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NEW awards $22,000 in 2014 scholarships

Wednesday, July 9, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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The Network of Executive Women has awarded $22,000 in scholarships to eight women pursuing careers in the consumer products and retail industry. Scholarships for 2014 were awarded in July to graduate students Andrea Bouma of Portland State University, Qili (Lily) Jin of University of Arkansas and Caitlin Keller of New York University and undergraduate students Molly Cahill of Western Michigan University, Megan Leppez of the University of Dallas, Mia Tomkins and Christine Toner of Saint Joseph’s University, and Mandy Loh of Portland State University.

In addition to their NEW scholarships, Bouma and Loh were awarded the Network’s Michele Hanson Trailblazer Scholarship Award. The Network awards this scholarship to women who have shown exemplary leadership and determination in creating and building a successful women’s, industry or community initiative and who have made a significant difference in the lives of others. The scholarship is named for Michele Hanson, CEO of ExecuInsight, who served as the Network’s president from 2001 to 2003. Hanson’s consumer products industry leadership roles have included vice president, sales of McLane Co. and director of sales for the Minute Maid division of The Coca-Cola Company.

"These scholars have demonstrated their passion for the consumer products and retail industry and their potential to become tomorrow’s leaders,” said Kathy Bayert, NEW vice president of learning and advisory services. "The Network is proud to support their education and their career goals — and to help fill the pipeline with talented women.”

Donate to the NEW Scholarship Fund

Bouma, a full-time MBA student, works part time as a professional food product developer while serving as chair of membership engagement and recruitment for PSU Net Impact, a network of students, alumni and professionals who use the power of business to improve society and the environment. She previously served as national president of the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association. Her honors include the 2012 Dean Foods R&D Award as a Strategic Business Partner and the 2010 IFTSA Campbell’s Excellence in Leadership Award.

"I have always been motivated and inspired to make positive changes in the world, and my hope is to do that through entrepreneurship utilizing my strengths in food,” Bouma said. "I would love to stay involved and share with NEW members how I plan to help us best provide nutrition for ourselves in a safe and sustainable manner.”

Loh, a business management and leadership major with a focus on food industry management, is founder of Kaya Kitchen, a company devoted to producing natural and preservative-free Malaysian food. She is the recipient of the Portland Business Alliance Chairman Scholarship and OCF Schwenn Transfer Scholarship for outstanding academic achievement.

"I’ve learned from local business executives who speak to us,” Loh said. "I aspire to be as successful as them one day so I can give back to my community and develop future leaders as well.”

Industry scholars

Jin, who is pursuing her master’s degree in accountancy, is co-founder and president of STORE (Students of Retailing Excellence), the largest registered business organization at the University of Arkansas. She is president of the Northwest Arkansas chapter of the National Retail Federation Student Association and vice president of the Northwest Arkansas chapter of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association.

A Chinese immigrant who came to the United States as a pre-teen, Jin said she found immersion into a new culture difficult, but important. "It taught me that successes and accomplishments come with sacrifices, persistence and hard work,” she said. "I’m determined to achieve my goals, become a global leader and shape the industry.”

Keller, enrolled in the food studies program at NYU, credits working on a farm for two months for helping her find a passion for sustainable living. After an extensive background of restaurant and food writing experience, growing food strengthened her interest in urban agriculture, which she says "engages and educates the community about nutrition and ecological consciousness.

"I am interested in growing healthy soil and food, as well as healthy people in an urban context,” she says. "I want to help make the changes necessary to create access to healthy, fresh foods for all.”

Cahill, a food and consumer goods marketing and integrated supply chain management major, is vice president of the Western Student Association. She was recently honored with 2014’s Who’s Who in America Universities and Colleges Award. In 2013 she was recognized as WMU’s Most Dedicated Student for Community Involvement and received the WSA Outstanding Senator Award.

"I believe we live in a corporate world and each company and organization has the opportunity to make an impact in our world. I want to be a part of something that I can be proud of and something I know will make the world a better place,” Cahill said.

Leppez, a marketing major, works as a general manager for Red Robin franchisee Mandes Restaurant Group, overseeing two managers and 65 team members during a 60-hour work week, while pursuing her studies as a full-time student.

"I am very proud in the way that Megan represents our company and believe the Network of Executive Women would be well served to support her as she completes her education,” said Bob Mandes, president of Mandes Restaurant Group. "We are very fortunate that Megan has chosen a career in our exciting and growing industry.”

Tomkins, who double majors in food marketing and business intelligence and analytics, is a member of St. Joseph University’s Food Marketing Association and has been involved with the Network of Executive Women’s college outreach efforts. An SJU Food Industry Summit Scholar and National Grocers Association Show ambassador this past year, Tomkins looks forward to a career fueled by her passion for food.

"[As] a hard-working and driven food marketing student, leading others as a student representative at major industry events and setting goals for my future as an executive in the food industry, my passion for food has grown into the foundation of my future,” Tomkins said.

Toner, who is pursuing a double major in food marketing and managing human capital, was SJU’s food marketing ambassador at the 2013 Private Label Manufacturers Association Trade Show. She has earned scholarships from the university, the city of Philadelphia and the Police Athletic League.

Last summer, Toner served as a store operations intern for Giant Food Stores. "I gained insight into food retailing and learned the daily operations of grocery management,” Toner said. "When I think of the grocery industry, the direct interaction with the consumer is what automatically comes to mind for me.”

Andrea Bouma


Molly Cahill

Qili (Lily) Jin

Caitlin Keller

Megan Leppez

Mandy Loh

Mia Tomkins

Christine Toner

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