Joyce Jong (Class 39)

Joyce Jong (39) is a multigenerational poultry farmer in Southern California, serving Asian retail markets with fresh egg products for over three decades. Since 2018, she has also been the senior project manager for the City of Riverside, leading food systems and sustainability initiatives and related economic development programs with stakeholder partners. Joyce received a master’s degree in agriculture and management from UC Davis and an MBA from California State University, Sacramento. She serves as a board member on several local agricultural organizations, including the Riverside County Farm Bureau. She commenced from the California Agricultural Leadership Program in 2010. 


In what ways did the program’s teachings and experiences enable you to make a greater impact in agriculture and beyond? 
Ag Leadership helped me gain confidence in being a voice and advocate for agriculture, take action on important opportunities and to not be complacent in key issues that impact agriculture in the networks and spaces I am engaged in. For example, in 2014, the City of Riverside recruited me to fill a position to lead community stakeholders in developing a regional food movement. I saw this as an incredible and positive opportunity to bring industry perspective to a local government role.  

Share an example of something you were uniquely able to do because of the program.
I gained the confidence to stand in front of a room filled with people who may have opposing views to mine.  

How are you strengthening California agriculture through your practiced leadership? Why is doing so important to you?
I am in a unique role within a local municipality with the purpose of growing the local food ecosystem. The role requires engagement with multiple stakeholders local community members, health care workers, farmers, funders, education partners and many others. I play an active role in facilitating the development of programs and their implementation with these stakeholders. These programs in turn benefit farmers and community members.   

What personal and professional values do you carry through your life and how do those show up in your leadership?
My personal and professional values are aligned with CALF’s values of excellence, integrity and respect. I would also add humility to the list. Humility helps keep our ego in check and helps us recognize that when we are in a leadership role, we are often in that role to serve others.  

In what ways did your participation in the program help you to be a more empathetic, authentic and effective leader? How has your understanding of your specific role as a leader changed since the program? 
It is about the willingness to be vulnerable to share stories and experiences with others and also having compassion and empathy to listen to others when they are vulnerable. This builds trust, and trust in turn can accomplish much more.  

How do you continue to invest in your continued growth through lifelong learning?
I read and challenge myself and try not to stay complacent. If we are not growing, we plateau or are going backwards. Life happens for us and it is our responsibility to step up and raise our standards when opportunities are at our door step.  

How has your view of the world around you changed and impacted your development as a leader since participating in the program?
After my participation in the Ag Leadership Program, I took on the role of teaching part time for the Cal Poly Pomona College of Agriculture, went on to pursue a Ph.D. and then transitioned to my role at the City of Riverside – all while maintaining active roles in my family’s farming operation. In my professional capacities, working with students and community members allowed me to apply skills I gained in the Ag Leadership Program and also learn from others. Our leadership journey does not end, and when we have that approach, we will continue to grow and be more effective in our work with others.  

What would you tell a prospective applicant to inspire them to apply to the program?
The Ag Leadership Program is a transformative life experience for those who are open to challenging themselves. The program provides an expansive suite of leadership skills development. What one does with the newfound knowledge and skills from the program can take their life, work and relationships to a new level. For those who are considering the program, I would ask: Are you ready for to grow more personally and professionally in a manner that increases your capacity to make greater impact? If the answer is yes, then this program is for you.