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The IF list: Cathy Burns, CEO, Produce Marketing Association

When kicking around who we wanted to invite to play the “What IF?” game with us, the powerhouse leader of the Produce Marketing Association was one of the first on my list. You never know what the association’s CEO, Cathy Burns, is going to say, but you can be sure it will always be worth listening to. Grab your favorite iced beverage, because you can rest assured she’ll have hers, and enjoy with me the boundaries of Cathy’s heart and mind in our latest IF List.

IF you had to choose now, what would your last meal consist of?

An unsweetened ice tea, a fresh garden salad, and a traditional lobster bake—consisting of lobster, clams, potatoes, and corn-on-the-cob—on the coast of Maine, enjoying a beautiful sunset. Something chocolate for dessert—definitely chocolate.

IF you could imagine yourself in a different industry, what would it be?

I’ve served on the Board of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for many years and have always found its work with children inspiring, so probably something involving kids and healthcare.

IF you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Maya Angelou. I briefly met her once many years ago, and that chance meeting has remained with me all these years. The person was even more powerful than her poems and sonnets. She had a strong grace, captivating presence, and an inspiring depth of knowledge.

IF you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you bring?

A mix of unsweetened iced tea and a few Diet Sunkists, a fuzzy blanket, and a satellite phone to call someone to get me off the island.

IF you could make everyone watch a movie of your choosing, which movie would you want them to see?

Mamma Mia, the soundtrack of which is often heard on the Alexa in our kitchen while my husband, Ty, our girls, and I prepare dinner. If it was a double-header, I would follow it up with Remember the Titans or It’s a Wonderful Life. Great life lessons in both of these movies.

IF you could enhance one aspect of your intelligence, what part would you want to improve?

I have met one person with a true photographic memory—it was awe-inspiring. It would be great to have an endless file in my head that I could open and draw upon with precision.

IF you could join a musician, dead or alive, on stage to sing along or play an instrument with, who would you choose and why?

As previously mentioned, I am a huge fan of ABBA, so getting onstage with the Swedish pop stars at the height of their success would be a thrill. I love their spirit and positive energy, plus their songs just make me smile.

IF you could reexperience an awesome day in your life, what day would you choose and why?

My wedding day. I married my soulmate, our whole family was involved in the ceremony, and we danced the night away. A magical day filled with love, laughter, and happy tears.

IF you had $10 million that you had to donate to someone else, who would you choose and why?

This one is very personal, but I would donate that $10 million to the Fight Like Britt Foundation*, which seeks to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and its symptoms among college students. I’d love to see it on every university campus globally.

IF you had a superpower, what would you want it to be?

The ability to heal. I know the idea of healing everyone would never work, but I have wished a million times that I would have had the power to heal our daughter, Brittany.

*Readers that would like to donate to the Fight Like Britt Foundation can do so at