Barbara O’Brien is president of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the domestic dairy checkoff program that drives trust and sales of dairy products on behalf of America’s 34,000 dairy farmers. O’Brien also serves as president and CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, a pre-competitive forum that advances collaboration among dairy companies, farmers and others in the dairy community to help ensure a socially responsible and economically viable industry in the future.
O’Brien instills an aggressive sales and outcomes-based mentality within her leadership team and staff, overseeing operating structures for business development, domestic and international sales, science and insights, marketing communications and finance. Through an evolution of the checkoff business plan, O’Brien created stronger integration and category strategies that have led to strong year-over-year sales growth for dairy through new food service and retail partnerships and product innovation, as well as increases in positive consumer perceptions around dairy and dairy farming.
In her role as president and CEO of the Innovation Center, she has brought together the leadership of 27 dairy companies and organizations to advance pre-competitive efforts and action within key areas like animal welfare, environmental sustainability, hunger and community impact. Under her leadership 32 companies representing 74% of the U.S. milk supply have signed the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment – dairy’s social responsibility pledge to customers and consumers. That Commitment also helped lay the groundwork for the announcement of U.S. Dairy’s 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals.
Prior to joining DMI, O’Brien directed Burson Marsteller’s Chicago-based healthcare consultancy. During her tenure, she provided executive-level counsel for Fortune 500 consumer packaged goods and pharmaceutical clients including Procter & Gamble, Dow Corning, Quaker Oats and Abbott Labs, establishing new business strategies for growing clients’ market share. She went on to co-found a healthcare consultancy that served the business and marketing planning needs of Chicago-area hospitals and health systems as well as companies in the medical device, pharmaceutical, food and nutrition segments.
O’Brien is a proud mother of two children and resides in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Mark.