Meet Our Board
Jeff Colombini, Chair
JEFF COLOMBINI is president of Lodi Farming, Inc., a company that farms 1,800 acres of apples, cherries, olives and walnuts in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Prior to farming full time, Colombini worked as an operations analyst for Stanislaus Food Products and as a loan officer for the Farm Credit System.
Aside from his leadership with USApple, Colombini serves as chairman of the California Apple Commission and past chair of the California Cherry Advisory Board and the Olive Oil Commission of California. He currently serves as Secretary for the Olive Oil Commission and is active in the Linden Lions Club, serving as president from 2012-13. He is a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.
Colombini earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business management and a technical degree in fruit science from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He is married to Sarah and has three children, Andrew, Gianna and Gillian.
Mike Preacher, Vice Chair
MIKE PREACHER is the Director of Marketing and Customer Relations for Domex Superfresh Growers, a Northwest grower, packer and shipper of apples, pears and cherries, and part of the Kershaw Companies. Mike has been involved in the produce industry for more than 10 years, and was raised in the fertile Yakima Valley. Prior to his tenure with Superfresh Growers, Mike worked for several years at Starbucks Coffee Company in various roles, including category manager and business sales manager for the Starbucks Card. Mike currently chairs USApple’s Industry Information Committee, and is active in several fruit industry and philanthropic organizations.
Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA. In his free time he enjoys fly fishing, skiing and playing tennis (marginally) with his wife, Kristin, and their two pre-teen sons.
Craig Hinkle, Treasurer
CRAIG HINKLE is both vice president of finance and treasurer of Knouse Foods Cooperative, Inc., located in Peach Glen, Pennsylvania. Knouse is owned by more than 150 fruit growers throughout the Appalachian region and Michigan. Knouse is best known to the public by its brand names Lucky Leaf®, Musselman’s®, Apple Time®, Lincoln® and Speas Farm®.
Hinkle started work with Knouse Foods in 1991 and has served in various facets of the operation. He was named treasurer in 2006 and vice president of finance in 2015. He is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Financial Executives International and the National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives.
Hinkle earned an accounting degree from Shippensburg University, followed by a master’s of business administration from Pennsylvania State University.
When away from work he enjoys playing golf, travelling and attending Penn State sporting events. He resides in Mechanicsburg, PA with his wife Pam.
Chris Alpers, Secretary
CHRIS ALPERS of Leelanau County, is a third-generation cherry and apple grower. Redpath Orchards and Alpers Farm consist of 1,000 acres on Michigan’s Leelanau peninsula. He also works closely with another family business in a technical role, Alpers Tree Sales. Chris’s degree from Northern Michigan University is in marketing and communications.
Upon graduation, Chris was employed for two years with Wilbur-Ellis as a technical sales representative. Chris returned to the family business shortly thereafter in a management/ownership role. Chris also currently serves on the board of directors for Cherry Growers Processing, LLC.
In his free time, Chris likes to travel with his wife Jessica and attend industry related tours. Chris also enjoys playing hockey and golf.
Kaari Stannard, Immediate Past Chairman
KAARI STANNARD has been in the apple business since 1996 and is the owner of New York Apple Sales, Inc., one of the largest marketers of New York state apples. She is a partner in both Pomona Packing and Lake Ontario Fruit, which are apple packing facilities located in western New York. In addition, Stannard is a partner in Fish Creek Orchards, located in Orleans County.
Stannard is a past treasurer and current board member of the US Apple Export Council and served two terms as board member of the New York Apple Association. She is a past member of the grower shipper board for United Fresh Produce Association and is a graduate of their leadership program. She has and continues to serve on various Produce Marketing Association committees.
Stannard is a licensed CPA and holds a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting from the State University at Buffalo. She lives in East Greenbush, NY with her husband and two daughters. She spends her off time in the Adirondacks skiing, snowmobiling and boating, depending on the season.
