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United Fresh Introduces Class 20 of the Produce Industry Leadership Program

Jun 18, 2014

2014 Program Marks Two Decades of Leadership Development

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The United Fresh Produce Association is pleased to announce the 12 members of the 2014-2015 Produce Industry Leadership Program. The program, which was first launched in 1995, is sponsored by a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection and since its inception has graduated more than 200 industry members.

The Produce Industry Leadership Program welcomes the following professionals to its 20th class:

  • Michael Anderson, Kingston Fresh
  • Stephanie Barlow, National Watermelon Promotion Board
  • Leah Brakke, Black Gold Farms
  • Jeff Cady, Tops Markets, Inc.
  • Jacquie Ediger, Pro Citrus Network, Inc.
  • Kimberly Flores, Seald Sweet
  • Aaron Hunter, Caito Foods Service, Inc.
  • Alexandra Jackson, Frieda’s, Inc.
  • Brian Knott, Grow Farms
  • Hilary Martin, Frey Farms
  • Ryan Van Groningen, Van Groningen & Sons, Inc.
  • Kami Weddle, Rousseau Farming Company

Beginning this July, the members of Leadership Class 20 will participate in several 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. The class will meet four times over the next year, including a commencement ceremony at the United Fresh 2015 convention in Chicago.
“We extend our sincere congratulations to the newest class of the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program,” said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services. “This year represents the kick-off of the twentieth class and a tremendous amount of thanks is owed to DuPont Crop Protection for making that possible. Their incredible investment in our industry for the past two decades has provided hundreds of the leaders with the tools they need to drive our industry forward. We greatly appreciate their generosity and commitment to the future of the fresh produce industry.”

Candidates for the program must submit an application including two essays detailing their interest in the program and what they consider the most important challenges affecting the produce industry. All applications are reviewed by the Leadership Advisory Committee 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.


Founded in 1904, the United Fresh Produce Association serves companies at the forefront of the global fresh and fresh-cut produce industry, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and Western Regional office in Salinas, Calif., United Fresh and its members work year-round to make a difference for the produce industry by driving policies that increase consumption of fresh produce, shaping critical legislative and regulatory action, providing scientific and technical leadership in food safety, quality assurance, nutrition and health, and developing educational programs and business opportunities to assist member companies in growing successful businesses. For more information, visit or call 202-303-3400. 

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