Dept. of Agriculture & Rural Development Announces New Division Leadership

Division directors selected in Animal Industry, Food & Dairy, Laboratory, and Pesticide & Plant Pest Management areas.

LANSING – Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) Director Keith Creagh today announced the selection of Dr. James Averill as the Animal Industry Division (AID) Director; Kevin Besey, as the Food and Dairy Division (FDD) Director; Bonnie Moon as the Laboratory Division Director; and Gina Alessandri as Pesticide and Plant Pest Management (PPPM) Division Director.

“These four individuals bring with them a tremendous amount of industry understanding and expertise which is vital to help us hit the ground running as we work to increase opportunities for the state’s agricultural-based businesses,” said Creagh. “Their combined institutional knowledge, established industry relationships, and enthusiasm for the agri-food sector will help us maintain our reputation for being customer centered.”

Dr. James Averill, DVM, PhD received his doctorate of veterinary medicine in 2001 and his PhD in Epidemiology in 2009 from Michigan State University. Upon graduation from vet school, he worked for the United States Department of Agriculture – Veterinary Services’ Michigan office as a Veterinary Medical Officer for the bovine TB program. Dr. Averill joined MDARD in 2009 as the department’s Bovine TB Eradication Program Coordinator. Averill is a resident of Webberville where he lives with his wife.

Kevin Besey has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Health from Ferris State University and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Western MichiganUniversity. Besey has extensive experience working in all areas of environmental health from working at several of Michigan’s Local Health Departments and at University ofMichigan. Additionally, he teaches online courses at Ferris State University and was recently awarded their Adjunct Faculty of the Year. He joined MDARD in 2001 as a Food Service Plan Review Specialist and has been a registered Registered Sanitarian since 1981. Besey resides in Leslie with his wife.

Bonnie Moon earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Medical Technology from Western Michigan University. Prior to joining MDARD, she worked in a clinical lab setting. She has worked for more than 20 years at the department’s Geagley Lab in their microbiology section. Moon lives in Grand Ledge with her husband and youngest son.

Gina M. Alessandri received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture from Michigan State University and started her career with MDARD in 1987. Prior to being named as Division Director, Alessandri served as PPPM’s Deputy Director for nine years and was responsible for division internal operations. She lives in Leslie with her three children.

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