FMI Honors Seven Exemplary Food Industry Leaders

Sample article from our Food & Beverage

MARCO ISLAND, Florida , January 22, 2024 (press release) –

FMI- The Food Industry Association celebrated the 2024 Executive Leadership Award recipients at the Midwinter Executive Conference . The awards were presented to seven exemplary food industry leaders, including Brandon Barnholt , Donna Tweeten , Steve Presley , Steven Williams , John Najjar , David Smith , and Brad Brookshire . Each recipient was recognized for their outstanding contributions to the food industry through innovative leadership, community outreach, and stellar customer service.

Key Highlights:

* The awards were presented at FMIs Midwinter Executive Conference on Marco Island, Florida

* Brandon Barnholt , executive chairman of KeHE Distributors, received the Herbert Hoover Award for Humanitarian Service

* Donna Tweeten , president of Hy-Vee, Inc. , received the Esther Peterson Award for Consumer Service

Original Press Release:

Marco Island, Florida , Jan. 19 -- Food Marketing Institute issued the following news release:

- FMI acknowledges the accomplishments among its Executive Leadership Award recipients at the Midwinter Executive Conference

Today, FMI- The Food Industry Association celebrates the 2024 Executive Leadership Award recipients, including: Brookshire’s Brad Brookshire ; KeHe Distributors’ Brandon Barnholt ; Associated Wholesale Grocer’s David Smith ; Hy-Vee’s Donna Tweeten ; Seaside Market’s John Najjar ; Nestlé’s Steve Presley ; and PepsiCo’s Steven Williams . These seven executives exemplify excellence in the food industry through innovative leadership, community outreach, and stellar customer service. The 2024 awards were presented at FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference on Marco Island, Florida .

“The food industry leaders we celebrate today embody diplomacy, service, imagination, cooperation, integrity, and governance – all the noted attributes exemplified by the namesakes of our Executive Leadership Awards,” said FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin . “Industry peers have acknowledged them above others for their inspiring vision, successful navigation of a complex business landscape, and ability to empower the next generation.”

The following seven award recipients are those who have made especially impactful contributions to the success of the food industry:

Herbert Hoover Award for Humanitarian Service

Brandon Barnholt , executive chairman, KeHE Distributors

More than four decades of experience in food industry retailing and supply chain management define Brandon Barnholt as a dynamic corporate leader. For 16 years, he served as KeHE's CEO and president, propelling the company to North America's forefront as the leading distributor of natural & organic, specialty, and fresh foods, boasting an annual revenue of $8 billion . Brandon's leadership transitioned KeHE into a B Corporation , advocating fervently for the organic and good food movement. Yet, beyond corporate achievements, Brandon's commitment to social and environmental causes shines through his decade-long involvement with the Chicago area Young Life Organization .

Esther Peterson Award for Consumer Service

Donna Tweeten , president, Hy-Vee, Inc.

For more than 30 years, Donna Tweeten has been a guiding force in the marketing realm, advising companies on brand enhancement and evolution. Joining Hy-Vee in 2006 as assistant vice president of communications, Donna's trajectory culminated in her historic appointment as Hy-Vee, Inc.'s first female president by the end of 2022, cementing her position as a prominent figure in the grocery industry. Leading Hy-Vee, Donna orchestrated transformative initiatives, fostering the brand's evolution into an icon renowned for exceptional service and community support. Her tenure has seen the inception of pioneering programs like Hy-Vee's loyalty initiatives, the RedMedia retail network, and the impactful philanthropy of the One Step program. Notably, Donna spearheaded Hy-Vee's collaboration with Feeding America , funding millions of meals for families in need.

William H. Albers Industry Relations Award

Steve Presley , CEO, Zone NA , Nestlé

Steve Presley , currently serving as executive vice president and chief executive officer for Nestlé's Zone North America and as the Market Head for the U.S. , spearheads the company's operations in its largest global market, boasting around $30 billion in annual sales and a staggering 94% presence of Nestlé products in households. Throughout his 27-year tenure, Steve's leadership has been defined by a fundamental belief in the power of culture as a driver of success, advocating self-disruption as the key to triumph in the market and in serving consumers. His strategic vision revitalized Nestlé's U.S. business, emphasizing empowerment and fostering a culture of innovation centered on consumer needs. As chairman and CEO, Steve orchestrated a transformative portfolio strategy that propelled Nestlé USA into a beacon of profitable growth and an industry trailblazer. Moreover, under his stewardship, the company has made significant strides in its commitment to achieving net-zero emissions, driving initiatives in regenerative agriculture, expanding renewable energy usage, and pioneering recyclable packaging design.

