Sally Rockey, Ph.D.

Following a long and distinguished career of leading agricultural and biomedical research administration, Dr. Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), retired on February 28, 2022.  

Rockey joined FFAR in 2015, as the organization’s inaugural executive director. Rockey led FFAR through its startup phase, and through her leadership, the organization has become a significant force in food and agriculture research. Her creativity and expertise led to hundreds of partnerships with the private and philanthropic sectors and she spearheaded innovative methods of public-private collaboration to further food and agriculture science.

During her tenure, Rockey oversaw the awarding of more than 250 grants advancing food and agriculture research, totaling over $650 million. She oversaw the creation of several prizes and consortia, capitalized on opportunities to further pioneering research and has been a relentless advocate of FFAR’s science workforce development programs. 

Under Rockey’s leadership, FFAR received additional funding in the 2018 Farm Bill, greatly expanding its capacity to support audacious science.

Prior to joining FFAR, Rockey was a dedicated public servant, overseeing the operations of extramural research programs in both agriculture and biomedicine. She spent almost twenty years with the United States Department of Agriculture, where she held several positions within the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, including head of Competitive Research Grants and Chief Information Officer. 

From there, she spent eleven years with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As the NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, she led the operations of the world’s largest extramural research program. 

Rockey received her doctorate degree in entomology from the Ohio State University and did postgraduate work at University of Wisconsin. She has devoted her career to improving people’s lives through research and continues this mission in retirement.