Almond Board Announces Exceptional 2023 Almond Leadership Class
By Rick Kushman, Almond Board
The outstanding 14th class of professionals begins a year-long immersion to become the next great leaders of the California almond industry
The Almond Board of California (ABC) is proud to announce the Almond Leadership Program class of 2023, a group of 18 exceptional professionals expected to help lead the industry into the future.
This next generation of leaders was chosen from nearly 50 highly qualified applicants. They come from diverse backgrounds across the full range of the industry, and include growers and processors, sales and real estate representatives, consultants, pest control advisors and more.
The Almond Leadership Program (ALP) began in 2009 and has graduated more than 200 industry members. Dozens now serve on ABC workgroups, committees and even the Board of Directors.
“The industry is seeing the enormous benefits from more than a decade of the leadership program, and while we seem to say this every year, this 2023 class is simply outstanding,” said Rebecca Bailey, the ABC specialist who oversees ALP. “This program helps great people become great leaders. It’s clear that these talented, passionate people will continue to be great assets and advocates for our industry for years.”
Members of this 14th 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.
“I’m honored to be joining a group of industry leaders who will be taking both the almond industry and the agriculture community into the future,” said 2023 participant Diane Power, a sixth generation California farmer and sales associate in Modesto with Pearson Realty. “I look forward to all the experiences and opportunities we will have to learn about the almond industry, and to the many relationships we will form through this year.”
Class members will be 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.
“We all play unique roles in the almond industry,” said 2023 class member Megan Chicoine, the general manager of U.S. operational support for Manulife Investment Management in Redding. “As young emerging leaders, we have the ability to make significant impacts by actively participating in our industry.”
The leadership program will also offer class members thorough looks at the impacts on the industry of social, economic and environmental issues and the regulatory climate. 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 a week ago at the ABC offices in Modesto, which included one-on-one talks with their mentors.
“The one thing everyone has in common is they love agriculture,” said mentor Chandler Wilson, a technical sales rep for NutriAg USA. “We all want to be better. The mentors believe in the program and many have been through it. We’re eager to give back to the industry and these new leaders. We’ll share our experiences in and out of ALP, and together, we’ll all learn and grow as individuals and professionals through the whole process.”
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 $225,000 for FFA.
The 2023 Almond Leadership class members are Alana Ambrosino, Ripon Manufacturing Company, Inc.; James Broaddus, BASF Agricultural Solutions; Destiny Camden, BeeHero Inc; Chris Chavez, ofi; Megan Chicoine, Manulife Investment Management; Lincoln Denlinger, Salida Ag; Lauren Dutra, Ceres Imaging; Brian Ganyo, Bayer Crop Science; Robert Gray, Burchell Nursery; Darryl Hadlich, WiseConn Engineering; Thomas Martin, TRÉCÉ Inc.; Erick Mendonca, Miller Chemical; Chris Miller, Blue Diamond Growers; Vance Millwee, Treehouse California Almonds, LLC; Mitchell Moreda, RPAC LLC; Diane Power, Pearson Realty; Matthew Reamer, South Valley Farms; and Tylor Wilbourn, BeeHero Inc.
Bayer Crop Science has sponsored ALP for a number of years and is the sponsor of the 2023 class.