Food Export–Midwest

Creating Growth Opportunities Since 1969

Food Export Association of the Midwest USA (Food Export–Midwest) is a non-profit organization created in 1969 as a cooperative effort between 13 Midwestern state agricultural promotion agencies and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Our purpose is to provide a wide range of services to facilitate trade between Midwestern food suppliers and importers around the world.

Midwest Bounty

The Midwest is one of the world’s leading food-producing areas. It’s home to hundreds of companies that provide consumers around the globe with high quality processed food and agricultural products. Midwestern farmers harvest a wide variety of products including grain, oilseeds, livestock, dairy, beans, fruits, and vegetables.

Suppliers in the Midwest also provide a broad spectrum of value-added branded and private label foods, food ingredients, feed ingredients, and pet foods.

Fall Meeting 14

Meet the Midwest Team

Our team of experts in international markets is based in Chicago, Illinois, and works alongside state member agencies, the USDA, and Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) to help you identify real market opportunities and become export ready.

Brendan Wilson
Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director I 312.334.9200

A Saint Paul, Minnesota native, Brendan has worked for the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA since 2013.

Brendan received his BA in International Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is an accredited Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP). He is currently enrolled in the University of Notre Dame’s MBA program.

Brendan worked in Moscow, Russia prior to moving to Chicago. In his free time, you can find him on a riverboat giving tours as a volunteer docent at the Chicago Architecture Center.

Michelle Rogowski
Chief Operating Officer/Deputy Director I 312.334.9218

Michelle Rogowski is Chief Operating Officer of Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast and Deputy Director of Food Export-Midwest. Michelle has been working at Food Export-Midwest since August 1997. Michelle has held a variety of positions during her time with the organization. As Chief Operating Officer of Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast, she focuses on critical organizational deliverables and business processes, information technology, Human Resources, legal, procurement, facilities, and special projects. As Deputy Director, Michelle works closely with the Executive Director on office operations to ensure that the organization’s overall mission remains the top priority.

A Chicago, Illinois native, Michelle holds a bachelor’s in political science from DePaul University.

Laura England
Chief Communications Officer/Deputy Director of Food Export-Northeast I 215.829.9111

Laura England is the Chief Communications Officer of Food Export-Northeast and Food Export-Midwest and Deputy Director of Food Export-Northeast. Laura joined Food Export-Northeast as Deputy Director in March 2022.  In June of 2023, the responsibilities of Chief Communications Officer were added to her role. As CCO for Food Export-Northeast and Food Export-Midwest, she strategically focuses on meetings, marketing, communications, stakeholder engagement/membership, and public/media relations.

Laura has more than 35 years of experience in agricultural marketing and communications. Before joining Food Export-Northeast, she was the Bureau of Market Development Director at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Previously, Laura served as Vice President of Strategic Communications for the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and was the Public Relations Manager for Land O’Lakes Eastern Operations (formerly Atlantic Dairy Cooperative). She began her professional career as a reporter for Lancaster Farming newspaper.

Laura received her bachelor’s degree in general agriculture from Penn State University, with an emphasis in journalism. She earned a Master of Business Administration from La Salle University and completed a post-master’s certificate in food marketing from Saint Joseph’s University. She also completed a certificate in social media marketing from Notre Dame University.

Laura grew up on a dairy farm in Williamsburg, Pennsylvania, where her extended family owns and operates Penn-England Farms, LLC.

Robert Lowe, CPA
Chief Financial Officer I 312.334.9213

Rob joined Food Export Association in August of 2002, after working the previous 10 years in various managerial accounting capacities. His most recent prior experience was as the Vice President of Finance for Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, a Midwest-based social services organization.

In June 2023, Rob was named Chief Financial Officer for Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast. His strategic focus for both organizations is accounting, finance, risk, and compliance management.

Rob was raised on the south side of Chicago, and currently resides in the downtown area. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Harvard University and received his CPA license in 1997. An avid golfer, Rob enjoys spending the summer playing at all the great courses in the area.

Teresa Miller
Chief Program & Partnership Officer I 312.334.9208

Teresa has been working at Food Export-Midwest since August 1997. She has held a variety of positions during her time with the organization including managing the Communications Program Area, Manager of Food Export-Midwest’s International Marketing Program, and as the Strategic Partnerships Manager. As Chief Program Officer of Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast, she focuses the design, planning, and execution of the programs and services of both organizations.

Teresa Miller grew up in Mexico City, but she discovered the Midwest as an exchange student during her sophomore year in high school in Shawano, Wisconsin. Preferring the snow and cold over sunny Mexico, she returned to the Midwest for graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. Prior to joining Food Export Association, Teresa worked in Mexico with an organization with a similar mission as Food Export Association’s.

Molly Burns
Branded Program Director I 312.334.9212

Molly joined Food Export–Midwest in June 2012. She previously held the position of a Liaison, conducting outreach for various Food Export programs and serving as a key point-of-contact for clients in her region. Raised in Omaha, Nebraska, she attended Loyola University Chicago and majored in International Studies. While at Loyola she had the opportunity to study abroad in Italy and China, experiences that greatly increased her interest in international trade and assisting with U.S. exports.

