Blue Diamond Growers named Dean LaVallee as the new chief operating officer (COO) for California’s largest almond cooperative. In addition to serving as COO, LaVallee will continue to operate in his current role as chief financial officer (CFO) and will report directly to Blue Diamond Growers’ president and chief executive officer, Mark Jansen. As COO/CFO, LaVallee will oversee the Finance, Global Ingredients, and IT divisions within Blue Diamond Growers. He joined the cooperative in 2011.

In other leadership news from the cooperative, long-time Blue Diamond Growers’ employee, Bill Morecraft, announced his retirement at the end of this year after 35 years of service. Morecraft joined Blue Diamond Growers in 1986 working in Finance, Production Planning, and Sales Planning. 

He assumed leadership of the global ingredients division in 2008 where he is credited with streamlining the product line, introducing a focus on value-added ingredients, and developing a close relationship with Blue Diamond’s operations team to increase profitability. Blue Diamond now processes and ships premium almond products to more than 90 countries.

Effective September 1, Laura Gerhard was promoted to vice president to assume leadership responsibilities for Blue Diamond’s global ingredients division. Gerhard will lead day-to-day operations of the division, which supplies almond ingredients for processed and prepared food manufacturers, as well as for bulk purchase, around the world. She will also oversee the commercial success of the division’s global product portfolio, which includes a growing array of almond-based ingredients, such as almond protein powder, almond flour, and almond butter. Gerhard began her career with Blue Diamond Growers in 2017 as director, strategy and planning with global ingredients. She added responsibility for global ingredient division marketing in 2020.