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2015 Leadership Award Winners

The Specialty Food Association and Specialty Food Magazine present the winners of the third annual Leadership Awards, honoring industry leaders in the realms of Business Leadership, Citizenship, and Vision. With two winners in each category this year, these leaders’ efforts span the globe, from employing women in Kenya, to bringing halal foods to the American mainstream, to taking on U.S. agencies to change import laws.

Nominations for the Leadership Awards were made by members of the Specialty Food Association and others in the trade. A panel of judges composed of industry experts and influencers selected the honorees from dozens of nominees across the three categories. A special thanks to the 2015 judges: Donna Daniels, Social Venture Network; David Gagnon, Organic Trade Association; John Raiche, UNFI; Errol Schweizer, Whole Foods Market; and Rory Treats, City Harvest.


6 winners were chosen in three categories:

  • Business Leadership: For advancing best practices in the food industry across the spectrum of workforce issues to benefit food industry personnel
  • Citizenship: For improving the lives of people and communities by advancing environmental and social sustainability knowledge and practices
  • Vision: For pioneering new approaches, innovative products, and business models that have set in motion positive change and progress

2015 Award Winners: Business Leadership

Adnan Durrani, Saffron Road

Adnan Durrani started out on Wall Street as an investment banker. “The dark side,” he jokes. But after turning his attention to the food world, he has made his mark.
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David Gremmels, Rogue Creamery

In 2002, David Gremmels and his partner Cary Bryant were set to open a wine and cheese bar in southern Oregon—but wound up buying a creamery instead. Within a year they were winning international awards.
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2015 Award Winners: Citizenship

Ahmed and Reem Rahim, Numi Organic Tea

In 1999, Reem Rahim and her younger brother, Ahmed, launched Numi Organic Tea from a small apartment in Oakland, Calif. Today, Numi is the No. 1 importer of fair trade certified teas in North America. Through the siblings’ business and foundation they support arts programs in California schools as well as environmental sustainability and worker well-being in China, Egypt, and India.
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Sara Holby, Ajiri Tea

The name of this company means “to employ” in Swahili, which Ajiri does by hiring Kenyan women to create the handmade labels on its tea and coffee packaging. But that’s just the beginning.
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2015 Award Winner: Vision

Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

In 1995, Jeni Britton Bauer went from blending perfumes as an Ohio State University art student to blending groundbreaking ice cream. Today, the award-winning company owns 20 scoop shops and sells premium pints of distinctive ice cream around the country.
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James May, Wisdom Natural Brands

James May was a longtime healthcare executive and founder of a kidney dialysis and transplant program in Arizona when, in 1982, he first heard about a plant called stevia. It took 13 years to openly import it into the U.S., but today, stevia has gained a national foothold.
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