The United Fresh Produce Association inducted the 12 members of its 2016-2017 Industry Leadership Program class, the program's 22nd. Sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection, the program launched in 1995 and has graduated more than 200 participants.
The 12 members are:
- Katie Birkhauser, Dole Fresh Vegetables
- John Carkoski, The Fresh Group Ltd.
- Kelly Catchot, Renaissance Food Group
- Nick Chappell, California Giant Berry Farms
- Melina Lopez, Walmart Stores
- Adam Lytch, L&M
- Brendan Miele, Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo Inc.
- Melissa Olsen, Freshway Foods
- Max Saad, Mastronardi Produce
- LeighAnne Thomsen, Mission Produce
- Jonathan Vance, 4Earth Farms
- Megan Zweig, DMA Solutions Inc.
Beginning in July, the new members will participate in a number of educational events and outings centered on the four core focus areas of the program: leadership development, business relationships, government and public affairs, and media and public communications.
During the yearlong fellowship, participants will take part in a series of customized trips, which include face-to-face meetings with leading industry players, hands-on training with top industry experts and educators, interactive experiences with influential leaders in Washington, and more. This year's schedule will feature expansive trips to Washington State; Washington, D.C.; Wilmington, Del.; Arizona; and Chicago, where the class will graduate at the 2017 United Fresh Convention.
"We are thrilled to welcome the newest class of the Produce Industry Leadership Program,” said Amanda Griffin, senior director of meetings and member programs, United Fresh. “We congratulate the … class for their commitment to becoming future fresh produce leaders.”
Candidates for the program submitted an application including two essays that detailed their interest in the program and what they consider the most important challenges affecting the produce industry. Applications were reviewed by the leadership advisory committee, which comprises of United Fresh board members and program alumni. The committee is responsible for assessing each candidate based on their experience and expertise, as well as developing a class that is balanced and representative of the industry.