New Directors and OTA Member of the Year announced at Annual Meeting in Baltimore
Melissa Hughes of Organic Valley was chosen Wednesday for the second year in a row to lead as president of the Organic Trade Association’s Board of Directors by fellow Board members. Elected by the OTA membership as an OTA Director in 2013, she is General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs for Organic Valley, the nation’s oldest and largest organic dairy cooperative.
“It’s an incredible honor for me to be chosen by my peers to help lead this wonderful organization and work to advance organic,” said Hughes. “This is an exciting and challenging time for the organic community, and I’ll continue to do my best to help OTA represent organic stakeholders and to advocate for policies in their best interests.”
Hughes has been with Organic Valley in her current position since 2003, managing all of the co-ops’ legal affairs and overseeing relationships with various government groups, including legislators, agencies and other regulatory entities. Organic Valley, America’s leading cooperative of organic farmers, is one of the nation’s foremost organic brands.
“We congratulate Missy and all the other officers and Board members,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA. “This is truly a visionary leadership team, and I look forward to working with them in the coming year to achieve our goals and move organic to a new level.”
Other officers announced at OTA’s Annual Meeting today include Kim Dietz of Smucker Natural Foods as Vice President—USA, Dag Falck of Nature’s Path Food as Vice President—Canada, Sarah Bird of Three Twins Organic Ice Cream as Secretary, and Tony Bedard of Frontier Co-op as Treasurer.
Samantha Cabaluna of Earthbound Farm, Perry Clutts of Pleasantview Farm who holds the Farmer seat, and Kelly Shea of WhiteWave Food were re-elected to each serve three-year terms on the Board. In addition, upon recommendations from OTA’s Governance Committee, the Board selected David Lively of Organically Grown Company to fill a three-year appointed term, and Rick Collins of Clif Bar and Company to fill a one-year appointed term.
Completing the Board are Jesse Laflamme of Pete and Gerry’s Organics, Melody Meyer of UNFI, Marci Zaroff of Under the Canopy/Portico Brands and MetaWear, and Leslie Zuck of Pennsylvania Certified Organic. In addition, Ryan Benn of Alive Publishing Group Inc. has been appointed for another year by COTA to represent Canadian interests on the OTA Board for a one-year term.
Retiring from the Board are Nicole Dawes of Late July Snacks, who has served since 2009, and Chris Ely of Applegate Farms, who has served since 2010.
Member of the Year
Also during OTA’s Annual Meeting, Jeff Rakity of Natural Flavors Inc. received OTA’s 2015 Member of the Year Award. This special recognition was created to honor a truly engaged member—a dedicated volunteer, fearless leader and apt cheerleader for OTA while serving overall as an ambassador for OTA and the industry.
An OTA member since 1999, Rakity joined the Annual Fund Host Committee in 2005 and in 2009, stepped up to the plate to become chair of the campaign. As chairman, he led the volunteer committee through thousands of “asks” to achieve a campaign that now brings in over $1 million per year.
Under his leadership, OTA’s Annual Fund has remained a meaningful source of revenue for the Association. In fact, Rakity is directly responsible for raising over $755,000 during his tenure on the committee. 2015 marks the last year that Rakity will be Host Committee Chair. However, he has agreed to stay on in an advisory capacity to provide guidance to a new set of volunteers.
“Jeff has been a tireless champion of organic and of OTA,” said Batcha. “He has made an immeasurable contribution to the association and to organic farmers and organic businesses through his unselfish devotion and commitment to organic. We congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition.”
OTA’s Annual Meeting this year was held at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 8,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.