Mike Villaneva is the Technical Director of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. His over 25 years of experience in training and regulatory inspections provide a solid foundation for leading the organization’s food safety training program. Mike has designed the program from the ground up with the goal of helping companies that handle leafy greens improve their overall food safety programs.
Dr. Sergio Nieto-Montenegro owns and operates a food safety consulting business that specializes in developing effective food safety training tools and resources for the food industry. He has delivered over 750 training sessions for clients across several industries in Mexico, the United States, and South America. Notably, Dr. Nieto-Montenegro has worked with the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements to develop the LGMA Tech and Harvesting Safe training programs and materials.
Dr. Montenegro earned his PhD in Food Science from Penn State University and has been involved in several published, peer-reviewed research projects since then. He is also a PSA-certified Produce Safety Trainer, and a certified Lead Instructor for Preventive Controls for Human Food and FSVP. When it comes to training, Dr. Nieto-Montenegro works hard to make scientific and technical concepts easy for people to understand. When not working, he likes to spend time with his family, mountain biking, playing racquetball, and grilling.
Lorena Ortiz-Williams began her career in the produce industry working for a pest control company that specializes in in lemons and avocados. A year later she began a new position as Field Food Safety Manager for a local produce company that handles row crops including leafy greens. In 2015, Lorena launched an agricultural field food safety consulting company, LJ Ag Works, LLC, that helps growers and harvesting companies establish and/or maintain their food safety programs. That same year she began teaching LGMA Tech courses in both English and Spanish. Recently, she has become involved in field food safety auditing.
Lorena holds a BS in Crop Science from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. She knows firsthand from her experience in the field how important employee training is in establishing successful food safety programs. Her approach to training involves lots of hands on learning and repetition. In her spare time, Lorena enjoys reading, spending quality time with her newborn son and husband, and spontaneous traveling.
Dr. Mauricio Castelo has worked for over 20 years in the food industry, including meat, juice, produce, dairy and baked goods production. He specializes in developing and auditing food safety programs, and training on food safety topics including Good Agricultural Practices; pre- and post-harvest risk assessments; and HACCP. In all of his work he aims to meet the needs of the organization, the customer, and industry while meeting regulations.
Dr. Castelo holds a PhD in Food Science and Technology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is also a PSA certified lead instructor for the Produce Safety Rule and Preventive Controls for Human Food Regulation courses. In his training courses, Dr. Castelo believes it is important to clearly define the objectives and goals of the training so everyone knows what to expect. He also aims to get to know the audience in each session, and to adapt the training as needed so that each person has a meaningful understanding of the material presented.
Joseph Lara is a Senior Professional in Human Resources and Safety Director by trade. He began his career as the onsite paramedic and safety trainer for Sun Garden Packing Company over 25 years ago. Since then he has successfully worked with clients from union and non-union facilities throughout the food and agricultural industry.
Joseph has a bachelor’s degree in business from San Jose State University and completed the paramedic program at the Stanford University School of Medicine. As a trainer, he sees the students in every training session as a unique community of learners that varies not only in natural abilities, but also in learning styles. His role as an instructor is to give the students the tools they can use to cultivate their own garden of knowledge. To accomplish this goal, he presents curriculum in a way that captures the interest of all the students and makes learning relevant to life. On his own time, Joseph likes to read up on history of cities and autobiographies of former athletes. He is also a volunteer with Best Buddies.