Diedrichs honored with Dean Strauss Leadership award

Mark Diederichs, Malone, Wis., is the 2023 Dean Strauss Memorial recipient; an award presented in honor of former Sheboygan Falls, Wis., dairy producer Dean Strauss. The award recognizes those who exemplify visionary thinking and servant leadership in the dairy community and beyond.

Mark Diederichs was honored as the third recipient of the Dean Strauss Leadership Award on March 16 at the Professional Dairy Producers (PDPW) Business Conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. From Malone, Wis., Diederichs has long been passionate about working with dairy cattle, serving others and giving back to the dairy industry, his church and community.

“Mark is the model of a great leader – he truly has been one of the industry’s greatest partners,” said Shelly Mayer, PDPW Executive Director. “He is the first to offer his help no matter how tough the project and has touched countless lives.”

Diederichs has been passionate about dairy cattle all his life and began farming on his family farm before he and his wife Laurie married in 1982. The couple expanded their herd size over the years and eventually entered a partnership that today operates as Breeze Dairy Group. Diederichs served as manager of Lake Breeze Dairy – one of the three dairies that comprise Breeze Dairy Group – until his retirement in 2019.

Diederichs served as a member of the PDPW board from 2008-2014 and was president from 2012-2014. He also served as a board member and board chairman for Dairy’s Foundation, also known as Professional Dairy Producers Foundation. He continues to be involved in helping the foundation raise funds and create awareness about the ongoing need for contributions to support dairy-centric educational programs. Additionally, he has served as a Farm Bureau board member, a New Holstein FFA alumni and finance committee member, and a fundraising volunteer for the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center.

In addition, Diederichs’ church and community have benefitted from his spirit of servant leadership. December 2022 marked the grand opening of the Holyland Food Pantry, a 3,500-square-foot facility located in Marytown, Wis. He is also a former volunteer fireman for the town of Calumet Fire Department, a member of St. Peter’s Lions Club and is involved in the Fond du Lac Alzheimer’s Walk, raising funds in honor of his mother.

Mark and Laurie have three children; Eric, Heather (Alex) Winkel and Amber, as well as two grandsons; Logan, 15 and Carter, 10. Now that Mark has entered his retirement years, he enjoys spending time with friends, going on vacation and golfing. He also loves spending time with his family and being involved with his grandsons.

The Dean Strauss Leadership Award was established by the PDPW Board of Directors in 2021 in honor of Dean Strauss, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and industry leader who unexpectedly passed away in 2019 at the age of 48. The owner of Majestic Meadows Dairy, LLC, near Sheboygan Falls, Wis., Strauss was active in a number of dairy organizations and leadership boards, including PDPW’s board, on which he served as president.