Board of Directors


Mike Young, Chair

Wegis & Young

Mike (Class 35) is principal of Wegis & Young and a fourth generation agricultural entrepreneur. He manages the family operations with his father, uncle, brother and cousin. Wegis & Young has several ag-related businesses under its umbrella. The diversified farming operation grows a variety of tree and row crops and manages more than 100,000 acres of agricultural property for individual and institutional investors. Along with the agricultural interests, Mike is a partner in Water Associates, the only OEM (original equipment manufacturer) dealer of Cummins industrial engines in Kern County. Water Associates was named to the Inc. 500/5000 list. In addition, he successfully launched REDtrac systems, an assets management company. Young serves on numerous industry and community boards and is a graduate of University of the Pacific. He resides in Bakersfield with his wife, Jennifer, and their three children, Emma, Halle and Jake.


Cameron Boswell, Vice Chair

J.G. Boswell Company

Cameron (42) is a fourth generation member of J.G. Boswell Company, which farms and processes in the Central Valley and New South Wales, Australia. It is primarily known for pima cotton, processing tomatoes, pistachios and safflower. Cameron is the grandson of James G. Boswell II, co-founder of the California Ag Leadership Foundation. Cameron currently serves as the vice president of administration for the company.

Cameron earned his bachelor’s degree at Prescott College in 2004 with a double major in political economy and human development. Cameron and his wife, Cherilyn, met in college and were married in 2005. Originally from the Detroit/Ann Arbor area, Cherilyn has a master’s degree in counseling psychology and has worked as a child and family therapist. They live in Santa Clarita with their two sons.


Jeff Elder, Immediate Past Chair

Oritain Global

Jeff has recently joined Oritain – a world leader in verifying the origin of products – as Managing Director, North America.  Using forensic science and data analysis, Oritain analyse naturally-occurring chemical properties within products to trace them back to their true origin, from any point in the supply chain. Operating globally, they work with some of the world’s largest food, textile and pharmaceutical suppliers. Jeff joins Oritain after 21 years with J.G. Boswell Company, where he oversaw the sales and marketing of the company’s primary crops, and more than 40 years with California agriculture. He has been active in and served on the boards for many agricultural organizations. Jeff is past president of the Cotton Warehouse Association of America and immediate past chair of the Supima organization. Jeff attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and continued to study through North Carolina State College of Textiles, the California Agri-Business Seminar, various trade events and seminars.

Loren Booth, Past Chair

Booth Ranches LLC

Loren (Class 27) is a fifth generation Californian born in Pasadena. She is president of family-owned and operated Booth Ranches, a premium citrus grower in the San Joaquin Valley. Loren lives on her family ranch in Orange Cove. In addition to managing acres of citrus, Loren operates a commercial cattle herd in the foothills surrounding Booth Ranches in Orange Cove. She also enjoys raising and showing Quarter horses and specializes in reining. Loren serves as a director for the Hills Valley Irrigation District and as a board member of Western Growers Association. She was the first woman to serve as a board member for the Citrus Research Board. Loren is one of six children. She attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she majored in animal science.

Yissel Barajas

Reiter Affiliated Companies

Yissel (40) is the chief human resources officer for Reiter Affiliated Companies (RAC), the world’s largest fresh multi-berry producer. Prior to her current role, she managed RAC’s philanthropy program, where she launched an initiative designed to prevent obesity and diabetes in the farm worker community. The program was developed in partnership with UC Davis and UC Berkeley, creating a successful model for public-private partnerships for the benefit of public health.

She has served on the boards of the California Coalition for Rural Housing, the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition and the American Red Cross of Ventura County. She currently serves on the Ventura County Farmworker Resource Program committee, the Museum of Ventura County board, the Ventura County Agricultural Museum board and the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety’s external advisory board.

Yissel earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA. She and her husband, Jaime, have two children. They live in Camarillo where they enjoy hikes, bike trails and participating in community events.


Karen Caplan

Frieda’s, Inc.

Karen Caplan is president and CEO of Frieda’s, Inc. The company markets and distributes exotic fruits and vegetables. As the daughter of entrepreneur Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan – founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce – Karen began working with produce at the age of 10. After graduating with a degree in Agricultural Economics and Business Management from the University of California, Davis, she joined Frieda’s full time. Learning the business from the ground up, she worked in just about every department at the company, from packing boxes to sales and marketing. At the age of 30, she was promoted to president and CEO. In 1990, Karen and her sister purchased the company from their mother. With Karen at the helm and her sister by her side, Frieda’s became the nation’s leading marketer and distributor of specialty produce.

Correen Davis

The Gorrill Ranch

Correen (45) is the managing partner and chairman of The Gorrill Ranch, her family’s diversified fourth-generation farming operation in Butte County. The farm primarily produces premium California rice, but also grows almonds, pecans and walnuts. The Gorrill Ranch, which celebrated it’s centennial in 2018, has a long history of successful habitat conservation projects and partnerships.

Correen served on Ag Leadership’s Alumni Council as an education team liaison prior to joining the foundation’s board of directors. She currently serves on the boards of the California Rice Commission and the California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom and on the Northern California Water Association’s communications committee.

She is a graduate of the Clark D. Honors College at the University of Oregon. She and her husband, Bradley, who is head coach of the women’s basketball program at University of the Pacific, live in Stockton with their two daughters.

Michael Hollister

Driscoll Strawberry Associates

Michael Hollister is the senior vice president of the market group, for the Americas for Driscoll Strawberry Associates. He oversees sales, category development, marketing and product business management and global expansion. Hollister has been with Driscoll’s for more than 30 years. He is currently a director on the California Strawberry Commission’s board, serving since 1999, and also on multiple government affairs committees and working groups throughout the produce industry.


