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NEPC announces keynote speaker for annual expo

The New England Produce Council announced that Blake Bolden, a former hockey player with the National Women's Hockey League, who has broken barriers since she was a young girl, will deliver the keynote speech, "Overcoming Adversity with a Healthy Mind and Body," at the council's expo this August.

Sometimes called the Jackie Robinson of women's hockey, Bolden believes that eating a plant-based diet has allowed her body to compete on the professional stage at an optimal level. She will speak Thursday, Aug. 25, during the NEPC Produce, Floral & Foodservice Expo, scheduled to take place Aug. 24-25 at the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport in Boston.

Bolden's father introduced her to the game of ice hockey when she was six years old. She played her collegiate hockey career at Boston College and was dominant throughout her four-year career. Selected fifth over all in the Canadian Women's Hockey League Draft in 2013, she became the first African-American player ever taken in the first round.

In 2015, when the National Women's Hockey League was established, Bolden signed with the Boston Pride, becoming the first African-American player to compete in the league. She is a three-time NWHL All-Star and recorded the fastest shot in the 2017 skills competition at 87 mph.

Bolden spent time playing overseas in Switzerland before returning to the NWHL for the 2018-19 season with the Buffalo Beauts, earning the league's Defensive Player of the Year Award for her stellar performance.

In 2020, Bolden was hired by the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League as a pro scout, becoming the first African-American female scout and only the second female ever to be a pro scout for an NHL team.

Her role with the team expanded last July after she was named the Kings' growth and inclusion specialist. She topped The Athletic's list of Hockey 40 Under 40 rankings released last August, and in December was named by Sports Illustrated to its most powerful women in sports list.

Bolden, a resident of California, continues to work for the team, and is a reporter at ESPN.

For more information about the expo, contact NEPC Executive Director Laura Sullivan by phone (781/273-0444) or email (nepc2@rcn.com).

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