The National Pork Board on Sept. 3 named Chris Novak, a state commodity association executive, as its new chief executive officer (CEO).

Novak has served as executive director of the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the state’s corn associations. He spearheaded the merger of two soybean organizations and helped build partnerships between the Hoosier state’s soybean, corn and livestock commodity groups, as well as helped secure passage of a new state corn checkoff.

Earlier in his career, Novak worked for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). “This is like coming home for me,” says Novak, raised on a diversified farm near Marion, IA. “I look forward to building on the grassroots tradition of serving both the producers who invest in the Pork Checkoff and those who hold a stake in the success of the U.S. pork industry.”

National Pork Board President Steve Weaver of Elk Grove, CA, said: “This is a challenging time for the U.S. pork industry because of the volatility in the markets, but also a time of great opportunity. That is why I and my fellow National Pork Board members are so excited to have someone with Chris Novak’s experience and abilities to work with us in meeting those challenges and identifying those opportunities on behalf of all U.S. pork producers.”

Novak starts work Oct. 1. He replaces Steve Murphy, who announced his resignation in January and who has continued to serve while the board conducted a search for his replacement.

Murphy became the National Pork Board’s first CEO in October 2002. Previously, checkoff-funded programs were handled under a contract with NPPC.

Novak holds a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University, a law degree from the University of Iowa and an executive master’s degree in business administration from Purdue University.

Novak first served as a legal assistant to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and joined NPPC in 1990 as director of public policy. In 1992, he became NPPC’s first director of environmental services and was actively involved in the development of the Environmental Stewards recognition program co-sponsored by National Hog Farmer and Pork Checkoff.

Novak was executive director of the Terrene Institute, a nonprofit environmental education group. He was also an executive of the American Soybean Association and was science communication manager for Syngenta, where he directed biotechnology communication activities.

Novak and his wife, Julie, have three children.