October 16, 2020 – Executive search firm Kincannon & Reed has placed Dwight Ferguson as the new president and chief executive officer of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation (CALF), a non-profit public benefit corporation committed to leadership training and transformational learning experiences. The foundation operates the California Agricultural Leadership Program (CALP), a major leadership development program.
Spearheading the assignment for the search firm were managing director Fred Medero and director Crystal Strauss.
Kincannon & Reed also placed Abby Taylor-Silva as the Salinas, CA-based foundation’s executive vice president. “I am excited to announce that we are cultivating a new way forward as we continue to provide the premier leadership program in the nation,” said CALF board chairman Michael Young. “By building a strong team to meet these challenging times, we can continue to grow leaders who make a difference.”
Mr. Ferguson’s predecessor, Barry Bedwell, is retiring after more than four years in the role and over four decades representing production agriculture in the state.
A Strong Background
Mr. Ferguson has spent 30 years in the produce and floral businesses, largely in senior leadership roles, at top industry companies. His most recent position was with Naturipe Farms in Salinas. Mr. Ferguson holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Ohio University and a master’s degree in management from Aquinas College.
“Dwight has a track-record of growing ag businesses and the teams needed to build them,” said Mr. Young. “He is a recognized industry leader who is known for his management, interpersonal and problem-solving skills.”
“I could not be happier joining Ag Leadership as president/CEO,” said Mr. Ferguson. “I believe in the mission and vision of the foundation and very much appreciate its history, culture and contributions made to California agriculture. I also recognize the excellent quality of its programs and look forward to working with all stakeholders, especially the board, alumni and staff, to build on CALF’s rich tradition of success.”
Ms. Taylor-Silva comes to the foundation after 10 years as vice president of policy and communications for the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, an agricultural trade association spanning the coastal region that includes Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Santa Clara counties.
A Servant Leader
“We are extremely pleased to have Abby join our new leadership team,” said Mr. Young. “She is a true servant leader who will help move the foundation forward through these uncertain times.”
Ms. Taylor-Silva serves on the boards of the Salinas Rotary Club and the Community Foundation for Monterey County. She is an alumnae of the Ag Leadership Program.
“I am delighted to join this team,” said Ms. Taylor-Silva. “The foundation made a distinctive and long-lasting impact on my personal and professional development, providing me with tools, perspective and an awareness-of-self that directly impacted my ability to effectively lead in various capacities. I look forward to the opportunity to build upon this extraordinary program, serve the foundation and support the next generation of California agricultural leaders.”
The California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, which was founded in 1970, is committed to leadership training and transformational learning experiences in partnership with four California universities: Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; Cal Poly, Pomona; California State University, Fresno; and the University of California, Davis. The California Agricultural Leadership Program is the longest continuously-operating leadership training experience of its kind in the U.S.,
Established Search Consultants
Kincannon & Reed is an executive search firm exclusively focused on food, agribusiness and the related life sciences. Founded in 1981, the company serves clients throughout the world from locations in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The firm’s mission statement: “We recruit leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy.”
Mr. Medero has a strong background in finance, law and agribusiness. His private sector background includes roles as vice president, investment banking, with Kidder, Peabody & Co.; director of risk management for Deloitte & Touche; and executive director of the International Swaps & Derivatives Association, New York. He has also served as director of the securities and corporate practices division in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, COO of the Farmers Home Administration, and general counsel of the Farm Credit Administration.
Ms. Strauss, who is based in Dallas, works on engagements at the board, C-suite and VP level. Having spent the bulk of her career with boutique search firms, she is known for her ability to recruit across the functional areas of general management, technology, sales, marketing, finance and human resources. Since joining Kincannon & Reed in 2011, Ms. Strauss has worked on assignments across the food value chain with an emphasis on produce, animal health and nutrition, and crop inputs.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media