(Dec. 1) The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Maitland, has brought in a seasoned journalist and communications professional to lead the organization’s public affairs. It also has promoted one of its communications staffers.

Lisa Lochridge was named the group’s director of public affairs Nov. 27.

The Orlando area native succeeds Ray Gilmer, who had been the trade organization’s spokesman for more than a dozen years. Gilmer left Sept. 19 to work in Raleigh, N.C., for chemical company BASF.

Lochridge worked for the Orlando Sentinel as a writer and in management for more than 20 years before in 1999 joining CBR Public Relations, an Orlando-area firm that had southeastern retailers and restaurants among its clients.

Lochridge said she plans to work on many issues challenging Florida’s produce grower-shippers including immigration, food safety and helping the industry remain competitive in a global marketplace.

“I grew up in central Florida near Apopka where agriculture was all around me,” Lochridge said. “We were surrounded by orange groves. Everywhere I turned I saw agriculture. I feel I’m sort of coming full circle.”

Mike Stuart, the association’s president, said he has asked Lochridge to develop crisis management strategic planning programs for the organization as well as for the industry.

Barbara Wunder, FFVA’s communications coordinator since 2001, in mid-November was promoted to communications manager.

Wunder had been writing the FFVA’s monthly Harvester and weekly Rap-Up newsletters. The promotion means Wunder will have additional responsibilities that include developing the organization’s annual report, yearly directory and maintaining the Web site, www.ffva.com.