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Stephen Avera can eat all the snack cakes and frozen pastries he wants. After 16 years with Flowers Foods, Inc., Avera was promoted to corporate secretary and general counsel, from vice president and general counsel of Flowers Bakeries, an operating group of Flowers Foods and Mrs. Smith’s Bakeries. Flowers Foods, located in Thomasville, Georgia, about 30 miles from Tallahassee, is probably most famous for its Mrs. Smith’s frozen pies. The company also bakes and delivers Nature’s Own, Cobblestone Mill specialty breads, BlueBird’s fresh snack cakes, and Mrs. Freshley’s snack cakes to vending machines from Virginia to New Mexico. Prior to joining Flowers Foods, Avera spent four years as a captain in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, prosecuting and defending soldiers in cases ranging from bounced checks to murder. While in the Army, he spent a year in Korea and three years in Germany. “It was just a great cultural experience working with Korean law enforcement,” says Avera, who also spent six months in Korea as a college student. Avera ended up in the JAG Corps after going to college on an ROTC scholarship. He then received an educational exemption from service, which allowed him to attend law school at the University of Alabama. He graduated in 1981. The toughest thing about working at Flowers Foods may be resisting its desserts. “Goodness yes, I eat our breads and pastries,” says Avera, who says he does not have to worry about gaining weight. “It’s just like anything in life: Eat in moderation, and exercise, and there is nothing to worry about.”

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