MEET THE FFVA STAFF
Stuart has worked in the produce industry throughout his career.
Beginning as a produce merchandiser for a large Southern California
supermarket chain, Stuart has served for more than two decades as an
association executive representing growers and shippers in California,
Arizona and Florida.
holds leadership positions with numerous industry groups at the national
and international level. In 2006, he was named to the USDA Fruit and
Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee and is vice chairman. Since 1995,
he has served on the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade, a
private-sector group that advises the Secretary of Agriculture and the
U.S. Trade Representative. He was appointed in 2008 to the Fruit and
Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp. In addition, he was a member of the
Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Fruits and
Vegetables, and was chairman of the committee during the negotiation of
both the Uruguay Round and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Stuart also has served on the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable
Association's board of directors and as chairman of the Produce for
Better Health Foundation.
Vice President, Industry
Botts is vice president of industry resources, overseeing FFVA’s
pest management, water and natural resources, and food safety and
sustainability activities. He represents grower interests on issues as
diverse as pest management and crop production practices and their
impact on the environment to food safety and international marketing
access related to crop production needs. Botts also serves as president
of Third Party Registrations Inc., an FFVA subsidiary that manages the
registration process under liability limitation for specific pest
management tools that would not otherwise be available to FFVA producer
He holds leadership roles in
several industry coalitions, including the Crop Protection Coalition and
the Minor Crop Farmer Alliance. He also serves as a representative to
EPA's Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee and USDA's Specialty Crop
Director, Labor Relations
director of FFVA's Labor Relations Division, Mike Carlton's primary
responsibility is representing the association in labor related
legislative efforts on the federal level. Carlton also assists the
vice president of Labor Relations in coordinating members’ use of
the H-2A guest worker program and assisting with compliance efforts with
labor laws affecting agriculture. In addition, Carlton serves as
executive director of the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation, where he
manages the foundation’s activities in funding research and in
educational and philanthropic endeavors.
An industry veteran, Carlton held
numerous management positions at Florida Citrus Mutual in Lakeland for
26 years before joining FFVA in 2007, including serving as director of
production and labor affairs and director of grower relations. Among his
numerous accomplishments was designing a $400 million hurricane relief
program for the state's citrus growers in 2004 and successfully pushing
the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt the program.
Calhoun, director of the Government Relations Division, promotes the
interests of Florida agriculture in Tallahassee, providing grower
members with direct regulatory assistance, legislative representation
and information. Calhoun and his staff also work at the policy level
with and monitor the activities of the Florida Legislature, state and
local regulatory agencies, and the five regional water management
districts to safeguard, strengthen and improve the interests of
Calhoun leads the Private
Property Rights Coalition as chairman. He also serves as a member of the
Agriculture Coalition, the Coalition to Protect Florida's Economy, and
Floridians for Smarter Growth.
Director, Marketing and
Aerts directs the Marketing & Membership Division, assisting FFVA
members on a broad range of marketing issues, including buyer
relationships, shipping, packaging and promotion. Aerts also leads
FFVA's Agricultural Exchange Management Group (consisting of the Florida
Sweet Corn Exchange, the Sweet Corn Growers Exchange, the Florida
Vegetable Exchange, the Florida Green Bean Exchange and the Quincy
Tomato Growers Exchange). This group provides growers/shippers with
critical market and harvest reports to help them maximize returns for
their crops. Aerts also oversees FFVA's annual convention.
Mike served as assistant director
of FFVA's Environmental and Pest Management Division for nine years
before being named to his current position in August 2008. He also
served as an extension faculty member at the University of Florida's
Food Science and Human Nutrition Department. Aerts also worked for Shell
International Chemical Co., headquartered in London, in regulatory,
technical service and product development capacities.
Lisa Lochridge, APR
Director, Public Affairs
serves as director of the Public Affairs Division, managing FFVA's
communication with its members and the media on topics ranging from food
safety to immigration reform. The division also is responsible for a
variety of communication channels, including the association's Web site,
monthly e-magazine, weekly newsletters and member bulletins.
Specializing in media relations
and crisis communication, Lochridge came to FFVA in 2006 after serving
as vice president of CBR Public Relations in Orlando. Prior to that, she
was a veteran journalist, holding numerous local news editor positions
at the Orlando Sentinel for 21 years. A Florida native, Lochridge holds
a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in communication
from the University of Central Florida. She is nationally accredited in
Director, Water &
Kates serves as director of water and natural resources within
FFVA’s Industry Resources group. He is responsible for
monitoring and working with regional water management districts, state
agencies, local municipalities and the Florida Legislature, and advising
FFVA members of regulatory and legislative actions related to water
resources, land use and property rights.
Kates spent five years as a civil
analyst and project manager in the Orlando office of Kimley-Horn and
Associates, a nationwide engineering and land-planning firm. He is a
licensed professional engineer and LEED-accredited professional, and he
holds bachelor’s degrees in geology and civil engineering from the
University of Florida.
J. Peter Chaires
Director of Association
has enjoyed 24 years of challenges in Florida’s citrus industry.
After earning his undergraduate degree from University of Florida, he
spent 15 years with the Florida Gift Fruit Shippers Association, serving
as COO, Associate Vice President and completing his tenure as Executive
Vice President. While at FGFSA, he earned his MBA from Rollins College
in Winter Park. He spent two years consulting (including Florida Citrus
Packers, Citrus Grower Associates and the FL Dept of Citrus) and serving
as an owner/manager of a local franchise in Longwood Florida, before
returning to the citrus industry. While managing business development,
market access and food safety projects for Florida Citrus Packers, he
helped establish New Varieties Development & Management Corp.
Currently, as director of Association Services, Peter serves as
Executive Vice President of Florida Citrus Packers and Executive
Director of New Varieties Development & Management Corp.
NVDMC seeks to acquire, evaluate,
license, sub-license, protect and manage proprietary citrus varieties on
behalf of the Florida grower. NVDMC is funded through contract with the
Florida Dept of Citrus and presently has four varieties under commercial
contract (IFAS Sugar Belle, UCR Tango, IFAS Valquarius, U.S. Early
Pride) and 16 varieties under evaluation contract (from California,
South Africa, Australia, Japan, and Italy). NVDMC supports targeted
research – with approx 75% of its budget going to variety
development research at UF and USDA.
Peter lives in Lake Mary, Florida
with his wife Kimberly. They have three sons in college at UF, Flagler
Florida Specialty Crop Foundation
Tighe manages the Foundation, the 501(c)3 organization for FFVA.
The Foundation focuses on research, education and philanthropy in the
Florida specialty crop industry. Tighe partners with UF/IFAS and
USDA on research grants which benefit Florida growers, and administers a
scholarship program for children of migrant workers. Additionally,
Tighe directs the Emerging Leader Development Program, targeted to
members of FFVA ages 25-40. The ELDP has six sessions which focus
on FFVA’s mission and programs, industry issues, and specialty
crop production (including a trip to California). She co-chairs
the annual FFVA Benefit Auction with Tracy Duda Chapman to raise funds
for industry philanthropies.
In addition, Tighe works on
membership development for FFVA.
Prior to joining FFVA, Tighe
worked for Vance Publishing for 25 years for industry publications The
Packer, Citrus & Vegetable Magazine, and The Grower. She is
chair of the Florida Ag Expo Committee; and is a member of the USDA
Liaison Committee, the Florida chapter of National Agri-Marketing
Association, the RCMA Christmas Card Steering Committee and the
Wedgworth Leadership Institute Advisory Council.
If you are interested in joining FFVA
as a producer member or as an industry trade associate member, please
contact FFVA via email or at (321)