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The Specialty Food Association Announces Winners for 2017 Leadership Awards

The Specialty Food Association Announces Winners for 2017 Leadership Awards

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Our industry is comprised of more than just artisan offerings and consumer preferences, with important strides being made in social, economic, and environmental impacts of food standards as well. In this vein, Specialty Food Association (SFA) has selected another round of winners to honor forward-thinking industry members for their innovation and vision in its 2017 Leadership Awards. 

Phil Kafarakis, President, Specialty Food Assosciation"These six individuals are leading examples of specialty food entrepreneurs who are truly making a difference," said Phil Kafarakis, President of SFA. "In our growing industry, leaders like these are paving the way for other companies to succeed and become recognized names. It's our honor to acknowledge their achievements through the Leadership Awards."

The award winners were nominated by members of the SFA and others within the industry. More than 50 nominees were put forth amongst the three separate categories, with the final individuals selected by a panel of expert and influencer judges for two winners emerging in each category.

Winter Fancy Food Show 2016

According to a press release, the awards will be presented during the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco during a special ceremony on January 22. The winners and their respective categories are as follows: 

Business Leadership

James Faison, Founder, Milton’s LocalJames Faison from Milton’s Local. Originally pursuing a law degree, Faison formed his company 2012. Milton’s Local aggregates pasture-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats from small farmers who get a fair price for their offerings.

Mike Brady, President and CEO, Greston BakeryMike Brady, President and CEO of the Greyston Foundation and Greston Bakery. Brady seeks to impact the lives of formerly incarcerated and hard-to-employ people. So far, his practice has helped create more than 3,500 living wage jobs.


Mark Tilsen, Co-Founder, Native American Natural FoodsMark Tilsen, Native American Natural Foods. A Co-founder of his company, Tilsen aims to return the sacred buffalo to South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The company makes the Tank Bar from dried bison and fruit to help create job opportunities for the Oglala Lakota people, and improve their diets on the secluded island.

Ken Lee, Co-Founder, Lotus FoodsKen Lee of Lotus Foods. Together with his wife, Caryl Levine, Lee Co-founded the company in 1995. Lotus Foods works with 4,000 small-scale rice producers to educate around the world on new irrigation methods. During 2015, the company saved 528 million gallons of water.


Albert Straus, Founder and CEO, Straus Family CreameryAlbert Straus, Founder and CEO, of Straus Family Creamery. The company spearheaded the organic milk movement in the U.S. Straus’ farm boasts 500 acres and 300 milking cows, with another 2,500 cows throughout the nine local farms which contribute to the 16,000 gallons of milk a day for its products. 

Laura Johnson and Norah Eddy, Founders, Salty Girl SeafoodLaura Johnson and Norah Eddy, Salty Girl Seafood. The two innovators look to accelerate change in the seafood industry by supporting small-scale fisherman and fisheries who harvest sustainably. The company guarantees traceable seafood to consumers and promote stewardship of the oceans.

SFA announced that its judges for these awards spanned seven different esteemed figures from across the U.S., with experience in retail, foodservice, and industry companies.

The company stated that this year's show will host the biggest retail names yet, and Clover Stornetta Farms CEO Marcus Benedetti as its keynote. A reception hosted by SFA's Natural & Organic Council will follow the ceremony.

For more information on the awards, click here.

Register now, and see you in San Francisco!

Specialty Food Association