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Inaugural SFA Way Awards Honor Specialty Food Association Staff

Specialty Food Association

Specialty Food Association President Bill Lynch hosted the first annual SFA Way Awards, Wednesday, which recognized eight Specialty Food Association staff members that represent the SFA’s values in how staff engage with members and each other. The winners were voted for by their peers in each of the eight areas represented in SFA’s core values.

An additional honor, the Stephen Leeman Award, was given to the staff member that received the most votes across all award categories. This award is named after the first president of the SFA (formerly NASFT, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade), dating back to 1952, who was also the first signature on the Association’s certificate of incorporation.

The 2021 SFA Way Award winners are:

Exceptional Service

Jessica Caceres, events & member development production manager

“She works so hard to serve our members each and every day,” said one colleague. “She pulls so many disparate pieces of information for them so that they have a smooth path forward.”


Tressa Kennedy, director, membership 

“She is one of the kindest and most respectful people I know and whenever I work with her it’s a pleasure," said an SFA staffer of Kennedy.


Jennifer Carney, director, tradeshow operations 

“She is so passionate and dedicated to her work,” said Carney’s colleague. “She’s always willing to teach and help others with patience.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Katina Williams, director, brand marketing 

“Nobody is working as hard as Kat at making a DEI impact,” said one of Williams' colleagues. “She is the only staff member leading a committee that is not a leadership team member.”


Anthony Bavaro, director, financial planning & analysis

“The epitome of respect and support...always ready to help research and answer questions and work through problems despite an intense workload and does it with a respectful, pleasant attitude,” said an SFA staffer of Bavaro.


Jon Cross, digital specialist

“He provides exceptional service,” said an SFA staffer. “He’s so responsive and has a collaborative mindset. He is inquisitive and wants to understand how to best serve fellow staff.”


Lysa Teal, senior vice president, finance & planning 

“She is a strong leader who brings an internal service mindset," said an SFA staffer. "She has addressed so many issues from the past and calls it like she sees it...willing to be transparent and tackle challenges.”

Ongoing Learning

Megan Rooney, education specialist

"She is always up for new projects and developing new skills...well-rounded in multiple areas of support...poise, professionalism, and inclusivity...respect and teamwork...willingness to support in multiple capacities," colleagues said of Rooney.

Stephen Leeman Award

Jessica Caceres, events & member development production manager

“The SFA Way Awards were established to provide a platform of recognition for those staff members that live out our core values every day in how they engage one another and our members,” said SFA President Bill Lynch. ”What is so special about this recognition, is that it comes from their fellow peers on staff that personally experience the greatness they bring to their jobs each and every day. The SFA Way is how we do things here and is what makes this such a special organization for staff and our members.”

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