Let's hear it for the outstanding women who, through their hard work, dedication and initiative, help make the grocery industry great.
Over the years that Progressive Grocer has solicited nominees for our annual Top Women in Grocery honor, our editorial staff has never ceased to be amazed at the level of dedication, talent, expertise and sheer determination demonstrated by those whose names are submitted by appreciative colleagues and vendor partners. No doubt about it: our Top Women in Grocery honorees are a special bunch, and we at PG are proud to pay tribute to all they do to advance the industry and the communities that they serve.
Divided into three categories — Senior-Level Executives (open to retailers, suppliers and wholesalers with titles of VP or higher, for the most part); Rising Stars (retailers, suppliers and wholesalers with job titles above store manager, but below VP); and Store Managers — the women profiled on these pages performed their jobs admirably, with poise and aplomb, despite such daunting circumstances as an adverse economy, cutthroat competition, organizational restructuring and market share hurdles.
Even more inspiring are the personal victories depicted within the ranks of our 2011 Top Women in Grocery winners that encapsulate the true meaning of the expression “grace under pressure.” Some honorees amazingly manage to perform demanding full-time jobs, despite their own serious illnesses or the necessity of having to care for family members with health issues. Then there are those who pursue advanced degrees that will enable them to be even more valuable assets to their respective companies, and, of course, the huge outpouring of compassion channeled into community service among our slate of leading ladies, both in a professional capacity as well as on their own time.
Another inspiring aspect of this year's crop of Top Women, as always, is the high number of winners who share their experience by mentoring up-and-comers in their departments and stores, or even across their extended companies or through professional organizations such as the Network of Executive Women (NEW). Still others have carved out an esteemed niche as a “go-to” resource for answers to complex problems, whether it's a merchandising display that needs sprucing up, associate training programs, or presiding over the rollout of new technology systems and solutions while integrating workflow changes.
Interestingly, our 2011 Top Women in Grocery lineup has a first-ever distinction: two winners from the same family: Jane Golub and Mona Golub of Golub Corp./Price Chopper in Schenectady, N.Y. For the Golubs in particular, excellence is, in the literal sense of the word, relative. To them and all of the other honorees, no less excellent for mainly hailing from workplace “families” united by a shared vision and goals rather than by blood ties and genetic makeup, we extend our most heartfelt congratulations.
Winners are listed in alphabetical order by parent company and then by last name, except for Store Managers, who are listed in alphabetical order by store name and then by last name.
TOP WOMEN IN GR0CERY 2011
VP OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING PLANNING, AHOLD USA
Nancy Appleby is responsible for development of strategic marketing plans to grow sales and build brand loyalty, and for planning and execution of consumer communications from concept design through Implementation, Including in-store POS and décor, and external communications, including circular, print and broadcast media. She oversees a budget of $188 million.
Appleby led the design, selection, recruiting and Implementation of a new marketing and advertising planning organization for Ahold USA In 2010. She implemented marketing plans that contributed to market share growth. She took a leadership role In the conversion of former Ukrop's stores while at Giant-Carlisle, reduced circular costs by $2 million through contract negotiations with a new printer, and consistently delivers marketing plans that grow sales and market share, as well as strengthening consumer perception of Ahold USA's brands. Overall, Appleby delivers on 32 years of commitment and passion for the organization and her team, as well as customers that the company serves.
VP, PRIVATE LABEL BRANDS,
ACOSTA SALES & MARKETING
Pam Boynton joined Acosta as VP of private label brands In January 2010 after successfully proposing that the company and Its clients would benefit from creating a division to manage the private label sales and marketing activities of existing Acosta clients. She spent 2010 building the new private label division, leveraging the existing business model and layering the private label business on top. By the end of 2010, Acosta was building its clients' brands at the retailer level, the inverse of the existing, retailer-centric private label model.
Thanks to Boynton's efforts, Acosta brought on seven new private label clients in 2010. She presented Acosta's new program to major retailers, Including Safeway, Kroger, H-E-B, Meijer and Delhalze, and proposed new private label programs to more than 40 manufacturers and suppliers. Boynton's ongoing strategy Is to continue to leverage Acosta's existing business model of aligning sales and marketing teams with retailers across North America to build the company's clients' private label brands at a retail level. She has brought her extensive experience and knowledge of the private label industry to Acosta, where she's growing the company's business and changing the face of private label for good.
SVP OF DIVERSITY, TALENT MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT, AHOLD USA
Overseeing a budget of just under $11 million, Sarah Chartrand designs and implements programs with her team that Impact employee engagement, customer satisfaction, employee turnover and morale. She led the human resources and organizational design components of the Ahold USA reorganization last year, translating business strategy Into an actionable plan that enabled human resources to support an effective reorganization of the business In 2010.
Chartrand was the primary architect of the new organizational design, and provided leadership and strategic oversight to all HR transition activities, Including organization design, selection and staffing processes, transition administration activities, and Internal communications. Her focus on always doing what's right for the customer, associate and business provides a great foundation for building strength within the organization, and supports engagement with associates. Chartrand's ability to provide strategic focus while also driving tactical results makes her a valuable asset to Ahold USA and the retail industry.
SVP, SALES DEVELOPMENT,
2010 was a year of transition for Ahold USA as the organization shifted from a multiple operating company model to a divisional structure with central support functions. Despite this major hurdle and the difficult economic times, Jodie Daubert and her team remained focused, and the divisions delivered positive ID sales for the year. During this period, she also launched a highly successful gas partnership program with Shell and executed “Gigantic” as the first-ever multi-division promotional event at Ahold USA.
Daubert demonstrated her leadership skills by being a champion of change management during the transition. She played an important role in designing the new organization, recruiting for and hiring key positions, and in developing the new processes needed for the retailer to succeed in the future. Daubert has made significant contributions in the past and will no doubt continue to contribute in the future to ensure Ahold USA's position as a leader in the retail food industry.
Mary Jane Jamrogowicz
VP OF INFORMATION MANAGEMENT, AHOLD USA
Mary Jane Jamrogowicz's primary responsibilities include oversight of the Information management functions for a subsection of the Ahold USA organization. She contributed to the success of the 2010 Ahold USA transition program to advance the organization to a common application portfolio. She is directly and indirectly responsible for a budget totaling $46.5 million. Her achievements include IM planning and integration of the Ukrop's acquisition into the Giant-Carlisle division, IM planning and consolidation of a common application portfolio for Ahold USA Retail, evaluation and recommendation on a common point-of-sale platform, and IM reorganization planning to support the new Ahold USA retail structure.
Jamrogowicz provides a clear and unmitigated demonstration of leadership that would be expected from a career professional, with a high dedication to the customer. She is a team builder and motivator, and has the ability to get the most from those she works with. She uses her business insight to guide the business and IT together.
DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES, GIANT-CARLISLE/AHOLD USA
Kathleen Koppenhaver successfully led and managed Ahold USA division Giant-Carlisle's acquisition of the Ukrop's chain. She developed resources to ensure the effective and efficient addition of 3,000 new associates while ensuring a seamless integration. She was instrumental in her efforts as a mentor and a role model for the salaried management teams and store teams during the challenging acquisition. Koppenhaver was also a key player in the reorganization of Giant-Carlisle. She restructured the HR field organization and continues to develop new junior management.
Koppenhaver's success stems from her passion for people and the company. In everything she does, she demonstrates a commitment to customer service excellence. She is clearly able to overcome any challenges to meet the needs of her customers. She epitomizes earnest commitment, company loyalty and a solid sense of professionalism. Above all, she sets high standards for her work and personal achievements.
VP OF DIRECT STORE DELIVERY,
Denise Mullen manages sales of $1.1 billion and 472 million units, and has overseen sales growth of 2.69 percent, unit growth of 2.65 percent and growth In dollar market share of 0.3 to 0.8 over the previous year. She successfully developed and managed the newly formed DSD category management/merchandising team and led this group through the many complicated aspects of a company reorganization. She also developed a strategy to support local small suppliers within the company's four divisions, an own-brand packaging and design strategy, and an efficient assortment program within the category managementteams.
With 23 years of supermarket experience, Mullen is passionate about the overall business, and has held various positions within the company, enabling her to have a broad spectrum of knowledge within the industry. She enjoys mentoring associates within the company to help them find their own successful paths within the organization. Her unique experiences throughout the business allow her the advantage of a large network to help achieve her company goals. This breadth of experience also allows others in the company to see that associates can move up through the ranks.
Carolyn Hutson, CPA
Executive Vice President Chief Financial Officer
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
VP OF TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS AND SERVICES, AHOLD USA
Katherine Phillips is responsible for Ahold USA's technical infrastructure and service management processes. Her team is facilitating the implementation of approximately 50 IT transformational projects, 38 of them completed in 2010. Phillips led the team that negotiated the IT solution services and service-level agreements with the company's major IT supplier; completion of these new solutions will provide additional stability and increase IM's flexibility to accommodate new systems and increased demand.
Phillips was selected as one of the first participants to attend Ahold's retail management course designed in conjunction with Cornell University and University Nyenrode in The Netherlands. Phillips is a champion of change. She embraces challenges and inspires her team to deliver successful results. She has developed positive, productive relationships with her team, peers, superiors and company partners. She can be counted on to deliver quality results and is committed to providing excellent customer service.
SVP OF HUMAN RESOURCES,
Kathy Russello leads Ahold USA's HR and labor support function. She and her team drive the continued growth of associate development and diversity.
Along with her team, Russello provided strategic and impactful support to the company's reorganization efforts and the business by overseeing the delivery of services and processes affecting associates during this challenging time. She also provided guidance and support to enable the division HR teams to stay informed, motivated, engaged and focused on multiple activities, and to accomplish many things above and beyond normal expectations, especially during a year of transition.
Russello has worked in the retail industry for more than 30 years and is passionate about the supermarket business. She actively mentors many associates, and is committed to developing and growing the next generation of leaders in the industry. Russello is an associate advocate, and continuously focuses on the growth and development of people, which in turn ensures the overall success of the company.
EVP AND CFO,
Paula Price is responsible for finance, planning, technology, real estate development and construction across all of Ahold USA's four regional divisions. She is responsible for working capital performance, cash flow and capital expenditures. As a key member of the Ahold USA Executive Committee, Price helped guide the company to a new streamlined support organization. While Ahold was undergoing this major internal restructuring, her leadership helped the company continue to achieve its near-term financial goals and grow market share. In 2010,
Price worked on long-range planning, organizational design and strategy. Additionally, she completely transformed the finance and planning areas within the company, and under her leadership, the real estate group has successfully leveraged best practices across the combined organization. As a result of this work, Price was key to the eventual transformation of the entire organization. Her strong strategic planning and financial acumen has helped Ahold USA succeed in a challenging macroeconomic and competitive environment, and to prepare for future growth. Price is an exceptional leader who is an active change agent. She consistently motivates VPs and SVPs to exceed their performance expectations. In her short tenure with Ahold USA, Price has positively impacted the organization in countless ways.
