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2014 Leadership Award Winners

The Specialty Food Association and Specialty Food Magazine are pleased to present the winners of the second annual Leadership Awards, honoring industry leaders in the realms of Citizenship, Vision, and Business Leadership. These leaders’ efforts span the globe, from supporting indigenous tribes in Ecuador, to establishing a progressive and venerable work environment in Northern California, to initiating sustainable farming practices in Southeast Asia.

Nominations for the Leadership Awards were made by members of the Specialty Food Association and others in the trade. A panel of judges comprising industry experts and influencers selected the honorees from 66 nominees across the three categories. A special thanks to the 2014 judges: Hanna Bree, marketing manager, Blue Hill Market; Donna Daniels, director of programs and strategic communications, Social Venture Network; David Gagnon, chief operating officer, interim co-executive director, Organic Trade Association; Nicole Kagan, senior director, major gifts, City Harvest; Tim Metzger, owner, Tillen Farms; John Raiche, vice president of marketing, UNFI; and Errol Schweizer, executive global coordinator, grocery team, Whole Foods Market.

2014 Citizenship Award Winner

Tyler Gage, Runa Tea

Immersing himself in the indigenous communities of Ecuador gave Tyler Gage insight into the daily lives of the Kichwa people and their struggle to embrace cultural traditions while making a living to support their families. Through those very traditions, he found a way to help.

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2014 Vision Award Winner

Caryl Levine, Lotus Foods

Having already pioneered an effort to take rice farmers from conventional to organic farming, Levine and her husband, Ken Lee, found a higher calling when they joined an innovative sustainable-farming program that would benefit rice suppliers, consumers, and the environment.

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2014 Business Leadership Award Winner

Ron Rubin, The Republic of Tea

Invoking a mantra of “Sip by Sip Rather than Gulp by Gulp,” Ron Rubin has embraced health and well-being in all aspects of his work, from the ethical sourcing of restorative teas to engaging his staff to embrace a healthful and mindful lifestyle.

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