The vice-chair of American Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership committee is moving up a chair. At the AFBF 2021 Convention Isabella Chism, running unopposed, was elected chair of the committee for the next two years. Chism is 2nd vice president of Indiana Farm Bureau and will succeed Sherry Saylor of Arizona.
“It’s a responsibility and challenge that I both look forward to and have been a bit hesitant of, only because there are big shoes to fill,” Chism said. “Sherry is a different type of leader than I am and will be and I believe that that’s the way it should be, but that gives you a little bit of hesitation as you’re looking ahead, but I am excited for what’s ahead of us.”
The Women’s Leadership program provides women with leadership training, communication skills and networking opportunities to, among other things, build trust in American agriculture. Chism thinks the work of Farm Bureau and her committee is paying dividends.
“We just recently heard that because of going through this pandemic and the break in the supply chain that farmers are now the number one trusted voice with farm women being just a touch above that, and it’s been a long time since the farmer has been the respected and trusted voice. So, that is a real plus and also part of the work that we continue to do, building that trust with the consumer.”
Two key Women’s Leadership programs are the biannual Women’s Communication Boot Camp and the annual Women’s Washington D.C. fly-in, from which better leaders emerge.
“When you have peer on peer training and peer on peer development like that, you have a comfort level that stretches you. That is our entire goal, just to give women that awareness of who they are, what they have available to them, and then help them to develop those strengths as best they can to be those strong advocates that we already know that they are in the home.”
Chism added, “I am honored to accept this new role along with the great responsibility that it brings. It is deeply humbling to have the support of my peers around the country. I look forward to working with our national committee and staff as well as Farm Bureau women and grassroots members to reach for the stars while keeping our feet firmly planted in nutrient-rich soil.”
Chism served as vice chair the past six years and she has been in her position at Indiana Farm Bureau for 13 years. She and her husband, Kent, raise corn, soybeans, and sweet corn in Howard County, an hour north of Indianapolis, Indiana.