The Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA) proudly announces the 2021 Women’s Alliance Network Red Circle Honors recipients. The honors recognize three women and an FPSA member company that have had a positive impact on women’s careers and gender balance in the food and beverage industry. The Red Circle Honors will be presented at the Women’s Alliance Network Breakfast on November 4, 2021 during PROCESS EXPO in Chicago.

The Women’s Alliance Network Red Circle Honor recipients are:

Rising Star
Morgan Larson, Handtmann

The Rising Star Honor recognizes a woman with less than five years of industry experience who has made a noticeable impact via professional achievements and personal influence in the food and beverage industry. In 2019, Larson began working at Handtmann as an application specialist. Larson provides guidance during testing and commissioning of machines as well as generating technical reports with results of all tests and installations. Good teachers are always innovating and being creative and Morgan Larson falls into this category. She has jumped in and created videos for numerous processes and applications. In her role, Morgan has also been invaluable to the Handtmann Training Department by possessing an innate gift for teaching and mentoring others in a way that makes them comfortable asking questions and receiving instruction. Morgan models a “capable-confidence” to other women and men in our clients’ workplaces by doing excellent work and being a great resource for them, especially at the point of need. Since becoming the first female Application Specialist, Morgan Larson has been a force for good and for positive change in her presence at Handtmann’s client companies. Morgan has such an ability to forge bonds of trust that the customers connect with her on their own, without feeling the need to go through other team members at Handtmann to consult her.

Innovation and Inspiration
Sarah Hurley, Marlen 

The Innovation and Inspiration Honor recognizes a woman who has brought game-changing innovation or an inspiring idea in the last 18 months to her company and/or industry. Sarah Hurley is a shining example of the leadership and technical prowess as Marlen’s lead mechanical engineer. Sarah studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland and began her professional career working for the U.S. Department of Defense Propulsion Systems. She joined the Marlen family in 2016 where she quickly established her capabilities and now leads Marlen’s size reduction equipment design group. Sarah is responsible for Marlen’s new flagship product, the DuraKut Series 6000 Dicers. This product has been widely recognized for its hygienic design, tool-free changeover, and icon-driven HMI interface. Under Sarah’s leadership, customers’ individual requirements are achieved through configuration, customized designs, and unique components for integrated systems. Sarah’s direct contributions have led to the successful launch of this platform.

Career Excellence
Kathi Gilleland, Marlen

The Career Excellence Honor recognizes a woman who is dedicated to the food and beverage industry and has taken a proactive approach to both personal and professional development. Kathi Gilleland raises the bar in demonstrating company pride, loyalty, commitment, and work ethic as Marlen’s Director of Marketing. Kathi’s primary responsibility is to support the sales teams, however, she is instrumental in serving the organization and providing her leadership where it’s needed most. Kathi’s career in the food processing industry began in 2004. Kathi lead the marketing efforts for UltraSource LLC and then spent seven years leading all aspects of their customer relationship management efforts, web content development, and direct marketing campaigns. Next, Kathi went to Multivac as a marketing manager where she coordinated video productions, newsletters, visitor experience, and oversaw the planning of trade shows. Kathi joined the Marlen team in 2013 as marketing director. Since then Kathi’s ability to identify and implement the strategies, tactics, and techniques to attract customers to Marlen’s business has strengthened the brand. What makes Kathi exceptional is her willingness to exceed expectations. Kathi was instrumental in integrating acquired businesses Afoheat and Unitherm and communicating the clear value proposition to a wider customer base. Kathi is a high-performing employee, working mother, and mentor to many who are attracted to her servant leadership, passion, and desire to make a lasting impact. 


Achievement in Developing and Promoting Women
Rome Grinding Solutions 

This honor recognizes an FPSA member company that actively supports and develops the careers of women and works toward professional gender balance in their organization. Rome Grinding Solutions is a third-generation family/women-owned and operated company based in Sheldon, Iowa. The company is a leading manufacturer of commercial and industrial-sized grinding equipment. Rome Grinding Solutions’ main focus is in the meat, poultry, pet food, and rendering industries, but has recently expanded into the fruit and vegetable, ingredient, seafood, and dairy industries as well.

Rome Grinding Solutions is led by President Kate Rome. During her Presidency, Rome has directly made an exceptional contribution to the advancement of women not only at her company but also in the Food Processing Industry by helping to found the Women's Alliance Network (WAN) for the Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA) organization. Since implementation, Kate is the WAN Chair and is also currently sitting on the Board of Directors of the FPSA as the Vice-Chair for the MISA Council. With all of this external experience promoting gender equality, Kate Rome has led Rome Grinding Solutions with the same values. The business practices that she has implemented in her time in a leadership role at Rome Grinding Solutions have been focused on making women feel encouraged, protected, and empowered in the workplace.

Since Rome Grinding Solutions has been Woman-Led in the day-to-day operations, the number of female employees has increased by 25 percent, and the wage gap has been closed. Rome Grinding Solutions completely supports equal pay for both men and women. To ensure this, a process of analyzing fair market value based on the job description, as well as the employee’s skills and background have been implemented as standard practice for hiring new employees regardless of gender. This initiative is led by the Human Resources Department, and company leadership verifies its legitimacy. In addition to internally supporting female employees at the company, Rome Grinding Solutions actively prioritizes seeking Women-Owned companies as vendors, often sponsors and supports initiatives led by Women’s Organizations to help with the advancement of women in male-dominated industries, and has questioned other manufacturers on their diversity practices which have prompted many to re-think their hiring practices.

In addition to meeting the award recipients, at the sold-out breakfast on November 4 at PROCESS EXPO, attendees will have the chance to hear keynote speaker Christie Lagally, founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods. A passionate industry leader, don't miss her dynamic presentation sharing her journey in the food and beverage industry.

To register for the show or for more information on attending, please visit