Soren Bjorn has been selected to serve as the new CEO of Driscoll’s. He currently serves as the president of Driscoll’s of the Americas. He first joined the company 17 years ago and has been involved in various roles including serving as the former senior vice president of international business and global technologies, leading business development in Europe, South America, and Australia, as well as global R&D and breeding.

Soren-Bjorn.jpgSoren Bjorn, Driscoll's

California State Water Board Executive Director Eileen Sobeck announced she will retire at the end of the year. Sobeck has led the board since 2017, and before that was the assistant administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and had roles at the Interior Department and U.S. Department of Justice. The board is recruiting for a new executive officer to oversee its 2,700 staff.

Don Gann has stepped down as president of the Fresh Produce and Flower Council. Before joining FPFC, Gann worked for Stater Bros. Market, most recently as the senior director of produce marketing and retail. FPFC will hire an interim executive director and will soon begin the search process for a new president.

Jeff Oberman has left the California Avocado Commission where he served as the president and CEO since Oct. 2022. In a statement, CAC said he left the organization to “pursue other interests.”

Laudan Chaffin is the new marketing director of Berry Fresh. She brings 10 years of marketing and sales experience in the produce industry to the role. She previously worked for Driscoll’s as a marketing consultant.

Kelly Cushman has been named vice president of political affairs at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), where she will lead the organization's political and grassroots advocacy efforts. She started her new role on Monday. Most recently Cushman was the vice president of domestic policy for the National Pork Producers Council. Aside from NPPC, Cushman also previously served at the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and worked at the White House during the George W. Bush administration.

Dave Juday has joined Aimpoint Research as a member of its executive advisory group. He will be the executive adviser on economics and trade. Juday is the founder and principal of The Juday Group and brings experience in market analysis, policy, economics, issue management, agriculture and food. He also has experience working on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

Kelly-Cushman.jpgKelly Cushman, NRECA

Erica Chabot is joining Mehlman Consulting as a principal at the end of the month. She previously worked on the Senate Ag Committee under Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., as her staff director. Before joining the Senate Ag Committee, Chabot worked for now retired Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Ben Kota has been promoted to serve as the new chief operating officer at the National Wildlife Federation. A registered attorney, Kota first joined NWF in 2013 and brings more than 20 years of legal expertise in nonprofit advocacy, fundraising, and corporate governance to the position.

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has made two staff updates to the committee’s tax and economic teams. Michael Gould is the new tax counsel. He previously worked at the Internal Revenue Service’s Office of Chief Counsel as a senior attorney. James Williams is the new tax and economic policy adviser. He previously worked in Sen. John Thune’s, R-S.D., office where he advised the Republican Whip on tax, international trade and economic policy issues. Before that, he worked for former Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., as a deputy legislative director and senior economic policy adviser.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan selected a new round of individuals to serve on the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. Kimberly L. Jones has been tapped as the chair of SAB. She serves as the associate provost for faculty affairs and professor of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Howard University. Other SAB members include John DiGiovanni, professor in the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin; Rebecca Fry, distinguished professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Douglas C. Wolf, D.V.M, senior fellow at Syngenta; Maximilian Auffhammer, George Pardee Jr. Professor of International Sustainable Development, the Regional Associate Dean in the College of Letters and Science, and the Vice-Chair of the Academic Senate at UC Berkeley; Veronica J. Berrocal, professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of California Irvine (UCI); Yiliang Zhu, professor and chief in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Preventive Medicine University of New Mexico School of Medicine; and Henry (Dirk) Felton, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

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The Interior Department has announced Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau will step down at the end of the month after serving two years in the role. He first joined the Interior Department in 2010 under the Obama administration. During that time, he served as the first director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, and Chief of Staff to Secretary Sally Jewell. He was confirmed to the No. 2 position in June of 2021.

Lon Gretillat has been named vice president of sales at Fusionware, an ag supply chain platform enabling companies to digitize their processes. Gretillat brings 25 years of experience in technology sales, operations management and strategic planning. He previously worked at CropTrak where he was the vice president of sales.

Jenny Holtermann is the new president of the Kern County Farm Bureau. Alex Dominguez has been elected as the first vice president and Todd Snider is the new second vice president.

The National Cotton Council’s Vice President of Technical Services Don Parker passed away on Oct. 2, after battling a brief illness. He was 57. He also served as the executive director of The Cotton Foundation. The family asks that donations be sent to the American Cancer Society in his honor.

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