Almond Board of California 2024 leadership class (Photo courtesy of the Almond Board of California)

By Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

The Almond Board of California announced its 2024 leadership class for 18 professionals to help secure the future of the almond industry. Class members come from diverse industry backgrounds including growers, processors, sales representatives, sustainability specialists, company executives, and pest control advisors.

Bayer Crop Science is sponsoring the 2024 class of 18, chosen from over 50 applicants. According to an ABC press release, the class offers an opportunity to connect with industry leaders and expand upon leadership skills.

“We have had so many great participants through the years, and this 2024 class is simply outstanding,” Rebecca Bailey, ABC senior specialist said in the release. “This program helps great people become great leaders and our industry continues to see the enormous benefits from 15 years of ALP. We have no doubt these 18 people will continue to be great assets and advocates for the almond industry.”

Bailey explained that several past Almond Leadership Program class members now work in ABC workgroups, committees, and the Board of Directors. Beginning in 2009, the class graduated 226 industry members.

Members of the 2024 class will continue to work at their jobs but have the opportunity to immerse themselves in all aspects of the industry including activities in global marketing, production, nutrition research, and food safety.

Erik Stanek, 2024 class member and sustainability specialist with Blue Diamond Growers explained the importance of networking and remaining connected to professionals in various sectors of the almond supply chain.

“Industry challenges are not solved in a silo. For me, ALP offers an opportunity to build meaningful relationships that can lead to actionable solutions,” Stanek said. “The program helps lift the entire industry.”

The class is guided by volunteer mentors, many of whom are past ALP graduates. Along with networking opportunities, members will learn the impact of social, economic, environmental, and regulatory issues and work toward a yearlong, self-directed project centered on improving the California almond industry.

Like previous years, class members plan to raise over $25,000 in scholarships for California FFA students interested in pursuing agriculture in college.


Members of this year’s ALP class include:

Ziv Attia of Bakersfield and Phytech; Andy Barahate of Kerman and Central California Almond Growers Association; Gurajan Brar of Madera and Brar & Son Farms; Matthew Brocato of Fresno and Phytech; Mark Cavallero of Madera and Sierra Valley Almonds; Zachary Days of Patterson and Cal Coast Almond Processing Inc.; Mallory Dodds of Fresno and Gowan USA; Ryan Hackett of Modesto and Gold Leaf Farming; Brandon Heinrich of Modesto and B&M Orchards; Amanda Hernandez of Hollister and TriCal Inc.; Victoria Lee of Sacramento and Blue Diamond Growers; Sutter Long of Corning and Bayer Crop Science; Antonio Lopez of Woodland and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation; Ryan McCoon of Escalon and Cultiva; Edgar Perez of Modesto and American AgCredit; Jeevan Sandhu of Yuba City and Wilbur Ellis; Erik Stanek of Sacramento and Blue Diamond Growers; and Delaney Woolwine of Fresno and Harris Woolf California Almonds.

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