Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) held elections to select a new chair and vice chair at its fall board meeting, held Oct. 2-3 in Washington. Ernie Farley of Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce was elected as the new board chair, and Carol Schrader, a technology consultant and former software executive, was elected vice chair of the EFI board of directors.
Farley is a graduate of University of California, Davis, where he earned a degree in plant science. He has held many roles in the produce industry, building his career in tomatoes, kiwis and strawberries in both the U.S. and Mexico, and working in various positions including production, sales and management. Today, Farley is a partner in Andrew & Williamson and has been with the business for 15 years.
He has served on several organizational boards, including serving as chairman of the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California. Farley has served on the EFI board since its inception.
“The produce industry is at a critical time that requires us all to reflect on how we can change and adapt to new ways of thinking and doing business,” Farley said. “Issues around labor, food safety and consumer transparency require us all to evaluate new tools that can help us meet the ever-increasing challenges, and I’ve personally seen how EFI can play a direct role in providing solutions. I also know that the kind of culture change that EFI requires does not come without discomfort or detractors, but I believe the industry needs to better understand how we can adopt programs like workforce development that will strengthen our industry in the long term.”
Schrader joined the board in 2017 and serves as one of three independent members of EFI’s multi-stakeholder governing body. Residing in San Francisco, she holds a bachelor’s degree in management science from Clarke University and has held a variety of management roles with start-up technology companies, where she has specialized in raising capital, strategic planning, marketing and executive management. She has brought valuable insight to the EFI board, which depends on representation from across the produce supply chain, including farmworker organizations, growers, retailers, consumer advocates and independent business executives.
Peter O’Driscoll, executive director for EFI, commented, “EFI is a young organization, and a robust and diverse board of directors is critical to our long-term success. Visionary leaders like Ernie and Carol provide valuable strategic guidance that helps EFI focus on our overall mission to transform agriculture through workforce development.”
Incorporated in January 2015 as a nonprofit organization, EFI’s bylaws allow for two consecutive two-year terms of leadership. Erik Nicholson of United Farm Workers and Maisie Ganzler of Bon Appétit Management Co. now have completed their respective terms as chair and vice chair, and will remain as board members.
The mission of EFI is to bring together growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers to transform agriculture and improve the lives of farmworkers through the process of workforce development. Its approach sets more than 300 rigorous standards for labor practices, food safety and pest management, while engaging workers at all levels on the farm to produce fruits and vegetables that display the Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured label.
To date, EFI has certified 28 farming operations of 11 grower-shipper companies, covering 38 produce commodities. Its training programs are impacting more than 30,000 farmworkers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Guatemala.