Long-Time SENPA Executive Director Honored at SOHO

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Orlando, FL—SOHO EXPO, the annual Southeast Natural Products Association (SENPA) tradeshow held this year Dec. 4–7, hosted 2,800 natural products industry members.

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Carylene Walker, SENPA executive director, and artist Karen Heidler

As in years past, education was a strong focus of the show, and SENPA partnered with the national NPA offices to expand the program this year. Attendees had four days—totaling 28 hours—of education programs, which included speakers such as Tierona Low Dog, M.D., NPA’s executive director and CEO Dan Fabricant, Michael T. Murray, N.D., of Natural Factors, Brenda Watson of ReNew Life, Jay Jacobowitz of Retail Insights and Terry Lemerond of Europharma.

The tradeshow portion of the event included more booths than it had in the previous year, totaling 348 booths in 2014.

At the President’s Saturday night dance party, SENPA honored its long-time executive director, Carylene (Reed) Walker, for her 40 years of service to the group. Walker worked in her father’s Clearwater, FL, natural products store and took over the business in 1971. She became SENPA’s secretary in 1974, and has been its executive director since 1987. When asked what her proudest moments have been at SENPA, Walker stated, “To be part of a growing industry and helping SENPA grow and mature by producing  SOHO EXPO, the largest independent  natural products tradeshow today.  I am also proud of the user-friendly reputation that SOHO has become known for.”

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Sharon Sherman and her son, Zachary.

The group also gave its annual President’s Award to Sharon Sherman, CEO and co-founder of PetGuard. Sherman had roots as a health food retailer, and went on to found PetGuard in 1975. She is one of the innovators of the natural pet health category, and SENPA selected Sherman in honor of her “long-time contribution to the Natural Products Industry above and beyond commercial success.”

In presenting the award, Karen Greenway, SENPA president, stated. “Sharon has tirelessly contributed to the industry through volunteering on both NPA and SENPA boards.  Under her guidance at PetGuard she was the first to bring USDA Certified Organic pet food to the marketplace and she worked extremely hard to make sure that standard for human organic product was kept the same for pets.  She is an original member of the Organic Pet Food Task Force and continues to serve to this day making sure that USDA certified Organic standards keep their integrity.”

Also during SOHO, Frances Drennen, co-owner of Manna Grocery & Deli in Tuscaloosa, AL, was sworn in as president for a two-year term.

SOHO 2015 will be held December 3–6 at the Gaylord Palms Hotel.