April 20, 2023
The Almond Board of California has hired a New York City-based executive search and leadership advisory firm to find a replacement for current president and CEO Richard Waycott, who is leaving the organization at the end of this year.
The board announced March 30 that a search committee led by Chairman Alexi Rodriguez retained Russell Reynolds Associates to help with the national CEO search.
Waycott joined the organization in 2002, bringing strategic leadership experience to the global development of the California almond industry. He recently told Western Farm Press that after 21 years of guiding the almond industry’s expansion and success, the industry is “moving into a new phase requiring new leadership.”
“This is an exceptional leadership opportunity for the right executive to serve the more than 7,600 growers and 100-plus handlers who have made almonds one of California’s largest crops,” Rodriguez said. “We are excited to see where our search will lead.”
While the Almond Board administers a federal marketing order sanctioned by the USDA, board spokesman Rick Kushman said there will be no USDA procedures affecting the hiring process.
“The process is overseen by the Board of Directors, which means in essence, the almond industry,” he said in an email.
Outlook still positive
Waycott said this winter that the industry faces headwinds, including perennial water shortages in the Central Valley. He believes what is planted in the valley will change over time, noting historical shifts away from such crops as cotton, asparagus and plums. But his outlook for almonds, as well as pistachios, is favorable.
“They can’t be grown as well in other places and as long as the cost of productions continues to be lower than the revenue they bring in, almonds should continue to be one of those preferred crops,” he said. “My crystal ball still says businesses will continue to make decisions based on economic outlook and the cost of production, meaning almonds should continue to be one of the preferred crops.”
Russell Reynolds Associates has more than 50 years of experience working with public, private and nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and around the globe, according to an Almond Board release.
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