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2018 Election and Candidate Information

Welcome to the online information center for the 2018 Suri Network Board of Trustees Election! Here you will find information on each of the candidates running for election, as well as an outline of the electronic voting process.  More information on how and when to vote will also be emailed directly to each member by Simply Voting, the organization managing our election process.


This year we have six candidates running for a total of three openings on the Suri Network Board of Trustees.  Michael Alpert, Deb Christner, Nancy Lindemood and Jennifer Hack will be returning to the Board; Sue King, Jill McElderry-Maxwell and Kristie Smoker's terms are ending.  Sue King is eligible to run again for the board.  The 2018 candidates for the board election are Diane Dickerson, Sue King, Margit Korsak, Candy McMahan, Beth Sheets and Liz Vahlkamp.   All board members elected in 2018 will be serving three year terms.  


The electronic vote will open on or around June 15, and all votes must be cast no later than July 15.  Results will be tabulated and announced first at the Suri Symposium and then by email in early August.  Look for an email with voting directions soon!

Candidate Questions/Position Requirements

Candidates were asked to answer the following questions in their candidacy statement:

  1. What do you bring to the Suri Network Board that would enhance and strengthen the Suri Network’s support of Suri breeders?
  2. What do you think the Suri Network should look like in five years and how will you help it get there?
  3. The Suri Network’s major goal areas include communications, education, marketing, Suri Genetic Advancement (SHIP), funding, product development, membership, and a youth program.  Please select one or more of these areas that you are especially equipped to contribute to and explain how you propose to address it.
The expected duties of a potential Board of Trustees member can be found here: Trustee Position Description001.pdf

Diane Dickerson, Rockin' D Enterprises


I worked in the corporate world for many many years and then moved into the not-for profit world which I’m still working in.  I have my degree in accounting and have held various management positions.  My outside passion was horses which I rode and showed in Reining and Boxing Cow Work.   I served on the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association Board for a term of 3 years so I know what is involved serving as a board member.  


Seven years ago my husband Bobby and I wanted to start raising livestock  as a business so we looked at alpacas.  We chose suri alpacas because they are more rare and their fleece was absolutely stunning.  We’ve gone from 4 animals to 25 and counting with the crias on the ground and those still due.  I guess you could say my passion is now alpacas.  It has been a great journey and we have so many alpaca friends who have helped us along the way.  We continue to learn and improve our herd with the knowledge we’ve obtained from educational seminars, SHIP Program, helping with fleece shows and other breeders.  The best part of raising alpacas is sitting on the back deck in the evening watching over the pastures, it’s our stress relief.  Our goal is to retire from the working world and let the alpacas help support us.  I love to share our ideas and what we’ve learned with others.

  1. The Suri Network board should be comprised of a mixture of small, medium and large breeders.  Although all breeders have some of the same challenges, I would bring the prospective of a small breeder to the mix.
  2. Over the next five years Suri Network  should continue its focus on maintaining and growing membership.   That will require expanding and improving existing programs and creating new programs that are value added.   
  3. I’ve gone through the SHIP program and it was a wonderful experience and would like to see more farms participate.  I would like to help come up with ideas that would encourage participation.   Since I’ve already talked about membership growth that is another area I would help.  Suri Network already provides several valued programs but we need to evaluate what might be missing that would bring in new, younger breeders.

Margit Korsak, Boulder Hill Alpacas


 


I hold a B.S. Degree in International Business and have enjoyed a successful career in marketing, market research, advertising and business consulting within a variety of industries; including media, hotels & resorts and plastics.   Several European countries and Colorado have been my home but I currently reside in rural Pennsylvania where I was born, managing my family’s commercial construction business.

