Kim Ruiz Beck, chairman of the board of Ruiz Foods Products, and Dennis Parnagian, president of Fowler Packing Co. have been elected to the board of governors of the California State University, Fresno Foundation, a private, nonprofit public benefit corporation established in 1931.
The foundation’s mission is to advance the University’s strategic objectives by encouraging philanthropy, inspiring leadership and promoting fiscal accountability. The foundation is responsible for management of the financial activities relating to sponsored research grants and contracts, acceptance of gifts and donations and oversight of investments that include a $124 million endowment portfolio.
The 33-member board includes community members who represent a diverse array of business and industry expertise.
Ruiz Beck’s interest in the family business began in childhood. At age six she stamped boxes after school. She worked as a part-time receptionist, helped with payroll, rolled burritos and attended food shows with her father, Fred Ruiz, while in high school. During her college days at Fresno State, she did an internship at Ruiz Foods and wrote her senior project on the company. She joined the firm on a full-time basis after graduating in 1988 with a degree in marketing.
Headquartered in Dinuba, Ruiz Foods is a privately held company started by her grandfather Louis in 1964. Ruiz Beck’s community engagement includes education (Ruiz 4 Kids) and health care (Valley Children’s Hospital Foundation), among others. Ruiz 4 Kids raised $382,000 for scholarships last year, much of which goes to help Fresno State students. She is also involved in food industry organizations.
Parnagian also leads a family business, started by his father Sam in 1950. As an 8-year old, Dennis Parnagian first started working in the packing plant. Today he handles the administrative responsibilities for Fowler Packing, and his three brothers are responsible for sales, farming and design of the processing equipment and machinery in the packing houses. The third generation of the family is involved in key aspects of their diversified businesses as well.
Fowler Packing is one of the largest growers, packers and shippers in the fresh produce business, handling over 7 million boxes of stone fruit and table grapes, and 15 million boxes of citrus per year.
Parnagian, a graduate of the University of San Francisco, has been a member of several boards and currently serves on Fresno State’s President’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture and the Jordan College’s Institute for Food and Agriculture advisory board.