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Dairy Girl Network honors four Forward Under 40 recipients


Dairy Girl Network honored four dairywomen with leadership achievement awards at the recent DGN Forward TogetHER biennial national conference in Prior Lake, Minnesota. The DGN Forward Under 40 award is presented biennially at the Forward TogetHER Conference to dairywomen recognized for working to better the dairy industry.

For 2022 only, women aged 44 and under were eligible for the DGN Forward Under 40 (+4) award due to the awards not being held in 2020. 

Image courtesy of Dairy Girl Network

The four dairywomen recognized at the DGN Forward Under 40 were:

Julie Abrahamzon, Kansas City, Missouri

Abrahamzon has experience in leading high-performing teams, business development, strategy, and financial management. She has a deep passion for delivering value to dairy customers and developing her teammates. Starting as an “only” in her early days as a management associate, she has risen to be an outstanding leader and enacted positive change for the Cargill organization. Early in her career, she became one of the first, and youngest, female sales leaders within the Cargill Animal Nutrition business. 

Amanda Freund, East Canaan, Connecticut

Freund was raised on a multi-generational dairy farm, embracing responsibilities and privileges from childhood through adulthood. She served in the Peace Corps in Zambia. Freund is involved with her family’s farm market, nursery, and catering operation, in addition to being a principal employee of CowPots. She is active with her Cooperative’s Young Cooperators organization, served with Connecticut Farm Bureau, Connecticut Dairy Board, and hosts her podcast that focuses on connecting people to their food. She opens her farm and business to the public to encourage and improve consumer and neighbor perceptions and knowledge. Freund has been featured by Forbes, and has engaged policymakers at every level, from hosting the Undersecretary of the USDA to local and congressional officials. She lends her voice and talents as a speaker and panelist often, including at the DGN Forward TogetHER Conference.

Leaine Souza, Tulare, California

Souza is making a difference in her local, state and national community. Her husband’s family has a dairy farm in which she is active along with her husband and children, giving back to their local community and involvement in 4-H. She continually advocates for dairy producers to ensure their voice and specific issues and concerns are being heard. Souza also serves on the board of DairyCares and the California Ag Council. She has volunteered to assist DGN in organizing events at the World Ag Expo for dairywomen to connect during the event. Souza has been a Land O’ Lakes employee for over 15 years starting her career at the Tulare Butter Manufacturing Facility, holding several roles in quality and member and government relations organization. She is currently the director of the western region for member & government relations.

Emily Yeiser-Stepp, Leesburg, Virginia

Yeiser-Stepp has impressed many people by how she manages a team and the dairy farmers she serves. Through her professional career, she has always made it a point to uplift those around her. Her confidence and integrity have allowed her to always speak her mind and stand up for what she believes in – and who she believes in. This has a domino effect because of her mentorship and sponsorship of other women, they have been able to do the same. Her confidence and open mind allow her to effectively lead the National Dairy FARM Program, which is creating a better life for dairy animals and a stronger trust between farmers and consumers. She has been involved in a lot of dairy organizations including, but not limited to, Dairy Girl Network, YDLI, WDE Youth Planning Committee, WDE Dairy Judging Contest Official, Maryland State Fair, PSU Dairyman’s Scholarship Committee and her local bible study. Today, she serves as the Vice President of the NMPF FARM program.

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