HARRISBURG, Pa. — Secretary Russell Redding announced Cheryl Cook, an experienced leader on state and national agricultural issues, as the state Department of Agriculture’s new deputy secretary for market development effective Jan. 20.
Cook, who presently serves as the department chief innovation officer, will succeed current deputy secretary, Hannah Smith-Brubaker, who will step down Jan. 19 to serve as the new executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.
“Hannah has been an exceptional leader, and we are grateful for her service,” said Redding. “Her passion for organic and sustainable agriculture has broadened the appreciation and support for those production practices both inside and outside of the department. She was instrumental in launching the Homegrown by Heroes program, which is helping our veterans discover new career opportunities in agriculture; she led our work to expand support for new and beginning farmers and to help farmers implement succession plans for the next generation; and she played a critical role in negotiating a cooperative agreement with USDA under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program. I have no doubt Hannah will continue doing great things for Pennsylvania agriculture with PASA.”
Cook returned to the department in February 2015 following seven years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she served first as the Deputy Under Secretary for Operations and Management and later as the chief information officer. Prior to her appointment at USDA, Cook was deputy secretary for marketing and economic development with the state Department of Agriculture.
Since returning to the commonwealth, Cook has led the department’s work to modernize its information technology systems — part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s GOTIME initiative. To date, the IT modernization has saved the department approximately $800,000.
“We’re extremely fortunate that Cheryl has agreed to step into this new role,” said Redding. “She has a long track record of leadership at the state and national levels, and brings to this position a fresh perspective and a commitment to innovation and public service. She will play a critical role in growing our agriculture industry, expanding our work with the charitable food community, and continuing our nation-leading farmland preservation program. The department and all of Pennsylvania agriculture stand to benefit from the insight and experience she will bring to the deputy secretary position.”
As deputy secretary, Cook will oversee the bureaus of Market Development, Food Distribution, Farmland Preservation and Farm Show.
— Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture