Class of 2023
Growing up in Hershey, PA, chocolate and candy have always been a part of Shawn Houser-Fedor’s life, and she often jokes that there might even be actual chocolate in her blood.
Shawn was born on March 17, 1972, to Edward and Cheryl Houser. She says her parents were adamant about education and being able to learn and provide for oneself. Going to college wasn’t really a choice, she says it was an opportunity they insisted on providing to Shawn and her two brothers to allow them to have a prosperous life.
At the age of 17, Shawn says she made the decision to be a teenage working mom. She graduated early from Palmyra Area High School with honors and started college, receiving a chemistry degree from Lebanon Valley College in 1994. She returned to school nearly 10 years later and in 2006 earned her MBA from Penn State University. She says she did this because she wanted to understand and impact the business side of the industry.
She recalls that her first internship experience at The Hershey Co., in 1993, changed the trajectory of her career plan from becoming a pediatric physician to R&D and business leadership. Shawn says she was enamored by the creativity and science that goes into developing new products. She adds that she has stayed in the industry for the past 28 years because she loves creating, developing, learning, problem solving and working for a growing company with smart and passionate people.
Before committing to confectionery, Shawn spent a few years at Campbell Soup Co. as a research associate testing new ingredients to reduce fat and calories in traditional baking recipes.
She officially began her career at Hershey as an associate research scientist in 1996. She has held several roles during her tenure, including senior manager chocolate excellence, associate marketing manager, global innovation and international marketing, and product development team leader. She currently holds the title of senior director of U.S. confection R&D.
In 2004, Shawn helped launch caramel-filled Hershey’s Kisses, leveraging the new “Frozen Cone’’ technology to fill the centers. She also points to her role as co-designer and developer of the Guinness World Records holding Largest Chocolate Kisses and Largest Individual Chocolate Kisses as highlights of her time in the industry.
Throughout her career, Shawn has enjoyed partnering with others through various organizations. From attending NCA’s State of the Industry Conference, the Wisconsin Candy School and many PMCA production conferences, she says she has met many talented colleagues and friends. Shawn also shares hands-on experiences with local elementary, middle and high school students, and mentors scientists in the industry.
She attends LCBC Manheim Church and has spent time giving back through coaching elementary soccer and field hockey and leading morning prayer groups for high school students.
Support and love from her parents and family, perseverance and the grace of God are factors Shawn believes have led to her success. She adds that her ability to connect and communicate with others, generosity in everything she does, consistent drive and the ability to stay focused all play a role in her longevity in the confectionery industry.
Shawn currently lives in Palmyra, PA, with her husband Scott, who she met at work and married in 2013. Together they have six children and five grandchildren. Away from work, she enjoys spending time at the beach and boating with her family, attending sporting events and traveling the world. In addition, she loves to work with her dad and husband building, remodeling and fixing homes.
She offers this advice to those coming into the industry — give your best each day and don’t forget to love yourself, even when you don’t feel successful.