the dairy industry with inspirational careers,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director. “Your nominations make these awards possible, and your ideas for new recognition awards have made the April award ceremony an extraordinary event.”

Here are the awards that need your input:

The WCMA Cheese Industry Champion Award is given to industry leaders who, through their everyday business decisions, have created tremendous opportunity for others and spurred industry growth. Individuals to be considered are the CEOs, Directors, Presidents, and Vice Presidents of their companies who may not have cheesemaking obligations but lead and direct resources. In 2022, Jeff Giffin of Masters Gallery Foods and Bob and Richard Wagner of Weyauwega Food Products were recognized with this award.

The WCMA Distinguished Service Award recognizes supplier partner members who have played a significant role in building the success of the United States dairy industry, contributing innovations in dairy manufacturing. In 2022, WCMA presented this award to James Manning of EDCO Food Products and Art Zimmer of Caloris Engineering. 

Our newest honor, the WCMA Luminary Award, recognizes the contributions of leaders in dairy product sales and marketing; individuals who introduced new concepts, products, or innovative ideas to drive sales in the U.S. or around the world. The 2022 recipients of the Luminary Award were Van Salmans of Salmans & Associates and Cathy Strange of Whole Foods Market.

The WCMA Vanguard Award is reserved for cheesemakers or cheese manufacturing employees who are considered groundbreakers for their innovations in day-to-day dairy operations. In 2022, Steve Ottiger of Alpine Alpa/Guggisberg Cheese and Steve Yeager of Hilmar Cheese Company were presented with this award.

The WCMA Babcock Award recognizes the contributions of those in education or affiliate organizations to partner with cheesemakers in the pursuit of dairy industry innovation and excellence. In 2022, this award went to Dr. Mark Johnson of the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Paul Kindstedt of the University of Vermont.

All nominations will be considered by the members of the WCMA Recognition Committee in September with final awards determinations made by the WCMA Board of Directors in December. Awards will be presented at CheeseCon 2023, set for April 5-6 in Madison, Wisconsin.