Got milk? If so, you can thank Karianne Fallow, a two-time Women of the Year honoree.
After serving as director of public affairs and business development for Red Sky Public Relations, in 2013 Fallow was recruited to become the CEO of the Idaho Dairy Products Commission, which represents Idaho’s largest agricultural commodity (sorry, potato). The organization also operates under the United Dairymen of Idaho as well as the Idaho Dairy Council, a team of registered dieticians who work with health and nutrition professionals around the state to promote community and group wellness.
The group, which is funded by all Idaho dairy farmers, has 14 employees – 12 in Meridian, where the organization is based, and two in Twin Falls. Its job is to market and promote Idaho’s dairy industry around the world. “We work with lots of partners across the country, organizations like ours in other states, and the national organization, to accomplish our goals,” Fallow says. “We talk about our mission revolving around two points: Building trust in dairy farming and dairy products, and building demand for high-quality dairy products around the world.”
That means relationship management. “It’s most key for us,” Fallow says. For example, the organization has a youth wellness effort in schools to promote healthy meals and physical activity, which hopefully leads to academic achievement. “It needs a lot of deep relationship building to the school environment, the Department of Education, food services, state nutrition services, Health & Welfare, and so on,” she says.
In addition, the organization does a lot of storytelling to help build consumer confidence. “We have our dairy farmer image campaign that tries to capture the image and the story of dairy farms,” she says. The commission also supports farmers to attend events such as Meridian Dairy Days so attendees can meet their farmers face to face (though the parade no longer throws milk).
Fallow’s outside activities are also tied into food as well. She’s had a long relationship with the Idaho Foodbank dating back to her early days as director of state and federal government relations for Albertsons. “When I was asked to consider serving on the board, it was a pure honor for me,” she says. “When you look at the numbers, in terms of how many people go hungry or have food insecurity, it’s absolutely a shame we aren’t able to do more for those people.” She also sits on the planning committee for the Idaho chapter of the American Heart Association. “It’s near and dear to me as well,” she says. “Heart disease runs in my family.”
When Fallow’s not working, she and her husband and her two young children like outdoor activities, such as shing, camping, hunting, and skiing, she says.
And what about those United Dairymen? Yes, there are dairy women, Fallow acknowledges, adding that one of the organization’s board members is female, as well as a couple of female ambassadors for the organization who do outreach. “You may see changes in the future,” she says.
As for making her mark? “I hope to be a memorable leader, to make positive impressions on those around me. I hope that I’m remembered by my charisma, support for my people and my vision. While my legacy remains to be seen, I’m hopeful that it will have lasting impact on the people inside and associated with our industry.”