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Speaker's Biography

Karen Ross

Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture


Karen Ross is secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Ross has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally and internationally as well as in California. Prior to joining CDFA in January 2011, she was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. For 13 years, Ross was president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), based in Sacramento. During that time, she served as executive director of Winegrape Growers of America, a coalition of state wine grower organizations, and executive director of the California Wine Grape Growers Foundation, which sponsors scholarships for children of vineyard employees. Among her achievements at CAWG was creating the nationally recognized Sustainable Winegrowing Program, which assists growers in maintaining the long-term viability of agricultural lands and encourages them to take the lead in protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and enhancing local communities.


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