Nancy Poulos Leadership Award Recipient
Gillian Bleimann Boucard
Gillian Bleimann Boucard has been an active member of the flavor and fragrance community for over 22 years, with experience dating back to her early days in high school. As a student, she spent her summers in Berje’s fragrance lab which sparked an interest that would continue to grow throughout her college years, nurtured by the guidance of her father, Kim Bleimann. After graduating from Connecticut College with a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religious Studies, Gillian worked tirelessly to incorporate her newfound knowledge of anthropology and global history into her work in the industry.
Beginning in 2006, Gillian started her career at Berjé with a leadership rotational training program, working extensively in the areas of quality control, regulatory, and product management. From here, she worked her way through the various positions at Berjé, eventually transitioning into sales and purchasing. In this role, Gillian greatly expanded her knowledge of international business and client relations, with a focus on product knowledge through a multi-year mentorship program.
Working in international sales alongside her father, Gillian helped expand Berjé’s global partnerships throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. She led the company’s Global Purchasing Team and developed numerous sales strategies that have allowed Berjé to grow immensely over the past few years. Throughout these years, Gillian served as a board member of the WFFC, and she remains an active co-chair of its Educational Seminar, a beloved and important industry event. Gillian is also a board member and mentor at the Fashion Institute of New York, where she spends time tutoring the next generation on the business aspects of the international flavor and fragrance industry.
As of 2021, Gillian Bleimann-Boucard has ascended to the role of CEO at Berjé, carrying the company into its third generation of family ownership. Along with continued focus on international sales and sourcing, Gillian oversaw the installation of more than 4,000 solar panels at Berjé’s Carteret, NJ facility. This allows the company to generate 100% of its own electricity: one of many “Green Future” initiatives that Berjé has started to implement ever since Gillian took the reins.
All of these programs, from new sourcing strategies to existing facility enhancements, have been enacted with a sustainable future in mind. Throughout her entire career, Gillian has remained hyper-focused on providing stability and sustainability for the next generation of her industry. Over the past years, Gillian has expanded work with a variety of charity organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House, DREAM Charter Schools, Parris Group STEM Education Program, Johannes Gutenberg School Scholarship Fund, and Circle Camp groups. When she’s not working at Berjé, Gillian spends her time traveling and enjoying time with her family between New Jersey and Texas.
Flavorist Recognition Award Recipient
RD&A Director / Sr. Flavorist III
Elsa Howerth has been in the flavor industry for over thirty years. Her career as a flavorist came about quite serendipitously. She came to the US as a foreign student to study physical therapy.
Challenges with entering an impacted program led her to shift to a wide open field in foods and received her bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Food Administration from California State University Long Beach. But her first job happened to be with a fine flavor company, T. Hasegawa USA, where she received training and mentorship as a flavorist, a career she didn’t know existed but found her passion and skills in. She advanced to senior flavorist by the time she moved on to be the technical director for S&S Flavors in California where she took responsibility for Quality Control and Regulatory, a role that brought her significant growth as a flavorist, broadening her experience.
In 1994 after she earned her membership into the Society of Flavor Chemists (SFC), she became passionate about the organization and initiated concerted effort to expand the SFC to California which at that time was unheard of and today is well established with membership representation. She served as Membership Committee Chair for the SFC for three years, was on the board for five, and served as President in 2019. She continues to be active in the SFC volunteering in various roles behind the scenes. She is also a participating member of the FEMA Poundage Committee and FEMA Regulatory Affairs Committee.
In her current role as R&D Director/Sr Flavorist in the beverage/sweet flavors area at Kerry in Beloit, Wisconsin, she continues to work on flavors across product categories, but largely spends her time as technical manager in complexity reduction initiatives and mentoring/training juniors.
Perfumer Recognition Award Recipient
In the beginning, Christina Christie did not know she would become a perfumer. She knew nothing about perfumers, their craft, their role or their art. But olfaction was always her main sense, leading the way. She remembers how sensitive she’s always been to scents, to the point that it was sometimes painful. She even kept olfactive sensation records of her journeys growing up in NYC. When she graduated from college, she turned to a headhunter to find a job. She was offered an interview at Unilever Prestige (then a property of Unilever). While it was a marketing position, it had the word fragrance attached to it. The introduction to perfumery was presented as a serendipitous twist of fate. Her career path would begin at Unilever Prestige in Fragrance and Product Development role on several Fine Fragrance Brands. Later to to Coty and within a year the opportunity to train as a perfumer at Takasago was finally underway.
Christina trained at Takasago with Sensei/Master Perfumer Gus Van Loveren and remained there for 14 years. Missing New York City, (Native New Yorker) Christina would then leave for a position at Fragrance Resources which eventually was acquired by IFF where she enjoys her role as a mentor and creator.
Innovative Excellence Award Recipient
Sarah Willett, Ph.D.
Senior RD&A Scientist ‒ Innovation
Sarah Willett is currently a Senior RD&A Scientist on the Taste Innovation Team at Kerry in Beloit, WI. Her role focuses in the areas of lipid systems, enzyme processes, and encapsulation of flavors and bioactives. Previously she completed her PhD at the University of Georgia in 2019 under the direction of Dr. Casimir C. Akoh. During her PhD, her research focused on production of structured lipids containing menhaden fish oil, oleogels, and the potential for addition of these health beneficial lipids into food products. Her undergraduate degree in Food Science was completed in 2016 at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Sarah has been an active member of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) since 2016, winning multiple awards, including Biotechnology Student Awards and the Hans Kaunitz Award.
She is currently serving as the Vice Chair of the Biotechnology Division, Chair of the Young Professionals Common Interest Group, and Newsletter Editor. Her hobbies include eating desserts and running with her chocolate lab Godiva and fiancé José.