Home > Leadership Reimagined > Episode 57: Erin Tolefree

Episode 57: Erin Tolefree

Multigenerational Family of Food Entrepreneurs

We are pleased to present this month’s Leadership Reimagined episode featuring Erin Tolefree, President of Baldwin Richardson Foods. Join us for an inspiring conversation as Erin shares her passion and insights on positively impacting the next generation through entrepreneurship and economic opportunity. Erin discusses the importance of creating these opportunities and shares her inspirational perspective: “What we do well allows us to do good.” This shared mission of her multigenerational entrepreneurial family began with her grandparents, George and Joan Betty Johnson, founders of Johnson Products, the first black-owned company listed on the American Stock Exchange, and her father, Eric Johnson, founder of Balwin Richardson Foods. “If we create one entrepreneur, or if one of those students goes on to create something that spurs the economic opportunity for others to be employed, then we have found a way to pay it forward. So that is a huge part of our mission and our strategy.”

Erin is not just a President; she is a visionary, a purpose-driven leader with deep-rooted values, accountability, communication, and transparency.

Erin Tolefree

Erin began her career at Baldwin Richardson Foods in 2001, focusing on account management. She advanced through the company, holding leadership positions in customer relations, supply chain, logistics, finance, and corporate governance, and was named COO in 2019 and President at the end of 2020. During Erin’s tenure as President, she has led the company through a period of significant growth with a vision to lead the industry with excellence and flavorful innovations that delight the world and enable Baldwin Richardson Foods to make a positive impact on the lives of its people, partners, and community. Erin’s community involvement includes service on the boards of ESL Federal Credit Union, ROC2025, Rochester Regional Health, and the Rochester Advisory Board for Excellus BCBS. She is also a Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council member and previously served on the boards of Ronald McDonald House of Rochester, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Women’s Council, and Food Link.

Please enjoy this inspiring episode of Leadership Reimagined featuring Erin Tolefree, President of Baldwin Richardson Foods!

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Janice Reals Ellig

Chief Executive Officer

As the head of the Ellig Group, Janice is dedicated to increasing the placement of women and diverse candidates on corporate boards and in C-suites by 2025. Janice joined the legacy firm in 2000 and became Co-Chief Executive Officer in its transition to Chadick Ellig in 2007; she assumed sole ownership of the company as the Ellig Group in 2017 with a new focus on Reimagining Search. Prior to her career in executive search, Janice spent 20 years in corporate America at Pfizer, Citi and Ambac Financial Group, an IPO from Citibank, where she was responsible for Marketing, Human Resources, and Administration.

Heralded by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “The World’s Most Influential Headhunters,” Janice is often consulted for her expertise and her commitment to gender parity, inclusion, and diversity. She frequently appears at speaking engagements and as a media guest, and she has penned multiple articles for outlets such as Directors & Boards, Directorship, Corporate Director, The Huffington Post, and Forbes.com. Janice also co-authored two books: Driving The Career Highway and What Every Successful Woman Knows, acknowledged by Bloomberg Businessweek as “the best of its genre.”

A tirelessly active member of the industry and champion of her causes, Janice is Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative and its signature event, Breakfast of Corporate Champions. Since 2011, Janice continues to spearhead this event to honor companies committed to board diversity and to encourage CEOs to sponsor board-ready women for the Women’s Forum database. (LINK: www.womensforumny.org).

Janice is personally committed to several NFP organizations: Board Director of the National YMCA and Past Chair of the YMCA Board of Greater New York; Trustee of the Actors Fund and Committee For Economic Development (CED); Incoming Chair, University of Iowa Foundation; Women’s Forum of New York Past President and Chair of the Corporate Board Initiative; member of the Steering Committee, US 30% Club and The Economic Club of New York.

In recognition for her many philanthropic activities, Janice received the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) Eleanor Raynolds Award for Volunteerism in 2008. Named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews, she was also a recipient of the Channel 21 Award In Excellence for her contribution to “Excellence in the Economic Development for Women.”

“Listening to our clients’ needs, learning their business and understanding their culture is how we present the best talent and provide  a competitive advantage. We place candidates with the character, competencies, commitment, (intellectual) curiosity and courage to make a difference. Our goal is always to go beyond the expected and deliver valuable advice, measurable results and great talent!”

– Janice Reals Ellig

  • Champion of gender parity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Industry expert, speaker, and author
  • Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative
  • Committed board and committee member and philanthropist

T: (212) 688-8671 ext. 226
E: Janice@ElligGroup.com