The California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, provider of the nation’s premier agricultural leadership program, announced that it has hired Bob Gray as its new president and CEO. Gray officially assumes his new role with the non-profit organization on Sept. 1. He will be responsible for directing all Foundation activities and enhancing an educational program which prepares and inspires men and women in California agriculture for more effective leadership.

“The California Ag Leadership Program has been a pioneer in leadership development for nearly 40 years and has a dynamic product offering,” said Gray. “Over 1,000 fellows have graduated from the program and currently occupy some of the most important leadership positions in California agriculture. Given its long history, reputation for excellence and tremendous support from alumni, corporate sponsors and university partners, I feel we are well positioned to meet the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities ahead. I am excited to be joining an organization with such strong esprit de corps and look forward to a great relationship.”

Gray joins the Foundation having spent the last 29 years with A. Duda & Sons, one of the largest family-owned agribusiness and land management companies in the United States. When named executive vice president of the parent corporation, Gray was only the second non-family member to serve in that capacity. As CEO of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Gray guided the division through internal consolidation as a business unit and unprecedented growth, and successfully steered the company’s flagship celery business from a solely “commodity-based” offering to a program that included a significant “value-added” segment.

After earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, Gray received a British Marshall Scholarship and completed his master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Gray continues to serve as chair of the San Francisco Regional Selection Committee for Marshall Scholars, and is also the immediate past chairman of the board of directors for the Western Growers Association (WGA).

“I have a great passion for both education and agriculture. The opportunity to influence future leaders in a positive way and support our industry is a dream role for me,” said Gray.

“We are excited to have someone with Bob’s proven track record, experience, and long-term vision lead our team,” said Foundation Chair Loren Booth. “I was fortunate to work with Bob at WGA and have first-hand knowledge of his talents. By combining the assets of the Foundation with Bob's business acumen and leadership abilities, we are ushering in a new era for everyone associated with the California Agricultural Leadership Program.”