The California Agricultural Leadership Foundation (CALF) announced today the hiring of the president and CEO of the California Fresh Fruit Association, Barry Bedwell, as its new president. Bedwell officially assumes his new role with the nonprofit organization on Aug. 1.
CALF operates the California Agricultural Leadership Program, considered to be one of the premier leadership development experiences in the U.S. Since it was first delivered in 1970, more than 1,300 men and women have participated in the program.
As president, Bedwell will be responsible for directing all foundation activities and guiding the leadership program to a half-century of excellence and beyond. The program will admit its 47th class this fall.
“My focus and passion will be to take what I have learned at CFFA to further enhance a premier leadership development program that I believe is imperative to the successful future of California agriculture,” Bedwell said. “I have had the opportunity to work with production agriculture to observe and participate firsthand in the multitude of challenges that confront California farmers. I hope to use that knowledge to assist in developing even more effective leaders in the years ahead from this already very impressive program.”
Bedwell, a Class 13 alumnus of the Ag Leadership Program, has been president and CEO of the California Fresh Fruit Association since 2003. He has served in leadership positions for numerous organizations, including United Fresh Produce Association, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Fresno State Bulldog Foundation, Alliance for Food and Farming, Agricultural President’s Council and USDA’s Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Fruits and Vegetables.
Bedwell, who is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazines, is well-known as an articulate spokesman, and has worked extensively with diverse groups and government officials. Bedwell graduated from California State University, Fresno, with a degree in business administration in 1974.
“Barry is an excellent fit for the foundation as a proven leader in the agricultural industry,” said CALF board chair Jeff Elder. “He brings immeasurable experience in agriculture and association management, strong leadership skills and a personal connection to Ag Leadership as a graduate and supporter. We are confident that Barry will not only help maintain the positive momentum that has occurred in the past seven years with Bob Gray, but provide his own perspective and skills to enhance the foundation and program.”
Outgoing CALF President and CEO Bob Gray is retiring after seven years with the foundation. The leadership transition will include Gray staying on in a consultant position for a few months.
“Bob was instrumental in steering the foundation with vision, wisdom, business acumen and patience,” Elder said. “He was a non-alumnus who cared about and believed in Ag Leadership and wanted it to succeed for future generations. He accomplished his goals and set a tone for excellence and positive transformation.”