In her free time, Molly likes to run, brunch, and explore Chicago’s many neighborhoods.

Elina Balter
Human Resources Administrator I 215.599.9739

Elina Balter has been working at Food Export since February 2024. Elina received her bachelor’s degree in Strategic and Organizational Communications from Temple University. She has been in the field of Human Resources for 12+ years, working in various industries including reproductive medicine, behavioral health, home care, and banking. Elina is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management Philadelphia Chapter and has had her SHRM-CP credential since 2017.

Elina was born in Moldova and arrived in the US when she was 4 years old. She has grown up and continues to live in the greater Philadelphia area. Elina is still able to read, write and speak in Russian. She enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, reading, and exploring new places to eat. Every Tuesday, you can find Elina playing darts with her team in the Olde English Dart League of Philadelphia during regular season or the Summer Mummer League during the summer months.

Femke Bosch
International Marketing Program Manager I 312.334.9201

Femke joined Food Export-Midwest in March 2016 as part of the International Marketing Program. She was born and raised in the Netherlands but has lived in Singapore and South Africa as well. She graduated from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands with a bachelor’s degree in international business and management and a master’s degree in marketing management.

Prior to joining Food Export, Femke worked for two non-profit organizations in Chicago that work with inner-city youth. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, volunteering, and discovering new places to eat in Chicago.

Gina Donio
Marketing & Communications Manager I 215.599.9746

Gina Donio has been working at Food Export since June 2023. Gina received her bachelor’s degree in finance from Villanova University. A native of New York, she now resides in southern New Jersey.  Gina spent more than 20 years working as the editor of a newspaper in the region, where she also held the title of Director of Communications and Marketing for the business. She has won several awards for her writing and editing.

A passionate advocate for downtown revitalization, education and civic engagement, Gina has served on the board of several nonprofit organizations. She is also in the Atlantic County Women’s Hall of Fame. Gina spends her free time writing, volunteering, watching her beloved New York Mets (in season), scouting potential real estate projects, and reading.

Mike Weiand
IT Manager I 312.334.9210

Mike became the IT Administrator for Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast in October 2010. He is originally from the suburbs north of Chicago. He spent the past 12 years in southern Illinois, where he received his bachelor’s degree in information systems technologies and master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC).

Prior to returning to the Chicago area, Mike worked at SIUC at the Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development on the Rural Medical Transportation Network Project, providing GIS expertise to the project and serving as LAN Administrator for the department.

Paul Weiss
Liaison Manager I 312.334.9221

Paul joined Food Export-Midwest in September of 2011 as a Liaison. Paul serves as the point of contact for all companies in his region who utilize Food Export-Midwest’s programs and services, and also looks to develop new relationships with U.S. food producers.

Paul earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics with a focus on international trade from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). He gained international exposure and Spanish language skills while studying abroad in both Argentina and Costa Rica. Paul’s interests include traveling, camping, volunteering, sports and learning to play the drums.

Gabriel Burton
Branded Program Associate I 312.334.9203

After graduating in May of 2018 from Bates College with a B.S. in Mathematics, Gabe returned to his hometown of Chicago to give back to his community through Metrosquash, a squash non-profit organization. After 3 years, he decided to move on to help expand and grow his skillset. This brought him to Food Export Midwest where he is looking to share more than just his love of food.
In his free time, he likes to watch movies, hang out with family, and eat good food.

Laura Buske
Marketing & Communications Coordinator I 312.334.9205

Laura was born and raised in the Chicago area and joined Food Export-Midwest as the Administrative Assistant in March of 2011. She joined the International Marketing Program in 2013 and became the Communications Coordinator in March 2015. In her spare time, Laura enjoys traveling, reading, exploring new restaurants and spending time with her family.

Dawn Cook
Branded Program Associate I 312.334.9209

Dawn joined Food Export in July 2022 as a Branded Program Associate. She is from the northwest suburbs, but recently moved to Chicago. She is currently seeking a degree in Business Administration. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Cindy Curtis
Liaison I 312.334.9229

Cindy joined Food Export-Midwest as a Liaison in August 2023. She previously worked in customer service for a tech  property management company. Cindy also has experience with nonprofits from her involvement with Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, which includes recruitment and fundraising. Having spent a lot of time on her grandparents’ farm in Indiana growing up, she values agriculture and small business. In her free time, you can find her sailing with her family on Lake Michigan.

Lourdes Figueroa
Marketing & Communications Associate I 215.599.9755

Lourdes joined Food Export-Northeast and Food-Export Midwest as a Communications Associate in September 2022. She has a B.A. in Russian Studies and an M.A. in Art History. Before joining Food Export Association, she worked as a researcher and writer for several arts organizations. Most recently she worked in marketing and communications for a theatre company in New York City.

Lourdes was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador. She is an avid TV watcher and feels fortunate to be living in the Golden Age of Television.

