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The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program

Congrats to the 2021 Caplan Scholarship recipients!

  • Joseph F. Basciani, Co-Owner, CFO, Basciani Foods Inc.
  • Curtis Griffin, Assistant Grower, Griffin Ranches, Inc.
  • Lianna Tilton, Quality Assurance and Food Safety Supervisor, Braga Fresh Family Farms
  • Leticia Velazquez, Midwest Operations Manager, The FruitGuys

The scholarship recipients will receive complimentary travel, hotel and registration for the United Fresh Washington Conference, September 20-22, 2021, in Washington, D.C., to learn from and engage with Congressional leaders, Administration officials and industry colleagues. 

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program provides scholarships for representatives from family businesses to participate in the United Fresh Washington Conference. The Program was launched in 2001 by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins of Frieda’s, Inc., on behalf of their mother, Frieda Rapoport Caplan.

Video courtesy of Blue Book Services

Scholarship Eligibility:

In order to be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Applicants must be employed by a family business*
  • Applicants must be first-time Washington Conference attendees
  • Applicants must be employed by a United Fresh or Produce Marketing Association (PMA) member company

*A family business is generally defined as a “business in which two or more family members are involved and the majority of ownership control lies within a family.”

If you have questions about the program, contact Angela Tiwari, at 202.303.3416

Past Scholarship Recipients

Company, city and state listed reflect when the recipient received the scholarship. 


Caitie Bowers, Human Resources Director, The Fresh Group
Tanner Buchanan, Director of Operations, T&T Produce

Richard Castaneda, Project Manager, Field Fresh Foods
Christopher Ferachi, Operations Analyst, Capitol City Produce
Kathy Sponheim, Co-Owner/Sales, Michael Family Farms

Johna Mailolli, RD, Inserra Supermarkets Inc-ShopRite of Tallman, Mahwah, NJ
Marc Newman, Transportation Manager, Capital City Fruit Company, Norkwalk, IA
Jacob Serck, Owner and Head of Marketing, J.A.B. Produce, Chicago, IL
Jeremy Taylor, Vice President of Sales, DNO, Inc., Columbus, OH

Brian Loffredo, Operations Manager, Loffredo Fresh Produce, Des Moines, IA
Geoff Ratto, Sales, Ratto Bros., Inc., Modesto, CA
Mikee Suarez, Sales, MAS Melons & Grapes, LLC, Nogalez, AZ
Nick Wishnatzki, Marketing Projects Manager, Wish Farms, Plant City, FL

Carmela Beck, Driscoll’s, Watsonville, CA
Domenick Buck, Anthony Vineyards, Inc., Bakersfield, CA
Tyler Clear, Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, CA
Lela Reichart, Sterman Masser, Sacramento, PA

Alex DiNovo, DNO Produce, Columbus, OH
Seth Hansen, Kingsburg Orchards, Kingsburg, CA

Nick Chappell, California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, CA
Mary Griffin Campbell, Griffin Ranches, Somerton, AZ
Tyler Phipps, Market Fresh Produce, Nixa, MO
Cody Ramsey, Mann Packing Co., Salinas, CA

Bridget Bengard, Bengard Ranch Inc., Salinas, California
Dan Henry, W.D. Henry & Sons, Eden, New York
Robert Holthouse, Holthouse Farms of Ohio Inc., Willard, Ohio
Kimball Redd, Muir Copper Canyon Farms, Salt Lake City, Utah

Martha Montoya, Los Kitos, Orange, California
Daniel Mueller, Volm Companies, Idaho Falls, Idaho
T.J. Rahll, Edward G. Rahll & Sons, Inc., Jessup, Maryland
Kurt Schuster, Val Verde Vegetable Co., Inc., McAllen, Texas

Barbara Daly, Testa Produce Inc., Chicago, Illinois
Micah Desmond, Northeast Packaging Company, Presque Isle, Maine
Tami Martin, Black Gold, Grand Forks, North Dakota
John J. Pandol, Pandol Bros. Inc., Delano, California

Kiley Harper-Larsen, Hugh Branch, Inc., Pahokee, Florida
Chelsea McClarty, HMC Farms Kingsburg, California
Ben Rice, Rice Fruit Company, Gardners, Pennsylvania
Mark Stevenson, Meijer, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Megan Chedwick, Church Brothers, Salinas, Calif
Julia Inestroza, Gourmet Trading Company, Los Angeles, Calif.
Nicholas Mascari, Indianapolis Fruit Company, Indianapolis, Ind.
David Scaroni, Valley Harvesting and Packing, Heber, Calif.

