Dwight Ferguson, President & CEO
Dwight Ferguson joined the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation as president/CEO in October 2020, following 30-plus years in senior leadership positions at top produce and floral companies (both domestic and international). He was most recently the president and CEO of Naturipe Farms, LLC in Salinas. He has also been active with several industry and trade associations, most notably the Produce Marketing Association, where he’ll serve as board chairman for 2020-21. Dwight is the ninth president to serve CALF. As president, he is responsible for directing all foundation activities and guiding its widely recognized and highly respected leadership program. Dwight holds a BS degree from Ohio University and a MM degree from Aquinas College. He and his wife, Nancy, have two grown children.
Abby Taylor-Silva, Executive Vice President
Abby Taylor-Silva, a graduate of Ag Leadership’s Class 45, joined CALF as executive vice president in November 2020. In the newly created role, she will apply her industry and alumni experiences to advance the foundation’s mission. She comes to Ag Leadership after ten years as vice president of policy and communications for the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California. She is a native of Monterey and San Benito counties and serves on the boards of the Salinas Rotary Club and the Community Foundation for Monterey County. Abby earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science with a minor in agricultural and managerial economics from UC Davis. She lives in Salinas with her husband Paul and her daughters.
Peggy Perry, Co-Interim Director of Education
Dr. Peggy Perry is a professor emeritus at Cal Poly Pomona, and has spent her career teaching in the fields of plant science and leadership. Her teaching specialties have included California native plant materials, culinary produce, women in agriculture, leadership development and various issues related to agricultural literacy. Her research has focused on faculty vitality and institutional leadership and adult development. Perry was a member of Class 9 of the California Agricultural Leadership Program (CALP), and has been a member of the Education Team since 1986. She has also led the coaching element of the program for the past 10 years. Perry’s role as co-interim director of education began in May 2021 and is expected to last until February 2023 to coincide with the commencement of Class 51.
Robert Flores, Co-Interim Director of Education
Dr. Robert Flores recently retired from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo after a 37-year career in higher education. He joined Cal Poly in 1983 after teaching high school for five years. At Cal Poly, he served as a department head and professor in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department. Flores has been a member of CALP’s Education Team for almost 25 years and served as director of education from 1997 to 2000. He has also served as a presenter on the topics of preferential behavior, learning styles and values programming. In retirement, Flores continues in his role as a member of the Education Team. Additionally, he is a member of the Medical Service Corp for the County of San Luis Obispo and a co-advisor to the Latinos in Agriculture student organization at Cal Poly. Flores’ role as co-interim director of education began in May 2021 and is expected to last until February 2023 to coincide with the commencement of Class 51.
Judy Sparacino, Program Coordinator
Judy began working part-time at the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation in May 2007 as the program coordinator. She became a full-time employee in May 2008. Her responsibilities are to assist the director of education with all program-related activities. Judy also works closely with the four core faculty members on logistics of all program seminars. In addition to her program responsibilities, she also works with the Ag Leadership Alumni Council on events such as the Washington, D.C. Educational Fellowship Program. Judy grew up in Sacramento and currently resides in Monterey. In her free time she can be found in a dance studio either teaching or taking class. From an early age, Judy has been very passionate about dance and it continues to play an important part of her life. She also enjoys traveling and spending quality time with her amazing friends and family.
Emily Lazzerini, Enterprise Coordinator
As enterprise coordinator for the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, Emily oversees the entire operation of the organization. She helps organize events, track donations, manage the database and carry out a variety of other tasks. Emily has professional experience in the insurance industry, specifically in quality control and database management. She graduated with honors from California State University, Monterey Bay in May 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a concentration in information technology/e-commerce. In her free time, Emily enjoys being outside with her husband, children and their two dogs.
Sharon Harney, Finance Manager
Sharon joined the staff of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation in January 2017. She is responsible for the accounting operations of the foundation. She brings more than thirty years of accounting, human resource, 401(k) plan administration and office management experience in the agricultural, construction and medical fields. Sharon is a member of the Jeffery family and is a fifth generation Salinas resident. Along with her husband Brian, and their respective families, they have deep roots in Salinas Valley agriculture. Away from the office, Sharon loves spending time with her family, being of service to her community and staying healthy by working out.
Liza Teixeira Robertson, Writer/Editor
Liza works in a freelance writing and editing role for the foundation. Her responsibilities include writing and editing Horizons magazine, the In Touch e-newsletter, annual reports, news releases, website content, social media, media relations and other projects. Her previous work experience includes serving as director of communications for the International Agri-Center and public relations specialist for the California Strawberry Commission. She studied agricultural communications at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and graduated with a degree in agricultural science and a minor in agricultural business. Liza and her husband, Kevin, live in Hanford with their two children.
Deanna van Klaveren, Alumni Coordinator
Deanna van Klaveren (32) is responsible for the advancement of the foundation through the development and implementation of alumni relations and outreach programs. She will work closely with the Alumni Council to carry out activities and programs and to fulfill outcomes set by Ag Leadership’s board. Deanna has served as the Region 4 co-director, Alumni Council liaison to the board of directors and the Class 32 liaison. She has also served on the Alumni Council’s leadership team and committees for the Legislative Reception, All Class Reunion, alumni conferences, California Exchange, D.C. Exchange and Life-Long Leadership Learning seminars. In 2016 she was presented with Ag Leadership’s Profiles in Leadership Award. Deanna and her husband, Roger, own Generation Growers, Inc., a family operated nursery. They live and work on the property where they are raising their two teenagers, Abby and Micah.