Blue Diamond Growers has broadened the responsibilities of CFO Dean LaVallee, who will now also serve as COO of the grower-owned almond cooperative. In this dual role, he will oversee the finance, global ingredients and information technology functions, and report to president and CEO Mark Jansen.
LaVallee joined the Sacramento, Calif.-based Blue Diamond Growers in 2011. Prior to that, he held several leadership positions at Kraft Foods, Inc., including VP of finance transformation, VP of finance for international manufacturing and VP of dairy procurement, among other roles.
“We are so pleased to expand Dean’s responsibilities to include that of chief operating officer,” said Jansen. “His strategic and proven leadership over the last decade within our organization has established a crucial foundation for Blue Diamond’s success in ensuring maximum returns to our grower-owners. In his new role, Dean will bring together the needed infrastructure, technology and resources for our continued growth and prosperity.”
In addition to LaVallee’s expanded duties, the co-op reported other personnel changes. Laura Gerhard has been promoted to a VP role in which she will spearhead the global ingredients division. Longtime employee Bill Morecraft, who first joined Blue Diamond in 1986, is retiring from his leadership role in the global ingredients division.
“It is leaders such as Bill who have helped to make Blue Diamond Growers the global leader in almonds that it is today,” added Jansen. “All of us at Blue Diamond sincerely thank Bill for his hard work, dedication, and numerous contributions over the years and wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement. I also want to congratulate Laura on her promotion. I have great trust in her leadership.”