Peruvian Onions

Mentors in the Making: Lisa McNeece Miceli

ost of us think of Lisa McNeece Miceli as a mentor. Lisa’s is a name that carries weight across categories, as well as professional and personal circles—someone from whom we can glean knowledge and gain insights, someone who can help shine a light on a potential path or shape its direction. And while Lisa has been a mentor to many, she too has had those relationships which have influenced her career. Whether they are words of advice at a fork in the road, or an impression that inevitably left a mark on her career, she remembers each and every one of them.

As we launch into 2017, I am joined by Lisa, Vice President of Foodservice and Industrial Sales for Grimmway Farms, who graciously shares a few of the many mentors who have had an impact on her journey.

“This industry is about relationships and respect for one another,” Lisa tells me. “I have been so fortunate to have been embraced by so many of our industry’s finest. When I think of the people who have guided me along the way, I think of so many wonderful friendships.”

Among these are Frank Padilla, Costco’s Vice President and General Merchandise Manager for Produce and Meat; Jan DeLyser, California Avocado Commission’s Vice President of Marketing; and Lisa Strube, Strube Celery and Vegetable Company’s Director of Finance and Administration.

For the man, the mentor, Frank Padilla—Lisa is lucky enough to have been impacted by him personally as well as professionally.

“Frank, aka Frankie P., is another of my closest and dearest friends,” she tells me. “When I think of Frank, knowing he is a valued customer for Grimmway, I first and foremost think of him as a wonderful friend; someone who has been there for me throughout the years. Having Frank’s support has helped me navigate my career and mold me into the person I am today.”

Lisa met Jan early in her career. As Lisa laughs, she shares with me that it was 20-plus years ago, but then, who is counting?!

“Jan was truly a woman I admired and one that I wanted to emulate. She has always been deserving of the admiration and the respect of her peers,” Lisa says, reflecting on those early days, and the journey till now. “Jan welcomed me into her inner-circle and we became good friends, each of us supporting one another on industry boards and councils. She has always been there to give me guidance when needed.”

When “this” Lisa talks about the other Lisa, she smiles and you can tell she has a deep reserve of memories to pull from.

“Lisa is a sister. We are often referred to as Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam,” she says, and this time it is me that laughs. “Millennials will have no idea who that is! I first met Lisa some 10-plus years ago and we became fast friends. Whether we are serving on industry boards, or traveling the country together. The two of us are always there for one another, often leaning on each other for support when needed. She exemplifies the true act of kindness. Having her as a positive role model has made me a better person.”

While these three may have accompanied Lisa on the road less-traveled and the one she walks now, Lisa shares again that each and every day she is reminded of how lucky she is in her career, and how it is the people that make it so.


Here is what they have to say about Lisa McNeece Miceli...

Vice President, GMM Produce & Meat, Costco WholesaleI first met Lisa some 25 years ago when I learned that Grimmway carrots were utilized as a key component of a Mann Packing vegetable medley mix. Little did I realize that we would become lifelong industry friends. Lisa has always excelled at building relationships, both personally and professionally. I would deem her to be a ‘master networker,’ which has served her well throughout her career. She cares deeply for people, both inside and outside of the trade. When she asks you how you’re doing, she really, really means it. 

I was impressed during those times when Lisa would come to me to ask my professional opinion on how to present an item or a program to a customer. She allowed me the opportunity to teach her how a buyer thinks and what is relevant at that moment in order to make that item or program successful for both parties. She possesses boundless energy to promote the produce industry, starting with her own company and then advocating in a bigger way through participation on boards and trade shows. She gives selflessly of both her professional and personal time and talent, which is evident in her commitment to the Center for Growing Talent by PMA (CGTbyPMA).

Jan DeLyser, VP of Marketing, California  Avocado CommissionI have so many fond memories of Lisa McNeece Miceli over the years, and admire greatly her commitment to our industry. Lisa is one of ‘those’ people who has a special talent for making a difference, she excels at connecting people, she is both fun and caring. She successfully relates with people personally on a professional level, and gets the job done while making the journey enjoyable. Lisa is a person of her word, she gives more than she takes and there’s not a city in the U.S. where she doesn’t have exceptional restaurant recommendations. When I think of what mentor means to me; Lisa nails it…counselor, teacher, guide, advisor, supporter, pupil.

Lisa Strube, Director of Finance & Administration, Strube Celery & Vegetable Co.Lisa McNeece Miceli came into my life first as an industry icon that I had heard about for years. By the time we actually met, she quickly became one of my best and dearest friends. Lisa has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and is even more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside. She is genuine, intelligent, and caring… she embraces everyone around her and does her best to give guidance and help whenever she can. She mentors everyone she meets without even realizing she is doing it. I know many people in this industry, especially women, who would put Lisa as a top influencer on their career paths.

One of my fondest memories was when she was named Produce Woman of the Year, and I looked around an overcrowded room filled with people wearing orange in support of her award. It showed me how many people she has touched over the years in our industry. She is, and will always be, my favorite ‘carrot’ friend.