#Class 25

Class 25?  Wow! It’s hard to believe that it was that long ago when I visited with Tom Stenzel to discuss the creation of the Leadership Program and DuPont’s interest in sponsoring it.  The program really was created with United Fresh in mind. Tom Stenzel had just been named president a couple of years before and began articulating goals he had in the area of member networking, developing and retaining talent in the industry and government relations.  Dupont had new products for fruit and vegetables that it wanted to showcase, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

Julie Krivanek, a consultant out of Denver, was hired to be the leadership guru. I still tease her about the fact that we were the “godparents” to the participants, but, frankly, after all this time, it is more likely that we are the “grandparents”.  Julie works to ensure that each participant is engaged and gets value out of the year-long program. She tries to gear the program to the unique mix of people the committee selects. She takes a look at the makeup and demographics of the group and also their age ranges and experience. Maybe one year there are more growers than retailers or distributors.  Consideration is also given to geographies and commodities. Participants are asked what they want to get out of the program and before the first session, their feedback is used to make the program as relevant as possible.

Although the group dynamic makes each program a little different, the program always has four main areas of emphasis:

  • Leadership Development
  • Business Relationships
  • Government and Public Affairs
  • Media and Public Relations

After Class 7, when there was a critical mass, I encouraged the graduates to form an alumni association, by which, collectively, they could continue their leadership journey.  Each year, they meet and hire speakers to help them further develop their knowledge.   It is still true that participants learn some of the most important industry lessons and skills from each other.

The most gratifying part of the program to me has been watching how a generation of participants has developed. I feel a lot of pride when I read that someone got promoted, knowing that the leadership program helped develop the skills that made it possible.

Although, I am no longer directly involved, it is an honor for me, that the alumni association awards the “Timothy Vaux Alumni Achievement Award”, also affectionately known as the “Vauxie”, each year.

Last year, DuPont merged with Dow Chemical and the crop protection business was spun into a new company called Corteva Agriscience who now sponsors the program.

If you are interested in applying for the milestone Class 25, or know of someone deserving, applications are due March 29, 2019.

Here’s a link to the program brochure:

https://www.unitedfresh.org/content/uploads/2019/02/Leadership-brochure-for-web-compressed.pdf

For questions about the program, contact Amanda Griffin, Senior Director of Education & Member Programs at UFPA, at 202.303.3412.

Humbly Submitted,

Tim Vaux, FreshXperts

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Jennifer Lawson

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