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NGA Foundation Names 2020 Scholarship Recipients

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The NGA Foundation, the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association, has announced scholarship recipients for its 2020 program. This year, 18 students planning careers with independent grocers received scholarships, provided by donors and affiliate groups.

“We are proud to be able to assist these truly deserving individuals in achieving their higher education and career goals,” said Maggie White, director of the NGA Foundation. “The investment that our members continue to make in the future of our industry will surely pay dividends as we nurture its next generation of leaders.”

This year’s round of scholarships was augmented thanks to Robert Graybill, CEO and president of NGA associate member FMS Solutions, who provided an additional $8,000 to endow four scholarships for the children of law enforcement officers.

Other awards include Asparagus Club scholarships, which are awarded for up to four semesters, provided that the recipient continues to meet eligibility requirements. Since its inception in 1967, the Asparagus Club Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $1 million to students pursuing careers in the independent grocery industry.

Legacy scholarships are one-time awards given in the name of an individual or individuals who contribute directly to the fund each year. These scholarships are designed to acknowledge and continue the legacy of those individuals and organizations and their contribution to the independent grocery industry.

Students may apply for scholarships starting each January until the deadline in April. Scholarships are open to full-time enrolled college and post graduate students with a minimum 2.5 GPA and plans to pursue a career in the independent grocery industry. NGA Foundation scholarships are merit based, although financial need is taken into consideration.

Scholarships are managed by the NGA Foundation and selected by independent committees of reviewers. Winners are notified in August.

This year’s NGA Foundation scholarship recipients are as follows:


FMS Solutions Legacy Scholarship ($3,000)

Michael Simpson – Following graduation from Boston University in 2014, Simpson served a logistics officer with the United Nations World Food Program in South Sudan, then spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed in Okinawa and San Diego. Currently attending Columbia Business School concentrating in nonprofit management, he hopes to return to the international disaster response sector.

“It’s an honor to be selected by an organization that respects and honors the service of veterans and law enforcement,” Simpson said. “This scholarship will allow me to continue my studies at a top MBA program.”


FMS Law Enforcement Scholarships ($2,000 each)

Alexander N. Macksoud IV – Macksoud started his grocery career while still in high school, at Albertsons in Temecula, California. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he joined Sprouts Farmer’s Market and became a store director at age 25, later joining Smart & Final as a store manager. He’s now working toward a master’s degree in food industry leadership at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

“Being recognized by an organization leader in the food industry is an honor that I will not take for granted,” Macksoud said. “This is another accolade that will add to my resume and to my drive to further my career in the food industry while promoting the importance of education in our field.”

Benjamin Decker – Pursuing a business degree at the Binghamton University School of Management, Decker has worked the past year with STCR Inc. helping support independent grocers with retail IT/POS solutions. He has also spent more than six years with Pennsylvania-based Weis Markets working in roles including front-end manager, store process coordinator, floral department manager and bookkeeper.

“Winning this scholarship allows me more time to focus on networking with fellow students, professors and industry leaders,” he said. “This will allow me to continue to educate myself on the grocery industry while furthering my business education.”

Laura Moss – For the past five years, Moss has worked as an office manager for BLRB Architects and is currently pursuing an MBA in organizational leadership at Oregon State University.

“Winning the NGA Foundation Scholarship means I’ll be able to approach the rest of my degree with less financial stress. This will open up my mental capacity to focus on my future endeavors, such as opening a community-oriented grocery store that serves a diverse clientele in an equitable and inclusive manner,” Moss said. “Knowing that organizations like the NGA support this dream helps me feel like I’m heading in the right direction.”


FMS Law Enforcement Scholarship ($2,000)

Women Grocers of America (WGA) Mary Macey Scholarship ($1,500)

Rachel Goldstein – A junior at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Goldstein is studying supply chain management and strategic business management. Her goals include starting and running an independent grocery chain and launching a nonprofit organization to address food insecurity by repurposing products that would otherwise be wasted by grocery stores.

“This financial support will allow me to spend more time learning about various aspects of the independent grocery industry and continuing to volunteer at local food shelters,” Goldstein said. “Having the support of the NGA Foundation as I pursue my education and future career path is incredibly rewarding.”


Women Grocers of America (WGA) Mary Macey Scholarship ($1,500)

Della Noce Family Diversity Scholarship ($1,500)

Kayla Leland – Leland is in her third year at the Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences after graduating summa cum laude from Whitworth University in 2018 with degrees in health science and Spanish. She started at Spokane, Washington-based Rosauers Supermarkets as a cashier and now works as a pharmacy intern.

“Now more than ever, my passion and drive to excel and make a difference in the grocery market is heightened,” Leland said. “I hope to share my desire for success in independent grocery stores with my employers and customers.”


Asparagus Club – Thomas K. Zaucha Award ($2,500 x 4 semesters)

Hannah Stubbs – Stubbs is a third-year student at Rutgers University in New Jersey studying business analytics and information technology while working at ShopRite of Hunterdon County.

“Though it began as a necessity, working at my local grocery store throughout my high school and college experiences taught me innumerable lessons about the grocery industry,” Stubbs said. “It was during these years that I discovered a passion for my industry, and I am honored to receive a scholarship from a powerful organization such as the NGA Foundation.”


