The Almond Board of California (ABC) welcomes Josette Lewis, PhD, as the new director of Agricultural Affairs. In this position, Josette will focus on the development, funding, and strategy of ABC’s research program, exploring next-generation farming practices including the optimal use of everything almond orchards grow.
“I’ve worked in agriculture for a long time, and with quite a few grower organizations,” said Josette. “In my interactions with ABC, I’ve been impressed with how forward thinking the organization is. Their heads are not in the sand when they think about future challenges, but instead they’re all about being pragmatic while also being optimistic. That way of thinking is a great alignment with my nature.”
Josette’s background experience is extensive and impressive, and we’re proud to add her to the ABC team. She holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her career in agricultural research and policy spans government, academic, nonprofit and tech-based corporate sectors. Most recently, she served as associate vice president of Sustainable Agriculture at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Prior to working at EDF, Josette was associate director of the World Food Center at the University of California, Davis, and she began her career at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“Because I’ve worked at the interface of research and public policy, research and trade, research and productivity of farmers, and some with nutrition, I come with a strong sense of what it means to research a problem and make sure that research delivers solutions that end up in the hands of folks who are trying to confront those problems,” said Josette, who is excited to be back in agricultural sphere.
Josette currently serves on advisory committees for the James Beard Foundation and the International Life Sciences Institute and has served on an advisory committee for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
“My colleagues and I are thrilled to welcome Josette Lewis to the ABC team. She not only complements our existing skill sets and experience — she adds many new and valuable dimensions,” said Richard Waycott, president and CEO, ABC. “Her acumen and expertise will serve the California almond industry very well as we navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie before us.”
In her role, Josette will support the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals which were announced earlier this year. These four goals, which focus on zero waste, water efficiency, pest management and air quality, are the latest way the California almond community is committed to continuous improvement in and around the orchard.
“I will focus on making sure that the way we fund research fits within the broader goals of the Almond Board and the industry,” noted Josette. “My aim is to ensure that we are investing research dollars in the right areas and in ways that deliver solutions that are practical to meet the 2025 Goals.”
Even better, Josette loves almonds!
“I really am a lifelong consumer of almonds,” said Josette. “My mother is from the Mediterranean so she grew up eating a lot of nuts. When I moved to California when I was young, my mother was happy and even surprised to see almond trees that you could harvest yourself — not those trees in orchards but those planted as windbreaks. So as kids we would go out and harvest the almonds on those trees every August and September, and at night my mom would hand crack them.”
Stay tuned to witness the exciting advancements Josette will help lead at the Almond Board of California!