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Organic Trade Association wins 2023 Power of Associations Silver award for its Diversity and Entrepreneurship Program

Maggie McNeil
August 8, 2023
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is pleased to announce it has received a Power of Associations Silver Award from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) for its successful and impactful Diversity and Entrepreneurship Program. 

The OTA Diversity and Entrepreneurship Program is an integral part of the trade association’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Initiative, established in 2021, with the mission to ensure that social inequalities are not unintentionally perpetuated as the association works to expand organic.  

“We are incredibly proud of our Diversity and Entrepreneurship Program, and we are honored to receive this recognition from the ASAE,” said Tom Chapman, CEO of the Organic Trade Association. “We have a responsibility to help shape a more inclusive agricultural future for the good of the organic market and our communities, and through the JEDI initiative and the Diversity & Entrepreneurship Program, we are striving to diversify the organic space by providing resources to historically underserved business owners, which will ultimately make organic products more accessible.”  

“Congratulations to the Organic Trade Association for exemplifying the impact associations have on the industries and professions they represent, and on society at large,” said ASAE President and CEO Michelle Mason. “It’s always so incredibly satisfying to see associations going above and beyond their everyday mission to change the world. We’re very proud to spotlight this award-winning initiative.” 

Promoting a diverse, inclusive organic industry  

Recognizing there are many barriers to organic certification that have historically prevented minority-owned businesses from entering the organic industry, OTA’s JEDI Initiative promotes diversity and inclusivity across the supply chain and industry sectors. The Diversity and Entrepreneurship Program helps BIPOC and women-owned businesses overcome the barriers to entering the organic market, and thereby create a thriving and inclusive organic industry. 

Fifty-two companies selling almost $3 million worth of organic products are participating in the Diversity and Entrepreneurship Program. The program offers a 2-year membership to OTA, and helps the diverse businesses become certified organic, receive the premium on their product, and be successful in their business. It enables valuable connections to other organic stakeholders and experts and provides access to critical technical and market resources. 

Mojave Mallows is one of the companies in OTA’s program. Located in Joshua Tree, California, in the Mojave Desert, the business was founded by two sisters, Stephanie and Wendy Chan. The former Girl Scouts have long been huge fans of the infamous S’More, that tasty decadent concoction of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers that is always delicious but best when made over a campfire. 

Also committed to healthy sustainable food, the Chan sisters set out in 2021 to create a clean organic marshmallow. They joined OTA’s Diversity and Entrepreneurship program a year ago and, supported by the technical assistance and resources made available through the program, became the first certified organic marshmallow brand in March 2023. Mojave Mallows products, all packaged in sustainable packaging, are now available online and through specialty stores.  

“As a new business you have so many things competing for your time and investment. Organic certification is almost a luxury, not something we could have achieved as an early stage business without the guidance and support from the OTA,” said Stephanie Chan, CEO of Mojave Mallows. “No one had ever manufactured an organic marshmallow before, and I had so many questions about every step of the process. But the OTA was always there with an answer. OTA Vice President of Administration Stephanie Jerger's kindness has made a real difference in our company, and in the greater community of minority-led CPG businesses.” 

About the ASAE award 

The ASAE is the leading organization for association management, representing organizations and individual association professionals. It currently has more than 47,000 members, with more than 1,750 through organization memberships.  

ASAE’s Power of Associations Awards recognize the associations’ economic and societal contributions locally, nationally and globally. ASAE will celebrate The Power of Associations Award winners during its annual Summit Awards Dinner on September 28, 2023, at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.