The Almond Board of California is proud to announce the Almond Leadership Program class of 2024, a group of 18 exceptional professionals expected to help lead the industry into the future.
Bayer Crop Science has sponsored the Almond Leadership Program (ALP) for a number of years and is again the sponsor of this 2024 class of next-generation leaders who were chosen from more than 50 highly qualified applicants. They come from diverse backgrounds across the full range of the industry and include growers and processors, sales representatives, sustainability specialists, company executives, pest control advisors and more.
ALP began in 2009 and has graduated 226 industry members. Dozens now serve on ABC workgroups, committees and even the Board of Directors.
“We have had so many great participants through the years, and this 2024 class is simply outstanding,” said Rebecca Bailey, the ABC senior specialist who oversees ALP. “This program helps great people become great leaders and our industry continues to see the enormous benefits from 15 years of ALP. We have no doubt these 18 people will continue to be great assets and advocates for the almond industry.”
Members of this 15th class – while still working at their jobs – will be immersed in every aspect of the industry, including ABC activities in global marketing, production, nutrition research, food safety and more. They’ll sharpen their communication skills and build lasting relationships with industry leaders, ABC staff and each other.
“It’s crucial to be connected to people in all areas of the almond supply chain,” said Erik Stanek, a class member and sustainability specialist with Blue Diamond Growers. “Industry challenges are not solved in a silo. For me, ALP offers an opportunity to build meaningful relationships that can lead to actionable solutions. The program helps lift the entire industry.”
Class members are guided by volunteer mentors – many of them ALP graduates – who will help them develop the skills, knowledge and perspective to improve their industry and their communities.
“As a mentor, I have an opportunity to share what I’ve learned in the last 25 years as a farmer and a conservation biologist,” said mentor Christine Gemperle, a grower and member of ABC’s Board of Directors. “It’s my hope that the next generation of industry leaders can take that knowledge and grow an even better future for California almonds.”
The leadership program will also offer class members thorough looks at the impacts on the industry of social, economic, environmental and regulatory issues. In addition, participants will take on a yearlong, self-directed project focused on improving the California almond industry. Some past projects have led to important breakthroughs for the industry.
Leadership class members kicked off their training with a two-day orientation at the ABC offices in Modesto, which included one-on-one talks with their mentors and hearing from Board of Directors Chair Alexi Rodriguez and ABC CEO Clarice Turner.
“The leadership program has been incredibly enriching so far. I’ve been introduced to so many fascinating topics beyond my usual scope of work,” said Ziv Attia, part of the 2024 class and head of agronomy at Phytech. “Besides that, the staff and program members are amazing, and I look forward to getting to know them better, gaining further insights and building lasting connections that will contribute to the almond industry’s growth.”
Once again, class members will raise money for California FFA, pledging to raise more than $25,000 in scholarships for high school students interested in pursuing agriculture in college. Through the years, ALP has raised more than $320,000 for FFA.
The 2024 Almond Leadership class members are Ziv Attia of Bakersfield and Phytech; Andy Barahate of Kerman andCentral California Almond Growers Association; Gurajan Brar of Madera and Brar & Son Farms; Matthew Brocato of Fresno and Phytech; Mark Cavallero of Madera and Sierra Valley Almonds; Zachary Days of Patterson and Cal Coast Almond Processing Inc.; Mallory Dodds of Fresno and Gowan USA; Ryan Hackett of Modesto and Gold Leaf Farming; Brandon Heinrich of Modesto and B&M Orchards; Amanda Hernandez of Hollister and TriCal Inc.; Victoria Lee of Sacramento and Blue Diamond Growers; Sutter Long of Corning and Bayer Crop Science; Antonio Lopez of Woodland and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation; Ryan McCoon of Escalon and Cultiva; Edgar Perez of Modesto andAmerican AgCredit; Jeevan Sandhu of Yuba City and Wilbur Ellis; Erik Stanek of Sacramento and Blue Diamond Growers; and Delaney Woolwine of Fresno and Harris Woolf California Almonds.
About California Almonds
Almonds from California are a healthy, natural, wholesome and quality food. The Almond Board of California promotes almonds with a research-based approach to responsible farming, production and marketing on behalf of the more than 7,600 almond growers and processors in California, many of whom have third- and fourth-generation family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, ABC is a non-profit organization administering a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the USDA. For more information on ABC or California almonds, visit Almonds.com.