After 26 years with Retail Confectioners International, executive director Van Billington has left to pursue other employment opportunities, creating an opening for a new executive director. On Jan. 1, 2009, the board of directors hired Kelly Kennedy, who formerly worked in development for the Springfield Symphony Association as well as the Springfield, Mo., Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"Kelly was a real find for us," says Fran Cox, president of the RCI board. "She has more than 10 years of event planning experience, including the RCI national convention held in Springfield, Mo., in July 2007. She has been the editor of organization publications and will be great at building relationships with members." 

"I am really excited about all the opportunities we have to serve the members even more," Kennedy says. "We're looking at new initiatives to share their success stories, offer more education courses and identify measureable ways to contribute to the growth of their bottom line."