FFAR Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey Announces Retirement


WASHINGTON (July 22, 2021) — Following a long and distinguished career of leading agricultural and biomedical research administration, Dr. Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), announced her plan to retire at the end of the year.

Rockey joined FFAR in 2015, as the organization’s inaugural Executive Director. Rockey led FFAR through its startup phase, and through her leadership, the organization has become a significant force in food and agriculture research. Her creativity and expertise led to hundreds of partnerships with the private and philanthropic sectors, and she spearheaded innovative methods of public-private collaboration to further food and agriculture science.

“Sally has spent her career advancing research that improves people’s lives,” said Dr. Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University and FFAR’s Board chair. “Her leadership at FFAR is the culmination of a vocation to advance science with a lasting and meaningful impact. She is the heart of FFAR and we will greatly miss her.”

During her tenure, Rockey oversaw the awarding of more than 200 grants advancing food and agriculture research, totaling over $650 million. She oversaw the creation of several prizes and consortia, capitalized on opportunities to further pioneering research, and has been a relentless advocate of FFAR’s science workforce development programs. This work did not go unnoticed. Under Rockey’s leadership, FFAR received additional funding in the 2018 Farm Bill, greatly expanding its capacity to support audacious science.

Prior to this role, Rockey was a dedicated public servant overseeing the operations of extramural research programs in both agriculture and biomedicine. She spent the majority of her federal career with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, now the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the remaining with the National Institutes of Health, where she led the operations of the world’s largest extramural research program.

The FFAR Board of Directors is beginning the executive director search process with the goal to have new leadership identified before the end of the year.


Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.

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