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Meet the Board & Staff

The Almond Board of California is a diverse group of almond professionals that is advancing almonds throughout the world, maximizing the impact of California almonds, and embracing innovation and research. Meet the Board of Directors, and key staff members who work at the Almond Board.

Staff

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Melissa Stewart

Senior Coordinator, Human Resources

Melissa is a Modesto native who joined the Almond Board of California in 2019 as the Senior Coordinator of Human Resources.  She works on a wide variety of areas in the HR department, with a focus on payroll, benefits, and recruitment.

 

Prior to the Almond Board, Melissa worked in the staffing world where she gained valuable human resources experience, and a love for working with people.

 

Melissa graduated from California State University, Stanislaus in 2015 where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Management.

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Melissa Stewart

Senior Coordinator, Human Resources

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Danielle Veenstra

Senior Manager, Reputation Management & Sustainability Communications

Danielle joined the organization in 2013. Prior to that, Danielle studied at San Francisco State University earning a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management and a Bachelor of Art in Geography.

 

The third generation of a family almond farm in San Joaquin County, Danielle combines her almond industry background with knowledge of natural resource management to provide a unique perspective to the Almond Board. Raised on the family farm, Danielle knows firsthand what it takes to grow almonds and brings that understanding and passion to her work each day.

 

At the Almond Board, Danielle specializes in production and environmental issues, research, and extension with particular attention to water and honeybees. Her efforts are focused on ensuring that the almond community continues to grow almonds responsibly and sustainably as well as communicating that commitment to the world over.

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Danielle Veenstra

Senior Manager, Reputation Management & Sustainability Communications

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Richard Waycott

President and Chief Executive Officer

The Almond Board of California’s President and CEO, Richard Waycott, joined the organization in 2002. Prior to heading up the ABC, Mr. Waycott worked for over 20 years, mostly in Latin America, in the food manufacturing and agribusiness industries, with extensive experience in the consumer products and B-to-B grains and oilseeds market segments.

 

Richard’s experience complements the other professionals at the Almond Board by bringing strategic leadership to the global development of the California almond industry. Almond production and worldwide almond shipments, as well as the activities of the ABC, have grown tremendously over the past two decades, with Almond Board programs now touching every aspect of the industry’s interests.

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Richard Waycott

President and Chief Executive Officer

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Daren Williams

Senior Director, Global Communications

Daren joined the Almond Board of California in February 2018 as Senior Director of Global Communications, directing the Board’s Reputation Management, Industry Relations and Communications, and Field Outreach and Education programs. In this role, he oversees communications to almond growers to drive adoption of best practices throughout the industry and, in turn, share the positive story with customers and consumers. 

Prior to joining ABC, Daren was senior executive director of communications at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, where he led issues and crisis response, media relations and grassroots advocacy efforts for more than a decade.

 

A native Kansan, Daren began his career on the 1988 presidential campaign of Senator Bob Dole (R-KS). When that effort fell short of the White House, he joined Agri/Washington, a Washington, D.C.-based agricultural public affairs firm, representing clients in the halls of USDA, FDA, EPA, and Capitol Hill. 

 

After 10 years in the Nation’s Capital, Daren returned to his Midwestern roots to join the Kansas City office of Fleishman Hillard International Communications, where he provided communications counsel for a wide variety of clients in food and agriculture, health care, and consumer products. 

 

Daren holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Ottawa University in Kansas, where he met his wife, Leslie. Daren and Leslie have two grown daughters, Shelby and Haley.   

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Daren Williams

Senior Director, Global Communications