Vorthmann has served farmers and ranchers across the state for 20 Years; Szilagyi will become the organization’s first Colorado native to lead staff in 57 years
Chad Vorthmann has announced he will be leaving his post as the executive vice president for Colorado Farm Bureau, where he has served the organization for the last 10 years. Vorthmann started with the organization as communications director in 2003 and will be moving to a government relations role with Lockheed Martin Space this summer.
“We are grateful for Chad’s dedication to Farm Bureau,” said Carlyle Currier, president. “He not only tackled large challenges in the last 10 years, but also has positioned the organization for continued success into the future. We truly wish him the best as he moves forward – he will always be a part of the Farm Bureau family.”
Career highlights for Vorthmann include engagement in ballot initiatives – defeating a harmful GMO labeling measure in 2014, turning out strong rural support for Initiative 71 (Raise the Bar) in 2016 and shuttering the PAUSE Act through a 7-0 Colorado Supreme Court decision just a couple of years ago. For him, one of the toughest losses was the close passage of Proposition 114 that will introduce gray wolves into Colorado.
“The wolf initiative passing was discouraging, only passing by 56,986 votes,” continued Vorthmann. “But, I’m proud of the work we did, our small but mighty coalition moved the needle nearly 18 points while being massively outspent, nearly three to one. It’s not easy persuading Colorado voters, but I think we showed what members can accomplish with a disciplined, targeted messaging approach. Many groups would have given up early seeing a seemingly insurmountable challenge – we didn’t – we deployed everything in our arsenal, and I only wish we had more resources to share our message with Colorado voters.”
He noted the organizational investment in developing leaders in the Farm Bureau. Leadership committees have always been emphasized within the organization, but under his leadership CFB began to implement leadership development differently.
“One of the key reasons for the organization’s success is growing our own leaders through the Elite Leadership Academy which was started in 2013,” said Vorthmann. “I’ve never seen a leadership program that’s comparable, the program truly is shaping raw, ambitious talent and positioning the graduates to advocate for future generations. With farmers and ranchers making up less than one percent of the population, we must be better communicators as we advocate to the other 99 percent of people who depend on us for three meals a day.”
Additionally, he showered appreciation on the many staff members he’s worked with over the years. Colorado Farm Bureau has been named one of the Best Places to Work in Denver by the Denver Business Journal for the last six years in a row. Several former staffers who got their start with Farm Bureau are now running other non-profit organizations, leading top government relations programs and heading up public affairs companies.
“Recruiting a high performing team has always been fun. My proudest moment was when they said to me ‘we should apply for Best Places to Work’,” said Vorthmann. “This isn’t an easy recognition to receive and it’s a testament to the team and culture that Farm Bureau cultivates. And, it shows the partnership of board leadership that sets big goals combined with the empowerment of the staff to make an impact and actively affect meaningful outcomes.”
Vorthmann will be succeeded by Taylor Szilagyi (pronounced sil-ah-jee), who has been with Colorado Farm Bureau for the last six years. The transition will take place through the early summer in order to continue a consistent flow of operations.
Szilagyi has served as the Colorado Farm Bureau’s vice president of strategy and operations where she directs Farm Bureau’s communications and membership departments, external partnerships and special initiatives and programs. Prior, she served as the communications director, leading and implementing the largest programmatic investment in the organization’s recent history. Her hands-on experience in a variety of award-winning advocacy campaigns, ballot initiatives and political strategy positions her well to lead the organization through the issues of the future.
“We knew that Taylor was the right choice to lead staff and implement the vision set by the board of directors,” said Currier. “She brings dedication to Colorado’s farm and ranch families and an understanding of the challenges the industry faces within the state and beyond. Her results-driven, yet collaborative, approach will push the organization to new heights and sustain our reputation as a leading advocacy organization within agriculture and beyond.”
Hailing from the San Luis Valley, her family has been in Colorado since the 1700s. She understands the beauty and challenges facing the agriculture industry and the changes rural Coloradans have faced over the years.
“It is an honor to serve farmers and ranchers as the Colorado Farm Bureau’s new executive vice president,” said Szilagyi. “This organization and our members are dealing with some incredible challenges, and I look forward to working alongside them, our friends in the industry, and the broader Colorado community to meet these issues head on.”
“Farm Bureau does an exceptional job of developing leaders and implementing policy,” said Vorthmann. “The team of board and staff have positioned the organization to be the leading advocacy voice for agriculture and a bridge to a stronger Colorado. I am excited to watch Taylor’s future leading this great organization. She is poised and ready to take Colorado Farm Bureau to the next level.”
Szilagyi will be the first Colorado native to lead staff in 57 years and the eleventh executive vice president of Colorado Farm Bureau.