Meet Our Staff
Working with growers, businesses, government and media, USApple staff help elevate the image, practices and visibility of the apple industry.
Jim Bair, President & CEO
Jim is responsible for the overall management of USApple and execution of the association’s priorities. He ensures USApple programs, policies, personnel and finances are aligned with the strategic direction provided by the Board of Directors.
Jim has dedicated more than 35 years to the management of food and agriculture organizations, including time in the Reagan Administration as a White House political appointee in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Jim was raised on a northwest Iowa grain and livestock farm, which has been in the family since 1909. He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in agronomy – the science of plant genetics and physiology, soil and weather. He and his wife Kim have three children – Susie, an event planner at the University of Virginia; John, employed by the U.S. House of Representatives; and Sarah, who is in college. Jim enjoys home renovation, baseball, fly fishing and baking bread.
Diane Kurrle, Senior Vice President
Diane oversees USApple’s work with federal lawmakers and regulators in Washington, D.C. She is responsible for educating members of the House and Senate and federal agencies on the important issues facing the domestic apple industry, and how the decisions made on Capitol Hill will impact the growers, shippers and processors. Diane is active in a number of coalitions working on the industry’s priority issues. She also manages the USApple PAC, the Association’s political action committee.
Before joining USApple in 2004, Diane served as the director of international programs for the American Peanut Council. In this position, she directed and managed an award‐winning PR campaign to increase the consumption of U.S. peanuts in Canada. Diane previously served in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a political appointee during the Clinton Administration where she worked on food safety policy issues. Diane began her working for Senator
Patrick Leahy (D‐Vt.) as a legislative staff member for the Senate Agriculture Committee. Diane received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from the University of Vermont. Diane and her husband Jon have a 6 year‐old son, Jay. In her free time she enjoys running, spending time with friends and reading.
Jessa Allen, CAE, Director, Membership & Events
Jessa is responsible for USApple’s membership program and events. Her responsibilities include recruitment and retention of members, development of sponsors and allied supporters, marketing, maintaining member information, and management of USApple’s two annual conferences.
Jessa has diverse experience with professional and trade associations spanning the healthcare, human resource and affordable housing industries. Prior to joining USApple in March 2013, Jessa was director of member relations for the Health Industry Distributors Associations, the national trade association representing medical products distributors. She has also served as the director of membership and professional development at the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and director of meetings and membership at the National Affordable Housing Management Association.
Jessa received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and active member of the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE).
Tracy Grondine, Director, Communications
Tracy is responsible for raising consumer awareness and knowledge of apples’ many benefits via proactive media relations programs as well as integrated social/digital campaigns. Tracy also manages USApple’s health and nutrition research program, coordinating and releasing fresh, peer-reviewed studies on apples’ healthy attributes. In addition, Grondine oversees USApple’s crisis management program.
Tracy brings significant experience as a communications leader in agriculture, energy and pension reform sectors, including 11 years as the Director of Media Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation and its nearly six million members. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science & Government from the University of Charleston and a Master’s in Political Management from The George Washington University.
Mark Seetin, Director, Regulatory and Industry Affairs
Mark is responsible for work with federal regulatory agencies on apple production and marketing issues as well as management of USApple’s Industry Information program, including Market News and the annual Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference. Mark has experience as a Minnesota farmer, as head of the state’s department of agriculture, and a legislative aide on Capitol Hill in issues ranging from agriculture and natural resources policy to business and finance at the state and federal levels.
Mark came to Washington, D.C. in 1988 to serve as Legislative Assistant for former Senator Rudy Boschwitz (Minn.). His work background included monitoring and analyzing legislative initiatives and regulatory proposals and coordinating preparation of testimony for legislative and regulatory hearings. Before joining USApple in 2009, Mark worked as a consultant to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture focusing on renewable energy, and consulted for the U.S. Department of Energy on energy market structure and function. His energy experience comes from his work as vice president, government affairs, for the New York Mercantile Exchange, the world’s largest energy marketplace. He most recently served as senior vice president, government affairs, for the American Stock Exchange (AMEX).
Mark earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy and Plant Genetics, and a Master of Science degree in Plant Genetics from the University of Minnesota. Mark and his wife, Liz, live in Alexandria, Virginia, and have three grown children. Mark’s hobbies include photography, tending the apple trees in his back yard and enjoying his family.
Matthew Hendrickson, Manager, Association Services
Matt’s portfolio at USApple includes financial and office management; meeting logistics and program support, including Young Apple Leaders, Capitol Hill Day, Apples4Ed and the Market News Report; and congressional visit and political action committee coordination. Matt brings a wealth of experience in association and nonprofit management to USApple, including member development, program administration, business operations and board governance.
Prior to coming to USApple, Matt was at the association management consulting firm Interel Group US, where he served as a client-facing liaison between association members, volunteers and management services. As an association coordinator at Interel, he specialized in business operations, finance and project management to enhance member value. With a Bachelor of Science from Radford University, Matt has honed his passion for both the outdoors and nonprofit services into a flourishing career. He has held management positions in parks as well as at the iconic Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming and West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort.