FMI Taps Sarasin as New CEO

After a five-month search, Food Marketing Institute has selected longtime food-association veteran Leslie G. Sarasin as its new president and chief executive officer. FMI had announced in April that Tim Hammonds, who has been president and CEO for the past 15 years, planned to retire once a successor was found. Sarasin begins in early November. She comes to FMI from the American

ARLINGTON, Va. — After a five-month search, Food Marketing Institute here has selected longtime food-association veteran Leslie G. Sarasin as its new president and chief executive officer.

FMI had announced in April that Tim Hammonds, who has been president and CEO for the past 15 years, planned to retire once a successor was found. Sarasin begins in early November.

She comes to FMI from the American Frozen Food Institute, a McLean, Va.-based group that advocates on behalf of the frozen-food industry. She joined AFFI in 1989 and had been its president and CEO since 1999.

“I think she is an amazing choice — her skill set matches very well where FMI is in its current life cycle,” said Steven Anderson, the current president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, who hired Sarasin when he was the top executive at AFFI and worked with her there for 10 years. “She's the kind of person that can identify a problem and, even more important, come up with a solution.”

Sarasin was out of the country last week and was unavailable for comment, FMI said.

In a prepared statement, Steven C. Smith, chairman of FMI's board of directors and president and CEO of K-VA-T Food Stores, Abingdon, Va., said Sarasin is “well-connected” with the supermarket industry and brings “a wealth of experience.”

Before joining AFFI, Sarasin, who is an attorney licensed to practice law in California and Washington, D.C., was director of government relations and legal counsel with the National Food Brokers Association.

Sarasin comes to FMI as it is facing challenges on several fronts, from launching a new educational conference to legislative and food-safety issues.

Anderson of NACDS said Sarasin has a broad range of strengths as a leader that should benefit FMI members.

“She works very well with coalitions, and she's a very ‘known’ person in Washington, D.C.,” he said, adding that she also “hires well” and is a “consensus builder.”