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PMA Adds to Food Safety Team

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) announced in early January that it was reorganizing the staff to better implement its strategic plans. The staff changes, and the addition of food safety expert Johhna Hepner, will further strengthen the association’s food safety initiatives.

The food safety and traceability teams have been combined during the reorganization under the leadership of Bob Whitaker, chief science and technology officer for PMA. This group will be responsible for all of the association’s food safety and traceability programs, including the Produce Traceability Initiative.

In mid-January, PMA announced that it had hired Johnna Hepner to work with the food safety team as the director of food safety and technology. Hepner has more than 20 years of experience in food safety, most recently as the food safety director for Markon Cooperative Inc. in Salinas, Calif. She was at Markon for 17 years, and prior to that she was a quality assurance manager for National Pre-Cut Produce in Salinas.

“Johnna’s hiring significantly enhances the value we can offer to our members in our industry’s most critical area of food safety and related technology,” Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of PMA, said in a statement. “Her experience will provide PMA with a unique perspective on the real-world management on the real-world management of produce safety she gained in the foodservice industry, and will complement Bob’s capabilities.”

Hepner’s responsibilities will include implementing programs, products, events and services for food safety and science, including production technology, environmental sustainability and biotechnology, according to PMA. She’ll also monitor and provide input on the commodity-specific guidelines and other legislation or guidelines.

Other staff changes include the promotion of Lorna Christie to executive vice president and chief operating officer. She’s been with PMA since 2002 and is now tasked with the responsibility of managing PMA’s member services and administrative functions. Reporting to Christie will be Duane Eaton and Tony Parassio. Eaton has been with PMA for 30 years, and is now the senior vice president of administration, where he’ll manage the association’s support services. Parassio has been named the senior vice president of member value, where he’ll be responsible for connecting PMA’s members with the business solutions they need.

PMA strengthened its events team by naming Kent Allaway the vice president of meetings and trade show logistics and Eboni Hall the senior director of events. They’ll lead the team that puts on Fresh Summit, the Foodservice Conference and the Leadership Symposium, as well as the regional Fresh Connections Events.

A new position was created for Terry Humfeld – vice president of chapter relations. He’ll be focused on PMA’s global outreach and work with the new international affiliate, PMA Australia-New Zealand.

The association also hired Richard Owen as director of global business development to strengthen its global outreach. He brings extensive industry experience to the association, having worked for the Office of U.S. Trade Representative as director of agricultural affairs and led various associations.

The management changes at PMA will allow Silbermann to focus on external partnerships and engaging with the volunteer leadership, according to the association.

Originally posted Friday, Feb. 5, 2010

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