Nearly 12 years ago, Allison Moore, having completed a master of fine arts in creative writing at the University of Arizona, was looking for a way to stay and explore the state for a while before heading back to Virginia.
She received an e-mail from the English department about a communications director opening at the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz. Moore had no experience in produce or international trade, but she spoke some Spanish and was a good writer.
In addition to her MFA, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia.
She applied for what she thought “was going to be a temporary job in Arizona doing goodness-knows-what for a girl with a creative writing degree,” she said.
“I look up 11½ years later and I’m still here,” Moore said.
In December, Moore was promoted to director of legislative and regulatory affairs.
Her duties still include communications, but she also focuses on legal and regulatory issues at the state and federal levels in the U.S. and Mexico.
The title change actually reflects the government relations responsibilities that Moore has had for many years, she said.
Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Bros. LLC, Nogales, and a former chairman of FPAA’s board, said Moore’s versatility helped her be successful as her job evolved.
Twice when the president position was empty, Moore temporarily added those responsibilities, then successfully transferred them to new presidents, he said.
Ciruli said Moore is good at analyzing complex issues and government jargon, then communicating it so that all FPAA members can understand.
She’s helping FPAA members navigate two new U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act.
She awaits the release of a third rule, the Foreign Supplier Verification Program. As the rules are rolled out, Moore said it’s like a puzzle with many moving pieces that will be interesting and challenging to work on.
Working for FPAA’s members and seeing their companies succeed are some of the best things about her job, Moore said.
It’s rewarding to influence laws, regulations and attitudes to make things better for FPAA members.
Moore enjoys seeing FPAA members become more active in talking with local and national media, government and agencies about how international trade and U.S. economic issues affect their businesses.
She organizes media training, sets up interviews, and leads delegations to Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators and agency representatives.
Her leadership roles include serving intermittently for about seven years as a member of the United Fresh Produce Association’s Government Relations Council.
One passion outside the produce industry is her love for dogs. She volunteers for a mastiff rescue organization and has fostered dogs since 2006.
She said her leadership style is to support members and encourage them to articulate their perspectives. She learns individual members’ passions, then helps them find appropriate platforms to express them.
“I’m behind the scenes, like the puppet-master, except they don’t have strings and they go off and do their own things,” she said. “It’s more like directing wind-up toys.”
Of course it’s far more complicated than that, but she makes it sound simple and fun.