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The Salinas, CA-based Grower-Shipper Association of Central California has hired Joann Greathead as its first-ever director of membership in its nearly 80-year history.

For Ms. Greathead, the role means a change of venue within the GSA building: For the past five years, she was manager of the Central California Lettuce Producers Cooperative. She stepped into her new role Jan. 5.

Prior to working for the lettuce cooperative, Ms. Greathead spent six years as the office manager for the Monterey County Farm Bureau. In both her work with the lettuce cooperative and with the Monterey County Farm Bureau, she handled membership duties.

Jim Bogart, president and legal counsel of GSA, said that he has been heavily involved in labor and legal issues relating to GSA's members for a while. As a result, GSA has not had the face time and hands-on outreach to its members that he would like it to have. The addition of Ms. Greathead helps fill that need, he said.

GSA has about 300 dues-paying members and serves Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. About 90 percent of GSA's revenue comes from those membership dues; the remaining 10 percent comes from a combination of sponsorship money and occasional fees for workshops and seminars, Mr. Bogart said.

Ms. Greathead is experienced at handling membership details and is well known to the agricultural community, especially in Monterey County, Mr. Bogart said. He has had the opportunity to observe first-hand Ms. Greathead's work with both the Central California Lettuce Producers Cooperative and the Monterey County Farm Bureau.

"I'm very pleased with Joann's work with the lettuce co-op," Mr. Bogart said. "She has exceptional people skills."

As director of membership for GSA, Ms. Greathead will oversee and coordinate GSA's member recruitment, retention, education and outreach services and activities. She will work closely with Mr. Bogart and GSA's board of directors.

Ms. Greathead was born and raised in the Salinas Valley. Her father, now retired, was a grower in South County.

One of Ms. Greathead's tasks will be to try to recruit more members from both San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. At present, 75-80 percent of GSA members are located in Monterey County, she said.

Targeting growers - such as strawberry growers - will be a focus of Ms. Greathead's efforts. The California Strawberry Commission and GSA are members of each other's organization and work together in various ways. But while CSC is more focused on marketing issues, GSA focuses on numerous compliance and labor issues and worker-safety issues.