United Fresh Immediate Past Chair Cindy Jewell, SC Jewell Inc., has announced the slate of new officers and directors nominated to serve on the United Fresh Produce Association Board of Directors, effective at its March 19, 2020 meeting in Sonoma, CA.
Ascending to Chairman of the Board is Michael Muzyk, President, Baldor Specialty Foods, Inc., Bronx, NY. Michael spent the first part of his career as a CIA-trained chef. He discovered his love for cooking in high school working in the kitchen of a children’s camp and through the inspiration of a family member, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Upon graduating, he worked as a chef in various businesses around the country. In 1991, he made a career change to the supply side of the foodservice business. Four years later, he joined Baldor, quickly advancing through various positions until his present role as President. Michael previously served on United Fresh’s Wholesaler-Distributor Board. He is dedicated to giving back to the local community; he and the company are involved with local outreach organizations such as Edible Schoolyard, City Harvest, City Meals-on-Wheels and NYC Foodbanks.
Nominated as Chair-Elect is Danny Dumas, Senior Vice President N.A. Sales & Product Management, Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., Coral Gables, FL, who was born and raised in Canada where he studied in both English and French. Upon completion of college, he started his career in produce at Dole Fresh Fruit Company where he held various positions. In 1997, he joined Montreal produce wholesaler, J.B. Laverdure as a produce buyer and seller. A year later, Danny joined Del Monte Fresh Produce to manage its first and only Canadian office as District Sales Manager. Since that time, he has held various positions with Del Monte Fresh including Vice President of Operations for Europe and Africa at its European offices in Monte Carlo, Monaco. In 2014, Danny returned to Florida, and assumed his current position in April 2019. Danny will assume the Chairmanship of United Fresh in 2021.
Nominated as Secretary-Treasurer is Michael Castagnetto, President, Robinson Fresh, Eden Prairie, MN. Michael uses his nearly 20 years of experience and knowledge to open global, perishable supply chains and continues to build relationships with those in the fresh produce industry. He has built and sustained relationships with growers, suppliers and customers with a goal of helping them build, develop and evolve their businesses. His ability to integrate logistics with fresh produce helps to drive growth for Robinson Fresh and the company’s industry partners. He is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California.
Current United Fresh Board Chairman Greg Corrigan, CEO, United Vegetable Growers Cooperative, will move to the position of Immediate Past Chair and remain on the Board and the Executive Committee.
The following industry leaders have been nominated to serve as new members of the United Fresh Board for a two-year term beginning March 2020:
Melissa Melshenker Ackerman is President of Produce Alliance, Chicago, IL. Melissa leads a national produce company specializing in consulting and purchasing of fresh produce from field to fork. Prior to being named President, she held the positions of Associate General Counsel, VP of Sales, and Executive VP of Sales. She also created the PA Foundation, a philanthropic organization designed to be a first-line responder to emergent humanitarian situations. Melissa also serves on the Advisory Board for Freight Farms and was recognized as a winner of Produce Business’ 40 under Forty in 2018. Melissa studied at the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 2005 with three distinct degrees in Legal Studies, Women’s Studies, and Spanish. She earned her J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law in 2008.
José Antonio Gómez Bazán is Managing Director of Camposol International, Lima, Peru. He has extensive international experience in the fresh food industry and international trade, including leading the international expansion of Camposol group in Europe, USA and China. He currently serves as Vice Chair of the Peruvian Avocado Commission, Director of the World Avocado Organization and Alt. Director of the Hass Avocado Board. He was a past board member in the Produce Marketing Association and is a past chair of the Peruvian Institute of Asparagus (IPEH). His previous experience includes senior management positions at Chiquita Brands in the US, Costa Rica and Europe, as well as Director of Corporate Banking at Banco de Credito del Peru and Project Manager at IBM Peru.
Lisa McNeece is Vice President of Foodservice and Industrial Sales for Grimmway Enterprises Inc., Bakersfield, CA. She began her career with Grimmway back in 1991. She has served on various industry boards including United Fresh, PMA, Produce for Better Health, and the USDA Fruit & Vegetable Advisory committee. Since the inception of the United Fresh Start Foundation, she has given a great deal of her time and energy to increasing the needs and awareness for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in schools around the country. She was recognized as United Fresh’s Women in Produce honoree in 2013, received PMA’s Foodservice Achievement Award in 2008 and was recognized in the Packer 25 in 2010. Lisa joins the Board as Chair of the United Fresh Start Foundation.
James Rogers is Founder & CEO of Apeel Sciences, Goleta, CA. Dr. Rogers leads corporate strategy and Apeel’s team of award-winning scientists in developing plant-derived technologies that keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer. James received dual undergraduate degrees from Carnegie Mellon University in Materials Science & Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, and his PhD in Materials from the University of California, Santa Barbara. James was the 2012 recipient of the Frank J. Padden Jr. Award in polymer physics, the premier polymer physics prize in the United States.
Natalie Shuman is the Director of Trade and Retail Marketing for Apeel Sciences, Goleta, CA. Natalie has over 15 years of experience in B2B Trade Marketing, Shopper & Consumer Marketing, Public Relations and Journalism, along with over a decade's worth of produce marketing knowledge. Natalie led the development and global management of the Sun World brand, as well as marketing strategies across all of the company's B2B and B2C touch points. Prior to Sun World, Natalie gained internal and external communications experience at Kaiser Permanente and most recently, prior to Apeel, Natalie broadened her industry knowledge to include ag technology, as the Director of Marketing for Concentric Ag. Natalie is a United Fresh Produce Leadership Program alumna (Class 18) and joins the Board as Chair of the Leadership Alumni Board.