VP OF COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS, AHOLD USA
Kelly Shade is responsible for providing the long-term strategic planning and supporting management decision-making for all non-union compensation and benefit functions and policies for Ahold USA. She oversees an annual non-union health and welfare budget of $188 million, and manages budgets related to consultants, relocation and tuition reimbursement of about $3.5 million. Shade took a lead role in compensation restructuring during the recent corporate transition, and led the successful implementation of a new benefits provider and stop-loss provider, for a savings of about $1.9 million.
She coordinated the preparation and grading of more than 600 jobs, and provided support for more than 1,700 job offers. In addition to supporting the organization's transition to a divisional structure, she provided the leadership in building a new compensation and benefits team to support Ahold USA retail operations. Shade is a thought leader in the compensation and benefits field. Ahold USA relies on her expertise and support in the development of all compensation and benefit programs for all of its divisions.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
EVP AND CFO,
BROOKSHIRE GROCERY CO.
Brookshire's operates 153 retail stores in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, with $2.2 billion in estimated annual sales. Carolyn Hutson is responsible for the oversight of the company's entire budgeting processes, including financial accounting, corporate taxation, auditing and treasury functions. Last year, Hutson, the first woman in the company's 82-year history to be named CFO, became the first woman named to the company's board of directors. She has led the company through financial management and lines of credit renewal through successful banking practices.
Hutson has been at the forefront of the fight to regulate credit card fees, and efforts by her and others were instrumental in assisting passage of the Durbin Amendment last year, the first legislative action to deal with the issue. Hutson is a highly respected leader at Brookshire's, and she's relentless in her commitment to the best interest of the company, both in fiscal responsibility and in its reputation in the business world and the community. She is a great role model and mentor for anyone in the company who aspires to succeed in their careers.
GROUP VP HEALTH, BEAUTY AND WELLNESS AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, CATALINA MARKETING INC.
Giving birth to a beautiful (what else?) baby girl last October didn't slow Sharon Glass down a bit; instead, she remained committed to achieving her results. Under Glass' leadership, her business unit has delivered six consecutive years of growth, while her health, beauty and wellness initiative has seen double-digit increases for the past four years. Aside from leading her business development team to another successful year, Glass dedicated her time to developing solutions and insights to help shoppers make healthier choices, manage chronic health concerns and lower their risk of adverse conditions.
In 2010, she presented at FMI the results from two studies that she orchestrated, which contained quantitative shopper insights and a road map for how the industry can help shoppers overcome barriers to eating healthful foods. Glass additionally developed her own concept for an in-market test to gauge shoppers' responsiveness to a program that helps them take simple steps toward living healthier lives. She has now trademarked this program, which is known as “Simple Substitutes.” Glass' additional achievements include driving thought leadership and development of Catalina Marketing's 12 health, beauty and wellness segmentation models; working on its pharmacy marketing solution, “Patient Link"; and providing support for government health-and-wellness initiatives.
SVP OF RISK MANAGEMENT/BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION, BROOKSHIRE GROCERY CO.
Brookshire's SVP of risk management/benefits administration Sheri Satterwhite is one of 12 members of the company's executive committee that oversees the day-to-day operations of the company. Her chief areas of expertise and responsibilities include corporate asset protection, benefits administration, profit-sharing administration, risk management, store operations safety management, property and casualty claims administration, and corporate government relations compliance. Satterwhite is also responsible for a $34 million benefits budget and a $10 million risk management budget for the company.
During 2010, she led a companywide food safety initiative that will vastly increase the number of employees per store that are food safety certified. She also implemented new programs related to retail operational safety training and developed new resources to maintain the company's safety level through continuous improvement. A champion of well-being, Satterwhite offered health fairs throughout Brookshire's markets, and continues to develop opportunities and new programs related to employees' total health, many of which are incentive-based initiatives designed to be win-win propositions for both the company and its employees.
PRESIDENT AND CEO,
CHIEF SUPER MARKET INC.
The Top Women In Grocery award is actually one of two “top women” awards won this year by Stephanie Skylar, president and CEO of Chief Super Market: Earlier this year, she received the WGA Woman of the Year Award from the Women Grocers of America. With more than 20 years of executive experience, Skylar oversees more than 1,000 associates. Under her guidance, the Chief and Rays banners continue to innovate and have shown increased sales and profits, even in today's challenging business environment. Her commitment and dedication to staff is exemplified by Chief University, a comprehensive, hands-on associate training program. Launched in 2009, the program is a vehicle to capture employee talent throughout the Chief organization by teaching particlpatns the skills they need to tackle the new jobs that local retailing will demand.
Additionally, Skylar's company established the “Good Neighbor” program by coordinating participation from vendors, suppliers, community leaders and two regional food banks to supply more than 250 pantries in the company's service area. The philanthropic efforts of the program have raised over $70,000 and provided meals to thousands of hungry families over the past two years. Skylar also serves on the boards of the Ohio Grocers Association Foundation and the Defiance Regional Medical Center in Ohio, among other community service commitments.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
VP OF ADVERTISING,
There are the “Mad Men” of advertising, and then there are the savvy women of advertising. Sue Wendt, VP of advertising for Coburn's Inc., is well known as a smart adwoman, but has taken a decidedly 21st-century approach to reaching out to consumers, particularly in her use of social media. The Facebook program she launched has not only only become popular with loyal followers who are actively engaged with the business, it also earned a “Best in Class” distinction from Progressive Grocer Independent. Fier inventive thinking across various advertising channels for the $1.1 billion Coborn's business led to recognition in six categories of the National Grocer's Association Creative Choice Awards, including “Best in Show” honors.
In addition to new advertising avenues such as digital media and the Web, Wendt oversees traditional (yet effective) forms, including newspaper ads, direct mail, radio and billboards. A member of Coburn's' executive operating committee and chair of its marketing committee, Wendt also participates in several industry share groups. When not brainstorming a new campaign or thinking of ways to take advertising to the next level, she savors time spent with family and in one of her favorite places: her home garden.
EVP, CLIENT SERVICES,
The top-ranking woman at CROSSMARK, with more than 16 years' experience in senior roles, Hollie Gonzales leads the company's client service team with an ever-steady eye on its strategic growth in the marketplace. It is a position she has held since mid-2010, when she transitioned from CIO; previously, she served the organization as VP of retail operations, director of client development and director of operations. Currently reporting directly to the company's owners, Gonzales heads up the Client Services Team, where she leads CROSSMARK's largest and most strategic customers, and develops growth solutions for each of those clients.
In this position, she has been instrumental in implementing a proprietary headquarter service model known as CROSSVIEW, which organizes the business process from a decentralized effort to a centralized business model to drive efficiency and eliminate complexity for manufacturers. She has been credited with the company's inclusion on the 2010 InformationWeek 500 List of Top Technology Innovators Across America. A prior Top Women In Grocery honoree, Gonzales has also led change management initiatives across CROSSMARK and serves as a regional committee member of the Network of Executive Women.
CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER,
COCA-COLA NORTH AMERICA
It's one of the best-known brands in the world, and Bea Perez intends to keep it that way, If not expand its influence. As chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola North America in an ever-changing consumer landscape, Perez is responsible for the brand's knowledge and Insights, consumer communication, brand programming, media, sports/entertainment, interactive marketing, African-American consumer marketing, Hispanic-American consumer marketing, and marketing capabilities. In her position, which she has held since April 2010, she has engaged several successful new partnerships with famous names in music, entertainment and sports.
She's also fueled (no pun intended) the launch of Coca-Cola's award-winning Motorsports marketing platform. Perez represents Top Women in the field in other ways, too, as a member of the Women's Leadership Council, through which she counsels company leaders on ways to increase the number of women in senior leadership positions. A recipient of many accolades — including an induction into the American Advertising Hall of Achievement — Perez gives back by donating her time and talent to nonprofit boards and foundations. She also looks for new hills to climb in a more everyday way, enjoying regular hiking treks with her family at a nearby mountain park.
EVP AND DIVISION CEO,
At a time when grocers are looking for technology solutions on a global basis, Christine Mefford speaks the language of technology within the context of business. At the application development division of CROSSMARK, Mefford spearheads the development of all-new technology solutions and facilitates business development by participating in the sales of those solutions. While she helps customers stay ahead of the game, she also cultivates CROSSMARK's culture of innovation by working directly with internal departments to meet their respective technology needs.
Recently, Mefford developed a solution to fill out-of-stocks In the convenience store channel, worked to develop a new training program to help retailers train employees in stores and created a new paradigm allowing for increased control for retailer clients. Ultimately, she says her philosophy is simple: Make sure everyone knows who's doing what and when, and make sure it makes sense for the client. A member of the Network of Executive Women, the Alliance of Technology and Women, and the Project Management Professional Network, Mefford complements her bustling professional life with service as environmental chair of her local PTA, among other community activities.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
OWNER, PRESIDENT AND CEO,
EDDIE'S OF ROLAND PARK
A second-generation owner of two-store, $30 million Baltimore-based grocer Eddie's of Roland Park, Nancy Cohen has enthusiastically welcomed the third generation into the business, and is mentoring and training her son in all aspects of the operation. As president and CEO, she provides support and assistance in establishing an aggressive but attainable budget, and works with key managers who are responsible for day-to-day operations to achieve planned budget results. While maintaining positive sales during a tough economy, Cohen reduced prices on hundreds of grocery items to provide an even better value for her customers.
She made an investment to enhance produce presentation that resulted in a significant increase in sales and profitability. To reward customers as well as capture data that will help fine-tune her company's marketing efforts, Cohen was the first grocer to team with the Market Basket Rewards loyalty program in the Baltimore area. Recognizing that the community has made Eddie's thrive, she is committed to giving back to it: Every year, Eddie's donates a turkey to the Maryland Food Bank for every $100 contribution made by listeners to the local public radio station. This year, the grocer donated 375 turkeys to disadvantaged Maryland families in time for Thanksgiving.
VP, MARKETING E.& J. GALLO WINERY
The legacy of E. & J. Gallo Winery is a substantial one, but Stephanie Gallo has continued it well, and in her own way. She's VP of marketing in the popular business unit of the family-owned privately held winery, where she directly oversees eight brands: domestics Gallo Family Vineyards, Barefoot, Turning Leaf, Redwood Creek and The Naked Grape (which she launched), and imports Bodega Elena De Mendoza, Bella Sera and Black Swan. She has helped put the “popular” in her unit's name: In 2010, Barefoot became the No. 1-selling wine brand in the United States from a revenue standpoint, while the repositioned Gallo Family Vineyards is now the fastest-growing brand in the fighting varietal segment. Her marketing know-how also propelled Gallo to establish a successful partnership between Italian brand Bella Sera and celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis.
