Judith A. Spires, chairman and CEO of KB Holdings Inc., parent company of Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s, was honored as the 2016 Top Women in Grocery Trailblazer at the Top Women in Grocery gala celebration on November 10, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, in Orlando, Fla.
Established in 2012 by Progressive Grocer, PepsiCo and the Network of Executive Women, the Trailblazer Award recognizes a single industry executive whose leadership, vision and influence have helped break new ground for women in the retail food industry.
Prior to accepting the pinnacle award, key members of the Trailblazer Award sponsor team – including Meg Major of Progressive Grocer, Marla Daudelin of PepsiCo/Frito Lay and Bobbie O’Hare of JOH, who represented the Network of Executive Women – offered personal tributes to Spires, who leads the Parsippany, N.J.-based 25-store regional grocery chain, whose stores are located throughout New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
“As a pioneering member of the first class of Top Women in Grocery, Judy has built her stellar reputation on the value of service to customers and associates and is abundantly deserving of this pinnacle award,” said Major. “Judy's demonstrated dedication to develop and build the next generation of women leaders in the retail food industry is underscored by her inspired leadership, evangelized love of the industry and contagious enthusiasm, all of which are unmistakable," Major continued. "Her track record of success and admirable lead-by-example style, coupled with her commitment to spearheading talent advancement and charitable initiatives on behalf of the company, as well as those close to her heart in the local community, make Judy overwhelmingly deserving of this very special recognition as our 2016 Trailblazer.”
Bobbie O’Hare concurred: “Throughout her career, Judy has been a role model and strong advocate for women’s leadership. I have personally witnessed her passion and commitment to the NEW's 20 regions in the U.S. and Canada. She was instrumental in the founding of the NEW Greater Philadelphia region a decade ago and has continued to participate in regional events, sharing her wisdom, wit and spirit. She is a true trailblazer,” affirmed O’Hare.
“They say if you want something done, ask as busy person. Judy is that person,” O’Hare continued. “In addition to supporting NEW, Judy is highly active in the grocery industry and her community. I'm thrilled to be standing on this stage tonight to applaud a woman who serves her company, her industry and her community. She motivates and raises up others like few leaders do. I’m grateful for all she has done — and continues to do — to advance women’s leadership.”
After accepting Top Women in Grocery’s highest award, Spires told her audience of over 550: “I can’t help but feel both inspired and empowered to know we are moving forward and making our mark in this industry,” said Spires, who also thanked “the fabulous men who are cheering us on today, especially my husband, Bob, and Rich Durante, our fearless president/COO.
“I am so fortunate to have found my passion at such an early age. Imagine turning a part time job as a cashier in a grocery store into my dream job, many times over, by following my goal of becoming a store manager.” After rising to roles of increasing importance throughout her career, Spires declared that she “loved every single one of my positions, because I love working with people, and I love making employees happy.
“This industry is all about people,” noted Spires. “And I love happy customers, I love getting them to buy more than they came in for, filling their carts after being so inspired, and I love never disappointing them on anything on their list. I love working hard. I love seeing the results of my labor. I love creating opportunities for people to grow and achieve. I am truly honored to be chosen as the 2016 Trailblazer.”
PG’s 2016 Top Women in Grocery awards program commemorates 10 years of recognizing the invaluable contributions of women from all walks of the retail food industry in three categories: Senior-level Executives, Rising Stars and Store Managers.
Additional details about PG’s Top Women in Grocery gala event, including registration and program information, hotel accommodations, and a complete list of current and past winners, can be found here.