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United Fresh Presents 21st Produce Leaders Class

Twelve members have commenced their acceptance into United Fresh's 2015-2016 Produce Industry Leadership Program. As the 21st class to begin the intensive program,which since its inception has been sponsored by a grant from DuPont Crop Protection, the following professionals are embarking on their produce indusry leadership journey:

  • Gary Beadles, RPE, Inc., Bancroft, WI
  • Julie DeWolf, Sunkist Growers, Valencia, CA
  • Justin Heffernan, Roundy’s Supermarkets, Milwaukee, WI
  • Tonya Hill, Frontera Produce, Ltd., Edinburg, TX
  • Robert Holthouse, Holthouse Farms/DRW Packing, Willard, OH
  • Jess Kerstein, Lipman, Immokalee, FL
  • James Martin, Wilson Produce, LLC, Nogales, AZ
  • Janine Meyer, NatureSweet Tomatoes, San Antonio, TX
  • Greg Ogiba, AMC Direct, Inc., Toronto, ON
  • Tim Rabon, Walter P. Rawl & Sons, Inc., Pelion, SC
  • Brian Vertrees, Naturipe Farms, Wenatchee, WA
  • Andrew White, Tosca, LTD, Atlanta, GA

Beginning this July, the members of Leadership Class 21 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 year-long 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 Ohio, Michigan and Ontario; Washington, D.C. and Wilmington, Del.; Southern California; and Chicago, where the class will graduate at the 2016 United Fresh Convention.

"We are proud to extend our congratulations to the newest class of the Produce Industry Leadership Program, and thank all of the candidates who applied for this year’s program,” said Leadership Advisory Committee Chairman Ron Midyett of Apio Inc. “We applaud their commitment to developing themselves into future leaders of the fresh produce industry.”

Miriam Wolk, United Fresh's VP of member services, expressed gratitude "for DuPont Crop Protection’s ongoing support of this program. [Its] generous investment in the future of our industry leaders has been instrumental to the success of this program...[which provides] a unique opportunity for our future leaders to grow professionally and personally.”

Candidates for the program submitted an application including two essays detailing 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 is comprised 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.

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