The National Pork Board has named Kevin Waetke as vice president of strategic communications. Waetke recently served as external communications director for Aviva USA, moving to the National Pork Board on June 25.
As vice president of strategic communications, Waetke will report to Chief Executive Officer Chris Novak and lead internal and external communications efforts. With other members of the Board's senior management team, Waetke will play a critical role in defining and leading communications strategy and delivering clear and consistent messages to pork producers, opinion leaders, consumers and other key audiences.
"The national pork industry is at a crossroads, and how we communicate to our audiences, share information and manage our reputation has never been more critical," said Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board. "We took the time to carefully understand our communications challenges and opportunities and, after conducting a nationwide search, found the ideal candidate to lead communications in our backyard.
"Kevin's commitment and progressive leadership in communications roles at some of central Iowa's premier companies make him the ideal person to assist us in setting our communications strategy and outreach," Novak said. "I am excited to welcome him to our team and look forward to working closely with him in our ongoing transformation."
"This move is a return to my roots, and I am excited about the potential to share the story of the essential role pork production plays in the nation's economy," Waetke said. "Having grown up on a century hog farm in Scott County, Iowa, I am well aware of the challenges facing the pork industry. I look forward to playing a role in shaping the dialogue and building relationships with the industry's key players."
Waetke spent the past 10 years leading communications in the financial services industry, having worked the past three years at life insurance and annuity leader Aviva USA, and, prior to that, as the communications director for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Waetke also has led public relations for Maytag Corporation, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, and Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. He is also a former news reporter and assignment editor for WHO-TV.
Actively involved in the Des Moines community, Waetke serves on the board of directors of Anawim Housing, on the communications advisory council of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and on the board of the Public Relations Society of America -- central Iowa chapter. He has both graduate and undergraduate degrees in journalism and mass communications from Drake University, Des Moines. Waetke and his family live in Johnston, Iowa.
The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or check the Internet at www.pork.org.