NCA Announces 2024 Future Leadership Program Class

NCA Announces 2024 Future Leadership Program Class

WASHINGTON – The National Confectioners Association announced today that eight confectionery industry professionals have been selected for the 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,” John Downs, NCA President and CEO, said. “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 Company 

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  


About the National Confectioners Association (NCA):
The National Confectioners Association is the leading trade organization for the $48 billion U.S. confectionery industry. NCA advocates for an environment that enables candy makers to thrive and works to ensure that chocolate, candy, gum and mints are celebrated for their contributions to culture, society, the economy and everyday moments of joy. The industry employs nearly 58,000 workers in more than 1,600 manufacturing facilities across all 50 states and supports an additional 635,000 jobs in related fields. The U.S. confectionery industry has made a commitment to increasing transparency, providing more portion guidance options and educating consumers about the role of confectionery in a happy, balanced lifestyle. Learn more at or follow NCA on Facebook, X and Instagram.