Nikki Rodoni, director of sustainability for Oxnard, Calif.,-based Gills Onions, will chair the Advisory Board for the United Fresh Foundation’s Center Global Produce Sustainability.

Rodoni is the Advisory Board’s first chair, and United Fresh Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability Burleson Smith points to her leadership as a key asset for the sustainability effort within the produce industry.

"Under Nikki’s watchful eye, Gills Onions has become an industry leader in sustainability,” said Smith. “We’re excited to work together to help our members and the entire industry make progress on what is a very important issue in sustainability.”

As the director of sustainability for Gills Onions LLC, one of the largest producers of fresh-cut onions in the United States, Rodoni works to increase the efficiency of the operation and reduce waste and emissions. Since she created the sustainability department in 2007, Rodoni has guided Gills Onions through initiatives to achieve zero waste, calculate and report greenhouse gas emissions, reduce water consumption and, most notably, convert onion waste into renewable energy to power the plant. The company’s sustainability efforts have been widely recognized through prestigious awards, including the 2009 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), the 2010 Green California Leadership Award, the Waste Reduction Award Program (WRAP), and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Golden State Award. Rodoni also led Gills Onions to become a founding member of the Climate Registry and to achieve a 99.5 percent waste diversion rate in 2010.

In addition to Rodoni’s chairmanship, Gregg Storey and Joel Nelsen will join the Advisory Board as members. Storey is the executive director for the Center for Science and Innovation at Clarkson Consulting, and Nelsen is the president of California Citrus Mutual.

The Center for Global Produce Sustainability was established in 2009 through a founding grant from Bayer CropScience, with the mission to help companies across the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain enhance their businesses through sustainability. For more information on the Center, visit www.unitedfresh.org.