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Michael Stebner, sweetgreen culinary director

United Fresh reveals convention speakers, industry honorees

United Fresh recently revealed two speakers for the upcoming United Fresh Convention & Expo, and the five outstanding produce industry individuals who will be honored at the annual meeting June 10-12 in Chicago IL.

Michael Stebner, the culinary director at Los Angeles CA-based quick serve restaurant sweetgreen, will present his culinary perspectives on Tuesday, June 11.

Sweetgreen was founded in 2006 and now boasts 94 locations in seven markets across the country. During educational session “Produce at the Center of the Plate: A Chef’s Perspective” on the main stage, Stebner will introduce attendees to creative ways of incorporating produce into menus and meals for all dining occasions.

“Sweetgreen got their start near the United Fresh office in Washington, DC, and with several locations nearby we have the pleasure of enjoying Michael’s work firsthand,” said Andrew Marshall, United Fresh’s director of foodservice and foundation partnerships. “We’re thrilled to have him leading a thoughtful discussion of the company’s philosophy as it relates to fresh produce, how they are leveraging technology to grow demand, and working with customers and communities to increase access to fresh food.”

An award-winning chef and visionary of culinary excellence, Stebner’s cuisine has earned him numerous recognitions, including two invitations to the renowned James Beard House in New York. Stebner’s day-to-day responsibilities include management of the menu and concept innovation at sweetgreen in DC.

Berk headlining Women in Produce breakfast

Jan Berk, the chief operating officer for San Miguel Produce, will be the honoree and featured speaker for the Women in Produce Breakfast General Session on Wednesday, June 12, United Fresh said.

The celebration of Women in Produce, held each year, recognizes the contributions of all women working in the produce industry, and selects one individual to share her personal experience of service. The featured speaker is selected from nominations submitted by United Fresh members across the industry. Nominations are evaluated by a committee of past honorees and United Fresh officers based on the candidate’s involvement in the industry, contributions to the industry, and inspiration for others working in the industry.

“For more than 20 years, our Women in Produce honorees have always provided an inspiring look into successful pathways in our industry,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and CEO. “Jan has such a rich career and personal story to share with our attendees that I know she will inspire yet another generation of produce leaders.” 

Jan Berk

Berk joined San Miguel Produce full-time in 2002 and initially focused much of her efforts on sales, marketing and re-branding, growing their value-added product line, Cut ‘N Clean Greens. Nearly 25 years ago, Cut ‘N Clean Greens was launched as the first specialty, dark leafy greens on the market. Today, it has become one of the leading brands of specialty greens in North America, offering the most varieties of organic and conventional bulk and fresh-cut greens.

Berk became a partner at San Miguel Produce in 2006 with founder Roy Nishimori and expanded her role to include oversight of the company operations as COO. As a growing family owned company, she and Roy have made it a priority to create and sustain a fully integrated food safe and quality-of-life work culture throughout the company. 

Berk will join a distinguished group of women that includes:

  • Dan’l Mackey Almy, DMA Solutions
  • Tonya Antle, Organic Produce Network
  • Frieda Rapoport Caplan, Frieda’s
  • Karen Caplan, Frieda’s
  • Margaret D’Arrigo Martin, Margaret
  • Jan DeLyser, California Avocado Commission
  • Lorelei, DiSogra, United Fresh Produce Association
  • Jan Fleming, Strube Celery & Vegetable Company
  • Janice Honigberg, Sun Belle
  • Cindy Jewell, California Giant Berry Farms
  • Lorri Koster, Koster Communications, Coastal Grower Magazine
  • Julie Krivanek, Krivanek Consulting
  • Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission
  • Lisa McNeece, Grimmway Enterprises
  • Teri Miller, The Fresh Market
  • Dr. Martha Rhodes-Roberts, Roberts Associates
  • Steffanie Smith, Andrew Smith Company
  • Heather Shavey, Costco Wholesale
  • Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, Seald Sweet International/Greenyard USA
  • Rosemary Talley, Talley Farms
  • Jenney Tenney, The Kroger Company

Registration for the Women in Produce Breakfast General Session is included in the United Fresh 2019 All Access Package. To register visit unitedfreshshow.org.

Produce industry honorees

New at this year’s convention, United Fresh also is honoring five individuals for their outstanding work in sharing their expertise in different areas serving our produce industry.

Awards will be presented in areas represented by United Fresh expert advisory councils. This year’s honorees include:

Finance & Business Management:

  • Jason Pounds, Treasurer/Secretary, Hardie’s Fresh foods

Food Safety & Technology:

  • Natalie Dyenson, Vice President, Food Safety & Quality, Dole Food Groups

Government Relations:

  • Charles Wingard, Director of Field Operations, Walter P. Rawl & Sons, Inc.

Produce Marketing & Merchandising:

  • Julie DeWolf, Director of Retail Marketing, Sunkist Growers, Inc.

Supply Chain Logistics:

  • Kenny Lund, Vice President, Support Operations, ALC Logistics

“Thousands of individuals work hard every day to ensure the success of their companies and the broader produce industry,” said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO of United Fresh Produce Association.  “This program will allow us to shine a spotlight on five individuals who have made a strong impact in critical areas for our industry.

Honorees were nominated by their industry peers. The 2019 winners will be honored from the Main Stage on the United Fresh trade show floor on Tuesday, June 11 at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center.

Register to participate at unitedfreshshow.org.

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