RFA completes leadership transition, elects new chairman

By Erin Voegele | October 04, 2018

Geoff Cooper has formally taken over as president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, with Bob Dinneen transitioning to the role of senior strategic advisor. The RFA has also elected Pacific Ethanol CEO Neil Koehler as chairman of the board.

The RFS completed the final steps of its leadership succession plan, announced in July, at its’ annual membership meeting in Kansas City. The board election also took place at the Kansas City event.

“I am grateful to the RFA board of directors for this exciting opportunity, and I consider it an extraordinary privilege to serve such a dynamic and innovative industry in this capacity,” Cooper said. “I look forward to working with our diverse membership, the entire ethanol industry, and other key stakeholders to expand and create opportunities for American-made renewable fuels.”

Commenting on the restructuring announcements, Dinneen said, “As I contemplated transitioning to a new role in the Association, my overriding objective was to make sure the RFA would continue to evolve into an even better organization. I care deeply about the ethanol industry and the RFA, and I am proud of what we have built over the past 30 years. But with Geoff at the helm, a man for whom I have the highest personal and professional respect, and with the other changes being announced today, it is clear to me that my objective will be realized.”

Cooper joined the RFA in 2008 as the organization’s director of research and analysis. He also previously worked on ethanol issues for the National Corn Growers Association and served as a captain in the U.S. Army, where he specialized in bulk petroleum product logistics. In recent years, Cooper has led the RFA’s regulatory activities, oversaw the group’s research and technical initiatives, supported public and media relations efforts, assisted with legislative initiatives and managed the Renewable Fuels Foundation.

As part of the restructuring, Jessica Bennett has been promoted to vice president of government and external affairs. She joined the RFA in January 2018. Connor Hamburg will join the RFA in October as the new director of government affairs. He has worked for several members of congress, and most recently served as manager of public policy and regulatory affairs for the National Corn Growers Association. In addition, Jackie Pohlman has been hired as the RFA’s new member of member relations. She previously led client relations at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University.

The RFA has also made several changes to its board of directors. Koehler was elected chairman of the RFA board at the annual membership meeting in Kansas City. He has more than 30 years of experience in ethanol production, sales and marketing. Koehler has served on the RFA board of directors since 1992. He succeeds Mick Henderson, general manager of Commonwealth Agri-Energy LLC, as RFA chairman.

RFA members also elected Jeanne McCaherty of Guardian Energy LLC to serve as vice chair of the board, while Charles Wilson of Trenton AgriProducts LLC will serve as board treasurer.  

“I am honored that my peers have elected me as the new RFA board chairman, and I am proud to be serving such an exceptional organization in this role,” said Koehler. “As board chairman, I look forward to providing leadership in our industry at this pivotal point of growing the demand for high octane, low carbon ethanol through higher blends in the United States, and new export markets. I also wish to congratulate Geoff Cooper and Bob Dinneen on their new roles at the RFA and look forward to continuing to work with both of them to fulfill the association’s mission and objectives.”

The RFA has also announced the addition of four new members, including Ringneck Energy, Wisconsin Agri-Business Association, Nebraska Ethanol Board, and Advanced Fuel Dynamics.