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Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, CEO, Seald Sweet International, will be honored for her industry service and leadership at the upcoming United Fresh Produce Association’s Women in Produce reception, which honors all women in the produce industry and recognizes one outstanding female industry leader.
Having emigrated from her native Havana with her family when she was just three years old, Sotomayor-Kirk’s family settled in South Florida. Attending Miami-Dade Community College on a scholarship and originally pursuing a career in law, Sotomayor-Kirk came to discover a passion for the world of international produce after taking an entry-level sales position with Pompano, Fla.-based Great American Farms, eventually working her way up to director of imports.
In 2000, Sotomayor-Kirk accepted the same position at Seald Sweet and helped to develop and lead the company’s imports program. She became the company’s first female SVP in 2004 and, in 2007 became the first female CEO in the company’s 100-year history.
“From entry level to the corner office, Mayda’s career is proof positive that hard work and savvy business skills are rewarded in our industry and since assuming the role of CEO, Mayda has played a critical role in the international growth of Seald Sweet within the citrus category, and its diversification into other areas like deciduous and tropical fruits,” said United Fresh president and CEO Tom Stenzel. “Self-made, roll-up-your-sleeves stories like Mayda’s are the cornerstones of so many produce businesses, and a fantastic leadership example for the next generation of produce leaders, both male and female,” Stenzel added.
The annual Reception Honoring Women in Produce will be held Tuesday, May 3, 5:30 p.m - 6:30 p.m., in rooms 244-245 at the New Orleans Convention Center. Tickets are required for the event as either part of the All-Access Convention package registration or purchased onsite.
Past honorees have included:
- Tonya Antle, Tanimura & Antle
- Frieda Caplan, Frieda’s, Inc.
- Margaret D’Arrigo, D’Arrigo Brothers of California
- Jan DeLyser, Avocado Commission
- Jan Fleming, Strube Celery & Vegetable Co.
- Janice Honigberg, Sun Belle, Inc.
- Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Co.
- Kathleen Nave, Table Grape Commission
- Dr. Martha Rhodes-Roberts, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
- Steffanie Smith, River Point Farms, LLC
- Heather Shavey, Costco Wholesale
- Rosemary Talley, Talley Farms
- Jenney Tenney, The Kroger Co.
For more information, visit unitedfresh.org.