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Member of the Year

Our member companies are made up of dedicated individuals. In 2014, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced our first-ever OTA Member of the Year Award. This special recognition, driven by OTA staff and endorsed by the Board, was created to honor and recognize engaged members who actively serve on  task forces and standing committees, participate in events, and serve as overall ambassadors for OTA and the industry. The Member of the Year honoree will be announced at the Annual Membership Meeting

2020 Members of the Year

Honoring all of our members!

The Organic Trade Association honored all of its members with its 2020 Member of the Year Award, applauding the resilience, commitment and community spirit shown by the entire organic supply chain in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We truly think our members are exceptional,” said CEO and Executive Director Laura Batcha. “Our members have all stepped up during this global pandemic. They quickly moved into high gear to keep organic products flowing, they have taken care of their workers, and they have helped their communities. Organic Trade Association member companies are made up of so many dedicated individuals doing so much to adapt to this new reality, how could we recognize just one person at one company? In 2020, we’d like to recognize ALL members as our Members of the Year.”

Read the press release and watch the video tribute.

2018 Member of the Year

Lundberg Family Farms

Tim Schultz

Photo of Tim ShultzTim Schultz of Lundberg Family Farms is our 2018 Member of the Year. Schultz was recognized for his commitment to advancing organic through his leadership role on a number of issues affecting the organic sector. This special recognition of an individual employed by a member company is staff nominated and endorsed by the Organic Trade Association Board.

Schultz is a tireless advocate for organic in many ways. He has become the driving force behind the trade association’s Organic Rice Working Group advocating for deeper knowledge and openness with consumers concerning arsenic in rice. His advocacy efforts regularly transport him from the lush fields of Richvale, CA, to the halls of Capitol Hill. He regularly participates in congressional fly-ins and lobbying work, and has actively promoted a farm bill that addresses the needs of organic. He has been an exceptional volunteer serving on the board of Organic PAC, the only Political Action Committee devoted to organic. 

“Lundberg has been a long-time Organic Trade Association member and a pioneer in the organic movement. It has been my privilege to join the association’s advocacy of organic priorities in Congress, at FDA and USDA, as well as more recent work in Thailand. This is truly a member-focused trade association, and does an outstanding job in providing a forum for its members to collaborate to continuously improve every aspect of our industry.  I am humbled to be recognized by the Organic Trade Association, and look forward to working together to bring more organic food to consumers, and increase the footprint of organic agriculture in the U.S. and around the world,” Schultz said.

2017 Member of the Year

Chino Valley Ranchers

David Will

David Will, General Manager of Chino Valley Ranchers, was named Organic Trade Association 2017 Member of the Year. This special recognition of an individual employed by a member company is staff nominated and endorsed by the Organic Trade Association Board.

David was selected for his advocacy for the Organic Trade Association within his company. He has also been instrumental in developing trade association comments, positions and strategy to advance organic poultry production standards. He was commended for being a strong defender and advocate of organic farmers.

2016 OTA Member of the Year


Carmela Beck, Annual Fund Host Committee Volunteer

Photo of Carmela BeckCarmela Beck of Driscoll's received OTA's 2016 Member of the Year Award. This special recognition, driven by OTA staff and endorsed by OTA's Board, was created to honor a truly engaged member.


Over the years, Carmela has proven to be a world-class member of the trade association. Each year, she leads Hill Visit teams as part of OTA's Policy Conference and is an enthusiastic supporter of Organic PAC. She has been an Annual Fund volunteer, and a valuable contributor on the international front, joining an OTA mission to Mexico to educate the Mexican government, industry and consumers on the U.S. organic industry and the National Organic Standards Board. She has been an active participant in OTA-led trainings with the Mexican SAGARPA and SENSICIA agencies, and co-presented with OTA at Expo Orgánico, Mexico's largest organic-only event. Moreover, she is an incredible ambassador for OTA and organic, engaging on social channels like Twitter, participating in campaigns, and increasing the reach of our messages.

"Driscoll's has been a long-term OTA member and I have been an active member since 2010. Driscoll's Organic Program has grown to 15 percent of our business and will only continue to dramatically increase in the coming years. As OTA members we have relied heavily on the OTA for its leadership, expertise, advocacy, education, marketing and messaging capabilities," said Beck. "I am very honored by this recognition, and I look forward to continuing our collaboration and our life's work." 

Read OTA's Press Release

2015 OTA Member of the Year

Natural Flavors Inc.

Jeff Rakity, Chairman of Annual Fund Host Committee

Photo of Jeff RakityJeff Rakity of Natural Flavors Inc. received OTA’s 2015 Member of the Year Award. This special recognition was created to honor a truly engaged member—a dedicated volunteer, fearless leader and apt cheerleader for OTA while serving overall as an ambassador for OTA and the industry.

An OTA member since 1999, Rakity joined the Annual Fund Host Committee in 2005 and in 2009, stepped up to the plate to become chair of the campaign. As chairman, he led the volunteer committee through thousands of “asks” to achieve a campaign that now brings in over $1 million per year.

Under his leadership, OTA’s Annual Fund has remained a meaningful source of revenue for the Association. In fact, Rakity is directly responsible for raising over $755,000 during his tenure on the committee. 2015 marks the last year that Rakity will be Host Committee Chair. However, he has agreed to stay on in an advisory capacity to provide guidance to a new set of volunteers.
“Jeff has been a tireless champion of organic and of OTA,” said Batcha. “He has made an immeasurable contribution to the association and to organic farmers and organic businesses through his unselfish devotion and commitment to organic. We congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition.”
- Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director, OTA
OTA’s Annual Meeting this year was held at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore.

Read OTA's Press Release

2014 OTA Member of the Year

Amy's Kitchen

Steve Crider, Liaison for Government and Industry Affairs

Photo of Steve CriderSteve Crider is the first individual to receive the OTA Member of the Year award for his  strong and consistent voice and active commitment to organic. Crider doesn’t see a problem with being outspoken and tenacious, especially when it comes to getting things done in Washington to support the organic food and agriculture movement and to act as advocate and champion for the organic industry.

Crider has been with Amy’s Kitchen for ten years and has worked as that company’s Liaison for Government and Industry Affairs for the past three years. In this role, he has been able to support Amy’s passion and commitment to the organic food movement at the policy level.

 “The deeper I get involved in this work, the more I see a need for people from our side to be outspoken, tenacious, tireless activists for organic. In the current political climate, it is no longer enough just to ‘support’ organic – we need to really engage with the political arena to help direct the systemic changes we need and want to see happen.”

   --Steve Crider, Liaison for Government and Industry Affairs, Amy's Kicthen

Crider’s many contributions to the work of OTA have included co-chairing its U.S.-Asia Task Force, participating in its Mexico, Non-GMO and Food Safety task forces, serving on the Organic Political Action Committee (PAC), joining the Organic Research and Promotion Program Steering Committee, stepping up as a team leader at OTA’s annual Policy Conference and delivering letters to congressional offices. 

Read OTA's Press Release