As recently ratified by its regular (i.e., grower, shipper, processor, landowner, harvester) membership, the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California (GSA) elected four new members to its Board of Directors: Kiana Amaral, Chief Operating Officer, BlazerWilkinsonGee, Chris Drew, President & CEO, Ocean Mist Farms, Carmen Ponce, Vice President and General Counsel of Labor, Tanimura and Antle, and Matt Rogers, Co-Founder and General Manager of AgSocio.
“We welcome Kiana, Chris, Carmen and Matt and look forward to their input and contributions to the dynamic Board discussions that help GSA define our strategic directions, programs and policies that support our members and our region,” says Christopher Valadez, GSA President.
“We also thank our outgoing Board members for their years of service and leadership throughout the challenges we have faced, including the pandemic, wildfires, and floods, as well as labor and water issues and the INSV disease complex impacting our region,” Valadez says. Those outgoing members include Colby Pereira, Chief Operating Officer, Braga Fresh, Jason Smith, President, Smith Family Wines and John Wilkinson, Founder, BlazerWilkinsonGee.
About the new GSA Board members:
Amaral began her produce career at Misionero Vegetables before switching industries when she moved to the HSBC Credit Card division where she worked in the Marketing Department for nearly ten years. While working at HSBC, Amaral got her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Amaral joined the family-owned berry business, BlazerWilkinsonGee, LLC, in 2000 where she worked in every office position imaginable on her way to becoming the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Amaral is a graduate of the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s of Science degree.
Drew has been with Ocean Mist for over two decades. Prior to becoming President & CEO, Drew was the company’s Chief Operating Officer and collaborated with teams to streamline strategies and processes in addition to overseeing the operational departments and facilities across the organization. Drew earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Crop Science from Cal-Poly University, San Luis Obispo, followed by his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.
Ponce serves in a crucial role for Tanimura & Antle (T&A), a family and employee-owned company, which employs over 7,000 people annually. She is in her 25th year with T&A. Ponce graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with a dual degree – A Master’s of Science in Foreign Service and Juris Doctor.
Prior to starting AgSocio, Rogers spent many years working on strategic purchasing initiatives and social, environmental, and food safety issues in the produce supply chain for Whole Foods Market. Rogers serves on the standards committee of the Equitable Food Initiative and on the board of directors of CIERTO. He is a member of the National Agricultural Worker Advisory Council of the National Center for Farmworker Health.
The new Board members were elected to serve a three-year term. For more information, visit www.growershipper.com.
2024 Board of Directors (effective January 2024)
Kiana Amaral, Blazer Wilkinson Gee