In joining the Grain Foods Foundation as its new executive director, Christine Cochran brings a number of significant qualities beyond satisfying the group’s decision to find a leader with Washington experience. It is not incidental that, as head of the Commodity Markets Council and with roots in farming, Ms. Cochran is quite familiar with the agricultural commodities that are the basis for the American diet and the work of the G.F.F.
Perhaps more important, heading the Commodity Markets Council required bringing together an amazingly diverse collection of constituents, from grain, financial and transportation companies, large and small, to grain exchanges, colossally large and small. Ms. Cochran is credited with strong, focused leadership at the C.M.C. over the last several years, even as the commodities trading industry had to deal with issues that were complex, potentially divisive and politically charged.
The nature of the fundamental challenge facing the G.F.F. — public perceptions of grain-based foods utterly at odds with their healthful reality — is very different from those encountered in her current position. But unifying and energizing the diverse investor base of the Grain Foods Foundation, with its heterogeneous mix of bakers, millers and allied companies, represents a challenging and necessary prerequisite to advancing the foundation’s mission.
Ms. Cochran’s track record as a leader, and her qualities of intelligence, energy and strategic focus that earned her this new assignment offer hope that the next chapter of the Grain Foods Foundation will help raise this critically important group to an entirely new level.