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PMA's new president to focus on external relationships

Cathy Green Burns, who will join the Produce Marketing Association as president effective Dec. 1, will focus on people and board development, and be the public face of the association, according to Bryan Silbermann, the current president and chief executive officer.

She will report directly to Silbermann and be the No. 2 person at the association, though the rest of the senior management team will also continue to report to the chief executive officer.  

greenbCathy Green BurnsSilbermann told The Produce News that PMA wants its new president to focus on the external relationships of the association rather than the internal workings of the organization, at least initially.

"She will be the eyes and ears of the staff with the board and be in a 'go-between role,'" he said.

Silbermann said that a big part of an association president or CEO's job is to work with the board on an ongoing basis to manage the interactions between the board and the staff on the many programs and services that the organization offers.

He said Green Burns has a great deal of expertise in this area, and "we all look forward to learning from her" as she has done an excellent job of leading boards in both the non-profit and corporate worlds.

She is the current chairman of the board of governors of Children's Miracle Hospital Network as well as the board of Duke Children's Hospital.   Green Burns is also a 30-year supermarket industry veteran, during which time she's held a host of senior-level positions starting with Hannaford Bros. and most recently serving as president of Food Lion.

"Cathy brings to PMA an unparalleled level of leadership skills and industry knowledge that are vital as we continue growing the value we provide our members," Silbermann said in a press release. "She'll play a crucial role supporting the rollout of our new strategic plan, especially in helping members grow in the midst of so much change in our consumer and trade marketplaces. I've known Cathy for more than a decade and have especially admired her leadership presence and consensus-building skills. The talent she's honed in running Food Lion will take us to even greater heights in the years ahead."

In the same release Green Burns said: "I am honored to be joining the PMA team. I look forward to working with PMA's board, members and associates to pursue issues of importance to the produce industry and to fulfill the noble mission of this great organization. With strong core values as a foundation, I am excited to be a part of an organization that is making a difference to inspire healthy eating across the world."

Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission and chairman of PMA's board of directors, added in the release: "The officers and staff of PMA have met Cathy and we are thrilled with the talent and expertise she brings to the organization and our members. She is held in the highest regard with a depth of experience and perspective that will contribute greatly to PMA's future growth. She is the perfect addition, the epitome of a principled, courageous leader, qualities that match PMA's core values and blend very well with Bryan and the rest of our senior management team. We also are thrilled that Cathy will be joining us onsite at PMA's annual Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition, in New Orleans this October prior to her official start in December."

Silbermann said the move is not the establishment of a succession plan, indicating that he has no plans whatsoever to retire from the organization.

In fact, he said PMA has grown to the point where it was just too time consuming for him to handle all the duties involved with both the CEO and president roles. He indicated that this would free up his time to focus on strategic planning, which includes the international expansion of the organization as well as its affiliation with many other industry organizations.

Green Burns joins a senior management team that includes newly appointed Chief Operating Officer Tony Parassio, as well as 34-year PMA veteran, Duane Eaton, who is senior vice president of administration.

Silbermann said the retirement of Eaton, which will take place on Jan. 31 of next year, is a significant event that had a lot to do with the current restructuring of the organization.