Dave Puglia

May 9th, 2022

Dave Puglia was selected President and CEO of Western Growers in 2019. Since joining the organization in 2005, he has focused on leading public policy initiatives affecting the agriculture industry in California and other western states.

Puglia has been at the forefront of major legislative and regulatory issues involving water supply, water quality, energy, air quality and labor. His work has included negotiating statewide water bond provisions to enhance storage capacity, advocating for a comprehensive safe drinking water solution in partnership with environmental justice leaders, and negotiating the nation’s first state regulatory standard for prevention of heat illness in agricultural settings.

Before joining Western Growers, Puglia served for seven years in the California Attorney General’s Office, first as Press Secretary and then as Director of Public Affairs and Communications. He has also worked as a public affairs consultant to numerous corporations and industry groups in addition to serving in senior roles on several statewide political campaigns.

Puglia is currently Vice Chair of the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center Advisory Council and has served on several industry-related boards and advisory councils.

A Sacramento native, Puglia earned a bachelor’s degree in Government-Journalism from Sacramento State University and resides with his wife Lezlie in Orange County, California.

Ward Kennedy

May 9th, 2022

Ward Kennedy serves as Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer of all of the Western Growers Family of Companies. In this capacity, he is responsible for the financial operations of the company, including accounting, reporting, treasury and underwriting.

Prior to joining Western Growers in 2003, Ward held a number of CFO and Controller positions with both private and public companies as well as spent a number of years running his own consulting firm. He began his career practicing as a CPA with Price Waterhouse Coopers. Ward is a graduate of Villanova University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting.

Steve Mangapit

May 9th, 2022

Wielding more than 20 years of business experience, Steve Mangapit stepped in as Western Growers’ first Chief Operating Officer in January 2022. As COO, he is focused on advancing and elevating operational efficiencies, improvements and innovations throughout the Western Growers Family of Companies. Steve also serves as President of Pinnacle Claims Management, Western Growers’ wholly-owned subsidiary that provides Healthcare TPA services.

He joined WG from AP|Keenan, where he served as Vice President. At Keenan he was responsible for three business units: Employee Benefits TPA, Healthcare Analytics and Large Group Agency Operations.

Mangapit previously worked at WG for four years with Western Growers Assurance Trust/Pinnacle Claims Management, Inc. In 2010, he served as Director of Administration and was promoted in 2013 to Assistant Vice President, Operations.

Mangapit holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a MBA (Finance) from the Lee Business School at UNLV. Mangapit is married with two young children.

Jason Resnick

May 9th, 2022

Jason Resnick joined Western Growers in 2003 as a staff attorney. Today as Sr. Vice President and General Counsel, he has responsibility for overseeing the organization’s legal affairs.  Jason works closely with the Western Growers executive team on legal, business and policy matters and he has primary staff responsibility for the Western Growers Labor Committee.

Prior to joining Western Growers, Jason was a litigator at a prominent Orange County law firm. His litigation experience includes trying jury and bench trials, administrative proceedings before state and federal agencies, and drafting appellate briefs to the California Supreme Court and state and federal courts of appeal.

Jason is a frequent speaker and magazine contributor on employment law and ag labor availability issues. He serves on the board of directors for the Agricultural Personnel Management Association (APMA) and is a past co-chair of the Agribusiness Committee of the State Bar of California.

Jason received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine and his JD from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

Karen Timmins

May 9th, 2022

As Western Growers’ Human Resources executive Karen oversees the centralized management of all HR practices including: executive goals and objectives, workforce planning, employee health/retirement benefits, recruiting, workforce performance, coaching, progressive discipline, employee handbook, compensation, regulatory compliance, payroll, training and development and succession planning. Karen credits her staff with effective recruiting, supervising the salary levels and the “pay-for-performance” system, employee relations, benefits including 401(k), legal compliance relating to employment law, safety, payroll processing, training and development.

At Western Growers she is responsible for inculcating the (profoundly impactful), “culture-changing” Arbinger principles. This is accomplished through: teaching, the annual performance review process, performance/behavioral management, strategic modeling and a common language amongst employees.

She graduated (cum laude) from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) with a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) degree from the College of Education and Human Services in Workforce Education and Development. Additionally, she earned a Master’s of Art degree in management (MAM) from the University of Redlands where the graduate school’s curriculum emphasized management and leadership.

Karen holds the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), Senior Human Resources Professional Certification (SPHR), is certified to teach Achieve Global’s sales and frontline leadership courses and Arbinger’s Core at Work, Developing and Implementing an Outward Mindset and Transforming Conflict.

