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On Oct. 25 produce industry veteran Jan DeLyser officially assumed the role of chairman of the Produce Marketing Association, as the association kicked off Fresh Summit 2012 with a theme of “Say Hello to the Future.”

Ms. DeLyser begins her PMA chairmanship nearly a quarter-century after she first volunteered for PMA as a member of the education committee in 1988, when she was working at the Fresh Produce & Floral Council.

Now vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, Ms. DeLyser also served on PMA’s Retail Board from October 2001 to October 2004, and has served on the PMA board SilbermannDeLyserDachmanJan DeLyser (center) of the California Avocado Commission, with PMA President Bryan Silbermann and outgoing PMA Chairman Rich Dachman of Sysco. Ms. DeLyser was installed as chairman of the PMA at the Fresh Summit convention in Anaheim, CA. (Photo courtesy of the CAC)of directors from 2008 to the present. She is in the second year of a three-year term, and has served on the Governance Committee, chaired the Brand Identity Committee and actively supports membership recruitment.

“Jan DeLyser has an ability to instantly put others at ease in any situation,” PMA President Bryan Silbermann said in a statement. “Part of that is her down-to-earth Midwest upbringing; part is her genuine interest in helping people be the best they can be. It’s that desire to inspire that makes her such a wonderful person and a natural born leader. Jan is a consummate consensus-builder and communicator trusted by our directors to let all points of view be heard. She’s shown repeatedly in her patient and nurturing facilitation that she puts the wisdom of the group before the rightness of her personal opinion.”

Key focus areas for Ms. DeLyser and PMA during her term are expected to include revisiting PMA’s landmark 2008 Strategic Plan and championing the increasingly global face of PMA. She has experience in these areas, particularly having been a key contributor to trans-border cooperation within the avocado industry.

Mr. Silbermann said he also expects Ms. DeLyser to be a “wonderful role model” for the expansion of PMA’s women’s leadership programs, especially the new Women’s Fresh Perspectives Leadership Conference debuting in April together with the world-renowned Simmons School of Management.

As the second female chair of PMA (the first was another Jan — Janet Erickson), Ms. DeLyser will be perfectly placed to show young women the opportunities for industry leadership and career growth. Mr. Silbermann believes that is particularly important to those looking to enter the industry as well as women already in it.

“People are our industry’s greatest asset, and Jan places such an emphasis on growing talent at every level,” Mr. Silbermann said. “Expect her to focus a lot of attention on developing leadership at all levels.”

In her opening comments for the Fresh Summit general session Oct. 28, Ms. DeLyser gave a heartfelt acknowledgement of the support of her family, thanked the industry for allowing her to serve as PMA “chairman-woman-person,” and pledged to continue her long-time commitment to growing fresh produce consumption.

“To say hello to the future, the produce industry needs to focus on connection, collaboration and communication,” Ms. DeLyser said. “I want to thank my predecessor, Rich Dachman, for doing such a great job, and send a special thank you to CAC for championing the produce industry by encouraging volunteerism and supporting my service to PMA.”