Jan 6, 2023National Watermelon Association hires new executive director
George Szczepanski, a Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) veteran staffer, has been hired as the National Watermelon Association’s (NWA) new executive director.
The appointment is scheduled to become effective on Feb. 26.
Szczepanski’s experience in agricultural and environmental issues spans 15 years in the produce industry, with the last 12 years with the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the newly formed International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), serving most recently as the director of poduction, supply chain and environmental policy.
Szczepanski’s experience includes a variety of critical industry issues and initiatives, including organics, international trade economics, international marketing, agricultural investments, global trade and retail solutions.
NWA chairman John Gee, vice-president of Eagle Eye Produce publicized the addition. In a news release, he thanked NWA’s search committee for selecting the leader and said his addition is critical to NWA.
“George is uniquely equipped to lead the NWA into the future,” Gee said in the release. “Given his experience and leadership in agriculture, he has a unique grasp of the issues that watermelon producers face in growing and shipping their crops. We are all looking forward to a bright future with George at the helm,”
Szczepanski, a graduate of St. Joseph’s University with a bachelor’s degree in food marketing, and the University of Delaware with a Master’s degree in agricultural and natural resource economics, noted the importance of NWA’s work.
“I’m excited to join this association, which I’ve admired for many years,” Szczepanski said in the release. “The positive influence that NWA’s advocacy work has had on public policy, and the solid programs that they have in place with pest and disease research, food safety and promotions, is impressive. There are challenges ahead for agriculture, which means that the relevancy and importance of the NWA will be more important than ever.”
Outgoing NWA executive director Bob Morrissey plans to complete his service in late February and remain on board to complete a transition period before his scheduled retirement in late March.
“Bob’s tireless efforts and contributions to the association and to the watermelon industry have been monumental,” Gee said in the release. “We’re grateful for his leadership, talents, integrity and stewardship over the years. Our entire leadership is grateful for his service and dedication, and we look forward to a smooth succession to new leadership and a bright future with George.”
Szczepanski plans to meet growers and the industry at NWA’s 108th convention and annual meeting scheduled for Feb. 22-26 at the Omni Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, North Carolina. He and his wife, Laura, daughter and son, live in Claymont, Delaware.