Second-generation Family Grocer Wins NGA Foundation’s First Diversity in Leadership Scholarship

May 10, 2021

PepsiCo endowment pays executive development program tuition for Fruit Tree Farm’s Charles Choi

Washington, D.C. – A second-generation Korean American whose work is driving the growth of his family’s independent supermarket business has been selected to receive the first PepsiCo Diversity in Leadership Endowment scholarship from the National Grocers Association Foundation (NGAF).

Charles Choi, managing director of Long Island, N.Y.-based Fruit Tree Farm, affiliated with the Associated Supermarket Group (ASG), was selected to attend the foundation’s annual Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) at Cornell University, scheduled for June 6-10. The $5,000 scholarship will cover the cost of program registration ($2,850), with the remaining funds available as a travel stipend.

“Charles is a modern entrepreneur who understands the art and science behind merchandising as well as today’s consumer preferences,” said Michelle Mendoza, ASG VP of marketing and customer experience, who nominated Choi for the scholarship. “As the supermarket industry is transforming and the American consumer palate has an appreciation for diversity in food, Charles is at the forefront of this transformation.”

The son of Korean immigrants, Choi is following in his family’s footsteps. During the last three years, his responsibilities have increased, and he has applied his strong business acumen and approachableness to the growth of Fruit Tree’s supermarkets.

“We are honored to support Charles’ professional development efforts through this year’s ELDP event, which will provide him with additional tools to drive his family’s business even further,” said Maggie White, NGA Foundation Director

NGAF partnered with PepsiCo to create the Leadership Endowment following the completion of the 2020 ELDP program, which due to the pandemic was successfully executed virtually. This endowment will award one scholarship each year to a deserving woman or minority ELDP candidate that covers the cost of attending the program.

The partnership with NGAF is another step in PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey, which in 2020 saw the company announce commitments of more than $570 million over the next five years dedicated to Black and Hispanic communities in the U.S. this year. These commitments comprise a holistic effort for PepsiCo to help address the need for systemic change with speed and purpose.

“We are proud to extend our support of this important program and provide assistance to an exceptional entrepreneur,” said Kent Montgomery, vice president of North America industry relations at PepsiCo. “Expanding representation helps to strengthen the supermarket industry and bring more choice and better service to our customers.”

Scholarship recipients are selected by a diverse committee made up of members of the NGAF Board of Regents, the Women Grocers of America, a representative from Cornell University’s Executive Education program, and PepsiCo leadership.

About NGA Foundation

The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association. The Foundation provides independent retailers with tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers. For more information, visit