Jeff Gullickson

May 9th, 2022

Matt Lewis

May 9th, 2022

Matt Lewis started with Western Growers Financial Services in 2001 after beginning his career with a major brokerage house in the late nineties. At Western Growers Financial Services, Matt manages retirement plans, corporate cash management and investments for Western Growers membership and their affiliates. Matt is also responsible for the direction and management of the portfolio activities of the entire organization.

Matt graduated from Cal Poly, Pomona with a degree in Finance and has been in the Securities Industry since 1997.

Dennis Nuxoll

May 9th, 2022

Dennis Nuxoll serves Western Growers in Washington, D.C. as the vice president of federal government affairs. Nuxoll has more than 15 years of experience as an attorney, Congressional staffer and agricultural lobbyist.

Immediately prior to joining Western Growers, Nuxoll was the Senior Director of Federal Policy for the American Farmland Trust, an organization that works on agriculture, environmental and rural development issues. In addition to his post at the American Farmland Trust, Nuxoll previously served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus marshalling the Senator’s agricultural as well as agricultural trade issues. As an attorney with Stewart and Stewart Law Offices in Washington, D.C., among the clients he represented were agricultural interests ranging from cattle to wheat to tomatoes to flowers.

Nuxoll received his law degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in political science and history.

Jonathan Alexander

May 9th, 2022

Jon Alexander is the Vice President of Western Growers Assurance Trust and Pinnacle Claims Management, Inc. Compliance. Jon has been practicing law for 12 years, 9 of which have been concentrated on ERISA and other aspects of employee benefits law. He has extensive experience providing health plans, employers, and insurance professionals consulting and legal guidance on ERISA issues, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”), and self-funded employer benefit plan implementation and administration.

Before joining Western Growers, Jon worked for Shulman Hodges & Bastian as a business litigation and bankruptcy associate. He earned his Juris Doctor in 2003 from the University of Idaho and thereafter clerked for Circuit Court Judge (now Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice) Sabrina McKenna in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was admitted to the Hawaii Bar in 2003 and the California Bar in 2005. He is admitted to practice law before state and federal courts in California as well as the Supreme Court of California.

Of late, Jon has lectured extensively about the impact of the ACA with special emphasis on the differing ramifications for small, large and self-funded Ag employers.

Matthew Allen

May 9th, 2022

Matthew joined Western Growers in December 2011. He advocates on behalf of the membership on a wide array of issues including labor, taxes, air quality, land use, regulatory reform, and crop protection.

Matthew’s previous experience includes serving as the External Relations Manager at the California Optometric Association, Field Representative for former Assembly member Roger Niello, and Supplier Manager at Intel Corporation. He also served in several positions at the California Restaurant Association including as Public Affairs Director where he created and developed the association’s first ever public affairs department. In this role, Matthew was responsible for helping to shape, manage, and implement the overall political strategy for the association.

Born in Elk Grove and a member of a farm family, he received his B.A. and International M.B.A. from the University of San Diego.

Walt Duflock

May 9th, 2022

Walt Duflock is a partner at a 5th generation family farming operation in Monterey County that grows specialty crops, wine grapes, and cattle. Walt has 30 years of experience at Silicon Valley tech startups with sales and marketing executive roles at eBay and 3 others that were acquired. Walt helped build THRIVE into the #1 AgriFoodTech Accelerator and is currently the VP of Innovation at Western Growers.

Kathy McCarty

May 9th, 2022

Damian Williams

May 9th, 2022

De Ann Davis

May 9th, 2022

De Ann Davis, PhD, joined Western Growers in June 2020 as Senior Vice President, Science. Davis has more than 25 years of experience in the development and execution of technical global programs, including food safety, quality assurance and regulatory compliance.

Following an impressive run in consumer products safety, Davis transitioned to packaged and fresh produce safety nearly a decade ago. Prior to Western Growers, she served as Food Safety Director for Commercial Food Sanitation, a provider of strategic consulting services, expertise and training that addresses food safety and sanitation challenges for food processing plants. Davis also served as Vice President of Food Safety and Quality for both Church Brothers Farms and Earthbound Farm, and earlier as Chief Food Safety Officer for Kraft Foods Group, where she was engaged in the development of the regulatory framework for Food Safety Modernization Act.

Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Chemistry from Point Loma Nazarene University and her PhD in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University. She is also a certified Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology, where she has served since 1996.

Davis holds several committee appointments within the produce industry, including having recently served as the Chair of the Board of Advisors for the Center for Food Safety, University of Georgia. In 2018, Davis was appointed to the USDA National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Food.

