Colleen Malmassari (James) grew up in the Wenatchee Valley as one of seven children to Jerry and Bea James. Coming from a family with vast history of farming and ranches ranging from tree fruit to cattle, Colleen holds years of knowledge within the agricultural industry. During her school years, Colleen and her siblings were very active in 4-H and FFA. She held chapter leadership positions and spots on apple and livestock judging teams, which included raising show and market animals for the Chelan County Fair.
Colleen attended Central Washington University earning double majors in accounting and Spanish, "I aspired to be in business and the principles of accounting made a lot of sense to me". During her final year at CWU, she accepted a job offer with Moss Adams, "I could use my interest in agriculture and new knowledge in accounting." Colleen worked with Moss Adams for eleven years, leaving to pursue a new passion, human resources, "While I enjoyed working with my agricultural clients, I realized about year six into my career that my path was not that of a CPA, and with the support of the office's partner group I began to assist with recruiting efforts... my passion for a career in human resources grew." In 2013 she joined the HR team at Solarity Credit Union in the Yakima Valley, "I was exposed to all functions of human resources and got a wide range of exposure." In late 2014 , Colleen was presented with the opportunity to fill the HR Director position with the Borton Family Companies, "The Borton Family is diversified into several industries, but by far the largest is Borton Fruit, which one of the largest single growers and packers of apples, pears and cherries in the United States. I am looking forward to experiencing what the remainder of my career holds for me!"
Colleen first learned of WAEF while searching for scholarships in her student years, "With seven kids in our family, there wasn't a lot of extra financial resources, but my parents were determined to find a way for us to all attend university. Therefore, we spent a lot of time exploring scholarships available for application - I even applied for a scholarship for left-handed people!" Her exposure to WAEF also came from her work with Moss Adams, a long time supporter of WAEF. Again in her current position with the Borton Family Companies who offer scholarships through WAEF, she provides internal company support of the Foundation. Colleen believes in providing support and knowledge to "...our next generation of leaders!"At the 2016 Yakima Scholarship Luncheon, Colleen volunteered to sit on a career panel presentation offered to the scholarship recipients prior to the luncheon. "For some/many of these scholarship recipients, they are first-generation college bound students and I can empathize with their excitement and anxiousness. I am happy to share my path to professional, so they know they too can do it." Colleen is an advocate for educational opportunities, remarking that, "Higher education doesn't mean every graduate is going to be a CEO, but it does mean that they have been exposed to critical thinking which is what we need in the industry, especially in agriculture where we are implementing more technologies and strategy into our operations."
On a lighter note, we had to ask Colleen what is her favorite tree fruit to eat, "It's a tie! My all-time favorite is the Cameo apple, which was discovered by chance in my extended family's (Caudle) ranch in Dryden, WA. As of recent, I am enjoying the RockIT apple, which is a snack apple variety that Borton Fruit and Chelan Fresh are the first to grow and pack in the PNW."