The CGA Educational Foundation has created a unique scholarship program designed to acknowledge and advance the legacy of many of California’s grocery leaders and recognize them for their many contributions.
The Foundation established the “Legacy Scholarship” program. Under the program, the Foundation hopes to encourage the creation of new Legacy scholarships that will honor CGAEF’s Hall of Achievement honorees, both past and future, as well as the many other men and women who have had rewarding and influential careers in the grocery industry.
“The thinking behind the program has been deep and heartfelt,” said Allan Scharn, former Foundation Chair and Hall of Achievement Inductee. “Many of the industry’s most prominent leaders have shared similar career paths: They started as a box person or checker at a single store and kept moving up the ladder and deeper into the corporate realm, never losing sight of their devotion and passion for the business.”
“The stature of the people in our industry is so profound. We felt it would be wonderful if there was a vehicle to recognize the many contributions these individuals have made to the industry,” said Scharn, who retired as President of Gelson’s Markets in 1996.
“This is a way for the family members of these individuals, or their companies, or the individuals themselves to offer an ongoing scholarship in their name. It serves as a reminder of their leadership and an inspiration to others in the industry,” said Scharn.
Under the program, donors commit a minimum of $10,000 to fund annual $1,000 scholarships in the honored person’s name. The scholarships are to be awarded based on general requirements set by the Trustees of the Foundation and the donors themselves.
Scharn emphasized that the program is flexible. Donors will have a variety of options for giving, including charitable annuities, endowments or annual cash gifts. “We understand every situation is different. The program is designed to be flexible,” Scharn said.
To learn more about the program, or to begin a Legacy Scholarship, email Brianne Page, or call (916) 448-3545.
About Our Legacy Scholarship Donors
Lou & Dorie Amen
A legend in the industry. That is how Louis Amen, former board chairman for Super A Foods, has been characterized by those who knew him well. Amen bought his first store in 1950 with a partner and parlayed that into a 8-store chain that later was sold. Then he started the process all over again by himself in 1971 when he began building Super A Foods, a chain of 9 stores in Los Angeles. A past CGA Chair, Amen served on the Board for many years. He was also a longtime Board member with Unified Grocers, formerly the largest cooperative in the western United States. An early riser, he was known for arriving at the office before dawn on many mornings. Lou passed away in early 2020.
Kevin & Annette Arceneaux
In his 37-year career, Kevin Arceneaux has shaped the sales of several popular brands in the grocery business, from Gallo wines to Ritz crackers and Oreo cookies. But ask Kevin what his favorite commodity is and without hesitation he’ll say, “People”. It comes as no surprise to anyone that Kevin has a passion for giving back. He has always supported many charitable organizations the industry serves such as City of Hope, Olive Crest, as well as the California Grocers Association. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South L.A for more than a decade where he was born and raised. Kevin is very active at his alma mater, USC, and serves on the USC Marshall Undergraduate School Advisory Board and has mentored students in the Business School for over 16 years. Kevin has been married to his beautiful wife Annette for more than 35 years.
Judy & Bernard Briskin
Judy and Bernard Briskin are exemplary philanthropists and deeply involved in the community with a passion for giving back. Whether its medical research, women’s health, underprivileged youngster, elderly care, synagogue life or educational opportunities, the Briskins’ volunteer their time and resources to strengthen all causes they support. Through fundraising campaigns, they have raised needed funds for medical, religious and educational institutions, leaving a lasting and meaningful legacy. A consummate businessman, Bernie served as chairman, president and CEO for the Arden Group Inc. where he helmed Gelson’s Markets from 1987 until his retirement in 2014. Bernie was inducted into the CGA Educational Foundation in 2007. Judy turned her passion for art into a business as an accomplished interior designer and continues to be actively involved with MOCA, LACMA and other LA art institutions.
With a personal, hands-on style, Jack Brown led Stater Bros. Markets as chairman of the board. Born on Flag Day, Brown is as patriotic as they come. He began his grocery career as a 13-year-old box boy in San Bernardino. After serving with the U.S. Navy, he found his way back to the grocery industry, working for chains in Southern California, Indiana and Nebraska. In 1981, he joined Stater Bros. Markets as its top executive, and the company operates more than 150 supermarkets in Southern California. Among his many accomplishments, he received the 2011 Patriot Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Jack passed away in 2016.
