( Photo courtesy National Potato Council )

Like his father before him, Kam Quarles is a voice for growers.

Quarles, now vice president of public policy for the National Potato Council, said his father, William Quarles, had a 30-year career at Sunkist. Those years that William Quarles worked for Sunkist had a lasting impression on his son.

“He had a great love for the work that he did there,” Quarles said, noting that his father was in charge of government affairs as well as corporate and public affairs at Sunkist over the course of his career.

His father — now retired and living north of Oakland — traveled all over the country and the world representing California and Arizona grower members of Sunkist, he said.

“He loved it and he felt that the work that he was doing was really valuable on their behalf. I sort of took (that mindset) on as I worked for a couple different members of Congress and then I started on my own journey.”

Quarles said that even though he has stopped at different places in his career, he always had the connection with the fruit and vegetable community.

Now at the National Potato Council for about two years, Quarles previously had been director in the international law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, representing several industry clients.

Before that, Quarles was vice president of government relations and legislative affairs at the United Fresh Produce Association.

Quarles said he embraces a collaborative approach to achieving public policy results.

“I really believe that all of the durable, sustainable victories that we can have on public policy and moving the industry forward come together, come from teams,” he said. 

“I think the notion that one person can go out there and take a rifle shot approach, when you’re dealing with really complicated issues that span multiple commodities, span multiple states — I just think that’s really unrealistic.”

Instead, Quarles said he loves a tightly focused team approach.

“I get a ton of enjoyment out of working with folks to develop a strategy and then work all of the important elements of that strategy to the finish line,” he said. 

Quarles said he draws inspiration from not only his father but also Mike Stuart of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association and John Keeling, CEO of the National Potato Council, who are co-chairs of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. 

Respect is returned by Stuart and Keeling.

“Kam is a consummate government relations professional and one of our industry’s brightest stars in Washington, D.C.,” Stuart said.

”He’s been an invaluable asset in our ongoing efforts to seek meaningful immigration reform as well as a strong portfolio of programs for specialty crops in the farm bill.”