Fall Creek Farm & Nursery Inc. has announced the promotion of Amelie Aust to executive chair of the family-owned blueberry breeding and nursery company’s independent board of directors. She has served as the company’s executive vice chair of the board since 2020, formerly served as co-CEO, and is a second-generation owner.
Aust succeeds her father, Fall Creek cofounder Dave Brazelton, who is now chair emeritus of the 10-member board. “I attribute our ability for easy succession to my dad’s mentorship – his ability to teach, listen, and make room to try new things gave me the latitude to have a hand at board leadership before being in the role myself,” she said. “Our independent board members are key. I always say that shareholders’ dreams are bigger than our skills, and the board helps fill that gap so we can meet our true potential.
“Fall Creek now has strong global and regional leadership, with systems in place for high quality operations, which has allowed the board to elevate,” she added. “We focus on fiduciary oversight and strategic growth, so Fall Creek can stay apace with the speed of industry change.”
Brazelton will remain actively involved on the board and continue coaching Aust and the co-CEOs, Cort Brazelton and Oscar Verges. “Our family is fully dedicated to our customers, employees, and the worldwide blueberry industry,” he said. “I’m proud of all we’ve built together and look forward to staying engaged with the board and leadership team to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing success.”
Elin Miller, an independent board member of Fall Creek since 2017 and chair of the board’s compensation committee, noted the importance of recruiting outside board members, as Fall Creek has done.
“A lot of large, family-owned companies aren’t confident enough to bring in third-party board members, but Dave and Barb Brazelton had the foresight to establish an independent board during a time of critical transition for the company,” she said. “We have a great deal of confidence in Amelie’s ability to lead our board and continue Fall Creek’s legacy of leadership in the blueberry industry globally.”
Aust joined Fall Creek in 2008 to manage the company’s intellectual property and licensing after receiving a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from the Munich Intellectual Property Law Center at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, where she was a Fulbright scholar. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature with a minor in biology from the University of Oregon.
During her first decade at Fall Creek, her focus broadened to include product development and commercialization as Fall Creek’s own breeding program began releasing varieties, re-shaping the company’s global licensing platforms. During her tenure as co-CEO with brother Cort Brazelton, the leadership team including then-president and now current co-CEO Oscar Verges moved from “a purely centralized organization to a matrixed one with regional leadership, unlocking the ability to scale Fall Creek’s rich culture and execute on our mission locally,” Aust said.
Aust is also a volunteer board member for the International Fresh Produce Association.
Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Inc., is the leading provider of genetic solutions to the blueberry industry with research and development centers across all chills levels and nursery operations in the U.S., Chile, Mexico, Peru, Spain, The Netherlands, and South Africa. Fall Creek breeds and delivers blueberry varieties, nursery stock, and grower support to commercial fruit growers throughout the world.
» For more information, visit www.fallcreeknursery.com.