The California Citrus Research Board (CRB) has announced that Franco Bernardi will serve as the organization’s interim president. Beginning Oct. 15, Bernardi will lead daily staff operations and management. He replaces Gary Schulz, whose contract as president was not renewed by the CRB last month.
Bernardi’s leadership will guide the CRB during the next several months as it celebrates its 50th anniversary and continues to invest in solutions citrus greening, the deadly disease that has devastated other citrus-growing regions worldwide.
“We are extremely fortunate to be able to call on one of the leaders of our industry to steer the helm as our search committee looks for a full-time president,” said CRB Chairman Dan Dreyer, who announced Bernardi’s appointment formally on Oct. 10 at the annual California Citrus Conference.
Bernardi held a seat on the CRB for 27 years, serving as chairman from 1997-99. He chaired a number of CRB committees during his nearly three decades on the board. He also served on the boards of other organizations, such as the Central California Orange Growers Cooperative, California Citrus Advisory Committee, California Citrus Mutual and the California Citrus Quality Council, to name a few.
Early in Bernardi’s career, he worked at Del Monte Foods in its ag research division and then as a senior research associate for the University of Arizona. For 38 years prior to his retirement, he served in management at a number of citrus operations, including Superior Farming, Paramount Citrus, Sun World, Duda Farm Fresh Foods and Agricultural Capital Management.
Bernardi is a native of Lucca, Italy, and a 28-year resident of Visalia. He studied agricultural science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He and his wife Kathy have been married for 52 years and have five children and 11 grandchildren.
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