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National Confectioners Association Reveals Future Leadership Program

NCA leadership program

The National Confectioners Association has revealed the five confectionery industry employees selected for the 2021 Future Leadership Program, which is dedicated to helping young professionals across the confectionery industry access networking and career growth development opportunities.

“The Future Leadership Program has become a premier experience for young professionals in the confectionery industry,” said John Downs, NCA president and CEO. “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 class includes:

  • Serena Bitzer, senior business analyst at The Hershey Co.;
  • Nisha Desai, director, strategy and business development at Inc.;
  • Mark Puch Jr. (MJ), key account specialist at Primrose Candy Co.;
  • Sandi Santa Ana, category management director at Ferrara Candy Co.; and
  • Becky Silberfarb, director of marketing at Bazooka Candy Brands.

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 are:

  • Troy Pearley, EVP and general manager at Divine Chocolate;
  • Sarah Atkinson, EVP at Atkinson Candy Co.;
  • Kirk Vashaw, chairman and CEO of Spangler Candy Co.;
  • Anthony Trani, VP of global marketing at Bazooka Candy Brands; and
  • Marty Palmer, president and CEO at Palmer Candy Co.

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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