WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2015 / PRNewswire — The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) Board of Directors today announced the resignation of Bill Guyton, who has served as president since it was founded in 2000. Guyton will remain in the position through December 31, 2015. The announcement comes after WCF recently celebrated 15 years of efforts led by Guyton that have focused on improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and the communities where they live in West Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

Guyton’s tenure as WCF president witnessed significant growth in the organization’s membership, which began with a handful of chocolate and cocoa companies and now consists of more than 100 companies from around the world. During the same period, WCF expanded from its Washington-based headquarters and opened offices in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which lead global cocoa production.

In announcing the transition, WCF Chairman Barry Parkin said, “We are grateful for Bill’s tireless service and support for sustainability in the global cocoa sector. His vision over the past 15 years has led to an unprecedented focus by industry and others on improving the lives of cocoa farmers and their families. Bill’s ability to identify non-competitive areas for collaboration between chocolate and cocoa companies is evidenced by last year’s launch of CocoaAction, a new sustainability strategy that he shepherded from the beginning. We thank him and wish him well.”

An early advocate of public-private partnerships, Guyton successfully matched member company contributions with funding received from major donors, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Walmart Foundation, Jacobs Foundation and others. When WCF was launched, its staff consisted of Guyton and one other fulltime employee; it now numbers more than 40. He also formed close working relationships between WCF and the governments of many cocoa-producing countries and guided cocoa research exchange programs that built capacity of scientific institutions in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Guyton said, “I have been honored to serve as WCF’s president and to witness the growth of the organization and its staff. My proudest achievement at WCF was in mobilizing technical and financial resources to help hundreds of thousands of cocoa family farmers to improve their productivity, incomes and livelihoods. I will continue to support WCF in any way that I can, and will always applaud the chocolate and cocoa industry’s efforts to accelerate sustainability in the sector.”

Parkin indicated that the WCF Board of Directors will shortly constitute a search committee to identify Guyton’s successor.

About WCF: The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) is an international membership organization that promotes sustainability in the cocoa sector. WCF provides cocoa farmers with the support they need to grow more quality cocoa and socially and economically strengthen their communities. WCF’s members include cocoa and chocolate manufacturers, processors, supply chain managers, and other companies worldwide, representing more than 80 percent of the global cocoa market. WCF’s programs benefit farmers and their communities in cocoa-growing regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. For more information, visit www.worldcocoafoundation.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.