Dick Spezzano and Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan to be Honored at PMA Fresh Summit
ANAHEIM, CA - There’s nothing quite like the feeling of PMA Fresh Summit in the air: the excitement, the anticipation, the events, the samples! But let’s not forget those that have made a significant impact in our industry. The Center for Growing Talent will honor both Dr. Frieda Rapaport Caplan and Dick Spezzano for the 2019 Women’s Catalyst Award and the Jay Pack Cultivating our Future Award respectively.
“Frieda Caplan is a very special, one-of-a-kind, inspirational leader as well as mentor to so very many of us who have followed her in the produce and floral industries—both male and female,” said Jan DeLyser, Vice President of Marketing at the California Avocado Commission and Moderator for the Women’s Fresh Perspectives Breakfast this year. “I have always felt fortunate that Frieda was kind enough to 'adopt' me when I moved to California with The Packer newspaper in the late 70s and that she has stayed with me as a valued mentor every day since. She is one of the most intelligent people I know and continues to have the innate ability to get to the crux of a matter with ease while providing invaluable perspective.”
According to the press release, Caplan will be presented the award by last year’s winner, Dawn Gray of Dawn Gray Global Consulting, during the sold-out Women’s Fresh Perspectives Breakfast on Saturday, October 19th. Caplan will be the second recipient of the Women’s Catalyst Award for her leadership, mentorship, and willingness to support the development of others in the industry.
“Frieda has served as an inspiration and role model to many in the fresh produce industry,” said PMA CEO Cathy Burns. “During my first California member tour after joining PMA, she welcomed me with open arms. I fondly remember a dinner we shared with other female leaders in our industry and the many insights and laughs we had that evening. For me, the opportunity to build not only a relationship, but also a friendship, over the years is something I treasure. Her willingness to mentor others as they sit under her learning tree is one of the many reasons Frieda is being honored by the Center for Growing Talent with this award. A much-deserved congratulations to you, my friend.”
Along with Caplan, Spezzano shall also be receiving his award at the CGT Contributor & Volunteer Reception, an invitation-only event from 4:30-6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 16.
The President of Spezzano Consulting Service and longtime CGT volunteer is also currently involved as a Career Ambassador, a mentor for Career Pathway students. Spezzano still finds the time to serve on the Tip Murphy Scholarship committee as well as spreading awareness of careers in produce and floral. His legacy in the industry is amplified by his commitment to giving back to the industry and specifically to CGT as a volunteer and a mentor.
“Dick has always been a mentor to me and a strong CGT advocate,” said CGT Vice President, Alicia Calhoun. “He was one of the first industry members I met almost 27 years ago when I started PMA. Dick has a willingness to give back that’s not just about volunteering—it is a way of living. He is proof that volunteers are people who don’t want to be thanked for helping others but instead, want to thank others for giving them the opportunity to help. He has given his time, talent and expertise to excite bright, young talent and bring them into the industry and this award is very well deserved.”
The Career Pathways program is a cornerstone of CGT’s strategies to attract talent to the industry and brings students from universities across the world to PMA and CGT events as well as other regional industry events. Students are paired with Career Ambassadors who are industry leaders that guide the students through the event, providing connections and insights to the produce and floral industries. This year’s Career Pathways program will be the largest ever at Fresh Summit, with 37 students attending the event from 11 universities, including two from South Africa and one from Chile.
“Dick’s passion for produce is gravitating,” said Russ Tavlan, CEO of Moonlight Companies of California. “His perpetual curiosity and drive to learn has always been inspiring to me. But above all, his willingness to share so much of his time to cultivate the careers of so many makes him deserving of this award. Our industry is better because of him, and I’m grateful to call him my friend.”
Additional individual awards will be presented at Fresh Summit, including the surprise announcement of the Floral Marketer of the Year at the Floral Beach Bash Reception scheduled Friday, October 18, from 5:15-7 p.m. in room 204ABC.
With the Summit literally knocking at our doors, what else is to come next at this highly anticipated event? Stay tuned with us here at ANUK.