Michele Esch

Chief of Staff


Michele Esch is the first official Chief of Staff for the Economic Research Service. The Chief of Staff assists the Administrator with agency oversight of operational studies, program analysis, budget development and execution, advice, and guidance relating to policy and program issues. Michele has over 20 years of government service in agriculture, of which 12 years are exclusively with USDA. Most recently, she was the Executive Director of the National Agricultural Research, Education and Economics Advisory Board and a Senior Advisor to the USDA, Under Secretary for the Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area. In this capacity, she was the Designated Federal Officer working with the NAREEE Advisory Board and its subcommittees where she routinely interacted with USDA leadership and agricultural leaders from across the country to provide advice and recommendations to USDA on matters related to research, education, and economics.


Michele previously worked for the Agricultural Research Service as a Grants Management Analyst where she wrote and implemented policies and procedures for the ARS extramural agreements program. Prior to her federal service with USDA, Michele served eight years with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Office of Resource Conservation, where she administered the programmatic, fiduciary, and outreach efforts of the Conservation Grants Program, a program dedicated to implementing conservation practices on farms.

Michele has served in several temporary duty assignments within USDA. Most notably, she served as the Acting Chief of Staff for the Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area from January 2017 through October 2018. She also worked with the ARS Office of National Programs to assist in the writing and implementation of the 2012-2015 ARS Strategic Plan; the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach to develop a USDA-wide outreach program; and as the Acting Chief of Staff for ARS.

Michele is from New Jersey but has roots in Louisiana and Georgia. Michele graduated from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management. Michele currently resides in Maryland with her husband, teenage daughter, and their wonder dog.