Chase a Dream
Anonymous Legacy Donor: “Most everyone has a dream, though not everyone finds the courage to chase it. For many, education is the key that unlocks their potential, building knowledge, skills, and confidence. Education helps them refine their dream and take actions to bring their vision into reality. Through financial assistance of CGAEF, I was able to achieve both educational and professional dreams. This scholarship is dedicated to those who come after, to help them achieve their goals.”
Bruce & Lyn Everette
From the day he started bagging groceries, Bruce Everette’s passion for the retail industry has never faded. He spent his entire career with Safeway, where he served as executive vice president of retail operations before retiring in 2013. Responsible for nine divisions in the United States and Canada, he oversaw 180,000 employees and 1,600 stores and loved every minute. Over the years, Everette became known as a beacon for education. He mentored numerous colleagues and encouraged their educational pursuits. With his wife, Lyn, by his side, he has long supported the grocery industry’s educational initiatives. Bruce was inducted into the Foundation’s Hall of Achievement in 2012.
Joe & Dolly Falvey
Joe Falvey has dedicated almost 40 years to the grocery industry, beginning his career with E&J Gallo in 1982. He worked with Nalley Fine Foods and his own food brokerage company before joining Certified Grocers in 1999. Over the next 20 years, Falvey weathered several company acquisitions and now serves as President of Professional Services for SUPERVALU/UNFI. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Joe also serves as President of the Northern California City of Hope Food Industry Association and is a Board Member for WAFC. Joe was CGA Board Chair in 2015, CGAEF Vice Chair from 2011 – 2013, and was inducted into the CGAEF Hall of Achievement in 2019. Joe and wife Dolly, married 32 years, are parents to two daughters, Shauna and Brooke.
George & Debbi Frahm
George and Debbi Frahm have been married for over 42 years, so they understand what it means to make a commitment. This same type of commitment can be seen in the charitable causes they support like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the City of Hope, the Riverside City Mission or the many industry-related events they regularly attend together. George worked for Stater Bros. Markets for over 40 years. He began his grocery career as a nightshift janitor and afternoon clerk’s helper while attending college at CSU Los Angeles. He worked his way up through the ranks and retired as President in 2019. Education has played a significant role in George’s success over the years and that is why he and Debbi are longtime supporters of CGAEF’s educational programs.
Bernie & Ellyn Gelson
Bernard Gelson was a true visionary in the supermarket industry. As the co-founder of Gelson’s Markets, he pioneered upscale grocery shopping in Southern California in the early 1950’s, having learned the grocery business from his parents who owned a small store in Sioux City, Iowa, where he was born. Always known as “Bernie”, he treated his customers as guests in his home and his employees as family. “He was a ‘people person’” said his wife, Ellyn Gelson, “who always recognized that his employees were the company’s greatest asset.” Though he never attended college himself, Bernie constantly preached the value of higher education because he believed that a college diploma, coupled with hard work, was the key to lifelong success.
Denny Belcastro is most recognized for his big smile and unwavering passion for serving the grocery industry. As former Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Industry Collaboration for Hillshire Brands Company, Denny led the company’s efforts with business and industry related issues that help shape public policy. For over 40 years, Denny has held leadership positions in both retail and food service business segments with Standard Brands, Kraft Foods, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and Kimberly Clark. A native of Aliquippa, PA, Denny holds a bachelor degree in business communication from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Denny and his wife Marsha make their home in a Chicago suburb where they are involved in many community and service related events and non-profit organizations.
Dave & Julie Hirz
Dave and Julie Hirz value education and are proud to support the CGA Educational Foundation. Dave is currently the President & CEO of Smart & Final Stores. He began his career as a box boy in Cleveland, Ohio and took his first college course at age 30. He attended CSU Fullerton, completing his degree while working as a store manager for Boys Markets. He is a member of the Deans Advisory Board at CSUF. He feels fortunate to have completed the Cornell University Food Industry Program and the USC Food Management Executive Program. Julie is retired from Dow Chemical Company and enjoys volunteering at their church and the Tustin Public Schools Foundation. Dave and Julie are proud parent of three children and enjoy every minute with their two grandchildren.