Recognizing the powerful integration of wine and cuisine, Stephanie Gallo managed Gallo Family Vineyards' sponsorship of “Taste of Flome” national cooking events, and its “Corks for a Cause” promotion with Meals on Wheels. A winner of the Outstanding Young Entrepreneur Award from the California State University, Stanislaus, Stephanie Gallo is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame.
PRESIDENT AND CEO EMD SALES
She's president and CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, but for Elda Devarie, it's all about reaching one customer at a time on a local level. At the helm of EMD Sales, she helps retailers improve services and offerings by enabling them to open the doors of the ethnic communities around them. In the end, she says the stores and the industry as a whole benefit from improved service and enhanced offerings. One example of this grass-roots commitment is her firm's annual “500 Bags of Love” charitable event, which in 2010 helped 650 needy families in the region, with participation from food industry professionals and organizations such as McDonald's and State Farm Insurance. In addition to her Top Women in Grocery distinction, recent honors for Devarie include being named “Best of the Best” Regional Committee Member of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter by the Network of Executive Women and designation as Supplier of the Year by the DCMD Minority Supplier Development Council Class III. Devarie and her firm are poised for even more growth in the future — the company has expanded to a new facility in Baltimore.
Juliana L. Chugg
SVP; PRESIDENT, MEALS,
GENERAL MILLS INC.
In 2010, Juliana L. Chugg drove sales and revenue growth for General Mills' Pillsbury division, delivering a year of record profit through impressive double-digit sales growth, which took revenue for the year to $1.9 billion. This additional revenue came from innovative products rolled out in the frozen hot snacks, refrigerated dough and frozen breakfast segments. An increase in consumer investment also contributed to increased category sales by raising household penetration of the company's brands through improved relevance and appeal of its portfolio.
Chugg also continued General Mills' focus on the club and dollar store channels to grow this business by double digits, leading to share growth for the year. As a result of her brilliant performance in the Pillsbury division, she was asked to lead the company's more than $2 billion meals business last November. A four-time consecutive winner of General Mills' highest honor, the Eagle award, Chugg, who began her career in Australia and has traveled the world, serves on the company's Diversity and Women in Leadership councils.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
DIRECTOR, CUSTOMER OPERATIONS,
GENERAL MILLS INC.
Accountable for ensuring top-tier service In General Mills' $1.8 billion bakeries and foodservice business, Carolyn Kauppinen generated a $5 million opportunity in supply chain efficiencies for customer partners through the development of innovative ways to share information through benchmarking, scorecarding and analytics. These activities helped raise supply chain productivity. She also piloted tools with key customers to increase truck use, boosting average order sizes by 14 percent. Kauppinen additionally led a team that generated accounts receivable levels four times better than the industry average through a process redesign, and raised the bar for transactional efficiencies with a reduction of more 286,000 order touches that create delays in the order management process.
One of the original Integrated Customer Solutions (ICS) senior leaders to spearhead the “Continuous Improvement” effort to reduce waste within the organization, she has led initiatives generating more than $1 million in savings, and continues to act as an adviser on such activities. A winner of many professional awards in both the United States and Canada, and member of a host of industry groups, Kauppinen spends much of her free time supporting the World Wildlife Foundation and the Humane Society, as well as campaigning annually for the American Cancer Society.
Ann W.H. Simonds
EVP; PRESIDENT, PILLSBURY USA,
GENERAL MILLS INC.
In recognition of her four-year track record of growth and Innovation in the baking products division, General Mills this past November named Ann W.H. Simonds president of Plllsbury and SVP of the overall company. The marketing expert excels at unlocking growth in valuable, mature categories, such as last year's “BBQ Hero” campaign, which increased brownie mix category sales. Simonds has led her teams right to the bleeding edge of the digital age, inspiring the innovative Betty Crocker ¡Phone and ¡Pad digital apps that place recipes at consumers' fingertips.
And Simonds' strong belief in strategic philanthropy spurs her to seek out opportunities where doing good is also great business: Under her leadership, Betty Crocker has donated more than $1 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation since 2005 through programs such as the “Stirring Up Wishes” campaign, while also driving shoppers to the baking aisle. Additionally, during her time as president of the baking division, Simonds' teams successfully commercialized the first mainstream national-brand line of gluten-free baking mixes. Her efforts have earned her two General Mills Chairman's Awards for outstanding business achievement, and the busy mother of five still finds time to mentor up-and-comers through both formal and informal networks.
DIRECTOR TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT/SALES, GENERAL MILLS INC.
Usa Nyhusmoen's job is to lead the design, development and delivery of training and organizational development/organizational effectiveness initiatives for General Mills' consumer foods sales division, and by all accounts, she's exemplary at it. Just in 2010, Nyhusmoen, backed by her crack team of 11, completed the migration of 31 percent of the core training curriculum to eLearning delivery, eliminating the need for the field selling organization to travel to classrooms; co-led the development and rollout of the new sales competencies; successfully piloted and rolled out the use of ¡Phones and ¡Pads to deliver learning; developed and implemented a new job transitlon/onboardlng process to support the 200-plus moves the sales organization experiences each year; and developed training to support the successful rollout of continuous improvement within sales.
Her work was instrumental in helping many key sales teams become more effective and efficient in how they operate, leading to higher productivity. Nyhusmoen's professional affiliations include membership in the CMS Industry Training Share Group, while outside of the office she performs PTA and fundraising duties at her children's school.
DIRECTOR OF IN-STORE MARKETING PROGRAMS, GOLUB CORP./PRICE CHOPPER
Jane Golub is synonymous with Price Chopper. As the family-run, employee-owned grocer's director of in-store marketing programs, the ubiquitous Golub — wife of Golub Corp. president and CEO Neil and mother of VP of public relations and consumer & marketing services Mona (see entry on page 38) — evaluates potential income-producing, not-for-resale, contracted marketing programs for the company; oversees “Samples & Sales,” Price Chopper's in-house demonstration service, for which she selects Price Chopper's private label Central Market Classics products; and writes the weekly “Jane's New Items” column for the circular, so it's fair to say she's an indispensible part of the organization.
This past year, her chainwide responsibilities included the successful rollout of a new vending machine program in the vestibules of Price Chopper stores, and the introduction an in-house coin exchange machine in all locations, as well as monitoring the Insignia Pops signage program on a weekly basis. An educator for a quarter-century before entering the supermarket business, Golub has earned accolades for developing a prejudice awareness and reduction program in the Capital District area, and more recently received a 3rd Age Achievement Award from Senior Services of Albany, N.Y.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
VP OF PUBLIC RELATIONS AND CONSUMER & MARKETING SERVICES, GOLUB CORP./PRICE CHOPPER
In her role VP of public relations and consumer & marketing services, Mona Golub is the main spokeswoman for Golub Corp./Price Chopper and oversees media relations, all customer communication, community relations, trends, nutrition and lifestyle, market research, social media, and the Golub Foundation, Price Chopper's philanthropic arm. During 2010, alone, Golub crafted comprehensive messages around most of the company's major product, program and service launches, including the rollout of the innovative “Diabetes AdvantEdge” program; the proliferation of a farm-to-store locally grown produce campaign; the debut of the world's first wholly sustainable seafood harvested via a closed-loop water system; continued work with the Tobacco-Free Coalition to encourage other retailers not to entice the next generation of smokers; the dedication of a new headquarters building in Schenectady, N.Y.; and ongoing efforts in corporate social responsibility, including in the area of sustainability.
Having grown up in the grocery business, Golub believes that experience, united with her varied professional background, helps her better understand the business world, the power of collaboration among trade and community partners, and the value of customer response in her present position. Among her many community service commitments is work for organizations benefiting the arts, children and pets.
Pamela G. Bailey
PRESIDENT AND CEO,
GROCERY MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
Pamela G. Bailey is responsible for all aspects of GMA's success, from strategic planning, to operations and finance, to membership recruitment and retention, to the advocacy, scientific and industry affairs, and collaboration practices of the trade organization. Bailey's recent accomplishments include spearheading efforts to pass two historic food-related new laws in 2010, the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act; leading industry efforts to develop a landmark front-of-pack nutrition labeling system; leading manufacturer implementation of the FMI-GMA Trading Partner Alliance; and overseeing implementation of a project management framework that's enhancing interdepartmental collaboration and overall effectiveness of the organization.
Last September, President Obama named Bailey to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy Negotiations, the principal trade advisory committee for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
SVP OF SUPPLY & LOGISTICS, THE GREAT ATLANTIC & PACIFIC TEA CO. INC. (A&P)
When A&P sought to rebound after its Chapter 11 filing, the venerable retail organization turned to Marie Robinson. As EVP of supply & logistics — and A&P's highest-ranking female executive — Robinson oversees the purchase and delivery of approximately $4.5 billion in goods at cost and is leading a top-to-bottom review of the company's supplier network to reduce structural and operating costs. After joining A&P in December 2010, Robinson set right to work making critical decisions for both short-term network improvements and long-term strategies and infrastructures. To achieve these goals, she's drawing on her extensive experience in supply chain logistics, including her most recent role as SVP of supply and logistics at Smart & Final.
A strong believer in employee engagement and workplace dynamics, Robinson continuously improves her own education and skill set: She's currently one course away from completing a master's degree in organizational studies and leadership, and already has been accepted into a doctoral program in communications at Regent University. Being a trailblazer is nothing new for Robinson, though — she started her career as a logistics officer in the U.S. Army and was the first female VP of logistics at Walmart.
PRESIDENT, QUALITY FOOD CENTERS (QFC)/ THE KROGER CO.
Responsible for the operation of 72 Quality Food Centers (QFC) stores in Washington and Oregon. Donna Giordano has led the successful repositioning of the Kroger banner in the highly competitive Pacific Northwest market. Already renowned for its fine wines, floral, prepared foods, seafood, butcher shop-quality meats, superior service and great shopping experience, QFC under Giordano's charge has also begun to focus on offering customers value and selection in response to a changing economic environment.
As a result, the banner's sales and profits remained strong in 2010, in spite of the slow economic recovery and subsequent consumer caution. Giordano, an energetic and engaging leader, encourages her team to provide suggestions for how to continuously improve the service, variety, selection and value of the QFC experience. Reflecting that highly effective leadership style, her stores are centers of retailing excellence, with beautiful presentation, breathtaking floral shops, mouthwatering bakeries, and the highest levels of associate engagement and customer satisfaction. As well as her duties as a busy senior executive deeply engaged in running a multibillion-dollar business, Giordano volunteers for several civic organizations.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
VP OF MERCHANDISING, DELTA DIVISION, THE KROGER CO.
