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  • Inaugural SFA Way Awards Honor Specialty Food Association Staff

    Julie Gallagher

    Specialty Food Association President Bill Lynch hosted the first annual SFA Way Awards, Wednesday, which recognized eight Specialty Food Association staff members that represent the SFA’s values in how staff engage with members and each other. The winners were voted for by their peers in each of the eight areas represented in SFA’s core values.

    An additional honor, the Stephen Leeman Award, was given to the staff member that received the most votes across all award categories. This award is named after the first president of the SFA (formerly NASFT, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade), dating back to 1952 who was also the first signature on the Association’s certificate of incorporation.

    The 2021 SFA Way Award winners are:

    Exceptional Service

    Jessica Caceres, events & member development production manager

    “She works so hard to serve our members each and every day,” said one colleague. “She pulls so many disparate pieces of information for them so that they have a smooth path forward.”


    Tressa Kennedy, director, membership 

    “She is one of the kindest and most respectful people I know and whenever I work with her it’s a pleasure," said an SFA staffer of Kennedy.


    Jennifer Carney, director, tradeshow operations 

    “She is so passionate and dedicated to her work,” said Carney’s colleague. “She’s always willing to teach and help others with patience.”

    Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

    Katina Williams, director, brand marketing 

    “Nobody is working as hard as Kat at making a DEI impact,” said one of Williams' colleagues. “She is the only staff member leading a committee that is not a leadership team member.”


    Anthony Bavaro, director, financial planning & analysis

    “The epitome of respect and support..always ready to help research and answer questions and work through problems despite an intense workload and does it with a respectful, pleasant attitude,” said an SFA staffer of Bavaro.


    Jon Cross, digital specialist

    “He provides exceptional service,” said an SFA staffer. “He’s so responsive and has a collaborative mindset. He is inquisitive and wants to understand how to best serve fellow staff.”


    Lysa Teal, SVP, finance & planning 

    “She is a strong leader that brings an internal service mindset," said an SFA staffer. "She has addressed so many issues from the past and calls it like she sees it ... willing to be transparent and tackle challenges.”

    Ongoing Learning

    Megan Rooney, education specialist

    ... always up for new projects and developing new skills... well-rounded in multiple areas of support ... poise, professionalism, and inclusivity ... respect and teamwork ... willingness to support in multiple capacities ...

    Stephen Leeman Award

    Jessica Caceres, Events & Member Development Production Manager

    “The SFA Way Awards were established to provide a platform of recognition for those staff members that live out our core values every day in how they engage one another and our members,” said SFA President Bill Lynch. ”What is so special about this recognition, is that it comes from their fellow peers on staff that personally experience the greatness they bring to their jobs each and every day. The SFA Way is how we do things here and is what makes this such a special organization for staff and our members.”


    User Feedback

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    This is a little overdue, however still important to react to. As a member who has benefited from working with many of you from a number of different vantage points, congratulations to you all on your recognition. It is especially "special" because of it stemming from your peers and covers multiple areas/criteria to be evaluated on. From a member perspective, I can vouch for those that I know, that each one provides value, whether follow up, responsiveness, willingness to learn and grow, or being accountable. Do not take this lightly, because this benefits everyone ... members, fellow staff, the association. Keep up the great work .... we all need you. Happy New Year and see you in Vegas!

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