WLSB appoints Director: Stevenson to head state agencyWritten by Christy Martinez
Cheyenne – On Aug. 4 the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) hosted a conference call, during which the board members who have overseen the selection of a new WLSB Director voted to select Leanne Stevenson to fill the position.
Stevenson, formerly of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s (WDA) Natural Resources and Policy Division, expects to start with the WLSB sometimes during the week of Aug. 8-12, in time to participate in the WLSB’s listening session in Douglas and board meeting in Casper on Aug. 17 and 18, respectively.
“I’m honored and very pleased in being chosen to be the next Livestock Board Director, and I am excited about serving the livestock industry and producers,” says Stevenson of the news of her appointment.
“This process has gone on for some time to get to where we are today,” said WLSB President Eric Barlow during the conference call. “The process started in February with the acceptance of the resignation of former Director Jim Schwartz, after which seven essential duties were identified and adopted to formulate a vacancy announcement.”
After the position was announced, 63 applications were received, and Barlow said the pool of applicants all had desirable personal and professional qualities.
“Nobody can say we didn’t have a broad group with deep qualifications to examine,” he stated.
Five WLSB members and five WLSB staff members used selection criteria to rank the candidates in four scoring mechanisms, and seven interviews and several other follow-up references were completed.
Ultimately, the board voted four to one on their conference call to accept Stevenson’s application for Director.
Stevenson says her past experience in WDA has been an asset in preparing her in the areas of personnel management, budgets, state agency structures and the overall background of policy, with its fluctuations and challenging environment.
As she moves into her new position, Stevenson says she’ll work with the board to take a look at the agency’s new strategic plan, which was announced and given tentative approval at the last board meeting July 12.
In addition to analyzing the strategic plan, Stevenson says the WLSB’s budget, which has already been prepared by agency staff, is due by the end of the month.
Looking at the bigger picture, Stevenson says she’d like to take computerization of the WLSB’s brand program through to completion.
“They’re in that process now, and that’s one of the things I’d definitely like to see completed, and that’s one of my focus areas,” she says, adding that her background in computers will be an asset to the process. “I taught computers, worked as a computer programmer and did community things for Eastern Wyoming College for eight years. My roots are in agriculture, but I taught computer science, so I have a good understanding of how to bridge the gap between laymen’s and technical terms, which will help in working with producers and brand inspectors.”
Stevenson says the agency is currently working to get computer software and hardware to be compatible, and she says she can help fill the space between the technical terms and the realism of on-the-ground work.
“I had a livestock hauling business, where I worked closely with brand inspectors, and that knowledge will also be an asset when combined with my computer education,” she says.
Stevenson was raised in the Torrington area – she grew up on a ranch north of town raising registered Herefords in a cow/calf operation. She went to high school and then Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington before obtaining her bachelor’s degree in animal science from Colorado State University. She has a son and daughter-in-law and their grandsons on a farm and ranch operation near Torrington.
“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity, where my roots are in ranching, and the people in Wyoming’s ag industry who take on its daily challenges are the salt of the earth,” she says, adding that she encourages members of the industry to share their concerns and provide input into the direction of the WLSB. “Don’t hesitate to give a call and visit the office.”