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WASHINGTON -- Lorri Koster, co-chairman of Mann Packing Co., will be the guest speaker at the United Fresh Produce Association's 2010 reception honoring Women in Produce, Wednesday, April 21, at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV.

Held each year in conjunction with the United Fresh annual convention, the Women in Produce reception recognizes all women working in the produce industry, and selects one individual to share her personal experience of service. From nominations submitted by United Fresh members across the industry, each year's speaker is selected by a committee of her peers, including honorees from the past 15 years.

"Lorri is one of those progress-drivers in the produce industry," United Fresh President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Stenzel said in a March 22 press release. "In addition to building a stalwart career within her own company, her commitment to leadership on the local and national level has benefited our entire industry. She has also had to endure the heart-breaking loss of her brother Joe and father, Don, yet persevered as a rock for her family and the entire Mann Packing family. One of the highlights of this reception each year is hearing the personal story of an outstanding leader in our industry, and I can't imagine a more deserving choice than Lorri."

The third generation of her family to work in agriculture, Ms. Koster began her career in 1990, directing Salinas, CA-based Mann Packing Co.'s communications and marketing efforts. After a decade with Mann, she joined ProduceOnline.com as vice president of marketing, followed by a post as associate publisher with Produce Business magazine. She also became publisher and editorial director of Coastal Grower magazine, a responsibility she continues today. She rejoined Mann in 2006 as the company's co- chairman and to lead its marketing and business development efforts.

"This is a tremendous honor from United Fresh," she said in the release. "I'm humbled by the recognition and look forward to sharing my passion for this industry with attendees at the reception. It's a great time to be in the produce industry. We've got a lot of momentum on our side in Washington, DC. I intend to do my part to keep it going."

Ms. Koster has led the produce industry from many positions of responsibility, including a term as chairman of the board of directors of the International Fresh Cut Produce Association, where she held the distinction of becoming the first woman to chair a national U.S. produce trade association. She now serves as chairman of the Grower Shipper Association of Central California, and as a member of the United Fresh board of directors. She also serves on the boards of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and the Produce Marketing Association's Foundation for Industry Talent. Locally, she serves as a trustee at the Panetta Institute for Public Policy.

Ms. Koster holds a bachelor's degree in public relations from California State University in Chico and resides in Salinas with her husband, Tom, and sons Jack and Sam.

The annual Women in Produce reception has established itself as one of the more popular networking events at United's annual convention. This year's event will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, in the Delfino Ballroom of the Sands Expo & Convention Center. Tickets are required for the event, as either part of the All-Access Convention package registration, or they can be purchased on-site for $50.

Past honorees are Tonya Antle of Earthbound Farm, Frieda Rapoport Caplan of Frieda's Inc., Margaret D'Arrigo of D'Arrigo Brothers of California, Jan DeLyser of the California Avocado Commission, Jan Fleming of Strube Celery & Vegetable Co., Janice Honigberg of Sun Belle Inc., Kathleen Nave of the California Table Grape Commission, Martha Rhodes-Roberts of the Florida Commissioner's Office for Food Safety, Heather Shavey of Costco Wholesale, Steffanie Smith of River Point Farms LLC, Rosemary Talley of Talley Farms and Jenny Tenney of The Kroger Co.