John B. & Mary Lynn Kelly
Since 1969, John has been dedicated to serving the needs of corporations, associations and affluent individuals using values-based financial planning principles. An avid golfer, John is also a prolific author and is widely known as a dynamic speaker and seminar presenter. As a financial coach, John wrote The Investor’s Caddie, an adult learning tool used to help participants in over thirty 401(k) and pension plans that he manages. He and his wife Mary Lynn have long supported CGA member companies and the CGAEF’s education initiatives. As a first-generation college graduate, John greatly values the importance of education. John resides in Sacramento and has two daughters and a yellow lab named Honey. Mary passed away in 2016.
Peter & Jody Larkin
Peter Larkin is former President and CEO of the National Grocers Association in Arlington, VA, and has a wealth of experience in government and industry relations spanning – literally – from coast to coast. Prior to joining NGA, Larkin led the California Grocers Association and the CGA Educational Foundation for 11 years, and played an important role in helping expand Foundation programs. Prior to CGA, Larkin was a vice president for the Food Marketing Institute. He and his wife Jody, were strong supporters of promoting CGA educational opportunities. The Larkins agree that “Education is key to both the success of the individual and of the country’s grocers.”
Jim & Nancy Lee
Jim Lee, retired president and COO of Stater Bros. Markets, devoted his entire career to the grocery industry. He began as a box boy at Ralphs Grocery Co., where he spent 25 years and became group vice president, before moving on to Wild Oats Markets, Inc., as president and COO. In 2002, Lee joined Stater Bros. Markets as group vice president and rose to the top management level, retiring from the company in mid-2013. Known as a caring advocate for others and a strong advocate of education, Lee has helped people at all levels to grow and succeed. His deep experience and leadership skills have earned him many honors, including induction into the Hall of Achievement in 2013. Nancy works part-time as a real estate agent and is also a grocery industry veteran (27 years with Ralphs) where she and Jim met.
Bob & Susan Lim
Bob Lim has a simple philosophy when it comes to serving the food industry and his community: “Don’t forget your roots and give back in any way you can.” As former Vice President for West Area Sales for Kraft Foods Group, Inc., Lim earned widespread respect as a top executive for one of the world’s largest food companies. Remembering his immigrant father’s devotion to his children’s education and success, Lim served the retail industry and his community in myriad ways, including guest lecturing at USC’s Food Industry Marketing Program, working at food banks, and helping develop community assets such as the San Francisco Chinatown Youth Center. He and his wife, Susan, view education as an everlasting gift.
Rob & Leah McDougall
Rob McDougall has enjoyed 40 years in the grocery industry having started his career as a bagger at 16 years old. His experience includes 22 years at Vons Grocery Company, where he advanced through several management positions, and at D&W Food Centers in Michigan where he served as COO. In 2007, Rob returned to Southern California when he joined the Gelson’s team, ultimately assuming the role of President in January 2012 and President/CEO in February 2014. Rob holds a B.S. in Business Administration and an M.B.A in Global Management, both from the University of Phoenix. Rob and Leah are parents to twin boys, Shaun and Robert. They reside in Yorba Linda and enjoy camping, fishing, and spending time with their 10 grandchildren.
Louis Melillo Sr.
Louis Melillo had a long and fruitful career in the grocery industry, starting out working in his mother’s corner store in Massachusetts. Following service in the Marines 1st Division in the Pacific Theater during WWII and the Korean conflict, Lou moved to California and began work as a stock clerk for The Boys Markets, eventually becoming chief operating officer for the company. In 1981, he opened Louis Foods Supermarket in Pasadena, the first of four stores. Lou was a long time member of the Southern California Grocers Association and served as its Chairman from 1978-1979 prior to the merger with the California Grocers Association. Louis passed away in 2010.
Robert “Bob” Piccinini was the owner of Save Mart Supermarkets, a chain of 200+ Save Mart, Lucky and Food Maxx stores headquartered in Modesto. Save Mart Supermarkets was started by Bob’s father and uncle to provide their neighbors with the best of what the Central Valley had to offer. Bob started with the company as a box boy earning 50 cents an hour more than 50 years ago. In 1985, he purchased the family owned supermarket chain, becoming its chief executive officer. In 2014, Bob stepped back from day-to-day operations, but continued to play a visionary role in the company as chairman of the board. A leader with longstanding CGA ties, Bob passed away in 2015.
