At the 39th Annual American Cheese Society Conference in Portland, OR, Mike Koch (FireFly’s co-founder and CEO) was named as the new ACS President. He had previously served on the board as Treasurer and Vice-President. Besides years of involvement in ACS, Mike brings with him a long history of experience in the nonprofit world, including as Executive Director of FRESHFARM Markets, the D.C. area farmer’s market organization; Executive Director of Community Planning and Development in Garrett County, MD; and nine years on the board of the Muscarelle Art Museum in Williamsburg, VA.
As the ACS and American artisan cheesemakers come out of COVID with a renewed energy, Mike is excited for what lies ahead this coming year. “First off, this is our 40th anniversary,” he explains, adding that the 2023 conference to be held in Des Moines, IA, should have a record showing. “And by the way, in case you didn’t know, Des Moines is the number one milk-drinking city of its size in the U.S.” But there’s a lot more than just the conference to plan for. Mike wants to further the conversation on sustainability among American Cheesemakers, something that has been a priority of his all along with FireFly, but which he’ll now have a broader platform to engage people with.
“The three core values of our society are sustainability, engagement, and education,” says Mike, pointing to the 2020 ACS strategic plan. “In some ways, the last two are in service of the first.” Education and engagement will lead to change and action that can help the cheesemaking community thrive long-term.
In short, Mike has his work cut out for him, from planning for American Cheese Month to gathering data on members and overseeing education programs. But he sees it as rewarding. “Our cheesemaking community has given me so much throughout the years,” he says. “I’m just happy I have a chance to give something back.”