Jamaica Gayle, CRA Director, Sustainability & Environmental Affairs

Get to know Jamaica Gayle, CRA’s Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs. In her position, she manages CRA’s Sustainability and Environmental Affairs committees and leads efforts to advance these issues across food, agriculture, and plant-based product value chains. Jamaica is also responsible for representing CRA in a broad range of industry and environmental coalitions focused on sustainability and environmental issues. Prior to joining CRA, Jamaica served as the Executive Director of the National Foreign Trade Council’s Global Innovation Forum, a project to elevate small businesses to help foster an inclusive policy landscape. In this role, she led the organization’s work to advance small business exports and sustainable trade initiatives. Jamaica began her career as a coordinator with the National Association of Manufacturers.

Read on to learn more about Jamaica, in her own words:

Q: How long have you been with the Corn Refiners Association, and what is your role in the organization?

I’ve been with CRA since November 2022. As the Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, my focus is advancing sustainability across the corn value chain.

Starting with feedstock production, I work on initiatives to support sustainable agriculture, all the way downstream to the disposal of a corn-based product, where composting infrastructure is a big priority. And everything in between. I also manage CRA’s workplace safety program.

Q: What’s a typical day at work like for you?

Part of the fun is that every day is different, but I still try to go into each morning knowing what the priorities are. By the time I read through a few daily newsletters and catch up on emails that came in the night before, my to-do-list is usually derailed.

It might be a new announcement from USDA or the White House that we need to look into, or it could be a time-sensitive request from a team member, but I can always expect something new to pop up.

I typically have a couple of long-term projects in the works that I try to make progress on every week. Many of our member companies have individual sustainability goals related to areas like sustainable feedstock sourcing, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, lowering energy intensity, and waste diversion. So overall sustainability strategy is an ongoing priority.

CRA Staff with the DC Ag Policy Intern Network (Jamaica center)
Q: What do you like most about your job/working at CRA?

I’m a huge fan of the diversity in the day-to-day work at CRA. I enjoy that I’m able to work with so many different organizations on a regular basis. Our priorities overlap with so many groups because of corn refiners’ position in the supply chain, so we regularly partner with allied groups which always brings a new dynamic to the work.

Q: How have your past experiences prepared you for your current role?

In my short career, all of my full-time positions have been with trade associations. I started as a coordinator in a pretty administrative-heavy role. That position was a great introduction to the way trade associations work. In addition to my primary responsibilities, I was able to start to familiarize myself with all of the different policy areas and begin to understand what I was interested in and what I didn’t want to pursue in my career. I’ve now worked at three trade associations (four if you include internships) that all operate very differently, and I think I’ve been able to pick up a lot of best practices along the way.

Q: How do you spend your time away from the office? Do you have any special hobbies?

Not sure if I would say I have a green thumb, but I do love to garden. In the warmer months, I’m almost always outside before work tending to my “urban garden,” which is really a bunch of pots on and around my porch. I have aspirations of someday having a yard to grow in, but in the meantime, I’ll be practicing growing trees from seed in my apartment.