Canada Organic Trade Association appoints Executive Director

The Canada Organic Trade Association’s (COTA’s) Board of Directors in early March appointed Tia Loftsgard as Executive Director of the association.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Tia to COTA in her role as Executive Director—a position that is critical to providing leadership for Canada’s rapidly growing organic sector. Organic in Canada continues to have the momentum of strong consumer demand, but faces the challenges of increasing domestic supply, building on our success in international markets, and representing our needs to the new federal government. We are very confident that Tia is the right person to take COTA and organic across Canada into the future,” said COTA Board President Dag Falck.

Based in Ottawa, Loftsgard is an established non-profit manager with leadership experience in the fair trade and cooperative movements in both Canada and the U.S., and co-founder of a pioneering Canadian organic and fair trade food brand. Her familiarity with international policy and standard development, her deep connections within the supply chain and marketplace, and her strong reputation as a communicator and community builder made her the ideal candidate for the role, and the unanimous choice of the COTA Board succession committee.

I’m honoured and excited to take on this new role at COTA. I know the organic sector well, but am really looking forward to meeting more of our diverse members, partners and stakeholders so we can plan the next stage for organic in Canada together. I’m passionate about organic, about the impact our food and farming have on our health and environment, and making sure our sector has a strong professional voice in Ottawa,” Loftsgard said.

Loftsgard officially started at COTA on March 21. She succeeds Matthew Holmes, COTA’s founding Executive Director, who left his role in January after nine years with the association. Holmes has been serving as a consultant to COTA’s Board during the hiring process, and will continue as an advisor to Loftsgard through the leadership transition.

With extensive experience working in the organic food industry, Loftsgard co-founded Camino (La Siembra Co-operative) in 1999, going on to become the organic and fair trade cocoa company’s Director of Sales until 2009, when she joined Fairtrade Canada. As its Business Development and Licensing Director, she led strategy, building the not-for-profit’s membership base and encouraging sustainable and ethical sourcing standards in North America. In 2013, she moved over to Fairtrade America, where as its Chief Operating Officer, she successfully developed advocacy initiatives and grew U.S. market opportunities for small farmers via the fair trade model.

Her academic work included research on conflict analysis, human rights and trade, with a B.A. in Human Justice from the University of Regina and Masters studies with the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. As part of an initiative with the Sri Lanka Canada Development Fund, she has also investigated the maternal health of Indian Tamil tea plantation workers in the highlands of Sri Lanka.

Passionate about sustainable agriculture, government policy, trade and ethical business models, she is dedicated to promoting the growth of organic and fair trade practices that benefit consumers, growers and the environment. For Tia Loftsgard, organic is more than a way of life—it’s about creating a just and sustainable world.