FOLSOM, CALIF. — The US Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) and the North American Blueberry Council (NABC) have appointed Leslie Wada, a longtime research consultant for the councils, as senior director of nutrition and health research. In this newly created role, Wada will represent USHBC and NABC as an official spokesperson for both organizations, as well as the blueberry industry at large.  

Wada will continue to manage USHBC’s health research projects as she has done for the past 12 years. In her expanded role, Wada will have increased ownership and responsibility in leading the health and nutrition pillar of the USHBC’s 2021-2025 strategic plan, integrating the research projects and results with the council’s overall strategy in marketing and promotions.  

“Leslie’s tremendous contributions over the years have helped blueberries earn the strong health halo that most of our target audiences recognize today,” said Kasey Cronquist, president of USHBC and NABC. “As a scientist and seasoned communications professional, Leslie is uniquely qualified to lead an important pillar of our strategic plan, leveraging health research and nutrition to further elevate blueberries as a beloved fruit among consumers, health professionals and more.” 

A registered dietitian with an undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of California, Davis, Wada earned a Ph.D. in nutritional sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. She worked as a research scientist on nutrition studies and taught classes in dietetics at UC Berkeley before leaving academia to work with companies that developed functional foods and ingredients. For the past 20+ years, she has worked as an independent consultant for companies in the food and agriculture industry. 

“I’m excited to build upon the strong health research program that we have started and be a part of ushering in a new and exciting evolution of the NABC/USHBC research program,” said Wada. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with an all-star team and advancing our scientific pipeline with high-quality research that increases knowledge and awareness of the importance of blueberries in a healthy diet.” 

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