For ten years on my daily commute I passed by the largest Huacaya farm on the East Coast – always thinking how I would much rather be working on a farm than in plastics.  6 years ago I saw my first Suris at an Open Farm Day at Over Home Alpacas and immediately knew that they would be a big part of my future.  I spent weekends at  Over Home Alpacas’ farm working and learning (I have amazing mentors!) and six months later I bought my foundation animals.   Currently I own 20 Suris which I agist at OHA and assist in the care of their entire herd which is comprised of well over 100 Suris.   I manage the marketing and events (both on & off farm) for OHA and have won multiple awards for my alpaca and nature photography.  I negotiated the contracts and provided event coordination for the past three Suri Network Symposiums and presented in 2016.   I have organized and spoken at several local alpaca seminars as well (including one intended specifically for farmers), bringing the message of the majesty of Suris to anyone who will listen.
Before alpacas I was a breeder of show dogs and served on the board of the Akita Club of America for 8 years.    I spent 6 years on the board of the Society of Plastics Engineers heading up both marketing and membership committees as well.
  1. I believe there is a business model to fit every Suri owner and that as the breed association we must help members identify what that is and give them the resources to succeed.  I would bring a strong business, research and communications background to the board and would use my experiences in other industries to formulate a plan to achieve this.
  2. I see the Suri Network of the future as a multifaceted organization comprised of multiple strong committees, each with their own focus and expertise.  I would organize groups to support each business model as well as enhance and advance the current product development committee.    A unit would be created to focus on the Suri brand, public awareness and events.  This group would organize regional events (seminars/shows) to make resources more accessible to all members.   In addition to the current S.H.I.P. program a unit would be added to focus on research in the areas of health, nutrition and farm management.
  3. In addition to organizing committees and events I believe I could best serve the Suri Network by enhancing education.  Both for members and the public.  Coordinating regional events as mentioned and adding more webinars for members and an organized Suri Network presence at local farm & fiber related events for the public.  


Beth Sheets, Heritage Farm Suri Alpacas

Beth Sheets along with her husband, Tim, own Heritage Farm Suri Alpacas in central Indiana.  They have been raising Suri alpacas since 2003 and have been active members of the Suri Network from their beginning. In 2016 they expanded their business in the agritourism field by offering their farm for weddings, farm stay experiences and educational events.  Maintaining the heritage of their farm is important and was demonstrated when selected in top 10 barns for the Indiana bicentennial with their 1911 historic barn in 2016 and the John Arnold award for rural preservation in 2017.

Beth has been a consultant for a major pharmaceutical company for over 20 years and has recently retired.  In 2017 she was selected as a top 100 Innovator for a process improvement project. She has also been an independent contractor who installed and provided training for medical equipment, and in hospital laboratory management for over 20 years combined.

Within the alpaca industry she has served on local and national committees.  She has been the Educational Chair and/or Board Member for the Indiana Alpaca Association for over 6 years and is currently treasurer.  For the national organization she has served more than 8 years on AOA committees (Show Rules Committee [SRC] and Judges Training Committee (JTCC).  She is currently the chair for the JTCC.  Within the local 4-H program she has served for over 20 years and is still active as a project leader and supporting for the Lama project within 2 counties.


  1.   Through my work experience and my involvement in local and national organizations I use my knowledge, experiences and leadership skills to listen to customers, gather information, apply to current situations and propose potential resolutions and/or improvements.  I would like the opportunity to work with the current Suri Network committee to continue to improve the SHIP program, support the product development team, educational opportunities and identifying ways to bring the youth into the alpaca business. 
  2. Suri network has led the industry in many aspects.  We need to strengthen the SHIP program and continue supporting the Suri breed standards.  The product development committee has provided many tools for Suri breeders and we need to continue to learn what is being done in the industry and look for ways to connect our breeders to these initiatives.  It would be exciting to identify ways to support the youth and to offer opportunities for them within the industry.  It will be important the SURI Network continues to grow in members to be able to provide quality services.        
  3. I have always been drawn to educating other breeders and providing opportunities for new experiences which can also be expanded to the area of product development and SHIP.  Our breeders need to understand the significance of how breeding decisions will impact the products that are being provided.  The future is the youth.  I would like to evaluate ways for Suri network to provide scholarship to young innovative breeders.


Sue King, Big Timber Alpacas




Hello, my name is Sue King and I am asking for your vote to continue to serve on the Suri Network Board of Trustees.  Over the past two years I’ve been active on the SN board in a variety of leadership roles including President of the Board, chair of the Symposium/Fleece Show planning committee, chair of the 2017 nominating committee and other important activities to support the Suri Network and our members.  We have an outstanding and dedicated board of trustees and I would be honored to continue to serve our members in this capacity.

