The National Confectioners Association has named the five confectionery industry professionals selected for the 2021 Future Leadership Program, which is dedicated to helping young professionals across the confectionery industry access networking and professional development opportunities to grow their careers.

“The Future Leadership Program has become a premier experience for young professionals in the confectionery industry,” said John Downs, NCA president and CEO. “Our Future Leaders have been instrumental in everything from bolstering our advocacy efforts and understanding our role in social justice initiatives to reimagining and planning for the future of the industry – and much more in between. I look forward to working with the 2021 class – but more importantly learning from them – as we continue to innovate to take NCA to a higher level of success in the years to come.”

The 2021 class includes:

Serena Bitzer
Senior Business Analyst
The Hershey Co.

Nisha Desai
Director, Strategy and Business Development, Inc.

Mark Puch Jr. (MJ)
Key Account Specialist
Primrose Candy Co.

Sandi Santa Ana
Category Management Director
Ferrara Candy Co.

Becky Silberfarb
Director of Marketing
Bazooka Candy Brands, a Division of The Topps Company
In addition to receiving educational and networking opportunities through the Future Leadership Program, participants will be matched with a highly-regarded industry leader who will serve as a formal mentor.

The 2021 mentors are:

Troy Pearley
Executive Vice President & General Manager
Divine Chocolate

Sarah Atkinson
Executive Vice President
Atkinson Candy Co.

Kirk Vashaw
Chairman & CEO
Spangler Candy Co.

Anthony Trani
Vice President of Global Marketing
Bazooka Candy Brands, a Division of The Topps Company

Marty Palmer
President & CEO
Palmer Candy Co.

Launched in 2016, the Future Leadership Program provides support, education, access and opportunity to young professionals who wish to develop leadership skills and grow their careers in the confectionery industry. The application process for the 2022 class will open in the summer. Those interested in applying for the program or learning more about how to get involved as a young professional or as a mentor should visit