Drawing upon nearly four decades of professional experience, certified association executive Lee Sanders is an acclaimed figure in the fields of legislation, politics, entrepreneurship, and culinary arts. Enjoying diversified career paths, Ms. Sanders is revered in her industries for successfully juggling many roles while continually progressing. Currently, she serves as the founder and president of the Lee Sanders Strategy Group LLC, through which she maintains responsibility for the advocacy, policymaking, and strategy for various businesses in the areas of food and agriculture.
Alongside these positions, Ms. Sanders has served as a board member of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee since 2018 and the president and co-founder of the Society of Bakery Women since 2012. Recently, she departed from her position as senior vice president and corporate secretary of government relations and public affairs with the American Bakers Association, where she thrived between 2005 and 2023. In this regard, she has been heavily involved in policies and procedures for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, remaining abreast of legislation and regulatory policies that impact agriculture and food manufacturers.
Interested in politics from a formative age, Ms. Sanders has always been thrilled to meet new individuals and learn new subjects in the political sphere, noting that the situations both invigorated and energized her. Prior to her more recent career endeavors, she served in the White House counsel staff and treasury legislative affairs under the George H.W. Bush Administration from 1992 to 1993. Previously, she served in the Senate labor committee staff and as a legislative aide in the Office of Senator Thad Cochran between 1985 and 1992. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, with a minor in international affairs, from the University of Mississippi, which she earned in 1985. During her undergraduate studies, Ms. Sanders was a staff writer for The Daily Mississippian.
Always eager to obtain new knowledge to encourage professional growth, Ms. Sanders has earned a myriad of certificates since commencing her career. In 2009, she became a certified association executive through the American Society of Association Executives, having thereafter received an executive education certificate from the Strategic Analysis and Decision-Making Program at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in 2017. The following year, she earned an executive education certificate from the Leading Teams for Growth and Change Program at the aforementioned academic institution. Notably, Ms. Sanders’ certifications and extensive education have formed the foundation of her present success.
Civically engaged in her community, Ms. Sanders has maintained involvement with the Food and Beverage Issue Alliance, having served as past chairperson. Impressively, she cites her affiliation with the organization as a notable highlight of her career as she helped develop and lead the organization from its inception. Initially establishing the alliance as a platform to communicate with senior officials within the FDA, Ms. Sanders has witnessed the alliance grow to approximately 50 trade associations during the past decade and become a reputable source of information. The Food and Beverage Issue Alliance has further played a critical role in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of this endeavor, Ms. Sanders sat as chairperson of the ASB Scientific Advisory Committee from 2003 to 2012 and was chairperson of the Wheat Quality Council in Kansas City, Missouri, from 2016 to 2017, among many other positions.
As a testament to her success in the field, Ms. Sanders has earned many accolades. Most recently, in 2021, she received the Robert A. Fisher Distinguished Service Award from the American Society of Baking. In 2017, she was honored with the Full Kernel Award from the Wheat Quality Council for her outstanding contributions to the improvement of wheat and flour in the United States. Moreover, Ms. Sanders was named among the Influential 20 by Baking Management and received the Young Leadership Award from Baking and Snack Magazine, both in 2009.
In accounting for her success, Ms. Sanders credits her extensive network of professional friends and colleagues who have always lent their support to her ambitions. She emphasizes that her collaborative nature over the years has further aided her professional networking, which has built upon her success. Looking toward the future, Ms. Sanders endeavors to enter a new chapter of her life, leveraging all the knowledge she has cultivated in food legislation, regulatory policy and work she has completed with various political associations. To this end, she aims to work for another organization or in a consultative capacity.