Kenneth Crabtree, Pacific Coast Fruit Co., Portland, OR
Gahl Crane, Prime Produce International, LLC, Orange, CA
Jose Garcia, Rene Produce, LLC, Nogales, AZ
Tracie Levin, M. Levin and Co., Inc., Philadelphia, PA

Milas Russell III, Sandstone Marketing, Inc., Yuma, AZ
Kristine Zerr, Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, WA
Sam Stewart, Wes Pak Sales, Inc., Dinuba, CA
Milton Voss, Pero Vegetable LLC., Delray Beach, FL

Aaron Buurma, Buurma Farms, Inc., Willard, OH
Luawanna Hallstrom, Oceanside Produce, Inc., Oceanside, CA
Jason LaBarba, Ideal Sales, Inc., Dallas, TX
Kari Valdés, Mills Family Farms, Salinas, CA

Frederic M. Recchiuti, Basciani Mushroom Farms, Avondale, PA
Elizabeth Gross, Capurro Marketing, LLC, Moss Landing, CA

Anne Turkal, MCL Distributing, Los Angeles, CA
Sarah Frey Talley, Frey Produce, LLC, Keenes, IL

Ashley Patricio, Westside Produce, Firebaugh, CA
Wes Liefer, West-Lake Produce, Los Angeles, CA

Phil Herbig, Wes-Pak Sales, Dinuba, CA
Chad Szutz’s, A-W Produce Company, Weslaco, TX

Ron Fode, Fode Farms, Moses Lake, WA
Cecilia Tudor Rose, Tudor Ranch, Mecca, CA

Hear from past scholarship recipients

The company listed reflects when the recipient received the scholarship. 

“This scholarship afforded me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and immerse myself in the issues that our industry is facing. It’s easy to get accustomed to day-to-day activities, and this program really opened my eyes to the importance of getting politically engaged and speaking up—after all, our livelihoods are at stake.”
Dan Henry, W.D. Henry & Sons, Inc.

“This was one of the most educational and enjoyable business trips that I have ever been on. In addition to learning about our industry’s political agenda, I learned a lot more about the political process in general at this conference than a semesters worth of college classes.”
Kimball Redd, Project Manager/Food Safety Director, Muir Copper Canyon Farms

“This scholarship afforded such a unique opportunity to connect with our nation’s lawmakers and gain a deeper understanding of the policy-making process, and how these policies impact my family business. Walking the halls of Congress was an incredible experience and one that highlighted how important it is to be engaged so that our industry’s voice is heard in DC.”
T.J. Rahll, Operations Manager, Edward G. Rahll & Sons, Inc.

“As a first time attendee to the Washington Public Policy Conference, I quickly learned how important it is that we all have a voice in Capitol Hill. This is the perfect opportunity to express our concerns to lawmakers and federal agencies, to ensure that the interests of family-owned produce companies are taken into account.”
Chelsea McClarty Ketelsen, Sales, HMC Marketing

“The face to face time with decision makers was amazing. Visits to the Capitol Hills offices truly give you a human perspective to our nation’s decision makers.”
Kiley Harper-Larsen, Director of Compliance and Safety, Hugh Branch, Inc.

“The WPPC and Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship gave me the opportunity to see how influential politics can be on our industry, and how important it is that we have a strong unified voice. I feel more prepared to represent our industry and make sure family businesses can continue to thrive in a changing political environment.”
Julia Inestroza, Gourmet Trading Company

“The conference really opened my eyes to our industry’s need for involvement and advocacy. I have walked with an ignited passion and desire to be a voice for our industry to help advance the policies that are not only in the best interest of the industry, but our country too.”
Nick Mascari, Indianapolis Fruit Company