Ralphs/Food 4 Less
Ralphs and Food 4 Less are dedicated to our purpose: to Feed the Human Spirit ™. Ralphs and Food 4 Less is more than 29,000 associates serving customers in 319 supermarkets from the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles County. Ralphs and Food 4 Less are recognized leaders in community service and giving. Last year, the company’s contributed more than $10 million to support education, hunger relief, women’s health and local nonprofit organizations in the communities served by the company’s stores. Ralphs and Food 4 Less are subsidiaries of The Kroger Co., (NYSE:KR), one of the world’s largest retailers, based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Veronica & Bill Sanders
Bill and Veronica have more than 40 years of combined industry experience. Both were long-time Safeway employees, where they met and fell in love. Veronica is an account executive for Premier Sales Solutions covering Boise, IL. Bill continues to enjoy a successful career as Albertsons Companies’ category director for corporate bakery. Both are passionate about education. Veronica graduated from CSU East Bay with a degree in mass communications. She values education greatly and the importance of cultivating tomorrow’s leaders. Given the Sanders’ success in grocery industry, it was a perfect fit for them to contribute to the scholarship program. They believe “once you reach a certain level of success in life and career, it is really a moral obligation to give back to the community.”
Superior Foundation, the non-profit organization for Superior Grocers, one of the largest independent supermarket chains in Southern California, has been supporting local community programs for over 20 years. Having raised over $2.9 million dollars, Superior Foundation helps make a direct connection with local schools, youth programs and scholarship programs creating a positive impact in the lives and well-being of families throughout Southern California. Its focus has been to facilitate the access to a great education, by supporting efforts that enhance technology, music programs and health and wellness education programs.
Treasury Wine Estates
Treasury Wine Estates is the largest premium wine company in the world. With more than 3,400 employees across the globe, TWE offers more than 70 award winning brands including Beringer, Chateau St. Jean and 19 Crimes, many with ratings above 90 points. Annually, the company sells more than 36m cases globally. TWE is a leader in the Napa Valley – owning and farming more acreage than any other winery utilizing 34 vineyards across 4,600 acres. Internationally, Treasury Wine Estates accesses more than 35,000 acres spanning the Americas, Asia, Europe, Australia & New Zealand. Treasury Wine Estates is proud to support the next generation of wine enthusiasts with this scholarship.
Donna Tyndall & Mike Ketcham
Donna and Mike are a true grocery couple. They began their careers bagging groceries; Mike with National T in Chicago in 1966 and Donna with Gelson’s Market in Burbank in 1973. Donna has spent her entire career with Gelson’s and is now Senior Vice President of Operations. Upon relocating to California, Mike worked for Lucky Stores and after several mergers and consolidations, retired as General Manager of Distribution for Albertsons. Mike and Donna met at the USC Food Industry Management Program in 1988 and married in 1994. They understand the importance of continuing education and want to give back to aspiring students in the food industry.
Unified Grocers/SUPERVALU became part of UNFI in 2018. UNFI serves customers across the United States through a network of 3,324 stores composed of 3,111 wholesale primary stores operated by customers serviced by UNFI’s food distribution business and 213 traditional retail grocery stores operated under five retail banners in six geographic regions. Supporting the growth and development of employees and the communities we serve is an important part of our company culture.
Jim & Judy Van Gorkom
Jim & Judy Van Gorkom have long been strong advocates for education. Their unwavering support for the CGA Educational Foundation, the Illuminators Educational Foundation, and their own stories of ongoing learning for themselves, their families and others has been seen or heard by many. Along with serving as Chair of CGAEF for five years and as Headlite/President of The Illuminators, Jim has also served on many grocery industry board and committees including the California Grocers Association, City of Hope, Easter Seals, Olive Crest, and the NFRA. With both 40 years of marriage and grocery industry experience, Jim and Judy have had many wonderful opportunities and made many life-long friends in what Jim refers to as ‘our terrific grocery world’.