In early 2010, as VP of grocery sales planning and DSD at Kroger headquarters in Cincinnati,
Cindy Rantanen played an instrumental role in the company's grocery sales and activities. Later that year, after transitioning to the position of VP of merchandising in Kroger's Delta division, she was a key figure in helping the division to achieve more than $3 billion in sales, for a total sales increase of 9.23 percent. In her role at the general office, Rantanen helped make significant changes to the company's grocery organizational structure as Kroger expanded its regional sales-planning process, moving away from an assortment- and sales planning-specific focus.
For her efforts, she has received special recognition from the vendor community as a collaborative partner. In the realm of community service, Rantanen is an active leader in support of the Beard Boy Scouts program, which experienced record-breaking contributions and participation in 2010, and was a Vice President's Club contributor to United Way.
Ann G. Daw
PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE SPECIALTY FOOD TRADE (NASFT)
Known as a team builder who gets the best out of people by listening and appreciating diversity of thought, Ann G. Daw, president of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) ensures that the specialty food and beverage industry continues to thrive by helping association members connect with buyers, offering access to educational resources, and providing updates on available regulatory/government affairs and programs, among other services. Over the past year, she's boosted buyer attendance and exhibition at the organization's Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, created the foodspring.com website to promote member brands and products to consumers, presented online educational programs, and grown revenues without pricing increases.
These efforts have led to the association's expansion across international boundaries and influenced grocery initiatives around the world. With a background including stints at Kraft and Philip Morris, Daw additionally acts as a mentor to other women executives, meeting regularly with members of the Executive Forum to discuss their careers.
VP OF MARKETING, CO-CHAIRMAN,
BOARD OF DIRECTORS, MANN PACKING CO. INC.
The first woman to chair an American produce trade association, Lorri Koster is the third generation of her family to work in agriculture. Although her career at Mann Packing was marked by the unexpected deaths of her brother and father, Koster — with the support of her sisters and Mann employees — stepped into a leadership role that kept the woman-owned business on track and growing.
In addition to her demanding duties at Mann, Koster is editorial director of Coastal Grower, a quarterly magazine produced and distributed in coordination with the Grower Shipper Association of Central California, of which she's outgoing chairwoman, and has participated on numerous committees for such prestigious trade organizations as the Produce Marketing Association, the United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers. In recognition of all of her hard work for the industry, in 2010 Koster received the Award of Excellence for Women in Produce from United Fresh. Her community service includes membership on the board of the local Hospice Foundation.
VP PROCUREMENT & MARKETING, THE NORTH WEST CO. INC.
“Give the customer what they want” may be an old adage, but it's one that Christie Frazier-Coleman takes to heart in her position as VP of procurement and marketing for the North West Co. Inc. (NWCI), a $1.5 billion retailer with stores in northern and western Canada, rural Alaska, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean. Working from Bellevue, Wash., she recently developed and managed a comprehensive consumer research initiative across the entire chain's market area, designed to lengthen the market position and future growth for all NWCI stores by improving consumer acceptance and loyalty. Frazier-Coleman has used that consumer research as she oversees sales and profit margins, procurement, warehouse distribution and logistics, assortment planning and category management, and marketing for all stores.
Her effectiveness is shown in the results: In 2010, many individual stores posted 5 percent to 10 percent growth. As she makes new inroads, Frazier-Coleman has drawn on her extensive industry background as a VP at a retail consulting firm and VP of strategic initiatives for Bashas' Supermarkets. She is also a member of the Network of Working Women, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Grocers Association.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
SVP, MULTICULTURAL SALES PEPSICO INC.
She's been named one of top five Latina Executives in Corporate America by Latina Style magazine.
She's featured in a book called “The NEW Woman Rules.” She's been recognized by Progressive Grocer before In its Top Women in Grocery list. Marie Quintana has earned these and other distinctions because of her hard work and deep experience in the industry. As SVP, multicultural sales for PepsiCo, she drives the customer strategy for the company's multicultural markets, and is leading the three- to five-year strategy for corporatewide integration for multicultural consumers.
Recently, she developed an integrated Hispanic PepsiCo strategy, working with PepsiCo's external ethnic advisory board to deliver companywide industry-leading Hispanic insights, and teamed with various c-suite members of retailers on how to align their Internal organizations with the multicultural demographic changes of shoppers. On top of that, Quintana collaborated with the Feed The Children organization, pulling together employees and retailers in five cities to deliver meals to 16,000 families. A founding member of the Women of Color Alliance, she is an active leader and participant in a variety of local and national boards and organizations.
SVP OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS, AND CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, SAFEWAY INC.
Sustainability and corporate responsibility are hot topics these days, but for Christy Consler, those concepts are both her vocation and her passion. In her role as an EVP of public affairs, government relations and corporate social responsibility for Safeway, Consler makes sure that sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are more than mere buzzwords. To that end, Consler's efforts have propelled Safeway to a leadership position in the grocery industry when it comes to sustainability and CSR through her strategic input, goal development, relationship building with external entities, and encouragement of company leaders and employee to approach their roles with a broader mindset. Whether leading Safeway's 40th-anniversary Earth Day efforts, establishing “CSR Champions” in every retail division or creating accountability mechanisms for sustainability, Consler has made a difference both locally and globally. Thanks in part to her efforts, Safeway was the first grocery retailer to join The Sustainabllity Consortium as a founding member in 2010 and made the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America for the second year in a row. Not one to rest on her considerable laurels, Consler is a national board member for the Network of Executive Women and a frequent speaker on the topic of social responsibility. This is her second appearance on Progressive Grocer's list of Top Women in Grocery.
VP AND GENERAL MANAGER, FLORAL OPERATIONS, SAFEWAY INC.
You might say she blooms where she's planted or that she's poised for true growth. Flowery wordplay aside, Traci Adams has truly made an impression in her role as VP and general manager of floral operations for Safeway. Given that floral sales account for a significant share of sales and profits in the grocer's perishables departments, her accomplishments have added definite value to the company. Among other efforts, Adams led an initiative to brand floral designs and home-decor hard goods, which spurred the launch of the Debi Lilly Design brand at Safeway.
The result is a boutique shopping experience with the convenience of a traditional grocery store. Adams's thumb is green in other ways, too: She hosted the first-ever Floral Global Vendor Summit, at which Safeway and international suppliers began working toward sustainable packaging alternatives and initiatives. She also serves as co-chair for the company's “Team Planet” corporate social responsibility arm, which is responsible for water and energy conservation and waste diversion. Adams is active in various industry associations, Including the Produce Marketing Association Floral Council, the California State Floral Association, the Society of American Florists and the Women's Networking Group.
VP OF INNOVATION, CONSUMER BRANDS, SAFEWAY INC.
Creativity, of course, is part and parcel of the job of a VP of innovation. Nancy Cota, who holds that role for Safeway, has put her creativity and 35 years of industry experience to good and frequent use as she develops and launches brands in Safeway's award-winning private label program. To provide private label products that will attract the attention of demanding customers in an ever-competitive marketplace, Cota must understand consumer behaviors, identify their needs, and accordingly launch platforms across multiple categories and the entire chain. To that end, she and her team hosted a large Innovation Expo with 300 vendor partners, an event designed to strengthen relationships with the vendor community and enable Safeway to drive innovation ideas. Last year, Cota helped launch three brands in the company's private label portfolio: the Open Nature line of products made with 100 percent natural ingredients, the Pantry Essential value brand line with both English and Spanish labels, and a Debi Lilly Design line of living floral arrangements. A winner of Safeway's All Stars Award and a longtime mentor within the grocery industry, Cota is also a member of the Center for Corporate Innovation Retail Product Innovation Council and the Network of Executive Women. Additionally, the mother of seven is a breast cancer survivor who lends her inventive mindset and unflagging spirit to cancer prevention and treatment efforts.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
EVP AND CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER,
One of only four EVPs at Safeway and controlling a large portion of its multimillion-dollar budget, Diane Dietz exemplifies how much Top Women in this industry can accomplish. As EVP and chief marketing officer, Dietz heads up that organization's marketing, merchandising, manufacturing and distribution operations. She further builds the Safeway brand by directing the company's award-winning private label program, recently uniting smaller private label beverage brands Into one mega-brand called Refreshe. The depth and breadth of her contributions are evident across Safeway's customer programs; at a time when consumers are looking to rein in budgets and maintain healthy diets, Dietz and her team implemented value-enhancing initiatives and launched new product lines.
One of her initiatives is the “SimpleNutrition” program, an in-store shelf tag system that helps shoppers find better choices for their specific lifestyle needs. She was also instrumental in the introduction of the “Just for U” loyalty program, which provides discounts chosen exclusively for individual shoppers based on their purchase history. Her track record of delivering notable improvements has led to several distinctions, and she has complemented her industry contributions through community involvement in organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
GROUP VP, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY,
Combine the power of information with the reach of technology, and you'll see how pivotal Dianne Lamendola's function is to the Safeway organization. This group VP of information technology — who's also chair of Safeway's Women's Networks Group — establishes shopper-centric strategies and business architectures to optimize the return on all of Safeway's technology investments. In today's hlgher-tech grocery environment, that means creating a multi-channel shopping experience employing store systems, the Internet and other technologies to address shopper needs. Her application of information and technology extends to internal operations, where Lamendola manages the project management office to ensure coordination of all project activities and spearheads Safeway's Innovation Services function. She's also integral to the company's corporate social responsibility program, creating program management structures that support it.
A frequent speaker on information technology, Lamendola is a mentor to many women: She recently led members of Women Information Technology Inc. In an initiative that sent female IT professionals into high schools to encourage students to pursue technology careers.
This is Lamendola's second consecutive appearance on Progressive Grocer's list of Top Women in Grocery.
GROUP VP PHARMACY, HEALTH & WELLNESS, SAFEWAY INC.
Pharmacy and health and wellness remain a core business for Safeway, one of the nation's top food and drug retailers. Jewel Hunt leads and directs the company's expansive pharmacy operations, where she positions Safeway as a customer destination for preferred pharmacists who guide patients on recommended health, nutrition and ongoing care. In her tenure at Safeway, she has exceeded department performance plans for sales and profits and volume department performance. She brings considerable leadership to the pharmacy, health and wellness unit, which she joined last year after a four-year stint as VP, dell food service. In that capacity, she demonstrated her commitment to leadership and employee development, and her belief in industry alliances to move industry objectives forward on mutually beneficial paths.
Exemplifying that philosophy, she is an active member and leader of several organizations, including the International Dairy, Dell, Bakery Association; the Network of Executive Women, the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Professional Women, among others. Ever the health-conscious go-getter in her free time, Hunt balances time spent with her family with running marathons and writing her first novel.
GROUP VP OF MARKETING, BLACKHAWK NETWORK/SAFEWAY INC.
