SALINAS, Sept. 29, 2020 – The California Agricultural Leadership Foundation (CALF) has announced the hiring of two individuals to its leadership team, Dwight Ferguson and Abby Taylor-Silva, to lead the organization which operates one of the foremost leadership development experiences in the United States, the California Agricultural Leadership Program (CALP).
“I am excited to announce that we are cultivating a new way forward as we continue to provide the premier leadership program in the nation,” said CALF Board Chairman Michael Young. “By building a strong team to meet these challenging times, we can continue to grow leaders who make a difference.”
Ferguson has been selected to serve as president and CEO of the foundation. His predecessor, Barry Bedwell, is retiring after more than four years as CALF’s president and over four decades in representing production agriculture in the state. Ferguson has spent 30 years in the produce and floral businesses, largely in senior leadership roles, at top industry companies. His most recent position was with Naturipe Farms in Salinas, Calif.
“Dwight has a track-record of growing ag businesses and the teams needed to build them,” said Young. “He is a recognized industry leader who is known for his management, interpersonal and problem-solving skills.”
Ferguson earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Ohio University and a master’s degree in management from Aquinas College. He and his wife, Nancy, have two grown children.
“I could not be happier joining Ag Leadership as president/CEO,” said Ferguson. “I believe in the mission and vision of the foundation and very much appreciate its history, culture and contributions made to California agriculture. I also recognize the excellent quality of its programs and look forward to working with all stakeholders, especially the board, alumni and staff, to build on CALF’s rich tradition of success.”
Taylor-Silva will serve as the foundation’s executive vice president. She comes to the foundation after ten years as vice president of policy and communications for the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California (GSA), an agricultural trade association spanning the coastal region that includes Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Santa Clara counties.
“We are extremely pleased to have Abby join our new leadership team,” said Young. “She is a true servant leader who will help move the foundation forward through these uncertain times.”
Abby 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. She is a proud alumnae of the Ag Leadership Program’s Class 45.
“I am delighted to join this team,” said Taylor-Silva. “The foundation made a distinctive and long-lasting impact on my personal and professional development, providing me with tools, perspective and an awareness-of-self that directly impacted my ability to effectively lead in various capacities. I look forward to the opportunity to build upon this extraordinary program, serve the foundation and support the next generation of California agricultural leaders.”
The foundation’s board of directors recently welcomed Michael Young to serve as its new chairman. Young, an alumni of Class 35, is principal of Wegis & Young, a diversified farming operation which grows a variety of tree and row crops and manages agricultural property for individual and institutional investors.
Three alumni of the program have been newly appointed to serve on the foundation’s board: Correen Davis (Class 45), Yissel Barajas (Class 40) and Paul Parreira (Class 44).
“The addition of our new board members, along with our existing board, round out what is a dynamic leadership group that is reflective of the diverse nature of California agriculture,” said Young. “They, along with our new leadership team, will propel the foundation on a path of new horizons, positive growth and a sustainable future.”