I have over 38 years of experience in finance, accounting and operations in senior management and executive positions with CH2M, KPMG and other firms.  I graduated from Montana State University with a BS degree in accounting and was a CPA early in my professional career.  The skills I developed over my career include financial and operational analysis, team building, strategic planning, start up organizations, mergers and acquisitions, and general management skills.  In 2008, I retired from CH2M and since have been engaged in finance/operations consulting on a part time basis and beginning in 2010, managing our alpaca business, Big Timber Alpacas.

 I have broad experience in serving on both corporate and not-for-profit boards and committees.  I served on the CH2M board of directors and committees for ten years prior to my retirement, and currently serve on the corporate board of SSOE Engineers and board of trustees for Rose Haven (a nonprofit serving the Portland area homeless women and children). My past nonprofit board experiences include the Union Gospel Mission, Sherwood Community Senior Center, Sherwood YMCA, World Affairs Council of Oregon, Samaritan Counseling Center of Portland and Portland Impact.

My husband and I have been married 40 years.  We were raised in the Midwest, moved to Oregon in 1980 and have lived here since.

Although I spent most of my professional life in the corporate world, I have agricultural roots, as my parents and past generations were dairy farmers in the Midwest. I have a deep respect and love for the livestock industry.

 We purchased our first Suri alpacas in 2011 after falling in love with their fine, luxurious fiber at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.  We focus primarily on breeding high quality Suri alpacas, but have a few high end huacayas as well.   We maintain a herd size of between 30 and 40 alpacas.

 We participate in alpaca fiber and end product sales through primarily regional sales outlets including retail stores and fiber festivals.  In addition, I utilize our fiber into my weaving projects.

I decided to run again for the Suri Network board of trustees for the following reasons:

  1. I can utilize my business skills such as strategic planning, managing organizational change, budgeting and finance, and management to help advance the mission of the Suri Network in supporting Suri breeders.
  2. Over the next five years, I believe the Suri livestock industry needs to continue to advance the end product markets for the alpaca, including fiber, textiles and other end products to maintain a sustainable livestock model.  In addition to commercial applications of the Suri end product, the cottage market needs continuous development as well.  The Suri Network can help lead these market developments, through branding, education and other trade association type marketing activities.
  3. In order to fulfill the existing and future Suri end product markets, the industry will need to promote consistent, uniform Suri fiber specifications and encourage breeders to breed to these standards without compromising conformation and health of the animal.  The Suri Network, through its SHIP program and other quantitative tools such as histograms, biopsies and EPDs can help promote the Suri Genetic Advancement including breed standards, to increase the national herd size to fulfill market demands at the commercial and cottage levels.  I have a keen interest in advancing the Suri genetics to deliver the best product to our existing and future markets.

Candy McMahan, Raynay Alpaca Farm


My name is Candy McMahan.  Please allow me tell you a little about myself.  I was born and raised in lovely North Carolina.  I played Division 1 basketball at major university and traveled for 1 season overseas upon graduation.   Early in my career, I worked for an importer of handmade Persian rugs, and managed a showroom in the International Home Furnishing Center   I finished my “public” career as an office manager for a mirror manufacturing company that catered to the furniture industry.   Retirement from the corporate world happily occurred in 2008 as my husband, Ray, and I transitioned to our new farm in Caswell County, NC where we started our alpaca business.  Ray continues his work as owner/operator of an automobile auction company.  I am continually amazed at what we have created in the last 10 years as alpaca ranchers.  We haven’t done it alone but with all the help of other wonderful people in the alpaca community.  We currently have 70 alpacas on the farm - 17 of those are agistors.  Besides the alpaca, we also share the farm with 20 “pasture” chickens, 3 beehives and an attached farm store.  Our next venture is to become innkeepers as we are opening a Bed and Breakfast at the farm.  We are continually exploring the various income streams that come with an alpaca farm!