Safeway's Blackhawk Network has not one but two Top Women this year. In addition to the company's president, Talbott Roche, Blackhawk's group VP of marketing, Teri Llach, has garnered high marks for helming the company's public relations, advertising, promotions, social media, research, marketing, merchandising and other related corporate communications initiatives.
She controls a multimillion-dollar marketing budget to advance the prepaid industry, as well as sales for Blackhawk Network and its partners. Llach proved valuable in her work with partner retailers to create shopping promotions around major gift-giving holidays, a move that bumped the face value of cards sold by nearly 20 percent. Through her encouragement of social media, Gift Card Mall's Facebook page experienced a nearly 250 percent increase in followers in 2010, while Twitter followers ballooned nearly threefold. Llach's social consciousness is evident in other endeavors, such as her participation as a crew member in the Race Across America to support Building Futures Now, a charity in her hometown. The talented painter has also given her time and talent to charity, donating artwork for nonprofit auctions held for such organizations as the American Heart Association.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
VP, COMPENSATION SAFEWAY INC.
Distilling the essence of human resources, Cathy Lord sees employees as true resources and helps ensure that they're valued accordingly. The VP of compensation for Safeway helps attract, retain, motivate and reward the company's talent by providing competitive compensation that also meets the objectives of the organization. The recent economic tumult has made Lord's position both challenging and rewarding as she has worked to successfully implement creative, cutting-edge programs within the traditionally conservative company. To execute innovative programs to the best of her ability, she even relocated for six months from one coast to another. The results speak for themselves: Through the application of best practices, Safeway has achieved a 90 percent reduction in overtime, a 75 percent reduction in turnover and its first-ever sustained record-breaking payroll closing time.
Meanwhile, Lord's deft people skills are exemplified in her additional roles as a member of Safeway's Information Technology Project Steering Committee, and, outside the organization, with the National Association of Stock Planning Professionals and the World at Work Total Rewards Association. On a personal level, she has likewise proved to be an effective mentor with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.
VP OF FINANCE AND CFO,
TEXAS DIVISION, SAFEWAY INC.
There is a common expression that everything is bigger in Texas, and to some extent, it's true. As VP of finance and CFO for the Texas division of Safeway, Leslie Nelson oversees a sizable budget and leads all finance and control divisions in the 116-store group. Whether volunteering to lecture at a series of brown-bag lunches on personal financial management or driving cost-cutting initiatives in labor and store services without affecting shopper experiences, Nelson truly sees the big picture. She also notes the smallest details that make a difference: Nelson recently led a top-to-bottom review of the division's expense structure and implemented changes that resulted in more than $10 million in savings.
The only female member of the Texas division's executive management team, Nelson is also its corporate social responsibility champion. She's actively involved in both her industry and community as a senior fellow of the Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Leadership Forum and a board member of the Houston Food Bank, among other activities. A breast cancer survivor, Nelson has become a frequent, powerful speaker in the community on resiliency, positive thinking and the importance of early detection.
VP OF MANUFACTURING OPERATIONS FOR U.S. GROCERY, SAFEWAY INC.
Amanda Martinez knows the Safeway supply chain well, because she's been a strong link in several parts of that 1,694-store operation. In her 12 years with Safeway, Martinez has held leadership roles In procurement, marketing business processes, supply operations, and logistics and manufacturing, and is now VP of manufacturing operations for the company's U.S. grocery organization. Given her keen understanding of the business, Martinez has proved to be a key player as Safeway continues down its path of supply chain transformation, both in the day-to-day operational performance of 11 U.S. grocery manufacturing plants and as co-leader of the company's enterprise warehouse management project. Ever a team player, Martinez leads innovative cost savings and efficiency initiatives with a focus on collaboration with other parts of the organization. She has been recognized for her myriad contributions with a promotion last year to her current position, and through a Safeway Supply Chain and Strategic Sourcing Leadership Award in 2008. Outside of the office, she is a member of the Network of Executive Women, the American Bakers Association, the Association for Operations Management, Safeway's Baby Club and the Safeway Women's Network Group. The busy mother of two is also an active volunteer at her children's school and hits the ground running in a literal way as well, taking part in a host of local races and marathons.
SVP, FINANCE & INVESTOR RELATIONS AND EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SAFEWAY INC.
During an economic era in which numbers are scrutinized more carefully than ever, Melissa Plaisance Is tasked with overseeing Safeway's treasury and Investor relations departments and influencing the business' major strategic decisions, especially those relating to the reaction of key stockholders and debt holders. She's at the reins of the company's $4.7 billion U.S. and Canadian debt portfolio, and is responsible for annual refinancing activities. Plaisance is instrumental in determining the best use of free cash flow, including dividend policy, share repurchase and debt repayment policies, as well as potential acquisitions and divestitures.
She serves as the face of Safeway's financial and investment matters, acting as spokeswoman to the financial and mainstream media, and as a point person with the investment and banking communities. Among her recent achievements is the successfully executed issuance of $500 million of 10-year notes at 3.95 percent, an all-time-low coupon for BBB credits, and an interest expense $13 million below budget last year. Ever a motivator, Plaisance mentors midlevel female management and is an executive sponsor for the Single Moms in Search of Excellence resource group at Safeway. This is her fourth straight appearance on this list.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
VP IT SERVICES AND SUPPORT,
Anyone who's not sure how plugged in the grocery industry is these days should spend some time with Carrie Rasmussen. As VP of IT services and support for Safeway, Rasmussen is the company's technology guru, providing support and services to retail stores and backstage employees to ensure that they get and use the right technology to do their jobs. She oversees the technology field service team, technology support desk, and onshore and offshore application support teams, and keeps Safeway's personnel connected by provisioning and maintaining employee desktops, laptops and mobile devices. Rasmussen is also a conduit between Safeway and its customers, serving the organization in a dual role as a VP of loyalty technology, in which role she helped launch the successful “Just for U” loyalty program in the major markets of northern California, Chicago and Hawaii.
In addition to her technology-driven achievements, Rasmussen is decidedly grounded in her other pursuits, whether it's helping her two children stay active in and beyond school, working on programs emphasizing the importance of health and fitness among youths, running in marathons, or, in a true stewardship role, raising cattle with her husband and being an active member of the Contra Costa Cattlemen's Association.
EVP, SAFEWAY INC.; PRESIDENT,
SAFEWAY HEALTH CO.
When it's in your job description to be responsible for all retail strategies at one of the nation's top grocery chains, you know you've ascended to be a Top Woman in the industry. Larree Renda is one of a handful of executives who run Safeway in her position as EVP of safety and president of the Safeway Health Co. In addition to her retail strategy role, functions that fall under her purview include public affairs, government relations, health initiatives, human resources, industrial engineering, reengineering and communications.
She's also Safeway's senior labor relations executive, and works closely with key retail food industry unions to collaborate on issues such as escalating health care. Moreover, Renda manages Safeway's relationship with Casa Ley, the company's joint venture in Mexico, and was recently appointed president of the Safeway Health Co., a business venture created to assist other companies in fostering healthy workplaces while lowering the cost of health care benefits. As an indicator of her influence at the grocer, she has been named chair of the Safeway Foundation. Beyond Safeway, Renda is national VP of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
SVP OF DELI/FOOD SERVICE, BRANDED CONCEPTS, DAIRY, REFRIGERATED AND FROZEN FOOD,
Lori Raya has earned a reputation for her work ethic and innovation in her distinguished career at Safeway, which began when she was a courtesy clerk in the Denver area. In the past three years, she has moved from VP of retail operations in the northern California division to corporate group VP to her current position of SVP. Raya is a senior leader in the deli, food service and branded concepts and the dairy, refrigerated and frozen food business units, which comprise a large portion of the company's sales. Her responsibilities are vast, ranging from strategic initiatives to retail execution coordination to relationship building with major product manufacturers.
As Raya has branched out within the organization, she has also helped introduce new categories and product extensions. She's additionally active in many organizations that promote the role of women in the industry, including stints as vice chair of the Safeway Women's Network Group, a member of the Network of Executive Women and a keynote speaker on supporting the advancement of women into management positions. Raya's spirit of leadership extends to her staunch support of Habitat for Humanity, through which she led Safeway employees to build houses for low-income families.
CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, BLACKHAWK NETWORK/SAFEWAY INC.
Indicating just how convenience-oriented the grocery industry has become in the past several years, prepaid products have become a draw in many stores, allowing post-recession consumers to stay in control of their spending. Talbott Roche, cofounder and president of Blackhawk Network, has helped create a successful billion-dollar business and catapult it to a market-leader position in prepaid product innovation. In 2010, she successfully launched Blackhawk's Prepaid Center in grocery and convenience stores across the country, and has introduced new categories and services to the Gift Card Mall and Prepaid Center product lines, including a Visa-branded reloadable prepaid debit card.
Anticipating the next turn of the market, Roche expanded Gift Card Mall into online channels, resulting in partnerships with leading e-commerce sites such as eBay, Buy.com and Facebook. She was promoted to the position of president last November, in which capacity she has already increased revenue and pursued new leadership opportunities. Her influence has been felt all the way to Washington, thanks to her work in passing a CARD Act extension for prepaid cards. The mother of two also pays it forward, so to speak, in her community work and participation in the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
VP OF HUMAN RESOURCES,
A store may be brick and mortar, but its success ultimately depends on the people within it. With more than 30 years of experience, Michele Silva is a proactive problem solver, talent acquisition expert and morale booster who brings a wealth of knowledge to her position as VP of human resources for Safeway. She works with a team of 188 employees on talent recruitment, payroll, change management and the company's employee call center, among other functions. Her contributions have led to the consistent exceeding of operational standards in reduced overtime, budget, annual outside contracts and time to implement labor contract changes.
While Silva understands the human element, she also embraces technology, directing the implementation and management of cost-effective, creative technological solutions that are aligned with the needs of the HR enterprise. She continues to build on her own role as well, assuming the responsibilities of payroll for the Canada division and creating the first junior military officer program for retail. Silva has also organized several food bank charity events, serves as a mentor and nonprofit board member, and focuses on living well by speaking to others as a cancer survivor and running marathons.
GROUP VP, SALES & MERCHANDISING,
SMART & FINAL
A seasoned executive with more than 30 years of experience at Smart & Final, Diana Godfrey currently serves as group VP, sales & merchandising, and is a member of the President's Executive Committee. She oversees much of the company's buying organization, including category management (excluding perishables), inventory replenishment, corporate brands, quality assurance, pricing and data integrity. Over the past year, Godfrey was instrumental in helping Smart & Final achieve “positive and competitive comparable sales,” according to one of her colleagues. Her expertise has helped Smart & Final continue to grow in a difficult economy.