Mike Mendes

Wonderful Company

As Vice President, Eastside Farming, for Wonderful Orchards, and as part of the Wonderful Company which is the world’s largest grower of pistachios and almonds as well as a major producer of citrus, Mike (Class 39) supervises the production of some of the most popular and healthy crops that come out of the Golden State. Prior to current position, he was General Manager Agriculture for Newhall Land and Farming as well as previously serving as the Director of Water Resources for Kings River Conservation District and Crop Manager for Woolf Enterprises. He is a graduate of Fresno State with a BS in Agricultural Business. He and his wife, Ellen, are the proud parents of three sons.


Paul Parreira

Parreira Almond Processing Co. LLC and RPAC, LLC.

Paul (44) is a third-generation agriculturalist with more than 40 years of experience in almond farming, hulling, shelling, processing and marketing and byproduct market development and sales. 

He is a partner in Parreira Almond Processing Co. LLC, an almond hulling and shelling business which serves more than 24,000 acres of almonds for outside growers, in addition to 1,800 acres of their own trees. He is also a partner in RPAC, LLC, an almond processing and marketing company which supplies quality California almonds to customers in the United States and to more than 75 countries. He manages strategic planning, business development, sustainability and innovation for the both Los Banos-based companies. Additionally, he is co-founder of HermetiaPro, a Black Soldier Fly vertical farming company, which converts agriculture waste products into high protein livestock feed.

Paul serves as vice chair of CDFA’s feed inspection advisory board, vice chair of the Almond Board of California’s biomass working group and chair of the Almond Alliance of California’s co-products committee. He is a long-time member of the Merced County Spring Fair Board and helped found the Spring Fair Heritage Foundation.

Eugene Peterson

Wells Fargo

Gene is a senior vice president and the division manager for the National Food & Agribusiness Division of Wells Fargo & Company. Gene oversees operations in California’s Inland Empire and Central Valley, as well as locations across the United States. He is also leading the group’s expansion to untapped markets in the Midwest and on the East Coast. A 28-year financial services veteran, he began his career in 1985 with the USDA, extending and administrating loan programs.

Bill Van Skike

Consultant Bill serves as a senior management level consultant to both public and private entities. Prior to joining his current employer A-C, Bill served as Chief Operating Officer at Precision Pharmacy, Chief Operating Officer at national architecture and construction firm Klassen Corporation, President of Mazzei Injector Company, and President of California Planting Cotton Seed Distributors (CPCS). He is a charter member of the San Joaquin Chapter of YPO (Young President’s Organization) is a graduate of Stagen Integral Leadership Program; and a graduate California Agricultural Leadership Program (Class 32). Bill completed his MBA and undergraduate degrees at California State University at Fresno where he was an active member of Sigma Chi fraternity.  His passions away from work include horseback riding, golf and spending time with his daughter, Jordan.

Emily Rooney

Agricultural Council of California

Emily Rooney (Class 39) joined Ag Council in 2008 and became president in 2010.  Ag Council represents approximately 15,000 farmers across California, ranging from small, farmer-owned businesses to some of the world’s best-known brands.  Ag Council manages legislative and regulatory matters for its members in Sacramento. Emily has been involved in public policy for twenty years, including time spent at California Farm Bureau and working for two Members of Congress in Washington, DC. Emily’s family owns a livestock operation in San Joaquin County.  She also serves on the statewide FFA Foundation Board and the Executive Council for National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.  Emily is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, and she and her husband, Pat, have one son, who manages the household.

Dr. Andrew Thulin

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Andrew J. Thulin began his role as dean of Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) in June 2014. Prior to his current role, Thulin concurrently directed strategic initiatives for the university and served as head of CAFES’ Animal Science Department. Before joining Cal Poly in 1998, Thulin managed technology deployment at Cargill, Inc., the nation’s largest private company. His responsibilities included spearheading new international business ventures and deploying new technologies to bring greater efficiencies and increased profitability to the company. Prior to joining Cargill, Inc., Thulin was a professor at Michigan State University, where he held a three-way appointment in extension, teaching and research. Thulin graduated from Cal Poly with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and completed his master’s and doctorate degrees at Kansas State University.

Board Committees Roster 2020 – 2021

Executive [per bylaws and charter]

Mike Young – Chair
Cameron Boswell – Vice Chair
Gene Peterson – Secretary/Treasurer
Jeff Elder –  Immediate Past Chair 
Loren Booth – Past Chair
Staff Liaison – Judy Sparacino

Audit [per bylaws and charter]

Emily Rooney – Chair
Mike Mendes
Bill Van Skike
Staff Liaison – Sharon Harney

Finance & Investment [in accordance with statute, bylaws and charter]

Gene Peterson – Chair
Cameron Boswell
Paul Parreira
Advisor (non-voting): Pierre Tada
Staff Liaison – Sharon Harney

Governance [per bylaws and charter]

Mike Young – Chair
Corrine Davis
Paul Parreira
Staff Liaison – Emily Lazzerini

Program Advisory Committee [per bylaws and charter]

Corrine Davis – Chair
Mike Mendes
Bill Van Skike
Staff Liaison – Judy Sparacino

Deans’ Council

Dean Dennis Nef, Fresno State – Chair (representative on Board)
Dean Andy Thulin, Cal Poly
Dean Helen Dillard, UC Davis
Interim Dean Lisa Kessler, Cal Poly Pomona
Staff Liaison – Deanna van Klaveren

Development Advisory Committee [per bylaws and charter]

Cameron Boswell – Chair
Loren Booth
Emily Rooney
Staff Liaison – Deanna van Klaveren

Communications Advisory Committee [per bylaws and charter]

Karen Caplan – Chair
Yissel Barajas
Dean Dennis Nef
Staff Liaison – Emily Lazzerini