August 25, 2023


KANSAS CITY, Mo. Sixty-seven junior members from 15 different states gathered in Columbus, Ohio, for the 2023 Faces of Leadership Conference, hosted by the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) July 23-26.

The theme of the conference was “Prepare You for Your Future,” with threads of connecting consumer perspectives to the livestock industry, including touring and working with the Ohio State University (OSU) meat science department, listening to speakers from all walks of the food industry sector and enjoying exciting adventures at the Columbus Zoo and Zoombezi Water Park, and a barn dance to finish the event.

“Leadership is influence, and we create that influence by building relationships,” said Marlene Eick, 2023 conference speaker. The first day of the event kicked off with two incredible presenters, Eddie Slowikowski and Marlene Eick. Like the theme of the conference and the different leadership skills learned, juniors were encouraged to remember how their influence impacts others.

“I love that Hereford cattle is what connects us all and brings us all here, but then it’s so much more than that, there’s so much more to expect,” said Kaylee Lunsford, Fort Scott, Kan.

A tour of the historic OSU football stadium brought the excitement of juniors to the forefront, as they stood on the field gazing up at the stadium seats. An even more special moment followed, as Gene Smith, OSU athletics director, spoke on leadership in young people, an investment he has made a career of. An afternoon spent with Select Sires Inc., tapped into what the industry searches for when hiring.

“One of the things I like to say about young people when I recommend them, is that they’re not afraid to work,” said Brian House, vice president, beef program and product manager for Select Sires Inc. “The influence and hard work of the juniors in the NJHA are what set them apart from others in the career field.”

The Faces of Leadership conference is made possible by the Coley-Malir Leadership Endowment, through the Hereford Youth Foundation of America (HYFA). Rick Malir and Bonnie Coley-Malir hosted the attendees of this year’s conference throughout the event. Malir, president and founder of City Barbeque, was one of the closing speakers at OSU, and said, “What I hope you can take from this conference, is to dream just a little bit bigger, and to know that there’s a lot of different opportunities out there.”

The conference cultivates communication skills, encourages teamwork and focuses on individual development. Stay tuned for more information regarding next year’s conference.


The National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) is one of the largest, strongest and most active junior cattle programs in the country. Over the years, members of this association have gone on to earn international and domestic respect as models for youth organizational success. The NJHA, through its extensive educational programs, continues to lay the foundation for the beef industry’s future leaders. The traditions of the past coupled with the energy of today’s board of directors have created a progressive approach to further develop a meaningful and educational association focus.