Skip to main content

New Directors of Almond Board of California Begin Their Terms


MODESTO, Calif. – The new Board of Directors of the Almond Board of California (ABC) took their seats on Thursday with five voting members elected in 2023 – four of them incumbents – beginning new terms to help guide ABC’s support of one of California’s largest crops.

Board members, whose terms officially began Aug. 1, also re-elected Alexi Rodriguez as chair and elected Alicia Rockwell as the new vice chair.

“Our industry continues to endure hard times,” said Rodriguez. “This board understands that intimately, and we have a strong group of individuals who are incredibly committed to doing our part to get beyond our current challenges successfully.

The 10-member ABC board has five grower members – three representing independent growers and two representing cooperative growers – and five handler members, also with three independent and two co-op representatives. Some members sit in three-year seats, others in one-year positions.

The grower representatives elected or re-elected in the 2023 elections are:

  • Paul Ewing, an independent from RPAC, LLC in Los Banos. He was re-elected to a one-year term.                
  • Kelli Evans, a co-op grower from Evans Farming in Live Oak, who previously served as an alternate. She was elected to a three-year term.

The handler representatives were re-elected in all three positions this year. They are:

  • Alexi Rodriguez, an independent handler with Campos Brothers in Caruthers, who was re-elected to a three-year term.
  • Darren Rigg, an independent handler from Minturn Nut Co. Inc. in Le Grand. He was re-elected to a one-year term.
  • Alicia Rockwell, a co-op handler with Blue Diamond Growers from Sacramento, who was re-elected to a three-year term.

Also, three grower and three handler alternates were elected or re-elected:

  • Katie Staack, an independent grower with Grizzly Nut, LLC from Hughson, was re-elected.
  • Brad Klump, an independent grower with BKI Exports, Inc. in Escalon, was elected for the remaining two years of a previously unfilled three-year term.
  • George Goshgarian Jr., a co-op grower with Goshgarian Farming Co. in Fowler, was elected to an alternate grower position after serving as a voting member and previous vice-chair.
  • Chad DeRose, an independent handler with Famoso Nut Co., LLC in McFarland, was re-elected.
  • Ron Fisher, and independent handler with Fisher Nut Co. in Modesto, was re-elected.
  • Dean LaVallee, a co-op handler with Blue Diamond Growers in Sacramento, was also re-elected.

In addition, Laura Gerhard, a co-op handler with Blue Diamond Growers in Sacramento, was selected by Blue Diamond to serve the final two years in the alternate seat formerly held by the retired Mark Jansen.

This is the full board:

Voting Members

Position Member Term
Grower #1 Paul Ewing, RPAC, LLC 1 year
Grower #2  Brandon Rebiero, Gold Leaf Farming 3 years
Grower #3 Joe Gardiner, Treehouse California Almonds, LLC 3 years
Handler #1 Alexi Rodriguez, Campos Brothers 3 years
Handler #2 Bob Silveira, Vann Family Orchards 3 years
Handler #3 Darren Rigg, Minturn Nut Co. Inc. 1 year
Co-op Grower #1 Kelli Evans, Evans Farming 3 years
Co-op Grower #2 Christine Gemperle, Gemperle Orchards 3 years
Co-op Handler #1 Mel Machado, Blue Diamond Growers 3 years
Co-op Handler #2 Alicia Rockwell, Blue Diamond Growers 3 years



Position Member
Grower #1 Katie Staack, Grizzly Nut, LLC
Grower #2 Brad Klump, BKI Exports, Inc.
Grower #3 Chris Bettencourt, Suvik Farms
Handler #1 Ron Fisher, Fisher Nut Company
Handler #2 Dexter Long, Hilltop Ranch, Inc.
Handler #3 Chad Derose, Famoso Nut Company, LLC
Co-op Grower #1 George Goshgarian Jr., Goshgarian Farming Co.
Co-op Grower #2 Kent Stenderup, Stenderup Ag Partners
Co-op Handler #1 Laura Gerhard, Blue Diamond Growers
Co-op Handler #2 Dean LaVallee, Blue Diamond Growers


The ABC board sets policy and approves budgets in major areas, including global market development, production research, public relations and advertising, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control and food safety.

ABC is a Federal Marketing Order dedicated to promoting California almonds to domestic and international audiences through marketing efforts and by funding and promoting studies about almonds' health benefits, as well as ensuring sustainable agricultural practices and food safety.

About California Almonds

California almonds make life better by what we grow and how we grow. The Almond Board of California promotes natural, wholesome and quality almonds through leadership in strategic market development, innovative research, and accelerated adoption of industry best practices on behalf of the more than 7,600 almond farmers and processors in California, most of whom are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, ABC is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit or check out California Almonds on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the California Almonds blog.