Asparagus Club ($2,000 x 4 semesters)

Monique Amaris Allen – Allen is an MBA student at Kennesaw State University in Georgia and a community volunteer in her hometown of Roswell. An associate at Publix Super Markets since 2018, she was promoted this past August to assistant bakery manager at her store in Norcross, Georgia.

“The scholarship will help me to achieve my education goals and enhance my business knowledge and leadership skills within the grocery industry,” Allen said. “I look forward to learning more and growing my career within this industry.”

Reed Chandler – Pursuing an accounting degree at the University of Massachusetts at Amhurst, Chandler has been working at Wegmans in Northborough, Massachusetts, since 2014 as a cashier, seafood representative and management intern. This past winter, he completed an auditing internship at Deloitte.

“Winning this scholarship is a tremendous honor and a testament to the work I’ve done in the grocery industry for the past six years,” he said. “I’m encouraged to continue my development as a professional and strive to make a difference each and every day.”

Jon Huffman – Studying business management and finance at Bethel University in Indiana, Huffman started working at his local Martin’s Super Market during his senior year of high school and was promoted to supervisor within four months.

“This scholarship has inspired me to reach new heights in my academic life as well as my professional life,” he said. “I have never had a greater motivation to succeed. This scholarship will help me progress in my academics so that I have a greater chance at upper-level management positions.”

Elizabeth von Klan – Von Klan received her bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition at the University of California at Davis. She worked as a summer intern for Albertsons-Safeway in 2019, focusing on product development and regulatory affairs. She is a master’s candidate in the University of Southern California Coordinated Program of Nutrition, Healthspan and Longevity, with sights set on becoming a registered dietitian.

“Health sciences and the independent grocery industry play a vital role in serving diverse communities across the country,” she said. “I want to promote health and wellness education grocery stores, helping people build their meals to nurture their everyday lives.”

Loreal Wilson – A member of the Navajo Nation, Wilson is majoring in psychology at the University of New Mexico at Gallup and aims to attend UNM’s law school for graduate studies.

“I want to help my Navajo people overcome poverty and childhood trauma,” she said. “This scholarship means a lot to me … [It] has taught me the value of hard work and determination. It is not easy working full time and raising three daughters. I want to inspire leadership and resilience among the native youth. Career goals are just part of the process; I want to offer a lifetime of service.”


Charlie and Becky Bray Legacy Scholarship ($2,500)

Brooke Ivy – A weekend sales associate at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ivy is studying business management at the University of Alabama.

“By the time I graduate, I will have enough knowledge and experience to begin manifesting the foundation for my business. My ultimate goal in life is to open my own business,” Ivy said. “I know the road ahead will bring many challenges. However, this scholarship contributes to the financial support that I need in order to fulfill my future goals.”


Kimberly Clark Legacy Scholarship ($2,500)

Joshua Blake Krebs – A former Coborn’s associate, Krebs is a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities pursuing a degree in entrepreneurial management.

“A career in the grocery industry is something I have always had an interest in. Receiving this scholarship ensures I will continue to explore careers in the industry,” Krebs said. “As I progress through college and an eventual career, the scholarship will be a reminder to me of the help I received from the grocery industry.”


Mondelez International Legacy Scholarship ($2,500)

Natalie Shaak – Shaak is a junior part-time student in the culinary arts and science program at Drexel University in Philadelphia whose first job in high school was working at her local Giant grocery store. Currently working at a local nonprofit hunger and poverty organization, and a community-oriented brewery, Shaak aspires to write and edit cookbooks and work in food education and policy.

“Winning this scholarship will allow me to continue through my culinary program through to graduation,” she said. “Having a culinary degree will open opportunities in many aspects of the food industry that were not accessible to me without a degree.”


Peter and Jody Larkin Legacy Scholarship ($2,500)

Oscar Osorio Garcia – A sophomore at Chesapeake College in Maryland majoring in marketing, Garcia currently works as a barista at Dessert First, a coffee and dessert bar. Garcia looks forward to being the first one in his immediate family to go to college and to pursue a career in sustainable marketing, education advocacy and social work.

“This award will influence me in giving back to my community and those around me,” he said. “It has provided me with a platform to make change for the better and to use it to help those who have shared the same hardships as me. It has given me a great opportunity to reach further.”


Roger Collins Leadership Scholarship ($1,000)

Callan Weiss – Pursuing a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing at Brandman University in Irvine, California, Weiss started working for Nugget Markets at age 16. Currently the manager in charge at Nugget’s Novato store, Weiss is grateful for the inspiring leaders he has encountered during his tenure with the grocer.

“This scholarship reaffirms my dedication to rising to the challenge of obtaining my degree to reach my personal best in my career,” Weiss said. “The opportunity to pursue higher education is a privilege, and I want to thank NGA for their support in backing my academic endeavors this year.”


Bob Richardson Legacy Scholarship ($1,000)

Oforiwaa Pee Agyei-Boakye – Agyei-Boakye is a PhD student in the University of Minnesota Department of Geography, Environment and Society. From her previous personal, academic, volunteering and professional experiences in Ghana and the U.S., she developed a deepened interest in food accessibility, health and nutrition. Her long-term goal is to promote nutritional health improvements through sustainable access of households to grocery stores.

“This scholarship will equip me to engage in my work while providing me with opportunities to explore areas in the grocery industry,” she said. “It will deepen my knowledge in the independent grocery industry, particularly sharpening my understanding of the forces shaping transportation accessibility and supply chain distribution.”

The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association. The foundation provides independent retailers with tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers.

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