Invest in Your Future
NCA’s Future Leadership Program (FLP) is designed to provide support, education, access and opportunity to young professionals who wish to advance into the ranks of confectionery leadership. Through its implementation, NCA hopes to encourage more young professionals to assume such leadership positions and develop a more diverse pool of leaders within the industry.
Each year, NCA’s Future Leadership Program awards up to eight deserving young professionals (40 and under) an exclusive opportunity for networking and professional development. For one year, Future Leaders receive recognition among their colleagues and a hand-selected professional industry mentor, as well as complimentary registration to NCA’s three signature events, NCA’s Leadership Summit held in July and the Candy Hall of Fame weekend.
For more information on how Future Leaders are selected, view the Future Leadership Program evaluation criteria. If you have questions about the application or selection process, please contact [email protected].
- Collaboration with your classmates and industry leaders on a project that addresses an important NCA or industry initiative
- Formal mentorship by an industry leader, facilitated by NCA
- Networking opportunities with rising stars from the Young Professionals Network (YPN)
- Opportunities to collaborate with established thought leaders from the confectionery industry and NCA community
- Complimentary registration to NCA’s signature events, including the State of the Industry Conference, Sweets & Snacks Expo, NCA Leadership Summit and Washington Forum
- Complimentary registration to the Candy Hall of Fame weekend
- Industry recognition including, but not limited to CandyUSA.com and Candy & Snack TODAY magazine
- Candidate must be a current employee of an NCA member company or qualified retail customer.
- Candidate must be 40 years of age or younger as of January 1, 2024.
- Candidate must have at least three (3) cumulative years of professional experience in the confectionery industry as of January 1, 2024.
- Candidate must aspire to executive leadership within the confectionery industry.
- Candidate must demonstrate commitment and dedication to NCA and the confectionery industry.
- Candidate must have the support of their employer to participate if selected.
2024 Class of Future Leaders
Regional Business Manager-Grocery & Convenience-Texas/New Mexico, Perfetti Van Melle
Chase is the regional business manager for Texas and New Mexico at Perfetti Van Melle. He embarked on his confectionery journey in 2017 with Atkinson Candy Company, gaining diverse experience across various channels. In 2020, he joined Perfetti Van Melle, initially focusing on the convenience sector in the southwest before expanding to cover both grocery and convenience. Perfetti’s recent addition of Trident, Dentyne, and Bubblicious into their portfolio has helped Chase develop a robust skill set in sales and business management. Outside work, he is a dedicated parent to two children and a Golden Retriever. He’s a hockey player, and actively supports his local children’s hospital.
Industry Mentor: Mike Gilroy, VP of Trade Development & Sponsorship, Mars Wrigley
Director of Sales West, Burdette Beckmann, Inc.
Lori is the director of sales west for Burdette Beckman Inc. where she manages daily operations, leads the sales team, and fosters client relationships. Her responsibilities include acting as the primary contact for operational integration throughout Burdette Beckmann, Inc.’s acquisition of PROMARK. While supporting the company’s growth, Lori’s goals involve promoting critical thinking in sales, helping her team overcome distribution challenges, and motivating staff to achieve common goals. Lori began her career at PROMARK shortly after earning her BA in Sociology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. An avid reader, Lori lives in Lafayette, Louisiana, with her two children and two cats.
Industry Mentor: Betsy Harris, Co-President, CSN | HWY Partners
Director of Human Resources, North America, Storck USA, L.P.
As the director of human resources for Storck USA, L.P., Kate is known for her engaging and adaptive leadership style. Her experience spans HR leadership roles in the consumer goods, packaging, hospitality, and healthcare service industries, focusing on talent acquisition, development, and employee relations. Kate’s passion for confectionery, ignited in childhood by her grandparents, inspires her to connect talented individuals with the industry. Her background in hospitality enhances her understanding of the importance of human connections, reflecting how the industry positively affects consumers. Residing in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Bill, and their dog, Sparty, Kate is an avid Chicago Cubs fan and aspires to visit all US National Parks.
Industry Mentor: John Brooks, President, Adams & Brooks, Inc.
