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Leadership

Leadership

Cathy Burns, CEO
Cathy Burns

Cathy Burns joined PMA on December 1, 2013 as President. Cathy is a 30-year supermarket industry veteran, during which time she’s held a host of senior-level positions starting with Hannaford Brothers and then Food Lion. Until December 2012, she most recently served as president of the Food Lion banner with its 1,200 retail stores where she was responsible for overall operations including financial performance, brand strategy, merchandising, marketing, communications and customer service.

Burns earned a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing from the University of Maine and completed coursework in strategic retail management at the College of William and Mary. Burns served as chair of the Produce Traceability Initiative’s Leadership Council and also chaired the Coca-Cola Research Council. She is also a past board member of the Network of Executive Women and serves as the current chair of the Board of Governors of Children’s Miracle Hospital Network as well as the Board of Duke Children’s Hospital.

Tony Parassio, Chief Operating Officer
Tony Parassio

Tony Parassio joined PMA in 2008 as Vice President of Business Development. In January of 2010, Parassio was appointed Senior Vice President, Member Value and became a member of PMA’s senior management team. In this role, he was responsible for leading and integrating Member and Volunteer Relations, Global Business Development and Member Value Creation, which includes Education, Events, and Research and Development. In May of 2013, Parassio was appointed Chief Operating Officer and played a key role working with volunteer leaders to develop the strategic plan for PMA and its Foundation. Parassio’s team is charged with creating, delivering and communicating value for the association’s members around the world.

Parassio earned a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and has done graduate studies in marketing and leading organizational change. Prior to joining PMA, Parassio held a variety of commercial leadership roles with Fortune 500 companies, including global business development and executive positions.

Yvonne Bull, Chief Financial Officer
Yvonne Bull

Yvonne Bull joined PMA in 2002 as Director of Finance. She was promoted to CFO in 2009. Ms. Bull is responsible for the financial and fiscal management of the association which includes the general accounting, budgeting, financial reporting, tax and auditing functions. Ms. Bull has twenty years’ of experience in financial management, having previously served as Finance Director for the Delaware Theatre Company and an Accounting Manager with Brandywine Financial, a real estate investment company.

She possesses a Masters of Business Administration from Wilmington University and a Bachelor’s degree from Goldey-Beacom College, both in Delaware.

Robert J. Whitaker, Ph.D., Chief Science & Technology Officer

Bob Whitaker

Dr. Whitaker is the Chief Science & Technology Officer for the Produce Marketing Association. In this role Dr. Whitaker has responsibility for food safety and security, environmental sustainability and technical innovations for the produce supply chain, from field to fork. He joined PMA in 2008.

Prior to Joining PMA, Dr. Whitaker’s experience includes a16-year tenure with DNA Plant Technology Corporation (DNAP) where he served as Vice President for Vegetable Research and Development, and Vice President of Product Development, managing the development of products ranging from extended life tomatoes to seedless watermelons and tobacco varieties.

In 1998, Dr. Whitaker joined NewStar as Vice President of Product Development and Quality where he developed corporate food safety programs throughout the U.S., Mexico and South America, spearheaded NewStar’s aggressive product development activities, and had operational responsibility for NewStar’s two value-added processing plants. In 2006, Dr. Whitaker became President of MissionStar Processing, where he re-organized the processing venture and streamlined operations. In early 2007, Dr. Whitaker moved back into New Star as Vice President of Innovation and Food Safety.

Actively involved in produce association activities, Dr. Whitaker has served as a volunteer leader for several industry trade groups. In 2006, Dr. Whitaker was awarded the International Fresh-cut Processors’ Association (IFPA) Technical Achievement Award for his work in food safety and product development.

Dr. Whitaker has been intimately involved in the development of the leafy greens GAP Metrics and also serves on both the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Technical Committees. In 2007, Dr. Whitaker was named to the Executive Advisory Board for the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) and serves as Chairman for the CPS Research and Technology Council (2008) which oversees the solicitation, review and funding for research projects focused on produce food safety.

Dr. Whitaker received his Ph.D. in Biology from the State University of New York at Binghamton. 

Lauren M. Scott, Chief Marketing Officer
Lauren M Scott

Lauren M. Scott joined Produce Marketing Association as the Chief Marketing Officer in October 2016. Lauren has over 20 years of experience in the consumer products industry. Prior to PMA, Lauren worked at PepsiCo and Diageo in a variety of marketing roles with increasing responsibility including brand management, foodservice, activation, field marketing, national promotions, cultural branding, global innovation and strategy. Lauren began her career as a four-year Inroads intern and full-time hire in sales at Colgate-Palmolive.

A believer in continuous education and development, Lauren earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Rutgers University, an MBA from University of Maryland and a Master of Science in Strategic Communication from Columbia University, where she continues as a graduate project advisor. She also actively coaches and mentors. Lauren has served on recruitment teams and held leadership roles in a variety of employee resource groups.

A self-described foodie, Lauren's civic passions include combating hunger, food insecurities and cleft lip and palate conditions. Lauren enjoys her thespian hobbies of tap dance, music and choral singing. Most of all, she loves great meals and good laughs with her friends and family, including her husband and son, affectionately known as The Allens.


Margi Prueitt, Senior Vice President & Executive Director of Center for Growing Talent by PMA

Margi Prueitt

Margi joined the Center for Growing Talent by PMA as the second Executive Director in 2010. Previously she served as the Executive Director of an economic development organization and had a proud 35-year career with the American Red Cross. As CEO of the American Red Cross of the Delmarva Peninsula, she grew services to vulnerable populations and more than doubled philanthropic revenue.

Since directing Center for Growing Talent by PMA, Margi has clarified its mission to attract, develop and retain talent for the produce and floral industry. She has also further developed programming in all areas; increasing Career Pathways programs from four to 10 annually to attract and reach out to college students. She has helped shape new leadership development programs for industry members at every stage of their career, from young professionals to middle level and c-suite executives.

Margi is also leading the effort to effectively brand and market Center for Growing Talent by PMA. Through her leadership, she has brought new awareness of its charitable nature and continued growth of its burgeoning annual campaign.

Margi holds a BA in Education from the University of Kentucky, an MS in Community Development from University of Louisville and attended the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Margi and her husband, Ned Aksim, live in Delaware with their two dogs. They enjoy gardening, "beach collecting," watching University of Kentucky basketball, and time at their "off-the-grid" cabin in Canada.

leadership team

Cathy Burns

Cathy Burns

Chief Executive Officer

+1 (302) 607-2106

Email Cathy

Tony Parassio

Tony Parassio

Chief Operating Officer

+1 (302) 607-2136

Email Tony

Yvonne bull

Yvonne Bull

Chief Financial Officer

+1 (302) 607-2150

Email Yvonne

Dr. Bob Whitaker

Dr. Bob Whitaker

Chief Science & Technology Officer

+1 (302) 607-2194

Email Bob

Lauren M Scott

Lauren M. Scott

Chief Marketing Officer

+1 (302) 607-2111

Email Lauren

Margi Prueitt

Executive Director | SVP

+ 1 (302) 607-2174

Email Margi