Director & Leadership

Director of the Department of Agriculture

Mark Killian has been involved in Arizona State government since 1983. District 30 voters first elected him to the Arizona House of Representatives at the young age of 27. He quickly went to work and represented his district very well as the Vice Chairman of the Agriculture Committee. A few years later, he became the Chairman of the Public Institutions committee and two years later he earned Chairman of the Ways and Means committee. After his work on those committees, Representatives elected him Republican Majority Leader. In 1992, Mr. Killian earned their support and became Speaker of the House; he served in that capacity for two terms. While in his leadership positions, he was awarded the Republican Legislator of the year award and recognized as the Public Official of the year by Governing Magazine. After 14 years in the Arizona House of Representatives, Governor Fife Symington appointed him to serve as the Director of the Arizona Department of Revenue where he served as its director for almost six years.

In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer appointed Mr. Killian as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents. During his five-year term, he served as Board Chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer.

 In April 2015, Governor Doug Ducey appointed Mr. Killian the director of the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Killian was the prime sponsor of the legislation the created the Arizona Department of Agriculture in the early 1990s while serving in the Arizona Legislature.

Mr. Killian comes from a family that has been involved in Agriculture in Arizona for more than 100 years. His family farming and ranching operations spanned Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky and California. Currently the Killian family is farming 1500 acres land in Pinal County, Arizona and ranching in Graham and Cochise counties in Arizona. The ranching operations runs cattle on 160,000 acers of land with a cow herd of 500. Mr. Killian also owns and operates a registered Angus cattle herd that produces bulls for the family ranching operation and markets to local ranchers in Arizona.

He not only works in agriculture, but he and his brother own and operate a commercial real estate brokerage; Mr. Killian has been a licensed real estate broker in Arizona for almost 35 years specializing in the management of shopping centers and the development of small suburban office buildings.

Mr. Killian is also the chairman of the Green Reservoir Flood Control District and the Chairman of the Lower Santa Cruz River Alliance.

He has also been active in the Boy Scouts of America earning his Eagle Scout Award and serving in many youth and adult leadership positions.

He is married to his wife Nancy (Nancy comes from a long time farming family in Arizona) for 40 years and they have six children and 14 grandchildren.

Mr. Killian earned his Bachelor’s Degree in business administration with a specialization of real estate and urban planning from Arizona State University in 1981.

 

Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture

Jeff Grant, our new Deputy Director, was born in Kansas, but moved to Arizona in 1967 when he was seven years old.  He graduated from Sunnyslope High School and Arizona State University. Jeff married his high school sweetheart Elizabeth. They have 3 children—Alex, Jake and Katie.

Jeff started his state government career in 1987 when he was hired at the Arizona House of Representatives to staff the Public Institutions Committee. He went on to serve as the Special Assistant to the Majority Leader and Chief of Staff for Speaker Mark Killian.

In 1997, Jeff moved to the Arizona Department of Revenue where he served as Deputy Director to Director Mark Killian.

From 2004-2007, Jeff served as the Director of Programs and Advocacy for the Arizona State University Alumni Association.

In 2007, Jeff became the Director of the Corporations Division at the Arizona Corporation Commission where he served until 2011 when he was named the Deputy Director at the Arizona Department of Administration.

 

Legislative/Research Policy Administrator

Sharma Hammond Torrens began working for the Department in 2017 as the Legislative/Research Policy Administrator. Her duties include working with legislators, monitoring legislation, writing grants and educating the public about the importance of agriculture.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Sharma attended A.S.U. and received her Bachelors of Science in Biology. She worked as a wildlife biologist for four years, and then she decided to attend law school.

Sharma received her Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2005. She worked for several years with various conservation organizations. Initially, Sharma wanted to be an attorney for a nonprofit conservation organization. Since job prospects were slim after she graduated, she practiced civil litigation in Arizona, California and Washington, D.C. After seven years, Sharma went to work for a nonprofit organization, which happened to focus on conserving agriculture.

Sharma, like many Gen Xers, grew up not appreciating the importance of agriculture or understanding how food is produced. Sharma did not comprehend that farms and ranches provide open space and wildlife habitat. It was also not apparent to Sharma that farmers and ranchers are very efficient at producing food, they take care of their animals and are ultimately the best conservationists and stewards of the land.  

Spending four years with the organization that conserves agriculture, getting to know farmers and ranchers, and having graduated from Project CENTRL (rural leadership program), helped Sharma understand how vital agriculture is. Her passion became helping others understand the value and importance of farms and ranches and to ultimately sustain agriculture. 

 

Public Information Officer

Position Vacant

Legal Counsel to the Department

Chris McCormack was raised on his family’s ranch in central Oregon. He grew up working cattle and spending most of his summers haying. Chris actively participated in 4H and FFA. He attended the FFA’s Washington Leadership Conference, held several officer positions, won the state Agricultural Sales proficiency his senior year and went on to achieve the highest degree awarded in FFA, his American Farmer Degree. During high school, Chris accepted a welding position at a livestock equipment manufacturing company where he worked with horse and cattle producers throughout the Northwest to fabricate panels, feeders, chutes, and custom projects. Chris was quickly promoted to a supervisor position, and in 2007, when the company opened another location, Chris moved to Cottonwood, CA to serve as the new store manager.

