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Choi Wins First Diversity In Leadership Scholarship


A second-generation Korean American who drives the growth of his family’s independent supermarket business has been selected to receive the first PepsiCo Diversity in Leadership Endowment scholarship from the National Grocers Association Foundation.

Charles Choi, managing director of Long Island, N.Y.-based Fruit Tree Farm, affiliated with the Associated Supermarket Group, was chosen to attend the foundation’s annual Executive Leadership Development Program at Cornell University.

The program is scheduled for June 6-10. The $5,000 scholarship will cover the registration cost of $2,850, with the remaining funds available as a travel stipend. 

“Charles is a modern entrepreneur who understands the art and science behind merchandising as well as today’s consumer preferences,” said Michelle Mendoza, ASG VP of marketing and customer experience, who nominated Choi for the scholarship. 

“As the supermarket industry is transforming and the American consumer palate has an appreciation for diversity in food, Charles is at the forefront of this transformation,” Mendoza said. 

The son of Korean immigrants, Choi is following in his family’s footsteps and has seen his responsibilities increase over the last three years.

“We are honored to support Charles’ professional development efforts through this year’s ELDP event, which will provide him with additional tools to drive his family’s business even further,” said Maggie White, director of the NGA Foundation.

The foundation partnered with PepsiCo to create the endowment after the 2020 ELDP program, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The endowment will award one scholarship each year to a deserving woman or minority ELDP candidate.

“We are proud to extend our support of this important program and provide assistance to an exceptional entrepreneur,” said Kent Montgomery, VP of North America industry relations at PepsiCo. “Expanding representation helps to strengthen the supermarket industry and bring more choice and better service to our customers.”

Scholarship recipients are selected by a diverse committee made up of members of the NGAF Board of Regents, the Women Grocers of America, a representative from Cornell University’s Executive Education program and PepsiCo leadership.

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