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Loretta Brown, Director

Rijk Zwaan

Loretta Brown isn’t one to talk about herself. But if you really probe, you’ll start to discover a lot about her. You’ll learn she was raised in rural Georgia and knows the commercial seed business inside out. She is a person of faith, a family woman, and a youth sports coach. If you press her even further and she may mention her service in the Army. Oh, and she almost never mentions all the records she holds as starting point guard on University of Miami women’s basketball team (which she attended on a full scholarship by the way). It’s fair to say Loretta is humble about her accomplishments.

Let me tell you what Loretta is often too humble to say. Loretta is a US Army veteran who has been married to her husband Kelvin for 32 years. Kelvin is also an Army veteran and former college basketball standout – the couple has a 20-year-old daughter attending BIOLA University. Long a believer in giving back to the community, Loretta began coaching middle- and high-school-level girls basketball in 2004. After years of hard work and dedication as an Assistant, Loretta was recently named the head coach of the high school varsity team in her community. Kelvin is always there with her on the sidelines as her Assistant.

After studying business management in college, Loretta enlisted in the US Army. The Army brought Loretta to Fort Ord in California. Following her service career, she “just happened into” a position in agricultural seed production. The whole agricultural world was new to her, but she “was fortunate enough to have learned the business from the ground up“. Her broad spectrum of knowledge helped her land her current position as Office Manager for vegetable seed producer Rijk Zwaan USA Inc. in Salinas, where she has worked since 2000. Given the extent of her responsibilities involving human resources, operations and safety, the job title seems understated. “Titles don’t mean much to me,” she says. “Although we’re a big international company, we’re family-owned and treat our employees like family. That’s what makes Rijk Zwaan unique”.

Perhaps not surprisingly, that same sense of family connectedness is what attracted Loretta to UnitedAg, where she served as a member of the Business Solution Committee and is an inaugural member of the yearlong WomenAg Leadership Academy. “From my very first UnitedAg conference, they have made me feel welcome and treated me like family. I appreciate the fact that everyone go out of their way to help one another,” she says.

True to form, Loretta says, “When the academy began, I wasn’t sure I had much to bring to the table with these women ag leaders. Then I realized our jobs are a lot like coaching basketball: It’s about connecting with the players and getting them to buy into your game plan and vision. Maybe I do have something to offer.” I can say without a doubt, she definitely does.

Loretta Brown