Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Virginia-based FMI – The Food Industry Association proudly has been named the 2021 Association CEO of the Year by CEO Update. Since 2014, this recognition has been bestowed annually on an exemplary trade association chief executive.
Also honored by CEO Update were Professional Society CEO of the Year Johnny C. Taylor Jr., of the Alexandria, Virginia-based Society for Human Resource Management Association, and Lobbyist of the Year Kristin Bass, of the Washington, D.C.-based Pharmaceutical Care Management Association. The three winners will receive their awards at an event to be held later in 2021.
In her role at the helm of FMI, Sarasin manages a $30 million budget and a staff of more than 75, along with a board of directors of 85 industry executives, to lead the organization’s efforts on behalf of an $800 billion industry with almost 6 million employees to promote a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply.
“The FMI board of directors felt strongly that Leslie should be recognized, and so we as board members collaborated on nominating her for this acknowledgment,” noted FMI Chairman Randy Edeker, chairman, president and CEO of West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc. “Under her leadership, FMI has emerged as a member-centered organization helping food retailing venues find new and future-facing ways of feeding families and enriching lives. A committed collaborator, Leslie has infused FMI with a vision of cooperative action that amplifies the association’s ability to assist its members in addressing the critical industry issues of the day.”
Edeker cited Sarasin’s work that led, in 2019, to a refreshed vision and revamped FMI brand that better aligns with the evolving food industry, as well as reconfigured bylaws that permit a broader membership base potential, a board that’s more representative of the whole food industry; and a staff with a greater vision of the scope and depth of services it provides.
Further, Sarasin leapt into action to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When a national emergency was declared on March 13, 2020, Leslie guided FMI staff to work diligently to ensure the food industry was included as part of the nation’s essential workforce from Day 1, and that industry and customer needs were on the radars of a wide array of different government entities at the federal, state and local levels,” added Edeker. “We couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments.”
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