Team Leader – Grocery, Russell Stover Chocolates
Steve is the team leader for grocery at Russell Stover Chocolates, guiding growth across more than 15 regional grocers. His career transitioned to confections in 2015, after diverse roles in the food industry, when he became a field sales representative at The Hershey Company. He lives in Bentonville, Arkansas, with his wife, Erin, and their three children. Beyond his professional role, Steve is an avid triathlete and certified USA Triathlon Level 1 coach. He co-founded the TeamE Multi Sport Foundation, focusing on youth engagement and healthy lifestyles. He wants to help these youth foster a passion for a healthy lifestyle from an early age. His community contributions were acknowledged in Celebrate Arkansas Magazine’s “Ones to Watch.”
Industry Mentor: Mike Farley, VP of Sales, Goetze’s Candy Company, Inc.
Director of Sales, Bell Flavors & Fragrances
Cody is the director of sales at Bell Flavors & Fragrances, a family-owned company where he has cultivated a deep passion for the confectionery industry for more than 17 years. Starting as a summer intern in 2004, Cody has experienced almost every aspect of the business, from production to customer service. A graduate of Miami University with a B.S. in Kinesiology and Health, Cody furthered his education with a master’s in business management from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is actively involved in the NCA’s Young Professional Network, contributing to industry growth and leadership development, and serves on the board for the Western Candy Conference. Outside of work, Cody enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, wakeboarding, and golf and cherishes traveling with his family and friends.
Industry Mentor: Daniel Cutchin, VP of Sugar Confections, Ferrero NA
Customer Cocoa Research and Development Project Manager, Barry Callebaut
Christina is a passionate chocolate and sweets enthusiast, blending her love for confectionery with a professional role in research and development at Barry Callebaut. Growing up in upstate New York, she developed a fondness for fresh, quality candy, often visiting Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. With degrees in culinary arts and food science, Christina has excelled as an R&D Project Manager in Chocolate and Cocoa for the past nine years. Her career highlights include traveling to the Ivory Coast as a sustainability ambassador and leading innovative tastings at major events. Now living in Napa, California, with her husband, young son, and their dog, Pop-Tart, Christina enjoys baking, exploring bakeries worldwide, and discovering new cookie flavors. Outside of the confectionery world, she stays active with yoga, Zumba, and contributes to her community through volunteer work at her local church.
Industry Mentor: Joan Harvey, SVP of R&D, General Manager, Flavorist, Bell Flavors & Fragrances
General Manager, Blommer Chocolate Company
As the general manager at Blommer Chocolate Company’s largest cocoa and chocolate manufacturing facility, Mark oversees operations, profitability, and strategic planning. Mark has built a decade-long career in the confectionery industry, holding various leadership roles. Raised in Hanover, Pennsylvania, surrounded by a food and agricultural environment, he developed a keen interest in the industry. After earning a degree in Agricultural Systems Management from Penn State University, Mark initially worked in the meat industry, later shifting to confectionery with Treehouse Foods. Furthering his education with a MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management from Purdue, he transitioned to a plant superintendent role at Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate unit before moving to Blommer. Away from work, he enjoys outdoor activities like camping and fishing with his wife, Jamie, and their children, Callie and Colby, embracing the joys of family life and nature.
Industry Mentor: Derek Glade, VP of Sales & Marketing, Taffy Town, Inc.
Senior Customer Marketing Manager, Mars Wrigley
Franki has spent her rich 8.5-year career journey with Mars Wrigley North America. Currently the senior customer marketing manager, she has previously worked as the customer business lead for Target on the nonseasonal confectionery business. Originally from New Jersey, Franki pursued her education in Philadelphia at St. Joseph’s University, majoring in food marketing with a minor in Spanish. She recently enhanced her expertise by earning an MBA in Marketing from the same university, a step towards broadening her knowledge in the confectionery industry. In her personal time, Franki enjoys cooking, especially recreating her mother’s classic Italian recipes, and traveling, with recent trips to Champagne, France, and Lisbon, Portugal. In Chicago, she stays active with beach volleyball and soccer, enjoying as much of the warm weather as possible.
Industry Mentor: Paul Bradley, Sales Director, Lindt & Sprungli (USA), Inc.