Martha Furst

Vice Chairman, Furst-McNess Company

Martha W. Furst currently serves as vice chairman of the Furst-McNess Company, a $250 million livestock feed and animal nutrition company. She is a fourth generation leader of the 105-year-old family business. McNess markets and distributes vitamin and mineral premixes, commodities, and byproducts from ethanol and food and beverage companies. Its regions include the Rockies, the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the Southeast in the U.S., and most of Canada. Its headquarters are in Freeport, Ill., in Northwest Illinois, and it has feed manufacturing/blending plants in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and Georgia. 

The company is primarily owned by the descendants of the founding families (the Fursts and the McNesses) but is governed by an independent board of directors with a mix of family and independent members. The board currently consists of four family members and three independent members. 

Martha has worked for Furst-McNess since 1995, and served as CEO from 2000– 2011 before transitioning to vice chairman, which has enabled her to pursue community interests. She has also served six years on the American Feed Industry Association board of directors. She has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. She recently co-chaired the Freeport Health Network’s fundraising drive for its cancer center upgrade and expansion and has also led a fundraising and membership drive for the Freeport Art Museum. Most recently she advised the City of Freeport for nine months as a financial consultant.

Martha is active in the Episcopal Church in Freeport and the Diocese of Chicago, and spent a month in 2012 in Nzara, South Sudan, with the Episcopal Church of Sudan. She is a member of C200 and WPO (World Presidents Organization), and is a former commissioner of the Freeport, Illinois Water and Sewer Commission and Lincoln-Douglas Sesquicentennial Celebration Commission.

She has a BA from Yale College, 1984, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1988.