She led the company's effort to reduce inventory dollars by 10 percent while improving service level to stores. She also oversaw the corporate procurement team, which saved millions of dollars in contract negotiations. Through her leadership, the retailer introduced thousands of new items to its stores in 2010. Meanwhile, her careful budgeting savvy provided critical help in rolling out new pricing programs and models. Godfrey serves on the boards of the California Grocers Association and the Smart & Final Charitable Foundation, and on the subcommittee of the Smart & Final Scholarship Foundation. She's also in charge of the Smart & Final Annual Charity Golf Tournament.
VP OF LOSS PREVENTION,
As any grocery business can attest, loss prevention is just as important as revenue gain. Kathleen Smith is the one Safeway turns to when the company needs to literally cut Its losses. A recognized authority on organized retail crime, Smith is the VP of loss prevention for Safeway, where she oversees initiatives across the retail, manufacturing, distribution and supply divisions. Her credibility is so strong, in fact, that she's regularly asked to share her expertise with law enforcement agencies, legislators, consumers and retailers.
At Safeway, Smith has been credited with preventing the loss of millions of dollars' worth of product and monetary losses for the chain and its customers. Indeed, you might call her the Eliot Ness of organized retail crime: Last year, she and her group worked closely with law enforcement agencies to neutralize major organized retail crime operations, including one sting in which agents recovered more than $1 million in stolen merchandise, $1 million in bank accounts and $140,000 in cash. An enthusiastic golfer and sports fan, Smith is also involved in a family foundation that provides scholarships to students in need.
DIRECTOR OF MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT, STEW LEONARD'S
Starting at Stew Leonard's 25 years ago as a 16-year-old part-time cashier and rising through the ranks to her current position while earning an advanced degree, Ellen Story has encouraged the grocer's other associates to achieve their goals. Directly involved in the coaching, mentoring and leadership training of more than 300 executive and management-level employees across the organization, Story in the past year co-facilitated the three-day Leadership In Action class, which taught associates ranging from department managers to VPs how to understand and work with different personalities and bridge generational differences, and, as a major player in wine cross-training and meat cross-training, developed the gourmet food retailer's wine curriculum.
This coming year, she will introduce peer coaching for Stew Leonard's leaders. A multiple award winner for her many professional accomplishments, Story additionally serves on the Yonkers, N.Y., Public Schools Occupational Advisory Council and the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce Youth Council, is a literacy volunteer, and participates in the grocer's Norwalk, Conn., mentor program.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
VP, SALES AND MARKETING DEVELOPMENT, SUPPLY CHAIN-NORTHERN REGION, SUPERVALU
As VP of sales and marketing development for Supervalu's Northern region, Teresa Chipps manages independent retailer relationships and all related staff activities, including the product and service programs needed to support independent retailer growth for existing and potential customers. In 2010, Chipps led a 130-person, multidisciplinary team in developing the Northern region's independent retailer base via new store acquisitions, store development, and sales and profit growth. Her work helped generate $58.2 million in sales secured through new/renewed supply agreements and store development.
She also introduced a strategic planning unit to Supervalu for improved market sales planning and streamlined communication between the merchandising and sales teams. Chipps brings to her job a wealth of experience from the CPG world, including successful stints as associate director at Procter & Gamble and company director of team sales at Kellogg. A tireless advocate for diversity, she launched the Supervalu “Women Connect” program, which aims to build collaboration and long-term relationships among women within Supervalu's organization and its retail customers.
PRESIDENT, ALBERTSONS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DIVISION/SUPERVALU
Sue Klug, a diligent leader in the grocery retailing scene, has been featured as a Top Woman in Grocery multiple times. Over the past year, the Albertsons division president led a major refocus on the San Diego market, including the grand opening of a much-hyped store that relies on fuel cell energy. Meanwhile, she directed significant efforts behind the retailer's environmental and sustainability initiative, resulting in the introduction of two “zero-waste” stores in Santa Barbara (the first of their kind in the United States). Klug has also led several important efforts for the City of Hope, and is currently an adviser to the City of Hope Food Industries Circle and a member of the group's National Industry Leadership Council.
Additionally, she's the education chair and a board member of the Western Association of Food Chains, where she focuses on providing educational opportunities for food industry associates. In fall 2008, she established the Southern California chapter of the Network of Executive Women, which she currently co-chairs.
EVP, MERCHANDISING & LOGISTICS,
A perennial Top Woman in Grocery, Janel Haugarth Is EVP of merchandising and logistics at Supervalu, reporting directly to president and CEO Craig Herkert. Under Haugarth's leadership in 2010, Supervalu's independent customers achieved strong financial results and exceeded expectations, led by strong like-store performance, excellent in-stock conditions, strong productivity from distribution centers, and a focus on inventory management in the DCs.
In addition, her focus on Hispanic and fresh programs in logistics and retail is growing sales and competency, while a new digital marketing solution she developed for independent customers has provided a big opportunity and win for independent customers. Haugarth serves on the boards of directors for the Valspar Corp., the Food Marketing Institute Wholesaler Advisory Board, IGA-USA and the National Grocers Association. She's also a member of the Network of Executive Women and the Minnesota Women's Economic Round Table.
SVP, CORPORATE HR & LABOR RELATIONS, SUPERVALU
Michele Murphy's solid leadership skills and willingness to take on new challenges have served Supervalu well during the past year. Her leadership in HR and labor relations allowed the company to realign corporate resources and talent to meet the demands of the business, create a regionalized structure for supporting associate relations work, and negotiate and administer contracts that helped moderate costs while ensuring continuity in service to customers. Murphy supervised multiple labor negotiations — including some high-profile ones — while helping keep overall cost increases in balance with business needs. She also drove significant increases in associate survey participation results, helping address associate concerns and increase employee engagement across the company. Last but not least, Murphy implemented new systems and improvements in shared-services processes, streamlining HR systems and tools for associates, and further reducing operating costs.
Named a Top Woman in Grocery in 2010, Murphy has been recognized several times at Supervalu for her leadership of diversity initiatives. She's been on the board of directors for the Network of Executive Women since 2007, and she's a board member for the Council on Labor Law Equality, among other professional affiliations. When she's not in the office, Murphy is a fitness enthusiast and frequent traveler.
As EVP/CFO of Supervalu, Sherry Smith oversees the financial activities for the entire $38 billion company. Over the past year, she has been active In key initiatives — including acquisitions and business realignment activities — and has worked closely with other members of management in strengthening Supervalu's relationships with various constituents, among them equity and debt holders, and banking and financial partners. Smith also led an SG&A (selling, general and administrative expense) initiative across the organization.
She became interim CFO in July 2010, and was officially named to the position In December 2010. This reflects the confidence the CEO has in her work ethic and ability to lead Supervalu's finance activities, notes one of her colleagues. Outside of of her work at Supervalu, Smith is a member of the board of trustees for Washburn Center for Children, a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis.
GROUP VP, HEALTH & WELLNESS,
Janet Sparkman has demonstrated “extraordinary success” at handling her promotion from VP, customer strategy and management on Supervalu's marketing team to her current leadership position on the merchandising team, according to one of her colleagues. “Fier blend of general management experience and sales and marketing skills has allowed her to bring a new dimension of customer focus to the merchandising team,” he notes. In her new role as group VP of health & wellness, Sparkman oversees all aspects of the division, including leading the strategic direction for growth, merchandising, assortment planning, vendor selection and management, private label product development, category management, and identifying and executing trend opportunities across health and beauty categories, as well as all pharmacies. That's no small task, as Supervalu currently operates more than 800 pharmacies, with all health and beauty and emerging products and services nationwide representing more than $3.5 billion in sales for the division. Since her promotion, Sparkman has helped achieve a swing rate in sales vs. the prior year in health and beauty of 139 basis points. She also drove conversion in the top six health and beauty categories. To top it off, the pharmacy division has exceeded its goal by more than 50 percent. Sparkman was recently on the board of the Children's Cancer Research Fund and is a member of the Leadership Giving Cabinet for United Way.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
Senior-Level Executives & Rising Stars
VP, CONSUMER & CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, WAKEFERN FOOD CORP.
Managing the brand reputation for the PriceRite and ShopRite banners over an eight-state footprint is the tough job at which Karen Meleta clearly excels. She additionally serves as the gatekeeper of corporate social responsibility initiatives at Wakefern Food Corp., the banners' merchandising and distribution arm for its retail cooperative members and others, spearheading charitable giving and sustainability efforts, particularly in the fight against hunger through the “ShopRite Partners In Caring” initiative.
This past year, her accomplishments included growing Wakefern's social media platforms; driving the company's sustainability agenda, which led to its winning a Garden State Green Award; assisting the retail co-op's member-owners with community outreach and key stakeholders; and compiling a book on the company's history, “Symphony of Soloists: The Story of Wakefern and ShopRite.” Along with an impressive list of industry affiliations, Meleta devotes her time away from the office to such important causes as Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY 2011
SENIOR MANAGER, TOP SOURCE,
Magdalena Aragon is the lead senior sourcing manager over corporate brands and indirect goods. She's the primary manager responsible for sourcing and coordinating activities across business functions including construction, HR, finance, operations, maintenance, marketing, IT and logistics. Aragon created a comprehensive multiyear strategy to significantly change how Ahold USA would manage Its not-for-resale/indirect sourcing model.
She provided leadership to colleagues and junior team members, and assisted department leadership through executive-level development of team strategy and execution. Her colleagues, among them senior managers, rely on her for advice and counseling. Aragon has emerged as a leader in her functional area, and she has quickly become well respected and relied upon in numerous business functions. As she grows in stature across the company, Aragon will no doubt have further opportunities to display the exceptional functional skills she possesses in her area of expertise.
Jacqui Buckley DIRECTOR,
DIVISION OPERATIONS SUPPORT, STOP & SHOP, NEW ENGLAND a DIVISION/AHOLD
USA Jacqui Buckley
is responsible for driving sales and profitability across the division through cost savings programs, improved operations methods, streamlined communications, and oversight of direct labor budgeting and forecasting responsibilities. Buckley played a lead role in transforming to a new organizational structure, particularly in the areas of store operations, labor management and store communication. She led the cross-functional team responsible for Stop & Shop's value launch in August 2009, and continued to support that group to develop the company's expanded messaging and business intelligence solution through August 2010. She continues to play a key role in defining and managing large initiatives to improve and streamline store operations while removing cost from the business. Buckley has great operational insight and knowledge. A strategic thinker who's not afraid to challenge the status quo, she is committed to simplifying the store environment and driving customer service.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, AHOLD USA
Julie Cummings is responsible for managing Ahold USA's overall portfolio of strategic initiatives, ensuring company resources are applied to the most important and impactful projects, and that the expected returns are achieved. Throughout 2010, she managed the consolidation of the U.S. Ahold operating companies into one continental support organization and four local retail divisions. This included the project management support of more than 15 work streams, ensuring the overall project timeline, milestones and budget were met. In addition to Cummings' management of major strategic initiatives, she has also been involved in the development of positive associate programs.
