Written by The Business Journal Staff
Fresno Center for International Trade Development
What We Do: The Fresno Center for International Trade Development is part of State Center Community College District. In technical terms, the CITD increases the economic development and vitality of the Central Valley region by increasing export sales for food and agricultural companies, as well as providing opportunities for faculty and students to embrace the global economy.
Education: MSB, international option, Fresno State;
Certificated Global Business Professional (CGBP)
Age: Are you kidding? The only time I am honest about my age is when it is posted at a swim meet or on the back of my leg in a sprint triathlon.
Family: My wonderful husband Tom Gage, daughter Stacy Hansen Dovali and the delight in my life, grandsons Nicolas (8) and Dylan (4) Joshua (4) and our new German Shepard puppy and potential family protector, Elka.
How did you come to your position as director of the Fresno Center for International Trade Development, Candy?
While serving in the role of operations manager at Cenci Pharmaceuticals in 1990, I attended an export-training seminar held at Fresno City College to upgrade and refresh my export skills. The seminar was taught by JuDee Benton, who was the director with the Merced Center for International Trade Development. During the seminar it came to my attention that a U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Agency (EDA) grant had just been awarded to State Center Community College District (SCCCD). I was familiar with SCCCD’s excellent reputation, as I had worked with Reedley College in the Employment Development Department’s job outreach for students while still attending college. I applied for the coordinator for the University Center Export Program and was fortunate to have been accepted.
What are your primary responsibilities as director, Candy?
As Director for the CITD, my primary responsibility is to provide the overall leadership for the organization with input from the CITD Board, community partners and industry associates. This includes managing a staff of seven, strategic planning, partnership management, and funding development, in addition to the oversight of nine separate international trade programs.
How is your industry doing at the present time? Has it suffered from the recession, Candy?
International trade is growing and agricultural exports are on the rise. The global demand for food is continually increasing and as the largest agricultural producing region in the world, Central California is positioned for continued success in export sales. In Asia, Africa and India for example, the middle class and those with disposable income are growing, which is opening tremendous opportunity for food exporting.
The CITD projects have not been impacted by the recession, instead through the leadership and advice provided by the CITD Board, we have doubled our funding over the last four years, by sharpening our focus and aggressively identifying critical resources that combat looming budget cuts and workforce reductions, and as a result have benefited the Central Valley’s food and agricultural industry.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most difficult, Candy?
It is very exciting to serve as a mentor to interns who work at the CITD and then to witness their career growth. Over the years, the CITD has hosted more than 100 interns who now work all over the globe for organizations such as Dole, Sun-maid, People Soft and American Express. When the CITD funds faculty and students to study abroad, lives are changed forever and we have the privilege to be part of that change and professional growth.
Additionally, it is extremely rewarding when a company discovers opportunities for international sales through our training or trade missions. Since 1990, our clients have increased sales more than $700 million dollars as a direct result of the services provided by the CITD.
The most challenging part of my job is to maintain a consistent level of funding through the state and federal programs we work with, which is critical, as the CITD is essentially a self-funded organization.
What was your first job growing up, and what did you learn from it, Candy?
My career in the food industry began at a young age sorting potatoes for a packinghouse in Shafter. I learned quickly that hard work builds character and that I was able to buy my own clothes for school, which ultimately taught me that “higher education” needed to be a priority.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Candy?
My most cherished time away from work is with family, especially my grandsons Nicolas, Dylan and Joshua. Next is keeping fit to be able to keep up with them. I also enjoy running, swimming, weight training and indoor cycling.
Do you have a favorite quotation, Candy?
For my daily life, The Serenity Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer help to keep me centered. For other times, Nike’s “Just Do It” seems to work best. Another quote that is meaningful in many areas of my life is “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start” — Josh Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running.