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.
Shelli Hendricks, Director of Education
Shelli joined the foundation staff in December 2018. As director of education, she is responsible for the program curriculum, in coordination with the partner university deans, and for delivery of the leadership content presented in the campus and travel seminars. Shelli has over 20 years of experience as a leadership development professional, working as an instructional designer, executive coach and business consultant in several Fortune 500 companies. Her responsibilities have included curriculum design, program management, leadership development, facilitation and change management. A native Californian from the Central Valley, Shelli earned a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree in educational technology from Nova Southeastern University, and she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in organization development and change from Fielding Graduate University.For fun, she extends her passion for lifelong learning through scuba, scientific research and marine conservation as a master scuba diver trainer and certified travel associate.
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.