NCA 2024 Future Leadership Program Class Introduced


Washington — Eight confectionery industry professionals have been selected for NCA’s 2024 Future Leadership Program. The program is dedicated to helping young professionals across the confectionery industry access networking and professional development opportunities to gain career experience.

“The Future Leaders are shaking things up in the world of chocolate and candy, and they’ve got what it takes to drive our industry ahead,” says John Downs, NCA President & CEO. “Our Future Leadership Program ensures they get the right tools to flourish and achieve their fullest potential. I am excited to work alongside these inspiring individuals and watch their career paths unfold.” 

The 2024 class includes:   

Chase Brown, Regional Business Manager- Grocery & Convenience – Texas/New Mexico, Perfetti Van Melle 

Lori Davis, Director of Sales West, Burdette Beckmann, Inc.  

Kate Duffy, Director of Human Resources, North America, Storck USA, L.P. 

Steve Edminister, Team Leader, Russell Stover Chocolates

Cody Heinz, Director of Sales, Bell Flavors & Fragrances

Christina Jenkins, Customer Cocoa Research and Development Project Manager, Barry Callebaut

Mark Slusser, General Manager, Blommer Chocolate Co.

Franki Smurro, Sr. Customer Marketing Manager, Mars Wrigley  

Launched in 2016, the Future Leadership Program provides support, education, access, and opportunity to young professionals wanting to develop leadership skills and grow their careers in the confectionery industry. Participants are matched with a highly regarded industry leader as a mentor. They are also invited to attend NCA’s signature events and other industry gatherings, including the State of the Industry Conference, Sweets & Snacks Expo, NCA’s Leadership Summit, the Washington Forum, and Candy Hall of Fame weekend.  

The application process for the 2025 class of the Future Leadership Program opens on August 4. Those interested in applying for the program or learning more about how to get involved as a young professional or mentor should visit