OTA has hired global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry to lead the search for a new CEO and executive director to succeed Laura Batcha, who is departing the organization next spring.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has launched a nationwide search for a new CEO and executive director to succeed current CEO Laura Batcha, who plans to step down in spring 2022 after more than a decade of service to the Washington, D.C.-based organization and the organic community.
To fill this key role, OTA has hired Los Angeles-based global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, which has extensive experience working with similar associations and a successful track record in finding and placing top-tier executive directors and CEOs. OTA’s search committee comprisese members of the association’s board of directors and is led by board member Paul Schiefer, senior director of sustainability at Petaluma Calif.-based Amy’s Kitchen.
“If there’s one thing I’m feeling right now, it’s confident,” said Batcha. “Confident in my team at OTA, confident in the great folks at Korn Ferry who we’ve brought on to help with our search, and confident that the next person we select to lead this organization is going to bring a new outlook, fresh ideas, and a dedication to moving organic forward.”
Having worked on organic farms across the country; Batcha started her own organic botanicals business (Green Mountain Herbs, which was sold to Tom’s of Maine in 1999); worked for several years at a multinational organization, and for the last 13 years has been with the OTA. She first joined the organization in 2008 as director of marketing and public relations, and became CEO and executive director in January 2014. During her tenure, Batcha substantially expanded OTA’s size and scope by building a team of expert staff; establishing the association’s Washington, D.C., office and government relations arm; and expanding opportunities for member engagement. She also played a key role in positioning the organization as the voice of organic on Capitol Hill, resulting in millions more federal dollars going to key organic programs. Additionally, she has prioritized such issues as climate resilience, equity and systemic racism in the food and farm system, and animal welfare.
“OTA has grown tremendously over this past decade, thanks to Laura’s leadership,” noted Schiefer. “What we’re looking for is someone who can match that level of passion for organic, a visionary leader who can build on Laura’s legacy of success. OTA is steering the organic sector into the future; our next CEO will have the unique honor of guiding that journey.”
OTA’s CEO will provide leadership, coordination and oversight of the organization and serve as the public face of the association. Together with the board, the executive will define the association’s mission and establish shared objectives for member companies. The organization is looking for a leader with a visionary and inclusive style who excels at relationship management and is knowledgeable about the organic industry.
In September, the association named a new director of public affairs, Reana Kovalcik, to succeed its previous director of media relations, Maggie McNeil, who retired at the end of that month.
OTA is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America, representing more than 9,500 organic businesses in all 50 states. Its members encompass growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.