Cummings was a key leader in the development of the Helping Hands Fund, which aids associates faced with an extraordinary personal tragedy, sudden extreme financial hardship or catastrophic loss. Passionate about the retail industry, as shown by her mentoring of junior associates, Cummings followed her father's footsteps into the Stop & Shop grocery chain in 1982 and has since held a variety of positions within parent company Ahold USA.
DIRECTOR OF REAL ESTATE,
Deborah Farr is responsible for managing the internal and external processes and resources related to large capital projects, including the development and acquisition of new stores, expansions, replacements, remodels and shopping center development. In 2010, she was involved with the development of two new stores, a new store acquisition, the sale of an anchored shopping center, and numerous remodels and conversions, totaling a contribution of more than $5.2 million in profitability. She played a key role in the development and presentation of the New England Strategic Storing Plan, reformatted and improved the accuracy and quality of internal storing and market reports and databases, and continued her mentoring work.
Farr's self-sacrifice, strong work ethic and competitive nature have Inspired and guided her project teams to success. She has an aggressive desire to learn and take on new responsibilities, as evidenced by her leadership of a cross-department store-planning process and organization of an internal real estate financial review session.
MANAGER, SALES AND MERCHANDISING, GI ANT-LAN DOVER/AHOLD USA
Diane Hicks is responsible for center store in Giant-Landover's Region 6, Including grocery, beer and wine, natural foods, dairy, frozen, general merchandise, and HBC sales. She supports 64 stores in the Maryland/D.C. area. Her area of responsibility achieved sales of $1.2 billion and earned $400 million in gross profit in 2010. Hicks was also instrumental in boosting Giant's beer and wine sales 3 percent in the last two quarters of 2010. She developed and implemented training procedures for the beer and wine departments, providing hands-on training to the stores and helping to improve merchandising standards.
Hicks also teamed up with the vendor community to make the wine department a destination for customers. In her 20 years with the organization, she has held various positions, including front end manager, operations manager, night manager, store manager, human resources manager, GM sales manager and district director, before attaining her current position. Mindful of diversity and its impact on the business, Hicks has been highly successful in mentoring exempt managers.
SENIOR MANAGER, DIVERSITY AND TALENT MANAGEMENT,
GI ANT-LAN DOVER/AHOLD USA
Robin Moran Is responsible for all aspects of training, staffing and diversity for the entire Giant-Land-over division of 179 stores and 22,000 associates. While her role doesn't generate revenue, the return on Investment that Moran provides is of significant value; her contributions significantly affect the company's bottom line and its overall business performance. Moran implemented a new program to leverage internal subject-matter experts as training facilitators, which both provided professional development for strong performers and resulted in significant cost savings over using external facilitators.
Moran was a key contributor in implementing a full-scale women's resource group designed to attract, retain, develop and leverage members' collective knowledge while enhancing business performance. She also implemented more formal processes to identify and focus on the ongoing development of talent. Moran is a consummate professional who is consistently called upon to help with key business initiatives and new programs, and is always willing to take on additional responsibility. She has also demonstrated the ability to balance an ever-progressing career while raising twins.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
DIRECTOR, MARKETING AND EXTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS, STOP & SHOP, NEW YORK METRO DIVISION/AHOLD USA
Amy Murphy is responsible for developing strategic marketing programs and plans for the New York metropolitan market and overseeing their implementation. Additionally, she's the key media spokeswoman for the division, overseeing the handling of all media calls, inquiries and requests. Her team further is responsible for all charitable donation programs for the division, overseeing a $1.4 million budget.
Murphy led the division in the company's hunger relief fundraising program from October to December, achieving a 5 percent increase in funds raised. She also participated in a major public relations campaign associated with the “Turkey Express” program, which generated nearly $100,000 in turkey donations to local food banks. Beyond those accomplishments, Murphy was a key leader in several elements of Ahold USA's transition, managing significant knowledge transfer that allowed programs to continue with no interruption to stores and customers.
SENIOR HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER,
GIANT-LAN DOVER/AHOLD USA
Billye Pounds Is responsible for all aspects of HR management for more than 1,200 hourly associates and nearly 70 management associates in the supply chain. While she doesn't generate revenue, her impact on company costs is significant. Through her support, the company has increased productivity and associate satisfaction, and Pounds has directly led several key initiatives that have resulted in substantial cost savings for the organization.
For instance, she assisted in the development and execution of an organizational effort to outsource components of Giant-Landover's supply chain operation; successfully managed a voluntary separation incentive plan implemented in one of the chain's warehouse facilities, developed strategic plans and proposals for labor contract bargaining, and teamed with the business to manage several large-scale organizational initiatives and a significant number of departmental changes while maintaining a sharp focus on associate relations, communication, and day-to-day management of the supply chain business. Pounds' composure, patience, persistence and professionalism have been remarkable during a year of unprecedented change and uncertainty, enabling her to stay focused and lead with confidence and compassion.
GIANT-LAN DOVER/AHOLD USA
Tiffany Pereira is responsible for customer service standards and delivery in 34 stores, along with oversight of all front end operations, and the training and implementation of customer service technologies and promotions. She also plays an integral role in ensuring store budgets are achieved, verifying that labor is properly scheduled to deliver the highest level of service. In 2010, given Pereira's commitment to service, stores in her area showed a 6 percent increase in overall customer service-tracking results.
Additionally, she has assisted in promoting and driving a reduction in controllable expenses. As an example, in 2010, returned checks in Region 7 were reduced by $47,000. Pereira consistently demonstrates a contagious dedication to customer service, and drives results through the coaching and training of store management teams. She has been a key player on a variety of companywide, high-profile projects such as the Giant/Shell gas partnership and shrink reduction initiatives. Pereira demonstrates exceptional leadership not only by coaching others on how to provide excellent customer service, but also in being a role model for the entire organization and sharing best practices with her stores.
MANAGER, SALES AND MERCHANDISING, GIANT-LAN DOVER/AHOLD USA
Lisa Richardson is responsible for center store at more than 60 stores in Giant's Region 6 in the Maryland/D.C. area. She was instrumental in driving private label products within the company, actively participating in the identification of top Care One items, the setup of allocations and the creation of a merchandising plan. To date, the initiative has produced an increase of $1.5 million in AGP dollars over last year and $2.4 million in net sales. Richardson consistently looks for ways to be innovative.
She communicates regularly with her district directors and store management team on upcoming merchandising events, and demonstrates merchandising ideas and product knowledge to managers during store visits. Richardson proactively cooperates with other teams to leverage strength and knowledge, and builds value across the business through shared learning. One of her main objectives is to develop her team, exceed sales goals and merchandise the center store to increase gross profit. She takes great pride in setting an example for her team members, who are then motivated to make a positive difference.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
MANAGER, SALES AND MERCHANDISING,
MEAT AND SEAFOOD, STOP & SHOP, NEW ENGLAND DIVISION/AHOLD USA
Lisa Schaefer is responsible for sales and profit in the meat and seafood departments in 72 stores within Connecticut and western Massachusetts. She exceeded meat sales over last year during an extremely difficult market, making merchandising changes and improving product image.
Possessed of outstanding leadership skills, merchandising creativity and the ability to teach people, in addition to a tremendous level of personal and professional accountability, Schaefer has established better teamwork through consistent communication by creating a competitive environment among stores in the district to achieve improved sales results. She values her interaction with associates and is able to maximize performance by her communication skills and her ability to hold people accountable. Further, Schaefer started a program that donates meat — more than 200,000 pounds of it a year — from her stores to food banks to soup kitchens around Connecticut and Massachusetts.
MANAGER, REGIONAL PHARMACY OPERATIONS, GIANT-LAN DOVER/AHOLD USA
Kelly Shanahan is responsible for the operations of 32 pharmacies in the Baltimore/Washington metro area, totaling $216 million in sales. Hers is the largest pharmacy region in terms of sales volume at Giant-Landover, representing more than 25 percent of total pharmacy sales. Her region has the highest operating earnings of all of the pharmacy regions in the company as well. Shanahan developed a customer service initiative for pharmacy operations that is currently pending test implementation.
She has also reduced payroll expenses without the need for head count reduction. Being a regional pharmacy supervisor in a grocery company, Shanahan has come up with many ideas on how she can grow her pharmacy business by leveraging the food side of the business. For example, she came up with a loyalty card for kids called “The Cookie Club,” which entitled children to a free cookie from the store's bakery department for each new prescription filled. Seemingly simple ideas like this one, as well as her leadership, have differentiated Shanahan from her peers and competitors in such an economically challenging environment.
SENIOR DIRECTOR, TRAINING AND MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT, AHOLD USA
With budgets totaling $3 million, Nichole Thompson is responsible for creating and implementing strategies for executive and management resources planning and development that provide Ahold USA with the leadership required to consistently achieve business results. Thompson provided leadership during the organization transition in 2010 as an HR team lead, which included developing enhanced selection and staffing processes, facilitating cross-functional work sessions with business leads and HR partners, and providing coaching and mentorship to her team members.
In addition, she provided oversight of the training strategy and execution tailored to the new needs of the business, with a focus on developing programs that were in line with the overall company strategy. She also oversaw the management development process, including executive development and succession planning for the organization. Thompson engages with all levels of the organization, from part-time associate to senior management, and consistently exhibits genuine interest in the people with whom she works. She further reflects the values of the organization when working within the community on initiatives and partnerships.
DISTRICT DIRECTOR, GIANT-LANDOVER/ AHOLD USA
1 Stacy Wiggins oversees the operations of eight stores in Giant-Landover's Eastern Shore, Delmarva and northern Delaware markets, with total sales of $230 million. When she took over the operation of District 51 in the second half of 2010, it had little faith in its ability to achieve expectations in a highly competitive market with low customer loyalty. Wiggins has led the district to increase ID sales by growing the customer base through improved store standards, in-stock conditions, associate engagement and community involvement. She and her teams have put plans in place to aggressively go after the competition, with the goal of becoming the grocery store of choice in their market area.
She successfully opened the company's first pop-up store at Dover Speedway for the spring NASCAR race, servicing a whole new customer base and earning rave reviews. Wiggins has proved herself to be a true operator who knows how to lead people. She has been able to turn her district around by believing that people make a difference and persuading them to believe it as well. Additionally Wiggins has become informally known as the “Face of Giant” as a result of her active role within the community she serves.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, BROOKSHIRE GROCERY CO.
As director of corporate communications for Brookshire's, Rae Champagne oversees all of the company's communication efforts, including the corporate intranet, all employee publications, and any other type of messaging, verbal or written, to both employees and the general public. She is the sole ghostwriter for the CEO and the entire executive team, conscientiously preparing speeches and messages that reflect the appropriate tone for each circumstance.
