Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI-The Food Industry Association, on Wednesday was named the 2021 Association CEO of the Year by CEO Update, an annual recognition given to the outstanding trade association chief executive officer.
In singling out Sarasin (left), CEO Update noted, “Industry observers credit Sarasin for turning around a struggling Food Marketing Institute when she became CEO in 2008, stanching red ink and restoring relevancy. The group, rebranded as FMI—The Food Industry Association last year, reported revenue of $31 million in 2019 based on the latest tax records. She repositioned FMI in 2020, adding a supplier membership category and rebranding to establish the group as more than a grocery-store lobby. When the pandemic disrupted supply chains and supermarket shelves, Sarasin and her team connected with food retailers across the world and worked to make sure the food industry was included as part of the nation’s essential workforce.”
FMI Chairman Randy Edeker, chairman, president and CEO of Hy-Vee Inc., applauded the selection, saying, “Leslie provides leadership, vision, and guidance to FMI-The Food Industry Association. She manages a $30 million budget and a staff of more than 75, as well as a Board of Directors of 85 industry executives, in directing FMI’s efforts on behalf of the $800 billion food industry with nearly 6 million employees to advance a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply.”
Edeker added that, under Sarasin’s 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,” he said.
The honor was especially deserved in a year when industry associations were challenged by the pandemic, noted Edeker. “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. We couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments.”
Along with Sarasin, CEO Update also honored Johnny C. Taylor Jr., of the Society for Human Resource Management, as Professional Society CEO of the Year, and Kristin Bass, of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, as Association Lobbyist of the Year.