Twenty exceptional men and women have been selected to participate in the 41st class of the California Agricultural Leadership Program (CALP), one of the premier leadership development opportunities in the United States. The new class will be inaugurated on Nov. 4 in Fresno.

Class 41 fellows are Rick Burnes, Delano; Ali Elhassan, Elk Grove; Matt Fisher, Delano; Juan Guzman, Thermal; Cesar Hernandez, Oxnard; Christine Ivory, Live Oak; Steve Knudsen, Tulare; Matt Lohse, Glenn; Stuart Mast, Murphys; Joey Mendonca, Bakersfield; Bre Owens, Redding; Vernon Peterson, Kingsburg; Dan Rodrigues, Paso Robles; David Shabazian, Sacramento; Elisabeth Silva, Vista; Alec Smith, Turlock; Todd Snider, Bakersfield; Jorge Suarez, Castroville; Stephanie Tillman, Sacramento; and Matt Toste, Denair.

CALP aims to create leaders who will help ensure the long-term viability of California agriculture, who will think forward, who have the ability to engage and positively influence society, and who can participate in communication networks that enhance California agriculture.

“Our newest class represents another smart and dedicated group of rising agricultural leaders,” said Bob Gray, president and chief executive officer of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation. “These fellows will take what they’ve learned in the program to benefit and better serve the agricultural industry, their communities and beyond.”

Fellows will take part in a 20-month program designed to broaden their knowledge about leadership theory and skills, critical thinking skills, teamwork, public speaking, communication skills, personality types, social and cultural issues, the legislative process, current issues and their influence on agriculture, and service leadership. Seminars are delivered by four partner universities and other academic institutions. Fellows will also participate in a 10-day national seminar that includes Washington, D.C., as well as a 15-day international seminar.

Since the program was first delivered in 1970, more than 1,100 men and women have participated in Ag Leadership and have become leaders and volunteers in the agricultural industry, government, communities, business and education.


California Agricultural Leadership Program Class 41

  • Rick Burnes, Paramount Citrus, Delano
  • Ali Elhassan, Robertson-Bryan Inc., Elk Grove
  • Matt Fisher, Fisher Farms/Crop Management Co., Delano
  • Juan Guzman, Cal Sungold Inc., Thermal
  • Cesar Hernandez, Reiter Affiliated Companies, Oxnard
  • Christine Ivory, Pacific Coast Producers, Live Oak
  • Steve Knudsen, International Agri-Center, Tulare
  • Matt Lohse, Carriere and Sons, Glenn
  • Stuart Mast, Brice Station Vineyard, Murphys
  • Joey Mendonca, JG Boswell, Bakersfield
  • Bre Owens, VESTRA Resources, Inc., Redding
  • Vernon Peterson, The Peterson Family DBA: Abundant Harvest Organics, Kingsburg
  • Dan Rodrigues, California AgQuest, Paso Robles
  • David Shabazian, Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Sacramento
  • Elisabeth Silva, District Attorney of San Diego County, Vista
  • Alec Smith, Turlock Fruit Co., Turlock
  • Todd Snider, Personal Ag Management Insurance Services, Bakersfield
  • Jorge Suarez, Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville
  • Stephanie Tillman, NewFields Agricultural & Environmental Resources, Sacramento
  • Matt Toste, JCM Farming Inc., Denair