Tyson Foods Board of Directors


John TysonJohn Tyson

Chairman of the Board

Chairman since 1998, Director since 1984


John brings to Tyson Foods’ board critical understanding of the company, its operations and the food processing industry.


He has devoted his entire working career to Tyson Foods. The grandson of the company’s founder, John has been part of the company since he was a teenager, has worked in almost every department, and eventually became the company’s chief executive officer. He currently serves as Chairman of the board and has a substantial financial interest in Tyson Foods through his interest in the Tyson Limited Partnership, which retains control of the company.


John has been crucial in building the company into a global leader with a conscience, focused on feeding the world great food, made with the utmost respect. Under his leadership, Tyson Foods has expanded its portfolio of products beyond chicken through major acquisitions. In 2001, the company purchased IBP, inc., the nation’s largest beef and pork processor. In 2014, Tyson Foods acquired The Hillshire Brands Company, a leading producer of branded, prepared foods. The combination of Tyson and Hillshire created a single company with more than $40 billion in annual sales and a portfolio of recognized brands, such as Tyson®, Jimmy Dean®, Hillshire Farm®, Sara Lee®, Ball Park®, Wright®, Aidells® and State Fair®.


John and other senior managers led the development of Tyson Foods’ “Core Values," which set goals and standards. The company strives to be an honorable company that employs diverse people and is respectful of their faith. His work has helped Tyson Foods take pride in the safety and quality of its products, and its dedication to meet customers’ and consumers’ needs. The company feeds families, the nation and the world with trusted food products.


He is actively involved in several philanthropic endeavors, including Tyson Foods’ charitable giving, which focuses on health and human services, community development, education, hunger relief and supporting military veterans. John has received numerous awards and recognitions for his commitment to the common good, improvement of local communities and the world at large. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Gaurdie E. Banister Jr.

Gaurdie E. Banister Jr.

Director since 2011

Gaurdie brings extensive leadership and international business experience to Tyson Foods’ board.

From 2007 to July 2015, he was the president and chief executive officer of Aera Energy LLC, one of California’s largest oil and gas producers. Aera is jointly owned by major energy companies Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil. In July, 2015 he retired from Aera Energy LLC.

Gaurdie began his career with Shell in 1980. He was involved in strategic planning, information technology and acquisitions during his 27 years with the company.

He started at Shell as an offshore facilities engineer and subsequently held a variety of executive level jobs including vice president for the company’s Asia Pacific region.


Governor Mike Beebe headshot

Mike Beebe

Director since 2015

Mike’s extensive leadership experience, ability to collaborate and his long-time support and understanding of business make him a valuable asset to the board.

He currently serves as a member of the Governors’ Council for the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., is an advisor to Arkansas State University and is of counsel to the Roberts Law Firm in Little Rock.

Mike was governor of Arkansas from 2007 to 2015, served as the state’s attorney general from 2003 to 2007 and was a state senator from 1983 to 2003.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Arkansas State University and earned his law degree from the University of Arkansas. He was involved in private law practice for 30 years and previously served on the board of trustees at Arkansas State University.

Mikel A. Durham

Mikel A. Durham

Director since 2015


Mikel brings a background in branded consumer packaged goods and a deep understanding of the foodservice industry to Tyson Foods’ board. Her experience leading international growth strategies will provide insight to the company as it continues to grow globally.


Mikel began her career in 1985 with management consulting firm Bain & Company, where she served in several roles working in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Russia. In 1994, she joined PepsiCo in the U.S., where she was promoted to vice president and general manager of the company’s south European and north African restaurant operations. Subsequently, she served as a managing director of Guinness, as president of Burger King North America; and as president of global supply for Cadbury Schweppes.


In 2009 she returned to PepsiCo where she progressed, finally serving as global growth officer for PepsiCo Foodservice. Her most recent role was the global chief commercial officer of the private equity backed CSM Bakery Solutions, a global bakery supply manufacturer. 


Kevin M. McNamara

Kevin M. McNamara

Director since 2007


Kevin’s financial expertise and professional career are critical to Tyson Foods’ board, audit committee and compensation and leadership development committee.