I have extensive experience participating with and serving on volunteer boards.  I am a member of our local AOA affiliate, Carolina Alpaca Breeders and Owners (CABO).  I am very active with the group and serve on several CABO committees.  I have also served on the board of our country club in Randolph County and served as President of the Ladies Golf Association.  The country club was in the pre-alpaca days when I had more free time and a full time public job!!  Not that I’m complaining, I love the farming lifestyle.

  1. I am very organized and play well with others.  I like to work as a team to set goals and make it happen.  Make it fun and make it enjoyable.
  2. I would prefer to see an increase in the number of Suri ranchers and, in turn, an increase in Suri Network membership.  I think the board is and has been on track with the education aspect and marketing.  I am hopeful that the measures that have been put in motion will move us forward, adjusting to the ever-changing Alpaca industry.  I will endeavor to continue the good work of previous board members.
  3. I am willing to work hard to advance the Suri alpaca industry into the future.  My vision is an increase in Suri numbers at shows.  One idea is creating a group offering alpaca transportation and stall sharing to those in need.  
I have been an alpaca rancher for 10 years, learning a great deal about the industry and looking forward to another amazing 10 years! 

Liz Vahlkamp, Salt River Alpacas


I am an investment banker based in St. Louis, MO.  My husband, Chris, and I run Salt River Alpacas which is located on 116 acres in Paris, MO.  We own approximately 70 Suris, of which 22 make up a fiber herd and the remaining are breeders.  We have been Suri owners since 2004.  We have participated in the show system for many years, and we have pursued a breeding program designed for profitability in fiber production. 

I chaired the SNPDC for many years with successes such as putting on fiber education seminars of which approximately half of all SN members at that time participated, setting up SN booths at large fiber festivals around the country to bring awareness to the fiber, overseeing the creation of the SN Harvesting Code of Ethics, and overseeing the creation of yarn patterns for SN members to purchase.  In 2011, I stepped down from that role and began The North American Suri Company – the first alpaca company to purchase Suri fiber for cash from farms around the country – and have spent the last seven years working to open markets for this great fiber. 

I am a member of my regional alpaca affiliate – MOPACA – and served on that board for three years, acting in the role of senior board member in my third year.I have been involved in this industry for fourteen years, and as such, I bring a deep understanding of where this industry has come from, the challenges it faces, and what it is capable of being.  I also bring my daily work experience, which involves working in a team environment and evaluating businesses for past and future success. 


  1. The SN has always been forward thinking and has pushed the entire alpaca industry on a number of issues, but has never lost sight of its primary mission - being a voice for Suri growers.  Historically, that voice has focused on issues within the U.S. alpaca industry.  However, we currently face a number of challenges for the future of Suris in this country.  In order to address those, I believe the SN will need to be a voice for Suris in the broader livestock world, and a voice for Suri fiber in the textile world.   
  2. The challenges I see over the next five years include 1. Expanding the number of Suri growers, 2. Developing a profitable, production model for growers who don’t want to pursue the show system as an “alpaca career”, and 3. Supporting those growers who are blazing trails for Suri fiber in the world of textiles. Five years from now, I would like to see a vibrant, healthy Suri Network with a growing industry.       
  3. Per #2, I would be interested in pursuing education, product development, or youth outreach.  Initiatives to undertake within these categories could include but not be limited to:   
  •  Creating a meaningful relationship with FFA (Future Farmers of America) to introduce teen agers, who may one day pursue a career in livestock ownership, to the world of alpacas.  This might include educational programs, co-branding initiatives, vendor participation at FFA events, etc.
  • Becoming a presence at other livestock events.
  • Providing a set of tools or other support measures for our members to create a more robust, livestock model, such as resource material for developing a meat business or starting up a manure business. 
  • Developing a solid, brand awareness campaign about Suri fiber to support those individuals who are on the front lines representing our Suri fiber to fiber artists, textiles designers, and end users on a regular basis.
  • Continuing breeder education as it relates to fiber production.

  


  Suri Network
P.O. Box 1984
Estes Park, Colorado   80517
Phone: (970) 586-5876
Fax: (970) 591-0007

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