On Tuesday, November 9, IFMA recognized outstanding leaders and contributors to IFMA and the industry by presenting its Sparkplug Awards, Presidents Award, and Key Person Award during its Presidents Conference in Scottsdale, AZ—including a special honor for outgoing IFMA President & CEO, Larry Oberkfell.
Spark Plug Awards
The IFMA Sparkplug Award honors IFMA Manufacturer Member individuals and operator individuals who have made significant impacts on the association's programs through their board and/or committee involvement.
This year’s IFMA Sparkplug Award was presented to the chairs of each of the five Foodservice Leadership Councils (FLC):
- Jessica Shelly, Director of Student Dining Services at Cincinnati Public Schools; Chair of the Elementary & Secondary Foodservice Leadership Council
- Jill Horst, Executive Director of Campus Dining at University of California, Santa Barbara; Chair of the College & University Foodservice Leadership Council
- Sharon Eliatamby, Senior Program Manager at The World Bank Group; Chair of the Business & Industry Foodservice Leadership Council:
- Martha Rardin, Director of Nutrition & Dietetics at Hendricks Regional Health; Chair of the Healthcare Foodservice Leadership Council
- Bill Hancox, Chief Operations Officer of Pieology Restaurant Division; Chair of the Restaurant Foodservice Leadership Council
In the fall of 2018, several operators across different industry segments approached IFMA looking for help. They felt their communities were underserved in the areas of insights, business best practices, and more effective connectivity with the manufacturer community. Those initial conversations have flourished into what have become the Foodservice Leadership Councils.
Over the course of the last 20 months, the five councils have provided IFMA members and the entire industry tremendous insights into their business segments. During a very challenging year and a half, these five individuals have shown tremendous leadership in guiding each of their councils – and the five councils as a whole – through the pandemic. Their fortitude and vision have enabled the foodservice community to be better.
Over the course of the last 20 months, the five councils have provided IFMA members and the entire industry tremendous insights into their business segments. During a very challenging year and a half, these five individuals have shown tremendous leadership in guiding each of their councils – and the five councils as a whole – through the pandemic. Their fortitude and vision have enabled us all to be better.
IFMA Presidents Award
This year’s IFMA Presidents Award was presented to Jim Green for his dedication and commitment over the last three years to organizing, planning, and recruiting for the Foodservice Leadership Councils (FLC). The award pays tribute to individuals who have put forth substantial determination and demonstrated leadership that results in significant change in the foodservice industry. Green has truly been the engine that keeps the Councils running, acting as chief strategist, tactician and secretary all at once. While the councils run as independent entities, he acts as the key liaison with IFMA to ensure mutual benefit between our communities.
Key Person Award
The IFMA Key Person Award honors an IFMA Manufacturer Member individual who has an exceptional record of activity and high level of commitment to the association. This year, the award was presented to Herb Ring, National Director of Foodservice at The Hershey Company. Ring has been an active member of IFMA and the IFMA Board for many years. He is a two-time chair of the Chain Operators Exchange (COEX) committee, helping to grow the program into what we know it as today. And beginning January 1, he will assume the position of chairman of the IFMA Board of Directors.
IFMA Presidents Award Is Renamed the IFMA Oberkfell Award
In honor of his unprecedented contributions to IFMA and the impact he’s had on positioning the association for the future—including his many years as a director on the IFMA Board, and his role as Board Chair in 2002—the IFMA Presidents Award was renamed the IFMA Oberkfell Award after outgoing IFMA President and CEO, Larry Oberkfell.
Over the last 12 years, Oberkfell transformed the association and made significant improvements. Under his leadership, he led the growth of IFMA through multiple recessions and most recently steered the association through the pandemic and a very difficult political and societal climate with grace, professionalism, and resilience. He ensured that the association remained focused on its mission, purpose and objectives. He consistently grew revenue and value for the membership, and elevated the visibility, status and relevance of the association within our industry to become the trusted and essential organization it is today.
The IFMA Oberkfell Award will pay tribute to individuals who have trailblazed and demonstrated leadership that results in significant current and future impact on the IFMA organization and the foodservice industry. The award will not be presented annually, but it will honor individuals in the future who exemplify the same determination and leadership in bettering the association and the foodservice industry.