Jack Vessey (Class 34)

Jack Vessey (34) is the president of Vessey & Company
 a grower/packer/shipper of leafy greens in California’s Imperial Valley and the fourth-generation family member to be involved in the 100-year-old company. After attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, he returned home to begin his family and career and give back to the community. Jack is very active in his community and the farming industry. He is the past president of the Holtville Rotary Club and Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association (IVVGA). He currently serves on the boards of Western Growers Association, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and IVVGA. Jack commenced from the California Agricultural Leadership Program in 2005. 


In what ways did the program’s teachings and experiences enable you to make a greater impact in agriculture and beyond? 
Ag Leadership gave me the confidence to engage with local, state and federal decision makers who have direct influence on the agricultural industry. Improving your communication skills is an important aspect of the Ag Leadership Program. By using effective communication, I have been able to develop connections and effect positive change with policymakers from my local county supervisor to our state senators. 

Share an example of something you were uniquely able to do because of the program.
After a foodborne outbreak implicated a California leafy green product some years ago, I was asked to join a group to travel to Washington, D.C. and meet with officials at the Food and Drug AdministrationThe leadership skills I learned during Ag Leadership enabled me to sit down with federal agency representatives and effectively communicate how our industry would address the complex issue and regain confidence with the agency and consumers.  

How are you strengthening California agriculture through your practiced leadership? Why is doing so important to you?
After commencing, I became more involved with issues than I ever would have imagined. The Ag Leadership Program gave me a voice and taught me how to use it. I feel that I was professionally trained to assist our agricultural industry as a whole. It’s an inherent responsibility that Im lucky enough to take on. 

The Ag Leadership Program includes a focus on self-reflection through self-assessments and other instruments. How did these make you a more effective and authentic leader? 
I have learned to slow down and think! I now go into meetings with an open mind and understanding of the objectives and goals of those on the “other side of the table. This has made me a much better negotiator, leader and collaborator. 

What personal and professional values do you carry through your life and how do those show up in your leadership?
My late father showed me by example of using a high moral code. He was the most honest and trustworthy person you could ever meet. The program helped guide me on the same path and instilled the tools needed to continue on the path that was laid for me. 

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? 
I have found that being more empathetic and authentic has allowed me to open more doors and become a much better leader. I am able to sit down and discuss issues on a more personal level with those who have a different position than me. This has helped me negotiate from a much better position for our industry. 

How do you continue to invest in your continued growth through lifelong learning?
I am constantly using the tools that the program instilled in me. Reviewing decisions I have made and taking a step back and remembering those tools that I was so lucky to acquire. 

How has your view of the world around you changed and impacted your development as a leader since participating in the program?
I am much more open minded and empathetic than I ever thought I would be. I think this has made me a much better thinker and communicator. 

What would you tell a prospective applicant to inspire them to apply to the program?
If you want to be a leader who can help change the world and help California agriculture continue to feed our nation and beyond, the Ag Leadership Program is an excellent first step.