The soon-coming retirement of senior vice president of administration Duane Eaton in January and the departure of executive vice president and chief operating officer Lorna Christie early in 2013 also created new leadership needs.
“To have the president and the CEO role wrapped in one person as I have done is not really sustainable in the long term, at least for now,” he said.
Initially, Silbermann said Green Burns will focus on board development, creating better staff development programs and make connections to the food industry for PMA.
“She understands leadership and she understands servant leadership,” he said.
Silbermann credited Jim Corby, former executive vice president and chief operating officer at Food Lion, in helping making the connection with Green Burns and PMA.
One former PMA staffer who has worked with Green Burns said that Green Burns will bring stellar leadership qualities and practical knowledge to the position.
Gary Fleming, vice president of strategic services for RedLine Solutions Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., and former PMA director of industry technology, said he worked with Green Burns on the Produce Traceability Leadership Council for several years.
Green Burns served as chair of the Produce Traceability Initiative’s Leadership Council from 2008 to 2012. She was recognized for her work in implementing traceability standards for the produce industry with The Packer’s 2008 Produce Marketer of the Year award.
“We had 48 individuals on that committee and she did an excellent of collaborating with all of the egos in the room, making sure we had consensus and kept us on track,” Fleming said. “The leadership she showed was unparalleled.”
Fleming said Green Burns took time to do the technical homework involved with initiative. “If she was deficient in one area, the next meeting she was up to speed,” he said. He said her social skills will help her learn about all aspects of the produce industry, Fleming said.
The retail perspective that Green Burns will add a lot to PMA, Fleming said. “Her experience as a practitioner in the industry is something that PMA does not have right now,” he said. “When Bryan does decide to retire, if the board is looking for someone who knows the industry very well and has the pulse on the retail community, they couldn’t pick anyone better than Cathy.” Fleming said.