(UPDATED COVERAGE, 2:45 p.m., Feb. 22) Lorna Christie, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, is leaving the organization.

Christie, an 11-year PMA veteran, said she will leave Feb. 28.

The COO position won’t be filled until at least June, when a task force shares its recommendations with the PMA board on the organization’s staffing needs, said Duane Eaton, PMA’s senior vice president for administration.

Christie will pursue a consulting career in the produce industry, helping clients with strategic communications. PMA will be one of her clients, and she will be based in Delaware.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Christie, who joined PMA in 2002 as vice president of member programs. “I’ve enjoyed every single moment I’ve worked at PMA.”

Consumer outreach and crisis management will be among the areas Christie’s consulting will focus on, she said.

Bryan Silbermann, PMA’s president and chief executive officer, praised Christie’s consumer-first approach to her job.

“Through Lorna’s dedication and tireless energy, she has been instrumental in creating and leading the development of a new generation of PMA member value,” Silbermann said in a news release. “Lorna brought us a unique approach to putting the consumer front and center as we address industry issues, especially food safety and increasing consumption.”

Before joining PMA, Christie worked for Identico Systems, Nashua, N.H., as vice president of administration and public affairs. Christie also has worked for the Association for Investment Management and the Direct Marketing Association.