ARA Welcomes Michael Kennedy, Jeff Sands To Public Policy Team

ARA has welcomed new staff members Michael Kennedy and Jeff Sands to the organization’s public policy team. The new team members will serve as strong advocates on a variety of issues of critical importance to the nation’s agricultural retailers and distributors.

“We are excited to have Jeff and Michael join the ARA Public Policy team,” said Richard Gupton, ARA senior vice president of public policy and counsel. “They bring a wealth of talent and political acumen that will help ARA’s legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts.”

Michael Kennedy is ARA’s new public policy counsel and will focus on ARA’s chemical security, labor and trade issues. He spent the last several years in Washington, DC, working as a congressional aide, an industry advocate
and an attorney.

Prior to joining ARA, Kennedy managed the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliate’s (SOCMA) regulatory and legislative advocacy in the areas of security, science policy, regulatory enforcement and occupational safety and health. In addition to SOCMA, he advocated regional transportation issues with the National Association of Regional Council and prosecuted child sex offenders for Galveston County DA’s office in Texas. Kennedy received his Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Delaware, and his Juris Doctorate in law from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

Jeff Sands joins ARA as the organization’s new Director of Public Policy. He will work on conservation, energy, tax and trade issues for ARA, as well as monitor developments related to sustainability and precision agriculture. Previously, Sands worked for Congressman Tom Marino on agricultural issues that affect Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, such as dairy policy, various EPA regulations and other issues impacting rural America. Sands received his Masters in Public Administration at Valdosta State University in Georgia, where he also received his undergraduate degree in Organizational Communication.

In addition, Sands holds a degree in turf management from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia, which he utilized in his former role as a golf course superintendent. Sands’ position in golf course management gave him first-hand experience dealing with many issues that ARA members and others in the agricultural community face regarding regulations that apply to turf treatment programs such as pesticides, fertilizer, irrigation practices and application rates.

As many ARA members know, Jim Thrift, ARA’s vice president of corporate relations and regulatory policy recently retired from his full-time position with the organization. However, Thrift will continue working part-time for ARA through July, 2012, if any ARA member would like to contact him for advice or consultation. He may be reached at 202-595-1725 or ARA has interviewed strong candidates to potentially fill this position and plan to have this person identified very soon. If you have questions regarding this process, please contact Daren Coppock at 202-457-0825 or

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