Chris continued going to school while working and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture from Oregon State University. In 2011, Chris married his best friend and wife, Valerie, and moved to Arizona to attend law school. He graduated from ASU’s Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and spent the next two years working as a prosecutor for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. As a prosecutor Chris gained trial experience and became familiar with the legal system. In the fall of 2014, Chris and his wife welcomed their first child Cody into the world.

In September 2016, Chris was hired as an Assistant Attorney General to represent the Arizona Department of Agriculture. This position allows Chris to combine his legal education, agricultural background and experience so he can properly advise the Department on its legal issues.

Divisions of the Department of Agriculture

Animal Services 

Leatta McLaughlin is a 5th generation Arizonan, and she grew up on a small family farm in Palo Verde, AZ. She attended Arizona State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness. She also received a master’s degree from Purdue University in Agricultural Economics. After college, she worked as an Assistant Director for the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC), which is the Arizona State Legislature’s non-partisan budget office. While at JLBC, she was the budget analyst for the Arizona Department of Agriculture, the university system, and state-wide capital projects, among other assignments. Upon leaving JLBC in October 2012, she accepted the Associate Director position with the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Animal Services Division (ASD). ASD is responsible for protecting consumers from contagious and infectious disease in livestock, poultry, commercially raised fish, meat, milk, and eggs. The division is made up of the following areas: Egg Inspections, Dairy Inspections, Livestock Services, Meat and Poultry Inspections, and State Veterinarian’s Office.

Citrus Fruit and Vegetable Standardization / Federal State Inspection Service

Ed was born and raised in Casa Grande, Arizona. He was a regular hand on the farm as soon as he could swing a hoe. The Foster Farm grew various crops, mainly cotton, alfalfa, grain, safflower, but also some watermelons and then later lettuce for Bud Antle.  He graduated from Casa Grande Union High School and then attended Mesa Community College. After college, Ed began work for the Federal State Inspection Service (FSIS) based in Phoenix. He worked for FSIS for five years before joining the Arizona Citrus, Fruit and Vegetable Standardization in 1979. Ed started as an inspector and later became the Assistant Supervisor for CFV. After 18 years of work, Ed departed CFV. In 1997, he worked for Empire Fruit Company in Queen Creek, Arizona for five years. Although he enjoyed working in the Citrus Industry, housing development had replaced all of the citrus groves in the Chandler Heights area and led him to his next opportunity. In 2002, Weyerhaeuser started developing business in the West in order to build a new bulk packaging plant in Exeter, California.  Ed then became Weyerhaeuser’s Sales Engineer for the bulk packaging for the Southwest region. He won several sales awards and excelled in bringing new business to the company. After seven great years, the Weyerhaeuser Corporation decided to sale their whole packaging division to International Paper. Soon after the acquisition Ed returned to the AZDA as the Assistant Director of Citrus, Fruit and Vegetable Standardization. Ed now lives in the Casa Grande - Eloy area with his wife of eleven years, Suzette. Ed has one child, his son Randall.

Environmental Services

Jack Peterson grew up working on a family farm in Minnesota, received a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from North Dakota State University and then spent 10 years working in North Dakota, as an engineer, an educator and a regulator. He moved to Arizona in 1994 to begin his current job as the Associate Director of the Environmental Services Division (ESD).  Programs within this division include: the consumer protection program for pesticide, feed, seed, and fertilizer; the pesticide compliance and worker safety programs relating to pesticide use in agriculture; and finally licensing, which includes certification, brands, licensing, and registration for many of the department’s programs including the Native Plant program.  Jack is active in many national pesticide related organizations.  

  

Jack has been married for 34 years to Tahlie and has two children both graduates of the University of Arizona.  Kelcey remains in Tucson and recently became a stay at home mom. Ross is an area manager for Amazon in Phoenix. Tahlie is the first grade teacher that everyone wants their children to have in the Spanish Immersion Program in the Cave Creek District with her 32 years of teaching experience.

 

Pest Management Division

Vince Craig is a native to the great state of Arizona.  He has worked in State government for over 27 years.  He has worked for the Pest Management Division for the past 26 years (formerly, Office of Pest Management and  prior to that, the Structural Pest Control Commission).  He has served as a Compliance Inspector, Continuing Education Coordinator, Investigations Supervisor, Deputy Director, Compliance Manager and now serves as an Associate Director.  Prior to working for the PMD, he worked 2 years on the administrate side for a pest control firm.  He has been married to the love of his life since 1990-- which almost coincides with the length of time he has served in State government.  He has 2 adorable cats.  And, in his spare time enjoys community outreach, video editing and photography.

 

 

 

 

 

Plant Services

John received his Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Agronomy from Purdue University in Indiana. Following completion of his Master’s program, John spent five years as a County Agricultural Extension Agent in Indiana’s largest agricultural county. Following development of a sound background in production agriculture, John joined American Cyanamid Company, a $1 billion global agricultural chemicals enterprise. John ended his career with American Cyanamid as their Western States Regional Manager before coming to the Arizona Department of Agriculture in 1998. John has been with the department 19 years as the Associate Director overseeing the Plant Services Division.

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