May 13, 2022 – Executive recruitment firm Kincannon & Reed has assisted in the recruitment of Mickie French as the new executive director of the Center for Food Integrity (CFI). She takes over for Terry Fleck, who announced his retirement late last year. Principals Paul Izenstark, Jon Leafstedt, and Jared Spader led the assignment. “Bringing a wealth of knowledge with her to the role, Mickie’s background in the food industry paired with her passion and energy will prove invaluable to CFI,” said Mr. Izenstark. “She possesses a global perspective of the food industry and has an innate ability to connect with audiences of all levels.”
“Mickie is an exceptional communicator with a demonstrated track record of sound judgement and successful mission-focused strategies,” Mr. Izenstark said. “Her ability to find solutions and drive alignment makes her a great fit for the role,” he added. “Mickie brings a wealth of experience, energy and insight into her new role,” said Charlie Arnot, CEO of CFI. “Her background is an ideal fit for an organization focused on earning consumer trust and collaborating to move the food industry forward.”
Ms. French has extensive experience in the food industry, from agriculture to ingredients to CPG, helping high-profile companies and organizations develop and implement purpose-driven approaches. “Her expertise has positioned her as a trusted strategy and innovation partner with a knack for bringing together multiple stakeholders to drive significant impact on critical issues,” the company said.
In senior strategic leadership roles with advertising and public relations firms, Ms. French has worked with global brands to launch them into new markets or reposition them for growth and success. She has lived and worked in 10 countries and her client roster includes CPG companies such as the Coca-Cola Co., Mars Inc., Procter & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as B2B companies including SAP, Honeywell, Visa, and myriad healthcare companies. She also led the turnaround of communication agency offices in China, Russia, Australia, and Mexico. An advocate for global education, Ms. French has served on the executive leadership committee and various other volunteer committees of the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
“I’m honored to have been chosen to lead this amazing purpose-driven organization,” said Ms. French. “Every step in my career path has led me to this role where I’ll work diligently with our members and beyond to bring together every part of the food value chain, from farmer to consumer, to champion a sustainable food system, and face head-on the challenges before us.”
“Choosing a new executive director for any organization is a significant step, especially filling the shoes of Terry, who has been a phenomenal leader,” said CFI board president Craig Wilson, vice president and general merchandising manager of quality assurance and food safety for Costco Wholesale Corp. “The decision was unanimous, and deservedly so. We couldn’t be more excited to work with Mickie, who we know will lead with excellence and serve with passion for an industry that she knows and loves.”
The Center for Food Integrity is a not-for-profit organization that helps today’s food system earn consumer trust. Its members and project partners, who represent the diversity of the food system, are committed to providing accurate information and working together to address important issues in food and agriculture.
Kincannon & Reed is an executive search firm exclusively focused on food, agribusiness, and the related life sciences. Founded in 1981, the firm serves clients throughout the world from locations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Kincannon & Reed is based in Arlington, VA.
Mr. Izenstark focuses on recruitment of senior roles across all segments within the food industry, specializing in health and wellness and plant-based products. His 30-year career includes marketing leadership positions for companies such as Nestlé USA, Nestlé Waters, Dole Food Company, Kraft Foods, the California Avocado Commission, IHOP, and California Pizza Kitchen.
Mr. Leafstedt draws on his expertise in agriculture and biotechnology to help associations, cooperatives, and early-stage companies define their talent needs and recruit senior leadership. Passionate about connecting people with the right roles and organizations, he has led more than 200 searches in his tenure with Kincannon & Reed.
Mr. Spader brings 18 years of experience consulting across the food value chain, working with senior level leadership and C-suite executives developing solutions that advance business.
A strategic leader, he works with clients to identify leadership needs, assess talent requirements, and build strategies to recruit the right individuals to the right organizations. His network across the food and agriculture industries is broad, and his connections outside the industries are also very valuable as he continues to work with clients to advance business, the firm notes.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media