Ron Tanner Departs SFA

Julie Gallagher | 13 Jan 2021

Ron Tanner, SFA’s vice president of education, content & advocacy, has left the Association to focus on opportunities within international trade, maker preparedness, and regulatory and legislative activities.

“The SFA will forever be grateful for Ron’s 33 years of dedicated service to our members, industry, and staff,” said SFA President Bill Lynch. “The efforts Ron has made during that time to advance our education programs, government work, the Specialty Food Foundation, and our various volunteer groups has set us up with a solid foundation for many years of future success.  I am personally thankful for Ron’s friendship and to have worked with him for many of those years and hope to find a way to keep him engaged in some way while he enjoys this next chapter!”

Tanner joined the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (now the Specialty Food Association) in 1987 as communications director, in charge of NASFT Showcase (now Specialty Food magazine), public relations, and member communications. He also oversaw the press office at the Fancy Food Shows and brought in celebrity chefs and food personalities to drum up excitement about SFA member products.

Tanner traveled across the country and the world to be where SFA members were and was also at the forefront of numerous SFA programs during his career including the What’s New, What’s Hot! exhibits at the Fancy Food Shows, the Member Education Conference, The Basics: The Business of Specialty Food, and the NASFT Product Awards (now sofi Awards). He also helped launch such programs as the State of the Specialty Food Industry research, Incubator Village, the Member Candidate Program, the Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement, and Leadership Awards, and Biz Builders.

“It’s the people of the specialty food industry that I will remember and treasure,” said Tanner. “Entrepreneurs who enjoyed business but also cared about people’s health, their communities and each other. It has been an honor to serve SFA, its members and the industry.”

Denise Purcell, vice president of content & education, worked closely with Tanner throughout most of his SFA career.

“Ron Tanner hired me for my first position here at SFA, which was Fancy Food Show Directory editor,” said Purcell. “Over the years, he led our editorial and education team in introducing programs like the Retailer Summits, and countless other expansions and improvements. Working with him has been a pleasure and an education, and not only because he can select an excellent restaurant or wine in any price range. He knows everyone, has been a dedicated spokesperson and ambassador for specialty foods, and has been happy to travel tirelessly in service to our members and the industry. I’m looking forward to continuing to build and evolve many of the programs he helped pioneer.”

Related: SFA Reveals 2020 sofi Award Winners; Industries Call for End to Food Tariffs in Airline Dispute.