The California Walnut Board (CWB) and California Walnut Commission (CWC) is searching for a new CEO/Executive Director as Michelle Connelly, who currently holds the position, has resigned. Connelly’s last day will be February 11, 2022.
“We are grateful for Michelle’s years of service to our industry. During her nearly 18 years with the CWB and CWC, Michelle led a strong team of professionals that proudly serve our walnut industry and achieved numerous milestones and successes,” said Bill Tos, Chair of the CWB Executive Committee and Bill Carriere, Chair, of the CWC Executive Committee.
In a letter to Board and Commission, the chairmen highlighted several accomplishments during Connelly’s tenure, including:
· Modernization of the Marketing Order to deliver more for the Walnut industry while eliminating outdated provisions.
· Creation of sustainability work to demonstrate the industry’s good environmental stewardship practices and to support the industry in answering consumer and regulatory expectations.
· An overall marketing program return on investment of 14:1, eclipsing the 6:1 benchmark ROI for similar commodity programs.
· Expansion of industry communications to further engage with growers/processors, including 2021’s inaugural walnut conference collaboration.
· Increased advocacy efforts to raise walnuts visibility among lawmakers to support walnut growers’ and handlers’ ability to produce, process and trade.
· Creation of a strategic roadmap to market for growth domestically and internationally.
“It has been a privilege, honor and pleasure to serve the growers and handlers of the California walnut industry. I am beyond proud of what this team has accomplished, and I am confident in the industry’s sustained success,” said Connelly.
In sharing the news, the chairmen reiterated the efforts of the California Walnut Board and California Walnut Commission are critically important to the success of the industry.
“The CWB leads the way in helping to increase the understanding of walnuts benefits, expand walnut usage occasions, solve for production and post-harvest challenges, and identify new opportunities for growth and prosperity for California walnut growers and handlers,” said Tos. “The California Walnut Commission plays a vital role in global market expansion and consumption, conducting nutrition research to address public health issues, and advocating for walnut growers and handlers to lawmakers,” added Carriere.
A search committee has been formed that will identify a firm to assist with the search process in the coming weeks.
About the California Walnut Board
The California Walnut Board (CWB) was established in 1948 to represent the walnut growers and handlers of California. The CWB is funded by mandatory assessments of the handlers. The CWB is governed by a Federal Walnut Marketing Order. The CWB promotes usage of walnuts in the United States through publicity and educational programs. The CWB also provides funding for walnut production, food safety and post-harvest research.
About the California Walnut Commission
The California Walnut Commission, established in 1987, is funded by mandatory assessments of the growers. The CWC represents over 4,800 growers and approximately 90 handlers (processors) of California walnuts in export market development activities and conducts health research. The CWC is an agency of the State of California that works in concurrence with the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).