MODESTO, Calif. — The Almond Board of California (ABC) welcomes Josette Lewis, PhD, to the organization as new director of Agricultural Affairs. In her position, Lewis will focus on the development, funding and strategy of ABC’s research program. Lewis most recently served as associate vice president of Sustainable Agriculture at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
Lewis holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her career in agricultural research and policy spans the government, academic, nonprofit and tech-based corporate sectors. Prior to EDF, she was associate director of the World Food Center at the University of California, Davis. Lewis began her career at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). She 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.”
Research is an important area of focus for the Almond Board as it fuels key initiatives like the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals, which set industry-wide targets in the areas of water efficiency, zero waste, environmentally friendly pest management and air quality. In her new role, Lewis will oversee ABC’s multi-million dollar annual investment in research projects exploring next-generation farming practices including optimal use of everything almond orchards grow.
“My career has centered on the interface of research and action — interpreting research findings to create solutions that people can use,” Lewis said. “Building on the strong legacy of Bob Curtis, I look forward to advancing almond research that ultimately puts knowledge, tools and practices in the hands of growers, processors, policy makers and other important audiences. I am fascinated by almond production and excited to join the dynamic group at ABC.”
Robert Curtis retired in 2018 after spending more than 45 years directing agricultural affairs at ABC. Since 1973, almond farmers and processors have invested $80 million in research through the Almond Board to improve understanding of almonds' impact on human health, ensure food quality and safety, and improve farming practices while minimizing environmental impacts.