2019 Cheese Makersí Resource Conference Speakers

Peter Dixon

Peter Dixon is a dairy foods consultant and artisan cheesemaker. His work with people engaged in or interested in making cheese and other dairy products draws on 30 years of cheesemaking and 15 years of consulting. Peter works with dairy farmers, and experienced as well as aspiring cheesemakers to research and develop or improve their milk processing businesses. Peter offers small group cheesemaking instruction geared toward handmade artisan and farmstead cheese production at Westminster Artisan Cheesemaking in Westminster, Vermont.

Peter got his start in Food Safety while pursuing his M.S. in Dairy Science at the University of Vermont. The demonstrable connection between safe production practices and high quality cheese and dairy foods guides Peter's work as a consultant and a cheesemaker.

Parish Hill Creamery produces seasonal, handmade, raw milk cheeses inspired by the traditional cheeses of Italy. Peter brings his years of cheesemaking and consulting experience and is joined in the endeavor by his wife Rachel and sister Alex Schaal.


Gordon Edgar - Judge

Gordon Edgar loves cheese and worker-owned co-ops, and has been combining both of these infatuations as the cheese buyer for San Francisco’s Rainbow Grocery Cooperative since 1994. Edgar has been a judge at numerous national cheese competitions, a board member for the California Artisan Cheese Guild, and has had a blog since 2002, which can be found at www.gordonzola.net. His latest book, Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese investigates America’s relationship with cheddar, why we love it, and the effect that cheese has had on the American food system. Edgar’s cheese memoir, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge was published in 2010.


Emily Harbison

mily Harbison is from northern Wisconsin, holds a B.S. degree in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While at the university, she assessed stabilizers in soy yogurt, volunteered for cheesemaking in the dairy plant, and performed critical and descriptive sensory analyses of various dairy products. For the last two-and-a-half years, she has been providing technical application support for dairy cultures and ingredients to farmstead and specialty cheese makers throughout the US with Dairy Connection Inc.


Dr. Kerry KaylegianDr. Kerry Kaylegian - Judge

Dr. Kerry E. Kaylegian is the Dairy Foods Research & Extension Associate at the Pennsylvania State University, Department of Food Science.  Kerry provides technical support to the dairy industry and delivers outreach programs focused on improving the safety and quality of dairy products. Kerry received the 2013 Arthur W. Nesbitt Faculty Development Award for the development of outreach and training materials for the Pennsylvania dairy foods industry. Kerry directs and lectures in short courses on dairy HACCP and food safety, cheese making, dairy basics for artisan processors, pasteurizer operations, and fundamentals of food science. She assists with the ice cream and cultured products short courses. Her research focuses on improving the functional and nutritional properties of milk fat as an ingredient. Kerry judges dairy products at several national competitions and is coach of the Penn State Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Team. She is the faculty advisor for the Penn State Cheese Club. Her degrees are in Food Science with an emphasis on dairy products, she has a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. and post-doctoral fellowship from Cornell University.

Trevor Roberts Trevor Roberts

Trevor Roberts is Managing Partner of Cross & Crown a Design & Marketing agency located in Chambersburg, PA for over 15 years. Trevor is a Pennsylvania native who graduated Shippensburg University with a Bachelors in Arts, He went on to teach advanced design courses at Kaplan University. Managing Cross & Crown has fostered many relationships with national and international companies and organizations who depend on Cross & Crown to help direct and manage their branding and marketing efforts. Trevor currently lives in Shippensburg, PA with his wife and 3 children. 

Lee Smith - JudgeLee Smith - Judge

Lee Smith, senior vice president, is the publisher of Deli Business and Cheese Connoisseur magazines. An award-winning writer as well as an accomplished photographer, she is a feature writer for both magazines. Her 20 years’ experience in the retail industry prepared her for launching her own marketing and product development company, which led to joining the team at Phoenix Media Network in 1991.

Known for her knowledge of cheese and fine foods, she is a frequent judge at national and international cheese competitions, including American Cheese Society’s Annual Competition, the French International Agricultural Show, and the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich, UK. In 2016, she was a technical judge at New Zealand’s Cheese Competition.

Among her accomplishments, Smith is a member of the American Cheese Society, the International Guild des Fromagers de Saint-Uguzon, the Order of the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Taste Fromage de France and Les Dames d’Escoffier International. She is also the American representative to the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich, UK.

Fons SmitsFons Smits

Fons Smits was born and raised in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands.  He studied Food Technology and received his Bachelor’s degree in Dairy & Bioprocess Technology.  Since graduation in 1993 he has been working in the dairy industry around the world.  He has been giving technical assistance ranging from milk collection, new creamery development, layout and equipment sourcing, product development and improvement, to training to improve operations and sales.  As creamery manager for Cowgirl Creamery, Traders Point Creamery, Ludwig Farmstead Creamery, and now his own Tulip Tree Creamery in Indianapolis, he developed products which stand out in quality and have won national awards.

Karen Ziska-Beckley

Karen Ziska-Beckley is a skilled professional with over 25 years of experience in human resources and organizational development. She holds an interdisciplinary master’s degree in education and business administration from Frostburg State University. Karen has maintained the Senior Professional Human Resources Certification since 1999. She has a record of success in compliance with state and federal regulations, developing and initiating hiring systems that ensure quality hiring and high retention rates, developing and implementing internal policies and procedures to effectively manage organizations. Her areas of expertise include organizational development, supervisory and support staff training, fundraising activities, and budget planning/payroll administration.