Natural Foods Merchandiser

OTA seeks new director

Longtime organic advocate Katherine DiMatteo announced last month that she would resign her position as executive director of the Organic Trade Association as soon as a suitable replacement could be installed.

The search is being conducted by Kittelman & Associates, a Chicago-based executive search firm serving nonprofit organizations. After Kittelman has developed a candidate pool, a search committee, headed by OTA board member Chuck Marcy, will interview the candidates.

?The strongest skill they?re looking for is a very good background in public policy,? said Rhyan Mary Zweifler, a principal with Kittelman. More generally, the board is seeking someone who has the ?ability to communicate effectively around all the constituencies that are impacted by the work of organics,? she said.

Zweifler said her agency had not been instructed to seek candidates with any particular political bent within the field of organics, other than an understanding of sustainability issues. ?I have not heard anything like that. That?s not any part of our position guide.

?They?re looking for someone who?s going to help them understand where they should be taking a stand and why; I don?t know that they?d be comfortable with someone who came in with a really strong personal agenda. There needs to be an ability to look at what the needs of the membership are, what the emerging issues are,? Zweifler said. Marcy agreed. ?We?re looking for someone who can represent the organic industry and to best represent the interests of the organic industry as they evolve and as the industry continues to grow.?

Zweifler added that the board hopes to decide on DiMatteo?s successor by March 1, 2006.

DiMatteo, who has held the executive director position since 1990, did not publicly state a reason for her departure. ?I?m looking forward to moving on to new life opportunites, utilizing the expertise and experience I have gained over the years,? she said in a news release.

?Katherine has been a passionate, outspoken advocate for the organic business community. She is respected around the world for her consensus-building leadership, her unflagging commitment and her outstanding ability to manage a diverse, growing association,? said Phil Margolis, president of OTA?s board of directors.

The organics industry grew exponentially during DiMatteo?s tenure. The Organic Food Production Act was passed; the National Organic Standards Board was established; and sales of organic products skyrocketed at rates near 20 percent per year for at least the last decade.

?I am confident that both OTA and I have an abundant and successful future ahead,? DiMatteo said.

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