(May 16, 3:12 p.m.) After 20 years as president and chief executive officer of the California Avocado Commission, Irvine, Mark Affleck is leaving the post to pursue other interests.

The resignation, effective May 15, was not sudden.

“Mark has been discussing his departure for some time,” said Rick Shade, chairman of the commission’s board of directors. “He’s very active in his church and really has a second calling in the Christian faith.”

Shade said retail and foodservice should anticipate no changes in the commission’s activities.

“I will be forever blessed by my walk with this great industry,” Affleck said in his letter of resignation. “Indeed, words cannot describe the deep level of gratitude I have for you all. Please know that I did everything in my being to represent you in the most powerful and professional way possible.”

The commission’s board of directors accepted the resignation, which was effective immediately. Until a permanent replacement is found for Affleck, Tom Bellamore, the commission’s senior vice president, will serve as acting chief operating officer, Shade said. An executive recruiting firm will be retained to seek a permanent successor to Affleck, he said. Bellamore, who has been with the commission for 14 years, will not be among the potential candidates.

“Mr. Bellamore has declared he’s not interested in the position (on a permanent basis),” Shade said. “He has very strong interests in portions of the business but the overall (president and chief executive officer job responsibilities, over the long haul,) is not his thing.”

Avocado Commission CEO Affleck steps down
Mark Affleck