William H. Albers Industry Relations Award

Steven Williams , CEO, PepsiCo NA , PepsiCo

Steven Williams , CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America since March of 2019, boasts 26 years at PepsiCo with robust leadership across the food industry. Leading a $26 billion snack and convenient foods domain, including Frito-Lay North America (FLNA) and Quaker Foods North America (QFNA), Steven navigates all facets of operations. Previously, as senior VP and chief commercial officer for Frito-Lay's U.S. organization, he directed strategy and commercial activities. Since joining PepsiCo in 2001 through the Quaker Oats acquisition, Steven has excelled in sales, management, and marketing roles. Actively engaged in community service, he serves on various boards and advisory councils, holding positions as board chair for United Way in Dallas and serving as a member of the board of directors of State Farm Mutual Automobile Company . Steven holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Central Oklahoma and completed Harvard Business School's Program for Leadership Development (PLD).

Robert B. Wegman Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence

John Najjar , president, Seaside Market

John Najjar's journey in the grocery industry stems from a family legacy steeped in entrepreneurship. His father, Sam Najjar , established a grocery store in Detroit, Michigan , during the 1960s and early 1970s, catering to a vibrant Chaldean community and in 1976, the family made a bold move to San Diego , where they opened a store in San Diego County . Building on his father's groundwork, John and his brother, Peter, ventured into San Diego's grocery landscape, purchasing an abandoned store in 1976. This bold move birthed Seaside Market, a renowned 17,000-square-foot establishment following significant renovations in 2013. Opting not to expand beyond their location aside from a kiosk at Petco Park , they transformed Seaside Market into more than a grocery store, crafting a vibrant shopping experience in Cardiff-by-the-Sea . Nestled near the beach, Seaside Market thrives as a community hub, renowned for its emphasis on fresh, locally sourced produce and perishables that resonate with the essence of the neighborhood.

Glen P. Woodard , Jr., Award for Public Affairs

David Smith , president and CEO, Associated Wholesale Grocers (retired)

David Smith , former president and CEO of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG), concluded a remarkable 20-year tenure in December 2023 . With 48 years in the industry, including 36 years in wholesale, David's leadership profoundly shaped the grocery sector. He prioritized advocacy for independent grocery operators, regularly engaging with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. , and testifying before legislative bodies on critical industry issues like workforce supply and regulatory enforcement, along with supply chain and sustainability. Rising through AWG's ranks, he served as CEO from 2015, having held pivotal roles like executive VP of operations and COO. Recognized by the National Grocers Association (NGA) in 2022 with the Clarence G. Adamy Great American Award for his national-level advocacy, David's legacy as a visionary leader dedicated to independent retailers' success endures beyond his 2023 retirement.

Sidney R. Rabb Award for Statesmanship

Brad Brookshire , chairman and CEO, Brookshire Grocery Company

As the recipient of FMI’s highest honor, Brad Brookshire has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to the grocery industry, corporate responsibility, community engagement, and education, all of which resonate profoundly in his role as chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Brookshire Grocery Company (BGC), a family-owned supermarket chain headquartered in Tyler, Texas . With more than 46 years dedicated to the industry, Brad's leadership has fostered employee-partners' admiration and respect through his focus on community welfare and strong moral values. Instrumental in BGC's sustained growth and prosperity, Brad's contributions have been pivotal. Beyond BGC, he actively participates on the Board of Directors for FMI and Topco Associates , serves as a trustee for Southern Methodist University , contributes to the Baylor Scott and White Health Foundation's Board of Directors, and engages with various civic organizations. As the grandson of BGC's founder, Wood T. Brookshire , Brad and his wife have championed a scholarship program for Tyler Junior College graduates, underscoring their unwavering commitment to higher education.

As the food industry association, FMI works with and on behalf of the entire industry to advance a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply chain. FMI brings together a wide range of members across the value chain — from retailers that sell to consumers, to producers that supply food and other products, as well as the wide variety of companies providing critical services — to amplify the collective work of the industry.

[Category: Food, Specialty Retail, Packaged Foods & Meats , Management Changes, Awards and Recognitions, Events]

Source: Food Marketing Institute

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

More from our Food & Beverage Coverage
See our dashboard in action - schedule an demo
Chelsey Quick
Chelsey Quick
- VP Client Success -

We offer built-to-order food & beverage coverage for our clients. Contact us for a free consultation.

About Us

We deliver market news & information relevant to your business.

We monitor all your market drivers.

We aggregate, curate, filter and map your specific needs.

We deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.

Our Contacts

1990 S Bundy Dr. Suite #380,
Los Angeles, CA 90025

+1 (310) 553 0008

About Cookies On This Site

We collect data, including through use of cookies and similar technology ("cookies") that enchance the online experience. By clicking "I agree", you agree to our cookies, agree to bound by our Terms of Use, and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. For more information on our data practices and how to exercise your privacy rights, please see our Privacy Policy.