( Courtesy Western Growers )

Dave Puglia is succeeding Tom Nassif, who is retiring after 18 years as the president and CEO of Western Growers.

Puglia, who joined the association in 2005, is its executive vice president. He will take the role of president and CEO on Feb. 1, according to a news release.
Before joining Western Growers, Puglia was vice president of public affairs consulting firm APCO Worldwide, and served seven years in the California Attorney General’s Office as press secretary and then director of public affairs and communications.

“Since joining our organization, Dave has demonstrated an unyielding passion for our members, a deep understanding of the issues facing Western agriculture — water policy, in particular — and an unrivaled capacity for leading our association and industry into the next decade and beyond,” Ron Ratto, president of Ratto Bros. and chairman of the Western Growers board, said in the release.

Puglia said he is honored to chosen for the opportunity and responsibility to lead the organization, which represents growers in California and Arizona.

“The people of this industry welcomed me into their hearts from the first day on the job, rain or shine,” Puglia said in the release. “As their advocate, I am as energized and optimistic as ever about the opportunities and challenges ahead.”

Puglia’s appointment comes after a nationwide search. In the release, he thanked Nassif and other Western Grower representatives for mentoring him on the job.

Ratto credited Nassif for the association’s influence and national prominence. Western Growers has been active on many issues facing growers, including food safety, labor and immigration, water, technology and international trade, according to the release.

“Every day since 2002, my inspiration has been derived from the hard-working, innovative and ethical family farmers who comprise our membership,” Nassif said in the release. “I am proud of the major strides we have taken as an industry during my tenure, and it brings me great satisfaction knowing that the future of our association is secure in the hands of Dave Puglia.”

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