The Texas International Produce Association In Bloom Women’s Committee is hosting Challenge Accepted! at Viva Fresh on Friday, March 31, from 3:15 to 5:15 pm. Sponsored by Pure Flavor, the session will feature four female produce professionals as panelists in this first-of-its-kind game show atmosphere.
Challenge Accepted! will feature audience participation through Jeopardy-style questions, said TIPA in a press release. Attendees are invited to join this event and see what happens live as industry women serve as panelists and will answer questions about obstacles they have faced throughout their careers as well as the strategies they’ve found helpful in building their networks, expanding their resources, and amplifying their voices.
“After last year’s Speak Easy: Real Women, Real Talk, we thought long and hard about how we could try to top its success. We wanted to add a component where the audience was able to get in on the fun, and we think Challenge Accepted will do just that,” said Michelle Cortez, In Bloom committee chairwoman and sales director at Babia.
“In dreaming up this event, we knew we wanted to allow the audience to help direct the conversation,” said April Flowers, In Bloom committee vice chairwoman and marketing director at Lone Star Citrus. “This event really is so much more than a typical panel. It’s a genuine conversation and an opportunity for women in our industry to acknowledge and connect over the topics that most affect us.”
In Bloom was conceived at the 2019 Viva Fresh and was built to be an organization to empower and advance women in produce through sharing opportunities, networking, mentorship, advocacy, and professional development while also offering a supportive environment of women committed to helping each other.
Its vision is to develop a community of female leaders who are advocates for fresh produce consumption, committed to helping one another and prepared to lead our industry through opportunities and challenges in a dynamic Texas and International produce landscape.
Registration began on March 1, so those previously registered for Viva Fresh should return to their registration and add this event free to Viva Fresh attendees. Preference will be given to women attendees, but gentlemen are welcome to join the waitlist on-site. This event also receives sponsorship support from London Fruit, Lone Star Citrus, Coast Tropical, and Fox Packaging.
After tackling the important topics industry women face each day, the event will pivot into a happy hour networking event as a lead into YTIPA’s networking hour as well as the opening reception.
In 2021, TIPA created a new networking group called Y-TIPA. This committee is specifically for members under the age of 35 and focuses on building connections, networking, and providing education to the newest generation of fresh produce industry professionals.
At this year’s Viva Fresh, Y-TIPA will host its second annual networking reception from 5:30 to 6:30 pm on Friday, March 31, with the objective of building and training the younger community of TIPA members.
The reception will follow the conclusion of In Bloom’s cocktail event and will be held in Mission Plaza at the Gaylord and will feature special guest speaker Tom Thompson, chief revenue officer at Revol Greens, who will share industry insights that will help attendees accelerate their career paths in fresh produce.
His broad experience across a wide scope of industry organizations and experiences, including his current role in the greenhouse/vertical ag industry, will provide a diverse range of ideas and information from which to learn.
“YTIPA aims to welcome newcomers into the produce industry with open arms,” said Kristen Davis, food safety coordinator at Tex Mex Sales and YTIPA chair.
“We want to allow our generation and future generations the opportunity to network and educate one another as we go through the same challenges and opportunities we face day to day,” continued Rebecca Garcia, sales manager at Origin Fresh Produce and YTIPA vice chair. “And, of course, have fun in this beautiful, constantly changing industry.”
Registration for the YTIPA reception also opened on March 1.