Melissa Ackerman

Produce Alliance (PA)

Melissa Melshenker Ackerman, President of Produce Alliance (PA), leads a national produce company specializing in consulting and purchasing of produce from field to fork. As a leading service industry expert, PA prides itself on being an integral part of the entire process from when the crops are planted until reaching their customer’s plates.

Melissa joined Produce Alliance in 2012 and quickly learned all aspects of the company’s operations. Prior to being named PA’s President, she served as Associate General Counsel, VP of Sales, and Executive VP of Sales. Melissa’s visionary leadership has lead to PA’s growth both in size and industry impact.

Melissa’s focus on forward looking growth led her to raise the bar on taking next generation thinking to the heart of everything PA does. From discussing business strategy and industry growth, Melissa aimed to develop a culture of innovation, and creativity throughout the internal PA organization. In addition to encouraging a service mentality within PA, Melissa is committed to service in her larger community.  Melissa created the PA Foundation, a philanthropic organization designed to be a first line responder to emergent humanitarian situations, such as hurricanes and floods.  As the world ground to a screeching halt in 2020 due to COVID-19, Melissa looked at her knowledge of the fresh produce supply chain to consider how she could somehow help.  Viewing the world creatively, she realized that growers and distributors had no where to go with fresh healthy food, and families had no where to get fresh healthy food.  By bringing these two needs together, Melissa leveraged the PA Foundation to re-start the supply chain, deploying furloughed supply workers and produce inventory that no longer had buyers waiting, to move that fresh produce into the hands of hungry families.  This prepared Produce Alliance to become a successful Prime Contractor with the United States Department of Agriculture Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which created a national, government funded conduit for fresh food to get to hungry families country wide.  As a repeat awardee, Produce Alliance has been the level setter under Melissa’s leadership, for the optimal way to use this program to feed families in all types of communities.

Being a leading voice of Produce Alliance in the broader produce industry, Melissa sits on the Board of Directors for the International Fresh Produce Association where she is the Chair for the Food Service Council. She also serves on the Advisory Boards of Freight Farms, The Center for Food Integrity’s Racial Justice, Inclusion and Diversity Initiative and YPO Chicago Chapter. In 2018, Melissa’s leadership in all areas was recognized as she was a winner of Produce Business’ 40 under Forty Best and Brightest.

Melissa lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Jeff Ackerman, and their three boys: Spencer, Logan, and Theo. Melissa studied at The University of Wisconsin, graduating in 2005 with three distinct degrees in Legal Studies, Women’s Studies, and Spanish. She earned her J.D. from The University of Miami School of Law in 2008.