The board of trustees of the Grain Foods Foundation has announced the promotion of Erin E. Ball as the foundation’s Executive Director

Ball will lead the group in its mission to serve the grain foods manufacturing, flour milling, and allied trades industries as the hub for science-based, grains-positive thought leadership and research funding and translation. 

Ball assumes the Executive Director position after serving as the Acting Executive Director since January 2022.  Prior to that, she was Director of Public Relations and Science, also at GFF, and has been with the foundation since 2013.  During her tenure, she has deepened and broadened GFF’s research program, has led the Foundation in increasing its public relations messaging reach, and has worked to build the Foundation’s relationships across academia, nutrition science organizations, and the food industry. 

“With more than a decade of experience working in DC non-profits, and another decade in the non-profit world outside of DC, Erin brings vision for what our industry can do when we work together.  She has proven her value as a listener, a relationship builder, and as a leader who can set a course and execute on it.  She understands both the possibilities and limitations inherent in non-profit management, and she has built the GFF Board’s confidence in her abilities,” said Kirk Stehr, Grain Craft SVP of Sales and GFF Board co-chair.

Ball led GFF’s Fall Listening Tour beginning in September with stops at the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), the North American Millers’ Association Annual Meeting, and the American Bakers Association Board meeting.

“The Listening Tour was intended to provide a connection point with as many GFF investors as possible -and by investors, I mean past, present and future funders of the Foundation.  We were fortunate that 2022 was an IBIE year, and the conversation we had in Las Vegas was a great kick-off to the effort,” Ball recounted.  “We heard again and again from folks across the industry:  continue to produce and translate science – build a messaging platform from the science – and keep grain foods on the plate with strong, science-based, grains-positive messages turned into tools for investors to use.” 

“After months of consideration and close observation, Erin became our clear choice to assume the position of permanent Executive Director at GFF.  Her history with the group, institutional knowledge, and passion for the work the Foundation does led us to the decision.  The Board affirmed her as our choice unanimously,” said Debo Mukherjee, Flowers Foods CMO and GFF co-chair. 

“I have worked with Erin on various projects at GFF for several years,” said Lorraine Hale, Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU) VP and General Manager, Bread, Buns, and Rolls and new GFF Board member.  “I have been impressed by Erin’s clear understanding of the critical role that grain foods play in driving America’s healthful and tasteful lives and her leadership in building insights and communication to the market that highlights that role.”  

Hale has assumed the BBU GFF Board seat as long-time Trustee Vince Melchiorre stepped down in November.  Similarly, Mukherjee has passed Board responsibilities on to Andy Smith, Senior Vice President for Consumer Insights and Relations at Flowers Foods.

“I am thrilled to take on the challenge of leading GFF as Executive Director,” Ball said.  “The opportunities in front of the Foundation are myriad, and the challenges of keeping this industry’s products on plates and moving the perception of grain foods in a positive direction ensure our focus.  I am grateful for the 18 years of partnership GFF has built with the industry, and I look forward to listening better, serving more effectively, and bringing strong results in years to come.”