National Confectioners Association unveils latest future sector leaders

The US-based National Confectioners Association today announced the five confectionery industry professionals selected for the 2021 Future Leadership Programme, writes Neill Barston.

As the organisation explained to Confectionery Production, the scheme has been established to help young professionals across the industry access networking and professional development opportunities to grow their careers.

Now in its fifth year of operating, the scheme has helped a number of aspiring executives achieve success within the field, gaining the chance to attend a number of key events linked to the NCA, including the Sweets and Snacks Expo (being staged in Indianapolis this June), as well as gaining key mentoring experience.

“The Future Leadership Program has become a premier experience for young professionals in the confectionery industry,” John Downs, NCA president and CEO, said. “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 intake includes Sandi Santa Ana category management director, Ferrara Candy Company (pictured main image), Mark Puch Jr. (MJ) key account specialist Primrose Candy Company, first shot below), and Nisha Desai, director, strategy and Business Development (second picture below).

They group also includes Serena Bitzer (below), senior business analyst, The Hershey Company, Becky Silberfarb (last picture), 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 include 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, and 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

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