The Western Growers Board of Directors has unanimously selected Dave Puglia as the organization’s next President and Chief Executive Officer. Puglia will succeed current President and CEO Tom Nassif, who is retiring after 18 years as a forceful and effective leader in the nation’s agriculture industry, on February 1, 2020.
“Fifteen years ago, Dave came to Western Growers with an extraordinary pedigree in California politics, having served in senior roles on statewide political campaigns and in public service in addition to private sector experience,” said Ratto Bros. President and Western Growers Chairman of the Board, Ron Ratto. “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.”
“Words are not adequate to express how deeply honored I am to be entrusted with this great opportunity and responsibility,” stated Puglia. “The people of this industry welcomed me into their hearts from the first day on the job, rain or shine. As their advocate, I am as energized and optimistic as ever about the opportunities and challenges ahead.”
The Western Growers Board of Directors engaged in an extensive nationwide search to ensure that Western Growers’ leadership in federal and state public policy would carry forward and grow while continuing to provide innovative business services to the association’s members. The Western Growers Family of Companies is built on the strength of 445 dedicated employees providing expert advocacy and services across multiple business lines.
“The mentoring and support I have received from Tom Nassif and so many current and past directors has been amazing,” continued Puglia. “My talented and dedicated Western Growers colleagues have also helped propel me on this journey, and there is no better professional staff in the entire agriculture industry. We are ready to go.”
Puglia will inherit an association that experienced a renaissance under Nassif’s leadership. Over the course of nearly two decades, Nassif elevated the national prominence of Western Growers and established the organization as a recognized leader in food safety, labor and immigration, water, technology and innovation, international trade and many other areas impacting the viability of Western Growers members.
“Tom Nassif was the right leader at the right time for our organization and the industry,” said Ratto. “The strength and influence our association enjoys today is a credit to his intelligence, work ethic and personal charm. Our membership owes Tom a debt of gratitude for employing his fierce devotion and incomparable talents on our collective behalf.”
“My service to Western Growers and the fresh produce industry has been a fulfilling culmination to my career,” stated Nassif. “Every day since 2002, my inspiration has been derived from the hard-working, innovative and ethical family farmers who comprise our membership. 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.”
Puglia joined Western Growers in 2005 and currently serves as Executive Vice President, overseeing four departments in addition to the organization’s non-profit charitable foundation and its political action committees. He is also intimately involved in the internal operations of the organization. Prior to joining Western Growers, he was Vice President of APCO Worldwide, a global public affairs consulting firm, and previously served for seven years in the California Attorney General’s Office, first as Press Secretary and later as Director of Public Affairs and Communications.