Mary Thompson is the Chief Executive Officer of Bonduelle Fresh Americas, Irwindale, CA. Mary brings more than 25 years of experience to the role having led various business segments at Cargill, a global business-to-business company with more than 150,000 employees and food, agriculture, financial and industrial customers in more than 125 countries. Most recently, she was President and Managing Director of Cargill Meats Europe, a $1 billion business with 3,000 employees in the United Kingdom, France and Russia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and social relations from Harvard University and an MBA with emphasis in finance and strategy from Columbia University.
Current Board members nominated to new positions of service on Market Segment Boards and Councils include:
- Chair, Grower-Shipper Board – Eric Halverson, Chief Executive Officer, Black Gold Farms, Grand Forks, ND
- Vice-Chair, Grower-Shipper Board – Paul Lightfoot, President, BrightFarms, Irvington, NY
- Chair, Retail-Foodservice Board – Sarah Grady, Manager, U.S. Strategic Supply Chain, McDonalds Corporation, Chicago, IL
- Vice-Chair, Retail-Foodservice Board - Richard Gonzales, Vice President, Global Produce Sourcing, Walmart Stores Inc., Bentonville, AR
The following officers of Market Segment Boards and Councils will continue their service on the Board:
- Chair, Fresh-Cut Processor Board – Raina Nelson, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain, Renaissance Food Group, Rancho Cordova, CA
- Vice Chair, Fresh-Cut Processor Board, Sparky Locke, Nipomo, CA
- Chair, Wholesaler-Distributor Board – Tom Brugato, President, Pacific Coast Fruit Company, Portland, OR
- Vice-Chair, Wholesaler-Distributor Board – Jason Hollinger, President & CEO, Four Seasons Family of Companies, Ephrata, PA
- Chair, Finance & Business Management Council – Michael McGee, Vice President, Finance, L & M Companies, Raleigh, NC
- Chair, Food Safety & Technology Council – Cheryl Enlow, Vice President, Quality Assurance and Food Safety, Renaissance Food Group, Rancho Cordova, CA
- Chair, Government Relations Council – Mark Klompien, President/CEO, United Potato Growers of America, Salt Lake City, UT
- Chair, Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council – Mark Munger, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, 4EARTH Farms, Los Angeles, CA
- Chair, Supply Chain Logistics Council – Jeff Moore, Vice President of Sales, Midwest Region, Tom Lange Company, Inc., St. Louis, MO
The following At-Large Board Members will continue their service on the Board: Mason Arnold, Cece’s Veggie Co.;Jim Bair, U.S. Apple Association; Luca Ascari, ABL SpA; Jeff Church, Church Brothers; Chris Ciruli, Ciruli Brothers, LLC; Dave Donat, Produce Pro; John Gates, Lancaster Foods; Mark Girardin, North Bay Produce; CJ Given, Taylor Farms Retail; Roger Harkrider, Brookshire Grocery Company; Jim Hay, CORTEVA Agriscience; Jeff Huckaby, Grimmway Enterprises; Zak Laffite, Wonderful Citrus; Hector Lujan, Reiter Affiliated Companies; David Murray, Sundance Berry Farms; John Newell, Windset Farms; Ramon Paz-Vega, Zano SA de CV; Jim Schallman, Danaco Solutions; Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, Seald Sweet International/Greenyard USA; Rob Strube III, Strube Celery & Vegetable Company and Allie Wainer, Sid Wainer & Son.
“Our organization thrives on the strength and diversity of the leadership on the United Fresh Board of Directors,” said United Fresh’s President & CEO Tom Stenzel. “This slate of new Board members, along with those returning to the Board, will provide a strong representation and leadership of our industry.”
Board members concluding service at the March 2020 meeting include: Immediate Past Chair Cindy Jewell, SC Jewell Inc.; Jeff Cady, Tops Friendly Markets, who also served as Chair of the Retail-Foodservice Board; John Jackson, Beachside Produce, who also served as Chair of the Grower-Shipper Board; Doug Kling, Kling Strategic Partners; Phil Muir, Muir Copper Canyon Farms, who also served as Chair of the United Fresh Start Foundation, Kristen Reid, MIXTEC Group, who also served as Chair of the Leadership Alumni Board and Brent Scattini, Seven Seas Fruit.
“I’d like to extend a personal thanks to all of the Board members who are concluding their service at this upcoming meeting, including our Immediate Past Chair Cindy Jewell who provided exceptional leadership to our organization during her years of service,” said Stenzel. “With an industry as diverse and complex as ours, we are grateful to the dedicated members of our Board who have helped navigate the challenges in our industry and further advance our organization. We appreciate the time and service they have dedicated to United and the industry.”
“I’d also like to personally thank Cindy and Board Development Committee members, Greg Corrigan, Michael Muzyk, Danny Dumas, Eric Halverson, Sparky Locke, Jason Hollinger and Sarah Grady for their work this year in nominating an impressive slate of officers and Board members. Their job was to help develop a strong and representative leadership on the Board for the coming years to drive our association forward, and I commend them for developing this strong slate of industry leaders,” Stenzel said.