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New Director Named for Fl. Department of Citrus

Fl Dept. of Citrus
Shannon Shepp

The Florida Citrus Commission unanimously appointed Shannon Shepp as interim executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus on Wednesday. Shepp replaces Doug Ackerman, who resigned Monday following his arrest last week on a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge.

Shepp has served as the Department’s deputy executive director since August 2013, where she has been responsible for overseeing administrative operations as well as nutrition, quality and economic research.

“The Commission is very fortunate to have someone as experienced and competent as Shannon Shepp on the Department staff,” said Marty McKenna, chairman of the citrus commission. “Her appointment today was without controversy. She has served our industry well for many years, and she will continue to do so now in this interim role. We aren’t hitting a ‘pause button.’ It’s still full speed ahead.”

Prior to joining the Department, Shepp served for 12 years with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Most recently, Shepp was the deputy commissioner of agriculture responsible for the divisions of Plant Industry, Fruit and Vegetables, Marketing and Development, Animal Industry, and Food Nutrition and Wellness. She also served as the director of the division of fruits and vegetables for six years.

Shepp previously worked as a public affairs manager at Florida Citrus Mutual and as a legislative assistant and government affairs director. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of South Florida.

“Much of my career – whether at Mutual, on a legislative staff, at FDACS or, of course, here at the Department – has been dedicated to serving the interests of Florida’s citrus growers,” Shepp said. “It is a privilege to serve the Florida Citrus Commission during this time of transition. I have confidence in the team and programs we have in place, and I am confident that the Commission will continue to chart our industry’s way forward. We won’t miss a beat.”

Ackerman submitted his resignation Monday. McKenna had asked for the resignation a day earlier, advising Ackerman in a letter that "your conduct this past week demonstrates that your continued service as executive director is no longer in the best interest of the commission or the department." The Ledger newspaper reported Ackerman, who had a $191,000 a year salary, was arrested July 15 following a crash in Polk County.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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