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Name: Ross, Karen
Current Position: Secretary

A native of western Nebraska who grew up on a farm, Karen Ross received her bachelor of arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and is a graduate of the Nebraska Ag Leadership Program.

Ross directed state operations for U.S. Senator Ed Zorinsky, a Democrat from Nebraska, from 1978-1985. Zorinsky had been a lifelong Republican who switched parties when he failed to secure the GOP Senate nomination in 1976. He served until his death in 1987, but Ross left two years earlier to become government relations director for the Nebraska Rural Electric Association.

From 1989-1996, Ross was vice president of government affairs for the Agricultural Council of California–which represents farmer-owned cooperatives. Her focus included food safety, pesticide use, environmental issues and cooperative business and tax laws. Ross served more than 13 years as president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, and prior to joining CDFA, was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Ross, a Democrat, was appointed secretary of CDFA on January 12, 2011, by Governor Jerry Brown. The position, which requires state Senate confirmation, pays $172,524 a year.


Ross Appointed (CDFA website)

Winegrape Growers' Leader Karen Ross to Join Department of Agriculture (by Chris Rauber, San Francisco Business Times)

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