DES MOINES – Chris Novak, CEO of the National Pork Board, is stepping down to lead the National Corn Growers Association. John Johnson, COO has been named interim CEO during the search for Novak's successor.

Novak, who is leaving Oct. 1, spent six years with the NPB. During his tenure, the board refreshed the image of pork with the creation of the "newPork. Be inspired" campaign. NPB noted that pork has led all proteins in growth within foodservice, and consumer demand for US pork is at an all-time high since the campaign launched in 2011. The National Pork Board also has implemented new programs in animal welfare, disease research, food chain communication and environmental sustainability.

Novak said the pork industry is responding to consumer demand for greater assurance of quality, animal welfare and sustainability.

“I have been honored to be a part of a team that is committed to meeting the needs of our farmers and consumers," Novak said, reflecting on his time at the Checkoff. “I’m grateful to the farmers who invest in the Pork Checkoff, the Pork Checkoff's board of directors and the Pork Checkoff state and national staff members for the opportunity to serve this great industry. I look forward to continuing to work with the livestock industry from my new position.”

NPB plans to use an executive search firm to assist in a national search for Novak's replacement. Details of the search process will be announced later this month, NPB said.

“We're grateful to Chris for his leadership these past several years,” said Dale Norton, board president and a pork producer from Bronson, Mich. “With Chris’ guidance, our Pork Checkoff team built stronger relationships with pork producers across the country, with our state pork associations and with our partners in the food chain. Chris brought a spirit of collaboration that served our organization and our industry well.”