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 spent more than 30 years in the management of agriculture and food organizations prior to joining USApple in 2014. Most recently Jim was vice president of the North American Millers’ Association. He has been a White House appointee in the US Department of Agriculture, and a manager at the Kansas Wheat Commission and Grain Elevator and Processing Society.
Jim was raised on a northwest Iowa grain and livestock farm, which is still in the family. He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in agronomy – the science of plant/soil/climate interactions. He and his wife Kim have three children – Susie, a recent college graduate, and John and Sarah who are both 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 and Communications
Jessa is responsible for USApple’s membership and industry communications programs. Her responsibilities include recruitment and retention of members, development of sponsors and allied supporters, marketing, maintaining member information, website, industry communications, and management of USApple’s two annual meetings.
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) where she serves on ASAE’s Membership Development Committee. Jessa and her husband Mike live in Fort Washington, Md. with their Labrador Retrievers, Buddy and Holly. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, gardening, listening to live music and working out.
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.
Niza Strike, Office Manager
Niza is responsible for all administrative functions at USApple and provides organizational support to ensure a fully functioning office. In addition to her role as receptionist, Niza manages relationships with vendors and service providers and is tasked with both accounting and banking duties. She is well versed in all contractual obligations related to the management of the office and its staff. She provides assistance to all staff members with respect to special projects, events and office operations and ensures they have the tools necessary to perform in their respective departments. Niza updates USApple’s various plans, procedures and manuals on an as-needed basis.
Prior to joining USApple in 2014, Niza stayed home with her children for 14 years. Preceding that, she was a senior contract administrator for a large government contractor, dealing with domestic and international contracts in both government and commercial arenas.
Niza holds a BA in religious studies from the University of Virginia.
Korenna Wilson, Director of Consumer Health and Media Relations
Wilson is responsible for raising consumer awareness and knowledge of apples’ many benefits via proactive media relations programs as well as integrated social/digital campaigns. Wilson also manages USApple’s health and nutrition research program, coordinating and releasing fresh, peer-reviewed studies on apples’ healthy attributes. In addition, Wilson oversees USApple’s crisis management program.
Wilson brings significant experience in promoting food, health, defense, economic development and science industries through both traditional media and social media channels. She also has particular expertise in high-profile crisis management initiatives.
Previously Wilson has worked at multiple strategic communications and public relations firms, as well as serving as Press Secretary for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She holds a degree in Business Administration from the University of Arizona.