ASCFG Executive Director



The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers Announces First New Executive Director in 35 Years

Steven Crone is only the second leader in the organization’s history, as founder Judy Laushman retires.

Oberlin, OH: (December 11, 2023) The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, Inc. (ASCFG) has named its new executive director, Steven Crone. The announcement was made by Valerie Schirmer, board president, at the ASCFG National Conference in St. Louis, MO, in November. Crone’s hiring concludes a yearlong succession planning process after Judy Laushman informed the Board of her intent to retire at the end of 2023. Laushman has been a central figure in the promotion of cut flowers and an advocate for flower farmers across the continent for more than three decades. Judy joined the ASCFG in 1988 as the association’s co-founder and first executive director, and served in the role for 35 years. Crone, who has a long history of service with non-profit organizations, empowering boards, and growing membership, will formally succeed Laushman on January 1, 2024. Currently the two leaders are working side-by-side through the transition period, until Laushman’s retirement in late December.

Crone is an engaged leader with a deep background in membership development that spans his non-profit career for more than two decades. Throughout his service, Crone has helped to advance organizational impact through fundraising, educational programs, and governance best practices—along the way successfully managing two multi-million-dollar capital campaigns and community development efforts.

“I am honored to be joining the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, as only the second executive director in our history,” says Crone.  “The U.S. cut flower market continues to grow with increasing demand for a wide variety of locally grown fresh-cut flowers, and due to Judy’s focus on member education the ASCFG is as relevant as ever—engaging the seasoned flower farmer and providing an integral service connecting and supporting new growers along their journey.  I am excited to work with board members, suppliers, supporters, and of course association members to advance our mission, and that of the ASCFG Research Foundation.”

Most recently, Crone served as director of a Cleveland-based animal rescue, and prior to that, as CEO of YMCAs in northern Ohio. He will be based at the ASCFG office in Oberlin, Ohio, with travel plans throughout the next year to meet with members and supporters of the association.

“We are thrilled to have Steve Crone join the ASCFG as our new Executive Director,” says Valerie Schirmer, board president and owner of Three Toads Farm in Winchester, KY.  “Steve has dedicated his career to furthering the non-profit mission, and brings non-profit executive experience and a collaborative management style that will grow our membership and funding.” During her address at the National Conference, Schirmer stated, “First and foremost, Steve is a people person, and he is looking forward to working with the board of directors and exceptional staff.”

Originally from the U.K., Crone has resided in Ohio, in the United States for almost 30 years.