Alisha Albinder Camac, Director
ALISHA ALBINDER CAMAC is the fourth-generation owner-operator of Hudson River Fruit Distributors, one of the largest apple grower-packer-shippers out of New York. She currently sits on the board of the New York Apple Association, New York State Horticultural Society as well as some local charitable boards where she lives. She is a recent graduate of the United Fresh Leadership Program, class 23.
She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship. In her free time, she is an avid foodie and enjoys traveling, and spending time at the restaurant that she co-owns with her Husband and a close family friend, Heritage Food + Drink.
Brenda Briggs, Director
BRENDA BRIGGS serves as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Rice Fruit Company, in Gardners, PA. Rice Fruit Company is the largest apple marketer in Pennsylvania. Brenda joined Rice Fruit Company in 1999 as the assistant sales manager after serving as Director of the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program for 6 years. As direct of PAMP, she served as chair of US Apple’s State Executive Committee and as chair of the US Apple Export Council.
She holds a BA from Dickinson College and an MBA from Mount Saint Mary’s College in Maryland. She lives in Carlisle with her husband and two children.
Steve Clement, Director
STEVE CLEMENT is the general manager of Sage Fruit Company, a grower/shipper of apples, pears and cherries in Yakima, Washington. Steve has been with Sage for ten years and currently sits on the governing board of NFE. Prior to his tenure with Sage, Steve served as a business consultant doing small-cap mergers and acquisitions, ownership transition and strategic planning work. Steve has a BS in finance from the University of Utah and an MBA from Brigham Young University.
Steve and his wife have four wonderful children. Steve’s community volunteer efforts center in youth programs and his activity with the LDS church. He is an avid scuba diver and loves sailing in the beautiful inland waters of Puget Sound.
Mike Dietrich, Director
MIKE DIETRICH is a fifth-generation apple farmer in the fruit ridge region of Western Michigan. He is a partner in Leo Dietrich & Sons, the family apple business, with his brother Jim and three nephews. Together they farm 450 acres of apples and 70 acres of cherries. Leo Dietrich & Sons was featured in a national commercial campaign focused on the apples they supply as packaged slices for a restaurant chain. Dietrich is also a partner in the Dietrich Orchards apple packing facility. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Michigan Apple Committee.
Bill Dodd, Director
BILL DODD is a fourth generation apple grower from Amherst, Ohio. Dodd graduated from Findlay College in 1980 with a degree in business administration. After working for Ford Motor Credit, he returned home to Hillcrest Orchards, his family’s 90-acre family farm.
Dodd served on the board of directors of the Fruit Growers Marketing Association for 17 years and was hired as general manager in 2004. Dodd also heads the Ohio Apple Marketing Program, the state’s apple association. In addition, in June 2012 he assumed the lead role at the Premier Apple Cooperative, an organization of apple packers in eastern states organized under rules governing cooperatives.
James Foreman, Director
JAMES FOREMAN is the COO of Foreman Fruit, an apple, pear, cherry, and grape grower in Washington State and Oregon. A native of Wenatchee, WA, Foreman graduated from Harvard in 2004, and has advanced degrees in agriculture and engineering from Washington State University and MIT.
Foreman is a current board member of the Washington Apple Commission and the Washington Apple Education Foundation. He and his wife Allison, who is an estate planning attorney, have 5 children.
Philip Glaize, III, Director
PHILIP GLAIZE, III represents the fourth generation of his family to grow apples in Winchester, Virginia. His parents did not expect, nor force, their children onto the farm. Philip’s return to Fred L. Glaize, LC came naturally in 2012. He studied the international agriculture trade in school and went on to manage logistics for a produce distribution warehouse in Brooklyn, New York. Philip carries with him an intense respect for heritage and an open mind about the future. Simultaneously providing food and living space for the exploding population is a paradox that ignites Philip’s passion for natural resource management and land conservation.
