Charles Choi, managing director of Fruit Tree Farm on New York’s Long Island, has been chosen to receive the inaugural PepsiCo Diversity in Leadership Endowment scholarship from the National Grocers Association Foundation. Choi will attend the foundation’s annual Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) at Cornell University, slated for June 6-10. The $5,000 scholarship will cover the $2,850 cost of program registration, with the rest of funds available for use as a travel stipend.
“Charles is a modern entrepreneur who understands the art and science behind merchandising as well as today’s consumer preferences,” said Michelle Mendoza, VP of marketing and customer experience at Port Washington, New York-based Associated Supermarket Group, with which Fruit Tree Farm is affiliated. “As the supermarket industry is transforming and the American consumer palate has an appreciation for diversity in food, Charles is at the forefront of this transformation.” Mendoza nominated Choi for the scholarship.
The son of Korean immigrants, Choi has followed his parents into the food retailing business. Over the past three years, his responsibilities have grown as he works to boost Fruit Tree Farm’s business. The grocer currently has locations in Baldwin and Copiague, New York.
“We are honored to support Charles’ professional development efforts through this year’s ELDP event, which will provide him with additional tools to drive his family’s business even further,” said NGA Foundation Director Maggie White.
The foundation teamed with Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo to create the Leadership Endowment, following the completion of the 2020 ELDP program, which, because of the pandemic, took place virtually. The endowment will award one scholarship annually to a female or minority ELDP candidate to cover the cost of attending the program.
“We are proud to extend our support of this important program and provide assistance to an exceptional entrepreneur,” said Kent Montgomery, VP of North America industry relations at PepsiCo. “Expanding representation helps to strengthen the supermarket industry and bring more choice and better service to our customers.”
Scholarship recipients are chosen by a diverse committee comprising members of the foundation’s board of regents, the Women Grocers of America, a representative from Cornell University’s Executive Education program and PepsiCo leaders.
The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the Washington, D.C.-based National Grocers Association. The foundation gives independent retailers tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, improve retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers.