Invest in Your Future
NCA’s Future Leadership Program awards five deserving young professionals (40 and under) an exclusive opportunity for networking and professional development. For one year, future leaders receive recognition among their colleagues and a hand-selected professional industry mentor, as well as complimentary registration to NCA’s three signature events, NCA’s Leadership Summit held in July and the Candy Hall of Fame weekend.
The program is designed to provide support, education, access and opportunity to young professionals who wish to advance into the ranks of leadership. Through its implementation, NCA hopes to encourage more young professionals to assume such leadership positions and develop a more diverse pool of leaders within the industry.
The application period for the 2020 Future Leadership Class has now closed. Thank you for your interest; applications for the 2021 Class will open late summer 2020.
If you would like more information about the Future Leadership Program, please contact Mandie Middleton.
- Opportunity is open to current employees of NCA member companies and qualified retail customers
- Candidates must be 40 years of age or under as of January 1, 2020
- Candidates must have at least three (3) cumulative years of experience in the confectionery industry as of January 1, 2020
- Candidates must demonstrate commitment and dedication to the confectionery industry
- Candidates must have aspirations for executive leadership within the confectionery industry
2019 Future Leaders
National Sales Manager, Melville Candy
After attending Boston College, Steve moved to Los Angeles where he became a talent agent in Hollywood representing celebrities and brand endorsements. From there he became the VP of Business Development for an experiential marketing agency called NVE based in Los Angeles. Steve then co-founded a marketing agency which was bought out shortly thereafter representing high-profile brands such as Beats by Dre, GoPro and Sonos by age 28. In 2014, he moved back east and has been with Melville Candy as the National Sales Director worldwide. Since joining, the company has grown over 75% in gross sales. For the last five years, Steve has been a member of NCA and active in YPN.
Team Leader, Russell Stover Chocolates
Natalie has worked in the confection industry for nearly four years exclusively at Russell Stover Chocolates. Over that time she has taken on many new roles and challenges within the wholesale department. She began with 10, smaller regional grocery accounts as a new hire and within five months was promoted to manage larger grocery and mass businesses. Since then Natalie has continued to take on new and larger accounts and most recently was promoted to a Team Leader position where she is able to explore mentoring and managing a team.
Corporate Buying Director, Sugar Factory
Michele launched her professional career in 2002 as an Assistant Buyer for Dylan’s Candy Bar. In 2006, she took her passion and acquired expertise for retail buying to Saks Fifth Avenue, buying and developing products in categories such as Intimate Apparel and Designer Men’s Shoes. Always having a craving to get back into the Candy Industry, she returned to Dylan’s Candy Bar in 2013 as a buyer for Everyday Candy and Collaborative Partnerships. Soon after her return, she was promoted to Senior Buyer where she was the driving force on all R&D of Dylan’s Candy Bar branded and licensed product. She worked closely on licensing deals with partners like Warner Brothers, Paramount Pictures, Sanrio and Nickelodeon. Michele spearheaded all product assortments as it pertains to global expansion, launching Dylan’s Candy Bar in Canada and the Middle East. Michele joined Sugar Factory as Corporate Buying Director in May 2019. Outside of work, she continues to give back to her community by supporting two philanthropic organizations: the New York Chapter of St. Jude and Habitat for Humanity. serving on both for over 13 years.
R&D Director, Ferrara Candy Company
Tessa is a food science graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and she completed her master’s degree at the UW-Madison studying sucrose crystallization under Dr. Rich Hartel. Tessa has been involved in the confectionery industry since 2007 through her work at the UNL Food Processing Center, The Hershey Company and Ferrara Candy Company. In 2016 she joined Glanbia Performance Nutrition to combine her passion of confectionery science with her health and wellness interests. She returned to pure confections at Ferrara in 2018. She has been actively involved with PMCA, AACT and NCA events focusing on student involvement.
Vice President of Grocery, HWY Partners
A second generation in the confection industry, Micke attended industry events as a child with aspirations of becoming a part of it. With 10+ years of industry experience, Mike is the Vice President of Grocery and leads a broker sales team in the NYC Metro market. A recent recipient of Ghiradelli’s Top Broker Award, Mike has a track record of delivering results. Prior to joining HWY Partners, Mike held various positions at Mars Chocolate, including national sales with responsibility for a top 10 customer and in customer marketing where he was on development teams that launched over 50 new products.