On Thursday, September 27 at the 42nd Annual Executive Leadership Forum (ELF) in Amelia Island, Florida, the SNAC International Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve the launch of the Women in Snacks (WinS) Network—an initiative aimed at fostering leadership development for women snack industry executives. To further the mission, SNAC has chartered a Steering Committee of member volunteers comprised of both men and women.
The official WinS Steering Committee consists of Marissa Gautsch (co-chair), director of marketing, Sales & Business Development, Land O'Lakes; Mike Kaczynski (co-chair), president, US Sales, Evans Food Group; Pam Finer, GM/VP of Marketing, Amplify Snack Brands; Haley Flynn, senior account executive, Utz Quality Foods; Mike Harper, VP, finance and chief financial officer, Rudolph Foods Company; Teri Johnson, divisional sales manager, tna north america; Cindy Kuester, director of sales, Snak King; Laura Maxwell, SVP, Supply Chain, PepsiCo – Frito-Lay North America; David Read, vice president of marketing & technology, Printpack; Dan Sifer SVP, Supply Chain/Contract Manufacturing, Herr Foods; Lisa Walsh, chief executive officer, Truco Enterprises; and, Jolie Weber, chief executive officer, Wise Foods.
At this year's ELF, SNAC celebrated a record number of female attendees and an eighty percent growth in female attendance from each of the previous four years. Additionally, ELF was highlighted by three female speakers—the most in the history of the Forum.
"This program seeks to foster growth and professional development for women in the snack industry by empowering them to advance, so we see greater diversity at the executive level," said president & CEO, Elizabeth Avery. "The good news is that our rising leaders are well-diversified. Fifty percent of the attendees from our recently held Emerging Leaders Program 2.0 were women. We need to help them continue their career trajectory so that one day our ELF attendees are equally well-balanced."
The inauguration of WinS kicked off with a presentation by Sarah Alter, CEO of the Network of Executive Women. Alter emphasized the importance of having a leadership team with diverse perspectives and identified barriers to female managers ascending to the executive level. During the ELF keynote session, a Conversation with Indra Nooyi on Leading Through Disruption, moderated by SNAC Chairwoman Jolie Weber, Nooyi stressed that we must have all hands on deck, regardless of gender, for the industry to continue to grow successfully.
With women currently occupying SNAC International's top two leadership roles, Jolie Weber, CEO, Wise Foods as chairwoman and Elizabeth Avery as president and CEO, there is no better time for the association to support women advancement in the snack industry.
"Our goal is to make sure this is not a one off – that it is supported by men and women alike," said Jolie Weber. "We want to create female leaders by providing opportunities to showcase talent."
With the leadership of the WinS Steering Committee, SNAC plans to host annual opportunities for the WinS Network to gather and build important connections, including at its annual trade show, SNAXPO19, March 31- April 2, Orlando Florida.