Sarah Gerards
International Marketing Program Associate I 312.334.9218

Sarah joined Food Export–Midwest in May 2022. She previously held the position of International Marketing Program intern. Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, she moved to Chicago to study at Loyola University Chicago. There, she received her BA in Global Studies and History and worked as a research assistant in the Center of Science and Math Education.

In her free time, Sarah likes to read, go to concerts, volunteer at the Gerber-Hart Library and Archives, and explore Chicago.

Daniel Griffith
Liaison I 312.334.9217

Daniel joined Food Export-Midwest in August 2022 as a Liaison. He grew up in Whitewater, Wisconsin. Daniel brings 20 years of experience in international trade from his time working at an export management company, J. D. Honigberg International, out of Illinois.

He spent semester abroad in Lisbon, Portugal and got his BA in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He enjoys hunting for original issues of jazz and Brazilian records.

Helen Kerschner
Marketing & Communications Coordinator I 215.599.9781

Helen joined Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator in February 2023. She holds a B.S.B.A. in Marketing and a dual minor in International Studies and Economics. She has worked in marketing and communications across various industries, with her most recent experience being in the health benefits sector.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Berks County, Helen moved to Philadelphia in 2021 and has since grown to love the city. She is an avid traveler, most recently spending time in India with her partner. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, exploring the city, and trying new foods.

Kelly Kim
International Marketing Program Associate I 312.334.9206

Kelly joined Food Export-Midwest as an International Marketing Program Associate in April 2022. Before joining the team as a full-time employee, she worked as a Liaison intern back in 2019 and then again as an International Marketing Program intern. Kelly is attending DePaul University where she is completing a degree in International Studies with a minor in Marketing. She is also a connoisseur of everything Korean food.

Katie LaBarge
Branded Program Coordinator I 312.334.9207

Katie LaBarge joined Food Export–Midwest in November 2019 as part of the Branded Program. Originally from Chicago, Katie graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio with a B.A. in Sociology. She has worked at a number of nonprofits in Chicago, Ohio, and northern Kentucky, and spent a year teaching English in South Korea. Before joining Food Export, Katie worked for a small accounting and tax preparation firm and is very happy to have returned to the nonprofit sector.

In her free time, Katie enjoys reading, trying new recipes, baking, and traveling.

Matthew Lorenz
Liaison I 312.334.9225

Matthew joined Food Export-Midwest in 2020 as a Liaison, having previously worked as a cook in the northern suburbs of Chicago, an assistant brewer in Maryland, and a bagel baker in New Orleans. He most recently worked for a specialty food distributor in South Louisiana as a sales and service representative.

Matthew graduated in 2015 from the University of New Orleans with a bachelor’s in hospitality, restaurant, and tourism administration.

In his spare time Matthew likes to cook, bake, read, and eat weird things he hasn’t eaten before.

Matt Mager
IT Coordinator I 312.334.9211

Matt joined Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast in April 2018. He received his A.A.S in Cyber Security in December 2017. Matt had interned at JJC for 2 semesters, one with the Networking Department and one with the Help Desk Department. While in school Matt was able to participate in 2 National Cyber League competitions where he placed 26th out of 2077 competitors and 69th out of 2423 competitors.

Matt was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago were he still lives. In his free time Matt enjoys playing video games, disc golfing, bowling, and of course sleeping.

Eric Salzeider
International Marketing Program Coordinator I 312.334.9220

Eric joined Food Export-Midwest as an International Marketing Program Coordinator in April 2023.  Prior to joining Food Export, Eric dedicated his efforts to the nonprofit sector, providing youth programming and services for schools on the South Side of Chicago. Before graduating from Indiana University-Bloomington with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and environmental management, Eric also gained valuable experience working with various local nonprofits, most notably the International Mentoring Program and College Mentors for Kids.

During his leisure time, Eric enjoys laying by the lakefront, discovering new restaurants and foods, and spending time with friends and family.

Stefan Vasilevski
Marketing & Communications Associate I 312.334.9204

Stefan started his role as a Marketing and Communications Associate at Food Export-Northeast and Food-Export Midwest in October 2023, following his tenure as an International Marketing Program intern. His academic background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising, complemented by a minor in Digital Marketing and a certificate in Global Fluency. Concurrently, he is pursuing a Master of Science in Marketing at DePaul University.

In his spare time, Stefan enjoys taking walks with his dog, exploring new restaurants, and spending countless hours scrolling through TikTok.

Veronica Wade
Senior Branded Program Coordinator I 312.334.9239

Veronica, a native Chicagoan, joined Food Export-Midwest in February 2009 as the Branded Program Assistant but and was promoted as the Branded Program Coordinator in January 2010. Prior to her employment with Food Export-Midwest, she worked as a Billing Manager for an online investment company. Her primary responsibilities are initial review of reimbursement claims and corresponding and interacting with program participants regarding administrative and compliance issues of the Branded Program.

Veronica received her undergraduate degree in Paralegal Studies and is seeking to complete her Master’s in Forensics Psychology.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching documentaries and sports, and spending time with her family.