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Meet Class 20 of the Produce Industry Leadership Program


Mike Anderson joined Kingston Fresh in 2000 where he currently holds the position of Director of International Procurement.  He oversees and manages the company’s imports division, focusing on product expansion and new market analysis.  Mike earned a Bachelors of Arts degree from Idaho State University in Business Administration with a focus in marketing.  He is also an Eagle Scout, currently serving as a Venture Leader.

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Stephanie Barlow serves as the Director of Public Relations and Social Media for the National Watermelon Promotion Board.  She has revamped the organization’s public outreach, integrating digital media with the board’s traditional efforts to increase its reach.  Stephanie holds a degree in International Marketing from American University in Washington, D.C.  She was named one of Produce Business’ 40 Under 40 and The Packer’s “Top Women in Business.”


Leah Brakke is the Marketing Director for Black Gold Farms.  She is the 4th generation in the family-owned company.  Prior to rejoining her family business in 2011, she was an Account Manager at the advertising agency, AdFarm.  Leah has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from North Dakota State University and her MBA from the University of North Dakota.  She serves on the Marketing Committee for the Red River Valley Potato Growers on the AgChat Foundation Board of Directors.

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Jeff Cady caught the “produce bug” when he was working for Giant Eagle. He continued his produce retail career with Finast/Pick-n-Pay, ultimately joining Tops Markets.  He worked in produce management for several years and then relocated to Rochester, NY where he took on the role of Produce Supervisor, then Produce Buyer/Merchandiser,  and finally was promoted to Category Manager.   Jeff is a graduate of Kennedy Western University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration.

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Jacquie Ediger was instrumental in the founding of Pro Citrus Network, playing a key role in the development of the company’s strategic plan.  Today she is responsible for hiring, management, mentoring, and continued development of staff in sales, marketing, new business, operations and accounting.  Jacquie graduated with a degree in Agricultural Business from California Polytechnic State University.   In her local community, she helped develop “Hunger Awareness Day” and serves on the Mt.  Whitney  High School Agribusiness Advisory Committee.


Kim Flores is the Director of Marketing for Seald Sweet.  She works with a global network of colleagues within parent company UNIVEG and their network of companies. Through her work, she has opportunities to travel abroad, which she really greatly enjoys.  Kim has a degree in Organizational Management and serves in many volunteer industry roles, including United’s Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council and PMA’s Women’s Fresh Perspective Committee. She is a third generation Florida native from Vero Beach, Florida.

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Aaron Hunter is a National Sales and Berry Commodity Buyer at Caito Foods Service.   He started his career in produce as a teenager, working at the produce terminal in Indianapolis.  He worked his way up the ladder, working in every position from receiving, to QA, warehouse management, and more.  He was promoted to procurement of specialty and tropicals, followed by organic fruit and vegetables, and ultimately to his current role.  Aaron has been recognized by Caito as Associate of the Year.


Alex Jackson has grown up in the produce industry, as the third generation of Frieda’s Specialty Produce in Los Angeles, California.  She joined the family business in the marketing department and is in the process of transitioning to the sales team as an Account Manager.  Alex attended George Mason University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.  During college, she interned for DMA Solutions, as well as Perfection Fresh Australia.


Brian Knott is the President of Grow Farms, where he manages production of fresh fruits and vegetables, coordinates sales, consolidations and repacking.  Along with implementing food safety and traceability laws as it pertains to small family growers, he is in charge of inspecting product quality and managing the company’s accounting.  Brian holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agriculture Economics and Business from the University of Kentucky.

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Hilary Martin is the Business Development Director at her family business Frey Farms, where her love of produce began.  Her career for the past fifteen years has spanned public relations, brand creation, fresh produce marketing and the planning and management of mega marketing events.   She serves on United’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to the Midwest Committee and is active with the Hands On Nashville Read and Eat Produce Bagging Program.  Hilary graduated from Murray State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Organizational Communication & Marketing.


Ryan Van Groningen is the Sales Manager for Van Groningen & Sons in Manteca, California. Growing up in the business, he worked most positions within the company, starting in the field then moving to the packinghouse and into sales.  In 2003, he graduated college from California Polytechnic State University with a major in Crop Science and minor in Agribusiness.  Ryan is a past Board Member for the Western Watermelon Association, the National Watermelon Promotion Board District 5, and also served as the Chairman of the Research Committee.


Kami Weddle is third generation in agriculture, but started her career in produce as the Food Safety Coordinator for Rousseau Farming Company and has since evolved into her current position of Director of Food Safety.  Kami graduated from University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology and completed a Master’s of Science in Business Management at the Norwich Business School.  She serves on the Arizona Leafy Green Marketing Agreement Technical Sub-committee and assisted with the development of food safety employee training kits for growers to utilize.