Long-time AAC Executive Director announces retirement

Board appoints Melanie DiReto as successor effective January 1, 2022

Terry Thompson, the Agricultural Adaptation Council’s long-serving Executive Director, has announced he will be retiring at the end of 2021. Melanie DiReto, currently AAC’s Manager of Finance and Administration, will replace Thompson effective January 1, 2022.

Thompson, a graduate of the University of Guelph, has been with AAC for 23 of the organization’s 26-year history, first joining in a financial management capacity in 1998 before becoming Executive Director in 2010. In 2020, he also became President of Canlead Solutions when the new organization was formed as a complement to AAC.

Under his leadership, AAC built an enviable reputation as a cost-effective, transparent and highly professional organization with a strong focus on service to the agriculture and food sector. When the organization was suddenly faced with a future without the stability of program delivery activities, Thompson helped chart a new course for the AAC.

He was instrumental in leading AAC’s transition to also offering organizational management services for the Canadian agriculture and food sector through of Canlead Solutions.

“After some turbulent times, AAC has evolved into two strong organizations that are ready and able to serve Ontario agriculture in new ways - and we owe that promising future in large part to Terry’s hard work, dedication and vision,” says AAC Chair Chris Hiemstra. “We appreciate his many years of service to the organization and the key role he has played in assuring its future.”

DiReto first joined AAC as Finance Administrator in 2006 and has progressed through various finance and administrative management positions. A graduate of Western University with a Bachelor of Administrative and Commercial Studies, she is also a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Association Executive (CAE).

In addition to being responsible for AAC finances and operations, DiReto played a key role in the establishment of Canlead Solutions in 2020, where she provides accounting and organizational leadership to clients. More recently she was essential in the development and launch of the new Canadian Food Innovation Network, where she will continue to serve as Chief Financial Officer.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with Melanie for more than 10 years now and have been so impressed with her professionalism, diplomacy and attention to detail,” says Canlead Solutions Chair Kelly Duffy, also a past chair of the AAC. “Melanie brings innovative and insightful thought-leadership to the organization and I’m excited to work with her and the team as they continue to support the agrifood industry in Ontario.”

It was because of DiReto’s strong track record of success, sector knowledge and experience with the industry that the board opted not to solicit external applications for the Executive Director role.

She will be working closely with Thompson until the end of 2021 to ensure a smooth transition. Although retiring, Thompson has agreed to continue in a role of Special Advisor as needed starting in March 2022.