Cory Lunde

September 21st, 2021

Cory Lunde serves as Assistant Vice President, Public Affairs, for Western Growers. In this position, he is responsible for overseeing the association’s public affairs activities, including fundraising for candidates, ballot measures and the various Western Growers political action committees; internal and external communications activities, including member communications, media relations and social media; and strategic initiatives, including a leadership development program aimed at the next generation of industry advocates.

Cory has a background in education and politics. Prior to joining Western Growers, he spent four years as a high school history teacher and baseball coach and worked as a research analyst on former State Senator Chuck Poochigian’s California Attorney General campaign. Cory earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Portland and his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California.

Adriana Robles

May 9th, 2022

Adriana Robles joined Western Growers family in 2013 and is responsible for the development and facilitation of a variety of leadership development and Human Resources courses and programs. In her short tenure at WG she has provided over 200 hour of professional development to member companies throughout the US. She has over 8 years of experience in the area of learning and development and over 10 years of experience in employee management and nonprofit operations.

Prior to Western Growers, Adriana worked at SCAN Health Plan as a Training Specialist where she was responsible for the development and facilitation of their employee learning and development programs. Prior to that, she was a Regional Director of Programs for extended learning programs throughout Southern California where she was responsible for managing a team of 75 employees. Her responsibilities included; workforce planning, employee benefits, recruiting, workforce performance, coaching, progressive discipline, grant management, payroll, training and development, and succession planning. Because of the success of her team she was also tasked with the creation of the learning and development programs for all employees within her 350-person region.

Adriana is a graduate of the University of Southern California where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Sociology. She went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Management and Leadership from the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University, and most recently earned a certificate in Human Resources Management from the University of California, Irvine. She speaks, writes and reads fluently in both English and Spanish.

Sonia Salas

May 9th, 2022

Sonia E. Salas joined Western Growers in October 2007. Before joining Western Growers, Sonia worked with private companies, managed food safety/quality systems and implemented food related federal/state requirements. She has about 20 years of experience with the food industry and a bit over half of that time with the produce industry.

Sonia joined Western Growers as Senior Loss Control Consultant to support Western Growers members with loss control and worker safety needs. From 2009 to 2018, Sonia took on different positions supporting the Western Growers Science & Technology Unit. In July 2019, she was promoted to Assistant Vice-President, Food Safety, Science & Technology. She is responsible for monitoring food safety, scientific and technological advancements in agriculture and has been charged with the implementation and monitoring of food safety, science and technology services for Western Growers members.

Sonia has played a key role in the development, update and implementation of several commodity specific food safety guidelines. She supports strategic alliances with entities such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, universities, different coalitions and organizations serving agriculture.

Sonia is a member of the Honor Society of Agriculture, Gamma Sigma Delta. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the Agricultural Pan-American School based in Central America (Zamorano). She also holds a Master of Science degree in Agriculture from California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona).

Kim Stuart

May 9th, 2022

Joelle Mosso

March 4th, 2024

Joelle Mosso is an entrepreneurial scientist with a passion for pathogenic food microbiology, risk assessment, and working towards practical solutions for the food industry. Joelle currently is Western Growers Assoc. VP of Science Programs, working alongside growers to develop improved approaches to food safety and sustainability challenges. She has a background in Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA), building microbial testing laboratories, evaluating and designing microbial diagnostic tools/approaches, and firsthand produce experience, managing food safety for complex international supply chains. Before Western Growers, she was Sr. Director of Technical & Regulatory Affairs for the Organic Trade Association (OTA), was the chief scientific officer for the Eurofins Produce, and held food safety and business leadership roles at Earthbound Farm and Olam Spice & Vegetable Ingredients. She holds a B.S from the University of Maryland in Microbiology with honors in Molecular Biology and holds a M.S. in Food Science focused on pathogenic food microbiology from the University of California, Davis. Joelle has served on numerous industry technical groups including the Center for Produce Safety Technical Committee, the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) Food Safety Council, USDA National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF), and the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).

Gustavo Reyes

February 29th, 2024

Gustavo A. Reyes joined Western Growers in December 2023. Before joining Western Growers, he worked for 2.5 years in the food industry where he implemented and managed food safety/quality systems. Gustavo completed his Ph.D. in Food Science and an M.S. in Applied Statistics from the University of Illinois, where he worked on building process models to advance food safety for produce systems. Gustavo earned his bachelor’s in food science from the University of Nebraska in 2017.

At Western Growers Gustavo is responsible for the coordination of the CA LGMA amendment process, generating technical resources for our members, and supporting data analysis and data sharing effort through GreenLink®.