(UPDATED 1 p.m.) Watsonville, Calif.-based Driscoll’s has hired long-time Washington, D.C.-veteran Tom O’Brien in the newly created role of senior vice president, governance and external engagement and general counsel.
“I am very excited to have Tom join Driscoll’s in this new capacity,” Kevin Murphy, president and chief operating officer for Driscoll’s, said in a news release. O’Brien, who has worked with Driscoll’s for more than a decade as outside legal counsel, will join Driscoll’s Global Leadership Team reporting to Murphy, according to the release. Murphy said O’Brien’s experience in the agricultural industry, particularly extensive in the regulatory and compliance arenas, are big strengths.
O’Brien will be involved with issues relating to contract negotiation, regulatory compliance, government affairs, corporate governance and the enforcement of the company’s intellectual property, according to the release. “As Driscoll’s expands and pursues its vision of becoming the world’s berry company, our environment is becoming ever more complex,” Murphy said in the release.
O’Brien will help the company navigate compliance with laws and regulations in new markets, he said.
Most recently, O’Brien was the principal in his private practice in Washington, D.C., mostly representing food companies, trade associations and promotion boards, according to the release. O’Brien also served as the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association’s legislative representative in Washington, D.C.
Previously, O’Brien had served as a senior official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service and an advisor to California Governor Gray Davis, according to the release.
The Produce Marketing Association has a transition plan in place for its representation in Washington, said Bryan Silbermann, chief executive officer of the Newark, Del.-based association.
He said the PMA board plans to meet the first week of June in Vancouver to discuss the position.
“Certainly sometime this summer we expect to have a decision made on how we will be represented in Washington, D.C., and by whom,” Silbermann said.
Cathy Burns, president of PMA, will play a lead role in identifying next staffing moves, he said.