Auburn, IN | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2009
From education to high-profile career
posts to family commitments, Elizabeth
“Beth” Bechdol says, “I live for the
challenge and I give 100 percent of
everything I have to that challenge.”
After graduating cum laude from
Georgetown University’s School of
Foreign Service, she enrolled in Purdue’s
agricultural economics master’s program
in international trade and policy, earning
her degree and Outstanding Master’s
Thesis Award in 1996.
That June, she joined Sparks
Companies Inc. (now Informa
Economics) staying five years as vice
president. She then spent a year as
deputy staff economist for the Senate
Agriculture Committee and three as chief
of staff to the under secretary for Farm
and Foreign Agricultural Services at the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
After nearly a decade on Capitol Hill,
Indiana and family called her home,
where she was invited to take on the
challenge of helping launch the state’s
first Department of Agriculture.
She spent three years as deputy director,
an experience, she says, “I wouldn’t
trade for anything.”
In December 2007, she was recruited
by Indianapolis’s Ice Miller LLP to debut
and direct the firm’s agribusiness
strategies and lead business development
and marketing efforts.
She lives in her native DeKalb County,
where her father still farms. Spending
time with family is her chosen pastime
today, with many activities, such as
horseback riding and ballet lessons,
centered on her daughter, Grace, 7. “I
wish I could claim car racing or rock
climbing as a hobby,” she says, “but right
now I simply enjoy every chance I get to
be with my family.”
Because of family members’ diagnoses,
she’s also active with the Cystic Fibrosis
Foundation and the Indiana Chapter of the
Huntington’s Disease Society of America.
She also serves on several Purdue and
agricultural boards and associations.
“Purdue’s master’s program offered a great complementary
set of skills by taking analytics, concepts, thoughts,
and words, and putting quantitative substance behind them.
It’s also where I learned how the agricultural industry
works and what the relationships are.”