Being the top industry volunteer leader for United Fresh in 2018-19 has been a labor of love for Cindy Jewell.

Jewell, 2018-19 chairwoman for United Fresh Produce Association and vice president of marketing for Watsonville-based California Giant Berry Farms, said she focused her efforts as chairwoman on expanding volunteerism and promoting programs that reach and engage younger members — and future leaders — of United Fresh.

“I think we are on the right track as we have added even more vital committees and advisory boards — all lead by industry volunteers,” she said. 

“As we look at the upcoming schedule for the convention this year (we are) really trying to capture that younger audience with more networking events that bring them together so they can build their future industry tribe.”

With the late night party at House of Blues planned for the United Fresh show in Chicago, Jewell said the gathering is a great example of a fun, inclusive event that builds community.

Jewell said she has been impressed by the passion of United Fresh industry volunteers and how invested they all are in making United Fresh a success every day for all members. United Fresh staff is young, driven and intent on making a difference, she said.

“It gives me hope in our future,” Jewell said.

Jewell said she has enjoyed opportunities to meet one-on-one with individuals chosen to speak at a general session or conference.

“Bob Woodward was those of speakers that was very engaging and funny as he sat next to me at the table before speaking to the attendees at the Washington Conference,” she said.

“He instantly became the reporter at our table, firing questions to each of us about our political views, who we voted for and how we would rank past presidents on a scale.”

That interaction was fascinating and memorable, she said.

“I am thankful for those kinds of ‘peeks behind the curtain’ — I also didn’t realize how much that I would enjoy simply spending time with the staff and fellow board members,” she said. “It humbles me each time we all come together. “Jewell said her message to those people is that if the industry doesn’t continue to make their voices heard and deliver solutions to lawmakers that can work for the industry, then someone else will make the decision and create their own solution.

“We have got to continue to be heard and be heard with one voice,” she said.

For 2019-20, the new chairman of the United Fresh Produce Association board of directors will be Greg Corrigan, who is senior director of produce and floral at West Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley’s.

Jewell said Corrigan is in a great position for a big year of service.

“I know Greg has passion for the association and for the industry so he will keep charging ahead with initiatives started by those long before him and those he has on his plate that he is passionate about,” she said.