CDFA EXECUTIVE STAFF BIOGRAPHIES
Jim Houston, Undersecretary
Jim Houston was appointed by Governor Brown as undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture in January 2015, after serving the agency since 2011 as deputy secretary for legislation and public engagement. He was a senior account representative at BGS Group Consulting Inc. from 2004 to 2010, representing numerous entities involved in agriculture. He worked for the California Assembly from 2001 to 2004, serving as Legislative Director for Assembly Member Simon Salinas. He received a law degree from McGeorge School of Law in 2009.
Jenny Lester Moffitt, Deputy Secretary
Jenny Lester Moffitt was appointed Deputy Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture by Governor Brown in January 2015. Prior to joining CDFA, Jenny spent 10 years as Managing Director at her family's organic walnut farm and processing operation, Dixon Ridge Farms. A proud 5th generation California farmer, Jenny oversaw the company's day-to-day operations, including sales and marketing, food safety and organic certification. While working at the farm, Jenny served as a board member for CCOF and on the California Organic Products Advisory Committee, the Food Safety Committee of the Walnut Marketing Board. Jenny was appointed by Governor Brown in January 2012 to serve on the Central Valley Regional Water Board. Jenny is a graduate of Brown University.
Dr. Amrith Gunasekara, Science Advisor to the Secretary
Dr. Gunasekara is Science Advisor to Secretary Ross at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. He works on agricultural issues as they relate to the environment and seeks to find proactive, creative, flexible and practical solutions. His focus areas include plant nutrient management, climate change and environmental stewardship. He is the CDFA liaison to the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel which is looking at highlighting the many benefits afforded by agriculture beyond food, fiber, and economic benefits. Dr. Gunasekara received his undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and completed his PhD from the University of California, Davis, in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry. He has been in his CDFA position since August 2011.
ANNETTE M. JONES, D.V.M., State Veterinarian & Director - Animal Health and Food Safety Services
Dr. Jones graduated with honors from U.C. Davis with a degree in Economics and worked as a business manager for a defense contractor and an engineering firm for the first eight years of her career, after which she returned to U.C. Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, and again graduated at the top of her class. After practicing as a private veterinarian for three years, she joined the California Department of Food and Agriculture in 2001. She participated in California’s foot and mouth disease prevention and preparedness efforts in 2001, avian influenza control and eradication in 2002, and Exotic Newcastle disease eradication in 2002 and 2003. She consistently demonstrated an ability to work cooperatively with other government agencies, the public, and industry as seen during emergency animal disease planning efforts at the local, State, and Federal level. Dr. Jones showed her willingness to accept challenge during the response to Exotic Newcastle disease in Southern California, where she was the Incident Commander and Area Commander for the State. The response involved multiple local, State, and Federal agencies with up to 1,500 people on the ground at one time. On July 1, 2004, Dr. Jones was appointed Director of the Animal Health and Food Safety Services. In this capacity, she oversees an annual budget of $45.5 million and 222 employees engaged in programs for animal health, milk and dairy food safety, meat and poultry inspection, and livestock identification. She also works closely with the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, which is operated by U.C. Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, under a contract with her Division. In this capacity, she has implemented organizational changes to meet the demands of shrinking budgets yet remain effective in the most critical mission areas; was part of the management team for several disease outbreaks and food and feed contamination events; provided radio and television interviews in support of farmers and ranchers and the work done to maintain a vibrant and safe food supply; collaborated with federal, state and local agencies; and provided testimony at several legislative sessions. In September of 2010, besides continuing to perform as Director, Dr. Jones was appointed State Veterinarian, the position ultimately responsible for the State’s veterinary authority on animal health and food safety related to livestock and poultry.
ROBERT L. WYNN, JR., Statewide Coordinator: Pierce's Disease Control Program
Robert L. Wynn, Jr. has had an outstanding career with the California Department of Food and Agriculture starting in 1970 and serving more than 35 years. Bob has been a lifetime resident of California and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and CSU, Sacramento. On December 6, 2000, Bob accepted a gubernatorial position as the Statewide Coordinator for the Pierce's Disease Control Program at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). In this key position, Bob coordinates the statewide effort directed against Pierce's disease and its aggressive new vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter. This involves the coordination of multi-agency, industry and academic institution segments in statewide pest prevention and research strategies, which are now in use to control and contain the spread of Pierce's disease and its vectors, including the glassy-winged sharpshooter. Prior to his current position, Bob was CDFA's Director of the divisions of Plant Protection & Plant Health, and Inspection Services. Today, under the leadership of Secretary Karen Ross, Bob continues to direct the Pierce's Disease Control Program, provides oversight for the County Liaison Office and is Senior Advisor to the Secretary.