The Food Marketing Institute awarded its most prestigious honor, the Sidney R. Rabb Award for excellence in serving the consumer, the community and the industry, to Ric Jurgens, retired chairman and CEO of Hy-Vee Inc.
Additionally, FMI honored one of its own, Anne McGhee Curry, with the Glen P. Woodard Jr. Award for her contributions to public affairs over the last three decades. Curry, vice president of government relations, will retire from FMI at the end of this month.
Jurgens and Curry accepted their awards Monday at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.
For 43 years at Iowa-based Hy-Vee, Jurgens championed the grocery industry’s work in feeding families and enriching lives, which for him began when he was a student at Iowa State, where he spent weekends and evenings at the Hy-Vee grocery store in Ames, Iowa, checking groceries and stocking shelves.
“On so many occasions, Ric shared with me his view that if we can make a difference in this life, we should,” said FMI president and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin. “Ric believes strongly in making a difference, ever pushing us to think progressively, but in pragmatic ways that are respectful of the past and informed by his extensive industry experience. His dedication to FMI is immeasurable.”
Most notably during his career, Jurgens was strategically involved in the negotiations with government agencies regarding the FMI/Grocery Manufacturers Association joint industry initiative Facts-Up-Front. In fact, Jurgens was on-stage at the 2011 Midwinter event lectern addressing the participants when he fielded a call from the White House.
“No one has been more of an industry leader in the area of health and wellness than Ric Jurgens,” Sarasin said. He does this by what he has instituted at Hy-Vee – with such innovations as having a dietitian in every store – but also in the very way he lives. You cannot know Ric long before you realize how committed he is to health and how much he wants those around him to focus on it.
Jurgens served on the Hy-Vee board for 18 years, as well as the boards of the Food Marketing Institute, the FMI Foundation and Topco.
Sarasin reflected on Curry’s tenure at FMI and her legacy within the food retail industry: “There is such divine justice to Anne’s receiving the Glen P. Woodard Award, as she walked side-by-side with Glen Woodard on Capitol Hill for two decades until his death in 1995. Anne Curry has represented the industry on Capitol Hill for 34 years, has led and grown the FMI political program, and has effectively worked with both sides of the aisle and both sides of Capitol Hill while maintaining a stellar reputation through the many legislative battles she has faced. This has all seemed to come naturally to Anne as she is one of the very few lobbyists remaining in Washington who is truly bipartisan.”
Curry began her career in the front office for a member of Congress; her diplomatic skills were further developed working over the next several years for Louisiana’s former Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, and Mississippi’s Rep. Sonny Montgomery and Sen. Thad Cochran.
In her early years, Curry demonstrated her political influence through her efforts to elect Sen. Cochran to the Senate, working on his campaign in her home state of Mississippi and ensuring his 1978 win with 45 percent plurality as the first Republican to win a Mississippi election.
When Curry joined FMI in 1979, her personal growth at the association was nurtured by the mentor for whom she receives the award today, Glen Woodard. Curry is a renowned political strategist, working over her career on issues as diverse as nutrition assistance, energy, trucking and product tampering. Curry led a team of seven lobbyists when she was promoted to FMI’s VP of legislative and public affairs in 1998.
Among some of her most notable accomplishments at FMI, Curry worked on the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, specifically on backhaul provisions, a significant piece of transit language that helped save diesel fuel and reduced the upward pressures of food prices. In 1982, Curry worked with former Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) to pass a bill that defined product tampering as a federal offense. In 2003, Curry testified before the Senate on the reauthorization of the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a program that would enable users to stretch their WIC dollars, broaden their access to products and stores, and make it easier for retailers to serve them — all at no additional cost to taxpayers.
The Food Marketing Institute conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its nearly 1,250 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world.