January 22, 2021

2021 Future Leadership Program: Confectionery industry professionals selected

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The National Confectioners Association today announced the five confectionery industry professionals selected for the 2021 Future Leadership Program, which is dedicated to helping young professionals across the confectionery industry access networking and professional development opportunities to grow their careers.

A trade organization for the $36 billion U.S. confectionery industry, NCA helps create an environment that enables candy makers and confectionery retailers to thrive. John Downs, NCA president and CEO, says that “The Future Leadership Program has become a premier experience for young professionals in the confectionery industry. Our Future Leaders have been instrumental in everything from bolstering our advocacy efforts and understanding our role in social justice initiatives to reimagining and planning for the future of the industry – and much more in between. I look forward to working with the 2021 class – but more importantly, learning from them – as we continue to innovate to take NCA to a higher level of success in the years to come.”

The 2021 class includes:

  • Serena Bitzer
    Senior Business Analyst
    The Hershey Company
  • Nisha Desai
    Director, Strategy and Business Development
    1-800-Flowers.com, Inc.
  • Mark Puch Jr. (MJ)
    Key Account Specialist
    Primrose Candy Company
  • Sandi Santa Ana
    Category Management Director
    Ferrara Candy Company
  • Becky Silberfarb
    Director of Marketing
    Bazooka Candy Brands, a Division of The Topps Company

In addition to receiving educational and networking opportunities through the Future Leadership Program, participants will be matched with a highly-regarded industry leader who will serve as a formal mentor.

The 2021 mentors are:

  • Troy Pearley
    Executive Vice President & General Manager
    Divine Chocolate
  • Sarah Atkinson
    Executive Vice President
    Atkinson Candy Company
  • Kirk Vashaw
    Chairman & CEO
    Spangler Candy Company
  • Anthony Trani
    Vice President of Global Marketing
    Bazooka Candy Brands, a Division of The Topps Company
  • Marty Palmer
    President & CEO
    Palmer Candy Company

Launched in 2016, the Future Leadership Program provides support, education, access and opportunity to young professionals who wish to develop leadership skills and grow their careers in the confectionery industry. The application process for the 2022 class will open in the summer. Those interested in applying for the program or learning more about how to get involved as a young professional or as a mentor should visit CandyUSA.com/FutureLeaders.

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