Robin Hansen, Director
Robin Hansen is the fourth-generation of her family to grow, pack, and ship apples and cherries in Washington state. After five years as a practicing attorney, she returned to work in the family business, Columbia Fruit Packers, Inc. Along with her JD, she also earned her MBA, focusing in agricultural business and trade.
She and her husband, Justin, have two children.
Ryan Hess, Director
RYAN HESS is a 3rd generation apple packer and marketer from Lancaster Pennsylvania. He is a partner and director of Grower communications at Hess Brothers Fruit Company. Hess graduated from Eastern Mennonite University with a B.S. in Mathematics. Outside of work Ryan enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and attending children’s events and performances.
Tom Hurson, Director
TOM HURSON is President and CEO for Tree Top, Inc., and President of Northwest Naturals, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary. Tree Top is an agricultural cooperative owned by nearly 1,000 growers and is a global fruit products supplier and consumer packaged goods (CPG) producer headquartered in Washington State. The company has seven manufacturing facilities near its growers’ fruit in Washington, Oregon and California and employs over 1,000 people.
Tom has been with the company since 1984 and held progressively more responsible positions within Finance, CPG, Foodservice and the Ingredient divisions and has been on the Cooperative’s executive team for more than two decades. Tom received a BS degree in Accounting from Central Washington University.
Diane Smith, Director
DIANE SMITH is in her 22nd year of work for the Michigan Apple Industry. She has served as executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee since 2012, and before that was the organization’s Finance Director. In addition to leading the commodity group, she also serves as Vice Chair of the US Apple Export Council, on the board and committees on the USApple Association, and was appointed to the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Council in 2013.
The Michigan Apple Committee works on behalf of the Michigan apple growers in the areas of market development, consumer education and research. Diane works to foster and continue strong relationships with partners like Michigan State University, other commodity groups and state departments.
Steve Smith, Director
STEVE SMITH was raised on an apple orchard in Yakima, Washington, and is now a partner with two others in Yakima Fruit & Cold Storage, a grower/packer/shipper established in Yakima in 1949. His current responsibility is to manage Yakima Fresh, LLC, a marketing partnership formed in 2005 by Yakima Fruit and two other Yakima shippers, Roche Fruit Ltd. and Stadelman Fruit, LLC. Steve currently serves on the Northwest Fruit Exporters Apple Commodity Committee and the Northwest Horticultural Council’s Foreign Trade Committee.
Steve has a BA in business administration from the University of Washington. A resident of Yakima, where he raised his three children with his wife Kirsten, his passion outside of work is skiing.
Mark Stennes, Director
MARK STENNES is the CEO of Chelan Fruit Cooperative, a 300-member apple, pear, and cherry company with roots dating back to 1910. He is also a 4th generation apple grower whose family has been farming since 1894.
Stennes has served on various industry related boards in Washington state including the Washington Apple Commission, Washington Tree Fruit Association, Washington Growers Clearinghouse Association, Washington Horticultural Association, and Washington Farm Labor Association.
Stennes holds an undergraduate degree in horticulture from Wenatchee Valley College, a B.S. in Business Administration from Central Washington University, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Boise State University. He lives in the Methow Valley with his wife and 4 children, the 5th generation on the family farm. He spends his spare time coaching his kids’ sports, traveling, reading history, playing guitar, and fishing.
Elizabeth Wittenbach, Director
Elizabeth Wittenbach is a fifth-generation farmer, working alongside her father and grandfather in Belding, Michigan. Wittenbach’s family farm began in 1899 with the purchase of the original farmstead. Today, Wittenbach Orchards, LLC focuses on apple production for the fresh market in addition to growing field corn and soybeans. Wittenbach enjoys a variety of roles on the farm, from managing the office work to IPM field scouting and driving tractor for harvest to training trees.
Wittenbach graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Agribusiness Management and a minor in Horticulture. She prefers to spend her free time snowboarding, scrapbooking, and cheering on the Michigan State Spartans.