International business consultant Dawn Gray has received the first-ever Women’s Catalyst Award from Center for Growing Talent (CGT), recognizing her leadership in advancing women in the fresh produce and floral industry. Gray was honored at CGT’s Women’s Fresh Perspectives Leadership Breakfast on Saturday, Oct. 20. The breakfast was held in Orlando, Florida, in conjunction with Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) 2018 Fresh Summit Convention & Expo.
Gray, president of Dawn Gray Global Consulting, was presented the award by co-chairs of Center for Growing Talent’s Women’s Fresh Perspectives Committee, Sysco Produce Senior Sales Manager Nancy Johnston and Dave’s Specialty Imports Vice President Leslie Simmons. The new award honors one leader annually from the fresh produce and floral industry who is cultivating women’s potential by mentoring women, and by providing a path for women’s leadership, development and participation.
By recognizing an inspiring and innovative leader each year, Center for Growing Talent seeks to build industry’s awareness of the value of mentoring women, and to create excitement around women’s leadership. Nominees can be men or women, and must be PMA members. The new award was unveiled at the 2017 CGT Women’s Fresh Perspectives Leadership Breakfast.
“Our awardee has been an advocate for and promoter of women in every organization in which she has served,” said Johnston in teasing out Gray’s identity to the audience. “One nominator told us Dawn is, ‘Honest and transparent, she coached her team to greatness’. She hired women from other industries and taught them produce, bringing their skills and experience into our industry. She’s truly been a catalyst for women!” said Simmons.
“Dawn brings this award to life, and in the process, sets an example for others to join in to cultivate the potential of our industry women. That’s the definition of being a catalyst,” said CGT Vice President Talent Portfolio Alicia Calhoun.
“I love being connected with the word catalyst. To me, a catalyst creates change, and spurs people to action,” Gray told the audience while accepting her award. She credited those who had been her influencers, noting, “I’ve had the good fortune of having a lot of great catalysts in my life. It says a lot about this industry that if you operate with honesty, transparency and humility, and back up what you say, this industry will give you opportunities like you’ve never seen before.”
The Women’s Catalyst Award is one of two talent-centric leadership awards offered by Center for Growing Talent. The other is the Jay Pack Cultivating Our Future award; Sysco Corporation Vice president of Produce Rich Dachman, was named the first recipient of that award on Oct. 17 at CGT’s Contributor and Volunteer Reception.