.The new director has a vision for community-focused innovative farming.

The Agribusiness Development Corp.’s board announced on Thursday that Wendy Gady will take on the role of executive director, following a four-month search.

Gady beat out former ADC chairperson Frederick Lau, who resigned from his role in a bid to take on the executive directorship.

She will officially step into the role on Aug. 21, vacated when long-time executive director James Nakatani unexpectedly died in late April.

Nakatani’s death generated questions about the future of the embattled state corporation, one that had faced a scathing state audit and increasing scrutiny towards the end of his decade-long tenure.

Wendy Gady was born and raised farming in Iowa and has years of experience in strategic marketing and agriculture, according to ADC. (Courtesy: ADC)

Among the criticisms of the ADC’s work was whether it had fulfilled its mandate to revitalize Hawaii’s agricultural economy after the demise of sugar and pineapple plantations.

ADC Board of Directors chairperson Warren Watanabe said the board was confident Gady would carry out the ADC’s mission.

“We are confident that Wendy will reach across the entire state to create new and lasting levels of agriculture growth and sustainability with, and, for all food sustainability stakeholders,” Watanabe said in a press release.

Born and raised in Iowa, Gady has “exceptional leadership skills, strategic insights and a focus on broad engagement across the agriculture sector,” that make her the ideal choice to lead ADC, Watanabe added.

The longtime Oahu resident had studied MBA strategic marketing at the University of Michigan and graduated in communications and business from Iowa Wesleyan University.

  • ‘Hawaii Grown’ Special Series

Gady’s vision for the ADC includes building on her roots of community-focused, innovative farming, according to the release.

“Our food supply from the continental United States was severely disrupted during the recent pandemic and showed our state why we need to push harder for food independence and sustainability here. ADC will be a pivotal part of our state’s effort,” Gady said in the release.

“Hawaii Grown” is funded in part by grants from Ulupono Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Frost Family Foundation.

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