Max Teplitski has joined the Produce Marketing Association as the new chief science officer. Teplitski most recently worked at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture as the acting director of the food safety and nutrition divisions.

The California Fresh Fruit Association has hired Caroline Stringer as its new director of trade. She comes to the Association from the Pacific, Gas & Electric Company’s Public Affairs Division. She has also served as the senior specialist on global, technical and regulatory affairs for the California Almond Board. She started with the Association on Monday.

Zak Laffite is the new president of Wonderful Citrus, succeeding David Krause. Laffite previously served as the chief sales officer. Krause first joined the company when it was named Paramount Citrus. He has been president of the company for 20 years, and will move to a newly created role of adviser to Stewart Resnick, chairman and president of The Wonderful Co. 

C.H. Robinson has promoted Michael Castagnetto to president of the Robinson Fresh division. He succeeds Jim Lemke who retired earlier the year 2019. Castagnetto has been with C.H. Robinson since 2005 and has held various leadership roles throughout his career including sourcing manager at Food Source, general manager of the tropical and dry vegetable categories, director of global supply and vice president of global sourcing.

Don Peracchi has stepped down as president of Westlands Water District’s Board. Daniel Errotabere has been elected to succeed Peracchi. Errotabere previously served as Westlands’ President from 2002 through 2005, and began his second term as President of Westlands on January 1, 2020. Peracchi has served as a Director of Westlands since 2008 and was elected President in 2011. He will remain on the Board of Directors. 

Joe Barsi has been named president of California Giant Berry Farms. He succeeds Bill Moncovich, who will continue as CEO. Barsi has been chief operating officer since March 2018, when he rejoined the company. He was with California Giant from 2005 to 2012, and was vice president of business development when he left to be president of Tradin Organics U.S.A. He then was president of Enzafruit Products Inc. before rejoining California Giant.

Matt Keeling, a civil engineer, has been named the new executive officer of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. He will succeed John Robertson, who will retire in the spring of 2020. Keeling has served as the assistant executive officer since August 2018, and will step into his new role April 1.

The Kroger Co. has elected Karen Hoguet to the company's board of directors. She is elected to serve until Kroger's annual meeting of shareholders in June 2020. At that time, she will stand for election by the shareholders. Hoguet served as the chief financial officer of Macy's Inc. from October 1997 to July 2018.

The California Farm Bureau Federation presented its former administrator, Rich Matteis, with its distinguished service award at the 101st CFBF Annual Meeting in Monterey. Matteis retired in March after serving as CFBF administrator since 2007. He began his career as manager of the Santa Clara and Alameda County Farm Bureaus and as a CFBF field representative. In 1980, he became chief executive officer of the California Grain and Feed Association then made the move to rejoin the CFBF team. The distinguished service award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau members from California. In addition to the award to Matteis, CFBF presented the distinguished service award to longtime San Benito County Farm Bureau board member Al Bonturi.

Lauren Bloom now serves as the district director for Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif.

Tammy Sulli has retired after 34 years working for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She most recently worked in the division of measurement standards. Throughout her career, she worked in several other divisions including animal health and food safety services, human resources, and the executive office.

California’s Department of Food and Agriculture veterinarian Katie Flynn received the American Association of Equine Practitioners President’s Award. The award is given to individuals for contributions beneficial to the health and welfare of horses. Flynn serves as the chair of the AAEP Infectious Disease Committee and has developed a number of new and important vaccination guidelines and biosecurity educational opportunities. 

The board of directors of the FMC Corporation elected Mark Douglas as president and chief executive officer, effective June 1. Douglas has served as president and chief operating officer of FMC since June 2018. Pierre Brondeau will continue to serve as chairman and CEO through May 31. Brondeau will then become executive chairman and remain a member of the Board of Directors. 

Mike Tomko joined the American Farm Bureau team as the new director of communications. He previously worked 18 years at WBFF Fox45, most recently as a news director. Cole Staudt also joins the communications team as the media relations specialist. Staudt previously worked on the Hill as the communications director to Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.

Caren Wilcox has been tapped to lead the U.S. Hemp Growers Association, a new farmer-directed hemp trade association. Wilcox has previously held executive roles at Hershey, USDA and the Organic Trade Association.

George Siemon has stepped down as Organic Valley’s CEO. Siemon helped start the cooperative in 1988. Organic Valley’s board of directors has appointed Bob Kirchoff as interim CEO. Kirchoff has worked as the chief business officer since 2016.

Bob Schachtel, a produce industry veteran, died at the age of 75. Schachtel had worked for Expo Fresh LLC for the last 25 years. He was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1944, and at the age of two, his family moved to Boca Raton, FL where his father worked as a fishing guide. It was also in Florida where Schachtel began his produce career, joining his first wife’s family business. His career allowed him to travel across the country, where he eventually wound up in Southern California. A celebration of life event for Schachtel is scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Southwestern Yacht Club, San Diego, Calif.

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