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.
Sharma Hammond Torrens began working for the Department in 2017 as the Legislative/Research Policy Administrator. Her duties included working with legislators, monitoring legislation, drafting press releases, acting as the intermediary with the media as well as educating the public about the importance of agriculture. Recently, Sharma changed positions and became the Marketing Manager. Her new duties include writing grants for the Department, education and outreach, managing the Food Access workshops and acting as the Tribal Liaison.
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.
Assistant Director of the Office of Commodity Development and PromotionLeatta 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 (AZDA), the university system, and state-wide capital projects, among other assignments. Upon leaving JLBC in October 2012, she accepted the Associate Director position with AZDA’s Animal Services Division. On July 1, 2018 she began her new role as the Assistant Director of AZDA’s Office of Commodity Development and Promotion.
Public Information Officer
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.
Citrus Fruit and Vegetable Standardization / Federal State Inspection Service
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 has been married for 35 years to Tahlie and has two children both graduates of the University of Arizona. Kelcey remains in Tucson and for the past year has been a stay at home mom. Ross is an area manager for Amazon in Kasas City. 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 DivisionVince 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.
John Caravetta 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. Additionally, John currently serves as Vice-President of the National Plant Board, a 50-state organization representing Departments of Agriculture’s State Plant Regulatory Officials.
Weights and Measures Services Division
Michelle Wilson has lived in Arizona since 1980 and received her bachelor’s degree with a dual major in Environmental Science and Chemistry from Northern Arizona University. She has worked in consulting, industry, and government for 25 years, with a focus on environmental compliance programs. In 2012, Michelle accepted a position at the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures managing the vapor recovery and fuel quality programs. Michelle began her current job as the Associate Director when the Weights and Measures Services Division was formed within the Department of Agriculture in 2016. The Division has 16 investigators, 2 metrologists, and 5 office staff, conducting over 5,000 inspections each year to protect consumers and businesses. Michelle is an active member of the National Weights and Measures Association and ASTM International.