Meet Our Team
Oregon FFA CEO
Mr. Ward started his career as a high school agriculture educator and FFA advisor and taught seven years in two school districts. After leaving teaching in 1984, Ward has served as Executive Vice President of the Oregon Farm Bureau, Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon Department of Water Resources, and as State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Oregon. In recent years, Ward returned to teaching as an instructor in Leadership at Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Now, in a career that has come full circle Ward is back working with FFA members on a regular basis as Chief Executive Officer of the Oregon FFA, a position to which he was named in March of 2021.
Assocation Executive Secretary
Lee was an active member in 4-H and FFA at Dallas High School and has been an active member of the local and state FFA alumni groups since then. Growing up, Lee was raised on a family farm where they raised pigs, cattle, and had horses. The family farm has continued with Lee’s two teenage boys where they now raise meat goats, sheep, and pigs. Lee started working for the Oregon FFA Association in 2003 and has held various roles during that time.
Today, she serves as the Oregon FFA Executive Secretary for the Oregon FFA Association. Her primary responsibilities include implementation of statewide FFA programs, working closely with Oregon Ag Teachers and Board of Directors, and managing the Oregon FFA State Officer Team. Lee loves being able to work with and watching students grow into their potential while developing their skills and passions through agriculture.
Career Development Coordinator
Leila Graves, PhD
Dr. Graves grew up in the Bay Area, California. She did not have the advantage of having an FFA Chapter at her high school but when she was introduced to FFA during her graduate studies at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo California she was immediately impressed with the quality of the program. Leila believes all students should have access to a quality education and the ability to benefit from the FFA framework. At Colorado State University the focus of her dissertation was integrating STEM into Common Core curriculum using plant science as the vehicle. As the Oregon FFA Career Development Coordinator since 2019, Leila currently collaborates with industry partners and professional educators to create and facilitate relevant career development events (CDEs) and works closely with her CDE Advisory board to improve resources to support Oregon Agriculture teacher in the classroom and at a distance.
Leadership Development Coordinator
Joenelle is a Kentucky native who grew up on a row crop farm, but didn’t believe that a career in agriculture was for her until she became a member of her local FFA chapter, Daviess County FFA. Joenelle’s involvement in FFA grew over the years serving as a local, state, and national FFA officer, and working as a facilitator and contractor for National FFA in a variety of capacities. She studied Agricultural Education at the University of Florida and Oklahoma State University, where she fell in love with experiential learning and creating opportunities for students of all ages to grow and learn.
Joenelle has worked in numerous non-profit and program design roles benefitting rural students and those engaging in agriculture education. Joenelle started as the Leadership Development Coordinator in 2019. Always willing to try or create something new for the good of others, she lives by the mantra, “Do the hard thing.” When Joenelle isn’t facilitating, brainstorming, or making a new friend, you can find her searching out new BBQ or taco shops, watching college sports, drinking a cold brew, or dreaming up a new travel adventure.
Foundation Development Officer
Betsy grew up on a small farm on the edge of Los Angeles County. Her family grew table grapes, which she sold at local farmer’s markets to raise money to buy a 4-H project animals. She studied agriculture education and communications at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo to follow her passion of making sure people knew where their food and fiber came from! She has a strong professional background in fundraising, marketing, and alumni and stakeholder relations.
She has worked at the National 4-H Council, the March of Dimes and spent 13 years work in the Dean’s office for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University. At OSU is where she began to volunteer for the Oregon FFA program. Coming back to be the Development Officer for the Oregon FFA Foundation is like ‘coming home’ to the place where her heart and her professional passions come together. When she isn’t working you are likely to find her running on trails, covered in dirt and smiling ear to ear.
Foundation Stewardship Officer
Growing up in a small farming community, a passion for agriculture was instilled in Christa at a young age. In high school she joined the Santiam Christian FFA chapter where she found her niche and “FFAmily!” This is where her passion and appreciation for FFA began.
Since 2018, Christa has worked as the Stewardship Officer for the Oregon FFA Foundation. She loves being a part of this organization that had an incredibly positive impact on her, and one that she knows continues to positively impact FFA members lives in a similar way.
Beth grew up in Pleasant Hill, Oregon deeply steeped in agriculture as part of a large rural family. Returning to her roots by joining the FFA’s staff team in 2020, she serves as the financial steward for the organization. Beth has led the finances of numerous nonprofits in Oregon and loves being part of organizations that contribute to our youth. Her primary responsibilities include budgeting and accounting for the Association and Foundation. When she is not crunching numbers, she is happily gardening, cooking for her 4 children or serving as the long-term coach of her local high-school cross country team.