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OTA Welcomes Two New Board Members

In June, OTA announced the appointment of two new members to its Board of Directors, Daniella Velazquez de Leon and Johanna Phillips. The two bring deep expertise and generational experience to the trade association’s board. Here, we get to know them a bit better.

Daniella Velazquez de Leon

General Manager, Organics Unlimited

Daniella is the fourth generation of organic growers in her family and the family’s third generation of organic banana wholesalers.

A San Diego native, she started her career in advertising and dedicated seven years to developing digital marketing solutions when Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat’s platforms were in their nascent stages.

In her free time, she helped with the family business and joined Mayra (her mother, Organics Unlimited’s President/CEO, and recent Organic Pioneer award recipient) at industry trade shows. Upon seeing how passionate industry members were about impacting social change, Daniella dedicated herself full-time to the family business. She worked her way through the different departments, learning to drive a forklift to load bananas (admittedly not her forte), coordinated warehouse operations and logistics with the farms, and contributed to marketing efforts.

What drives Daniella is her mission to positively impact our food system. She is a firm advocate for fair pricing for growers and a decentralized food system that prioritizes local, independent farmers. “As organic has gone mainstream, consolidated, and been absorbed by Big Ag, my intention is to continue to live by the values that drove the original movement,” says Daniella. “I do this for our communities, for our environment, and for our future.”

Johanna Phillips

Technical Director, Ecocert USA

Raised on a family ranch in Southern Idaho, Johanna Phillips is passionate about the mission of Organic Trade Association, organic and sustainable practices, agriculture, and the future of the organic sector. She brings more than a decade of regulatory experience in commercial feed, food, and organic certification, and a lifetime of experience in agriculture.

Johanna’s enthusiasm for agriculture started when she was a small child, with participation in 4-H, gardening, and opportunities presented by growing up in a small town surrounded by diverse agriculture and hardworking farmers, ranchers, and dairymen and women. Johanna spent much of her time outdoors with chickens, sheep, cattle, horses, and ducks, or tending her own small garden just outside of her bedroom window. She grew up building fences, helping her father irrigate, working with animals, and learning the challenges faced by families working hard to make a living by growing and raising food. Her childhood instilled not only a love for agriculture, animals, and the planet, but it is also a deeply ingrained perspective that doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but worth the effort.

Her keen interest in agriculture is closely tied to her belief that we can do so much more to support the sustainability and wellbeing of the planet, as well as lifestyles that ensure healthy and safe food is available domestically. She is inspired and driven by a calling to support opportunities for families and businesses to operate sustainably and thrive.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2022 Organic Report, you can view the full magazine here.