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Ripon Resident Chosen for 2022 Almond Leadership Program

The Almond Board of California (ABC) is proud to announce the Almond Leadership Program Class of 2022,

Photo courtesy of Almond Board of California.

and Ken Peelman of Ripon will be joining the accomplished group of 17 exceptional professionals expected to help lead the industry into the future.

Peelman was a pest control advisor for 13 years and is now the director of grower relations for Monte Vista Farming. He is part of a class with diverse backgrounds across the full range of the industry, from almond growers and processors to sales representatives, consultants, operations managers, pest control advisors, and more.

The Almond Leadership Program began in 2009 and has graduated more than 200 people, with dozens now serving on ABC workgroups, committees, and even the Board of Directors. This 13th class will become immersed in every aspect of the industry, guided by volunteer mentors – many of them graduates of the program – who will help the new class further develop the skills, knowledge, and perspective to improve their industry and their communities.

“This program helps mold great people into even greater leaders who continue to guide our industry forward,” said Jenny Nicolau, ABC’s senior manager of Industry Relations and Communications. “The industry is now seeing the enormous benefits from more than a decade of this program, and the 2022 class looks brighter than ever. I am certain that these talented, passionate people will continue to be great assets and advocates for our industry for years to come.”

Leadership class members – while still working at their jobs – will complete specialized trainings on all aspects of the industry, much of it tied to ABC activities in global marketing, production and nutrition research, food safety, and more. They’ll also sharpen their communication skills and build lasting relationships with each other, ABC staff, and other industry leaders.

The leadership program will also offer a thorough look at the ways social, economic, and environmental issues, and the regulatory climate, impact the industry. In addition, participants will take on a yearlong, self-directed project – possibly diving into a topic that interests them, or introducing an innovative technology or practice to their operation, or exploring a new idea to advance the industry. All will focus on improving the California almond community, and some past projects have led to important breakthroughs for the industry.

Leadership class members kicked off their training with a two-day orientation last week at the ABC offices in Modesto. It included a state of the industry discussion with ABC President and CEO Richard Waycott and one-on-one talks with their mentors.

“The program offers clear insight into the almond industry as a whole and gives first-hand examples of what it means to lead an industry and to give back,” said Chris Gallo, who has been both a participant and mentor. He is now the U.S. Western Region Sales and Marketing Vice President for Yara North America and is mentoring again in 2022. “It’s clear that this program continues to evolve to build leaders who will take the almond industry into the future. It's truly a family that grows with every class.”

Once again, class members will raise money for California Future Farmers of America (FFA), pledging to raise more than $25,000 in scholarships for high school students interested in pursuing agriculture in college. Through the years, the leadership program has raised more than $200,000 for FFA.

Almonds from California are a healthy, natural, wholesome, and quality food. The Almond Board of California promotes almonds with a research-based approach to responsible farming, production, and marketing on behalf of the more than 7,600 almond growers and processors in California, many of whom have third- and fourth-generation family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit or check out California Almonds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the California Almonds blog.

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