Since March 2015 he has served as the chief executive officer of CenseoHealth, a leading provider of in-home physician assessments. In addition, he is the founding principal of McNamara Family Ventures, a family investment office providing venture and growth capital to health care companies. He has served as a director of Agilum Healthcare Intelligence since 2011 and served as an operating partner in Health Evolution Partners, a private equity firm focused on healthcare, from 2013 through 2014. He has also served as a director of Luminex Corporation since 2007.


Kevin previously served as the vice chairman of Leon Medical Centers, a healthcare provider for Medicare patients, but he continues to serve on the Leon Medical Centers board of directors. From 2005 to 2009 he was executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of HealthSpring, Inc., a managed care company.


Kevin’s financial expertise and professional experience are critical to the Tyson Foods Board, the audit committee and the compensation committee. He qualifies as an “audit committee financial expert” under the rules of the SEC based upon his experience overseeing financial reporting processes, internal accounting and financial controls, as well as managing independent auditor engagements.


Brad T. Sauer

Brad T. Sauer

Director since 2008


Brad offers Tyson Foods’ board an extensive and varied perspective due to his multidisciplinary career and management expertise.


From 2004 to October 2012, Brad was executive vice president of health care business at 3M Co., a diversified technology company ranked on the Fortune 500. In such capacity, he was responsible for 3M’s worldwide healthcare operations. In October 2012, became executive vice president of 3M industrial business group. In May 2014, he retired from 3M Co.


Brad’s management expertise spans many disciplines, including sales and marketing, technology and product innovation, as well as manufacturing quality and processes. He is highly qualified to understand Tyson Foods’ challenges and opportunities.


Donnie Smith

Donnie Smith

Director since 2014


Donnie’s enthusiasm for Tyson Foods is contagious among the company's 124,000 Team Members. Appointed to his role as president and CEO in 2009, his passion is the hallmark of his tenure at the company, which he joined in 1980. Daily he guides Tyson Foods to be a company with a conscience, focused on feeding the world great, affordable food, while also making a positive difference in people’s lives.


Through his career, Donnie has worked to learn every angle of the Tyson Foods business. He joined Tyson, working in poultry operations for seven years in Tennessee before moving to the company’s headquarters in Springdale, Ark., where he started as a commodity buyer. He was named director of commodity purchasing in 1991 and during the next several years added complementary responsibilities to his management portfolio: logistics, purchasing and information systems in 2006; and engineering, food safety and quality assurance, and environmental health and safety in 2007. He moved into the company's consumer products division in 2008 and was named senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods in early 2009, the same year he was appointed as president and CEO.


A native of Tennessee, Donnie graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in animal science.


Robert C. Thurber

Robert C. Thurber

Director since 2009


Robert’s vast understanding of the food service industry provides Tyson Foods’ board with crucial insight to address the company’s opportunities and challenges.


Robert is also a director of Church Brothers Produce, a grower, processor, and shipper of fresh vegetables located in Salinas, Calif.


He served as vice president of purchasing for Sysco Corporation, the nation’s largest food service marketing and distribution company, from 1987 until he retired in 2007.


Robert held various executive positions with Sysco and, as vice president, was responsible for managing a staff of hundreds of people and directing numerous acquisitions.


Barbara A. Tyson

Barbara A. Tyson

Director since 1988


Barbara provides the board with in-depth insight into the company’s business and operations developed through years of experience as a Tyson Foods’ director and corporate officer.


She became a consultant to the company in 2002, after she retired as a Tyson Foods’ vice president.


Barbara has helped the board develop the company’s long-term strategy and build Tyson Foods into a worldwide leader in meat and poultry production.


She has contributed to Tyson Foods' understanding of the issues and the opportunities in bringing quality meat and poultry to tables globally. Barbara has also helped shape the company’s vision to sustainably improve diets, lives and communities around the world.


Barbara has a substantial personal interest in Tyson Foods as the sole income beneficiary of the Randal W. Tyson Testamentary Trust, which is a limited partner in the Tyson Limited Partnership.


Corporate Leadership

Executive Leaders

Our executive leaders come from diverse backgrounds in agriculture, animal science and business. Learn More >>

Leadership at Tyson Foods

Leadership at Tyson

Current and future leaders of Tyson Foods. Learn More >>