As such, 2010 was a particularly tough year for someone in her position, as three of the company's leaders passed away within a short time span, and Champagne was responsible for handling the initial announcements, printed and video tributes, and subsequent memorials or resolutions made in their honor. And while Champagne had many achievements during the year — including the launch of a user-specific companywide intranet and a Web-based crisis management system, as well as a revamp of the company's magazine — she notes that one of her most memorable days in her 10 years at Brookshire's occurred when she was called to the executive conference room to break the news of the sudden death of the company's beloved 47-year-old CFO to the executive team via conference call and then to the company as a whole. She says that only a simple and compassionate message was needed that day, but it was the moment when she knew how much the company depended upon her.
DIRECTOR OF CHANGE MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING, BROOKSHIRE GROCERY CO.
Most people are resistant to change, which makes Ginger McCullough's role as director of change management and training particularly challenging. She oversees the change management department, as well as the training and development department, Brookshire University, internships, retail training initiatives and store trainers. Responsible for all training and change initiatives resulting from information technology-related and business-driven projects, McCullough handles all retail training initiatives for 153 retail sites, in addition to training for the company's manufacturing, distribution and corporate operations.
And for McCullough, 2010 was a year of much change: She developed a change management department for Brookshire's, which was officially added to the company in March; led change management efforts for the company's SAP manufacturing/maintenance project, which was implemented to streamline all manufacturing and maintenance operations systems, and unite them with systems in all other areas of operation; and drove the implementation of organizational change management as a part of the company's new program management office. Indeed, the changes driven by McCullough are too numerous to cover here. And while we may not know what the rest of 2011 holds for her, we can be sure it will be something new…
HUMAN RESOURCE COORDINATOR,
BROOKSHIRE GROCERY CO.
As the district human resource coordinator for Brookshire's District 4, Alecia Hill plays a key role in the profitability of the company by managing the district's budgets, including sales, net profits, contributions to overhead, supply expense control and overtime expenses. She also affects the grocer's bottom line through the recruitment, hiring, training and development of quality employees who enhance the customer shopping experience, resulting in higher sales. In 2010, Hill identified 23 partners throughout the district to attend leadership classes in 2011 to give them the tools for continuous growth and success with the company, and she conducted training classes to teach employees about products, the value of suggestive selling and customer engagement throughout the district, as well as coordinated training efforts for the rollout of a new product line in the deli department.
Additionally, she organized and conducted three citywide job fairs for district stores, and successfully led and trained partners in four stores in the district as part of Brookshire's corporate STARS initiative, which focuses on saving time and resources systematically. For her efforts, she received an Eagle and Leadership Degree through Brookshire University's continuous education program, among other honors.
DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT, BROOKSHIRE GROCERY CO.
Brookshire's director of business systems management, Cindy Murphy, is the central force that keeps the grocer's mission-critical business tools humming. She's responsible for coordinating the overall planning, acquisition, development and support of the company's business systems with the human resources, accounting, facility services, real estate, benefits, treasury and loss prevention business units for the company.
With Brookshire's strategic plan as her guide, she collaborates with each of the departments to identify, plan and execute application projects that drive the greatest ROI impact. Last year was a busy one for Murphy, who implemented the following new business procedures and projects, which, — if the names are any indication — was no easy task: known loss, scan rebate/count recount deal reconciliation report and settlement (yes, that's the name of one project), pay-by-scan, segregation of duties system, organizational charting software, and archiving software. As a result of her efforts, Murphy has been selected for Brookshire's executive succession-planning group, which was developed to coach and mentor high-potential employees.
DIRECTOR OF DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS,
BROOKSHIRE GROCERY CO.
In 2010, Linda Stewart received the Louise Brookshire Spirit Award, an honor named after the company's co-founder that's presented annually to one woman in the company who, in her role as a leader, demonstrates the qualities of integrity, professional work ethics, service to fellow employees, high energy, and unwavering loyalty to the company. What makes this an especially well-deserved honor for Stewart is the fact that she works in a field typically occupied by men: logistics.
As the company's director of distribution systems, Stewart's primary area of responsibility is ensuring the integrity, support and maintenance of the warehouse management system, routing, traffic, fleet management and order processing, as well as tracking the time and attendance of employees. She also maintains and upgrades existing logistics systems, and evaluates new systems. Overall, Stewart's top priority is preserving the integrity of the company's inventory on a daily basis, and she has done so with great success. During the past year, Stewart was instrumental in revamping the procedures Brookshire's uses to maintain code date control on all products and SKU rationalization to move slower-moving items, and furnished the company's category managers and inventory control analysts with updated code date reporting. In 2010, the company's shrink dollar losses were down 30 percent from 2009 — largely due to her efforts.
HUMAN RESOURCE COORDINATOR,
BROOKSHIRE GROCERY CO.
Suzanne Vance is human resource coordinator for Brookshire's District 2 and a part of the staff that oversees 18 stores in northeast Texas. She handles the hiring, training and development of district employees, and is also responsible for the cash controls within those stores. In addition, she coordinates and conducts new employee orientations, cashier certification, office cashier certification and customer engagement classes, and helps prepare new and remodeled stores for their grand openings.
During 2010, District 2 produced a company best in cash controls — audits of the store positions that handle money such as cashiers and office personnel — out of all of the company's 10 retail districts. She assisted two stores with grand reopenings, focusing extensively on hiring and training efforts, which resulted in each store seeing sales increases following their relaunches. Vance says her goal is to provide customers with the best shopping experience possible, and based on the numbers, that's exactly what's she's doing.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
SENIOR DIRECTOR, TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT, CROSSMARK
There's cross-training, and then there's CROSS-MARK training. Just as athletes train across different disciplines to achieve excellence, Millie Muczko and her training team of curriculum developers, project managers and multimedia professionals support the privately owned organization by delivering a skilled workforce with ever-increasing productivity and high retentions. Indeed, Muczko has a true impact on the 27,000-member international workforce, given that CROSSMARK emphasizes professional development at all organizational levels. She also continues to improve her own track record: Last year, she helped develop retailer-specific quick-reference sheets to help retail representatives enhance their store calls, and launched a program redesign for two of the company's 14 dedicated teams.
In addition, Muczko was instrumental in developing and rolling out a new training intranet site that has had more than 1 million hits so far, while her safety efforts have resulted in a 30 percent reduction in on-the-job incidents. Tapped as a leader of CROSSMARK's excellence initiative, she gives of her time and expertise away from the job as well, through organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
DIRECTOR, MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS,
SEALED AIR/CRYOVAC FOOD PACKAGING
Sealing the deal takes on a special meaning for a company that manufacturers materials and systems for protective fresh food packaging. As director, marketing communications for the two food business units within the Sealed Air Corp. for North America, Meike Browning understands the importance of conveying key messages with the right words and impressions. Browning is charged with creating a consistent, meaningful look and feel for the Cryovac food brand through all external communications, including public relations, print, trade shows, events, and digital and online vehicles that reach target audiences of food processors, retailers and foodservice operators.
Welcoming fresh ideas, she recently brought in a new ad agency for the first time in a dozen years, a move that resulted in a new strategic campaign that will lead to a higher level of differentiation of the Cryovac brand in the marketplace. In addition, Browning launched a sustainability communication program highlighting the benefits of packaging in reducing food waste. A native of Germany, Browning brings true global insight to her role, at a time when international markets continue to converge.
DIRECTOR, BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE,
E Smart merchandising often means intelligent merchandising. To that end, Helena Williams provides direction and analytical support to CROSSMARK's retail team and client-specific teams with the goal of helping clients make better decisions, both at retail and at the buyer's desk. As director of business intelligence, she has built an advanced analytic framework combining the company's offering of proprietary retail data insights with syndicated data services, to deliver unique insights to clients. Williams also launched a program aimed at assisting clients in their understanding of the value of their retail investment and where they should enhance that investment.
Her efforts have been heralded within CROSSMARK, where she received a Leading Edge Award for her work on innovative merchandising indices that determine the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of the in-stare environment. Additionally, Williams is a member of the Network of Executive Women and the International System Dynamics Group.
DIRECTOR, FINANCIAL OPERATIONS, CONSUMER FOOD SALES U.S. CHANNELS, GENERAL MILLS INC.
In her role as director, financial operations,
consumer food sales U.S. channels, which include Walmart, warehouse clubs, and drug, dollar and discount stores, Laurie Brown this past year enhanced internal collaboration and communication with U.S. retail operations divisions to align assumptions and better guide the financial outlook, instituted quarterly business-planning discussions, launched a profit maximizing framework within the U.S. channels sales team, identified mutually profitable General Mills customer growth strategies that shifted focus from margin percent to total profit, developed collaborative financial-planning partnerships with key customers, and provided financial leadership in the development of a small-format customer growth strategy, among other significant accomplishments.
Her efforts led to the greater influence of finance within the sales department and across General Mills' U.S. retail business as a whole, and the company subsequently tapped her to lead its finance campus recruiting in fiscal 2011. Outside of work, the financial whiz is a devoted hockey wife and mom who volunteers at her church and her sons' schools, as well as for other educational causes.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
MANAGER OF CENTRALIZED LABOR SCHEDULING, GOLUB CORP./PRICE CHOPPER
When Julie Bushee took on the role of heading Price Chopper's centralized labor scheduling team, it was an innovative concept in the industry, but she proved to be the perfect choice for such a challenging position. She aced her financial commitments to the organization in 2010, which were to control in excess of $90 million in payroll, achieving 100 percent effectiveness while helping to improve customer service scores.
She's currently working on a major project with Price Chopper's internal IT team that over the next 12 months will produce wall-to-wall schedules for every store and every department — adding up to more than 24,000 associates each week — and allocating $300 million worth of labor annually. In this demanding role, Bushee also works closely with the company's operations team to support the brand and provide assistance to store teams. For these reasons, Price Chopper hails Bushee as a strong leader who's able to analyze and package key components of its business.
ASSISTANT VP, HEALTH & WELLNESS,
The position of health-and-wellness officer is a new one for Hy-Vee, and Helen Eddy was selected from a strong group of candidates to assume the role. Hy-Vee has emerged as a health-and-wellness leader in the industry, so there was immediate pressure on her not only to continue the company's record of success, but also to develop new initiatives in this rapidly expanding area. Eddy has more than met the challenge in her first year In this position, according to one of her colleagues. She has used her background and experience as a pharmacist to pull together retail pharmacists, dietitians and chefs into a cohesive health-and-wellness team within each Hy-Vee store. She has also gone outside the company to form partnerships with such organizations as United Way, the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, the Iowa Sports Foundation and WELCOA to promote the retailer's health-and-wellness initiatives beyond its customer base. In fact, Hy-Vee received the WELCOA Gold Well Workplace Award this year largely because of Eddy's efforts. In 2010, Eddy expanded retail dietitian services to more than 160 stores, making significant progress toward the goal of providing dietitian services in every one of Hy-Vee's 232 stores. Also, under her leadership, Hy-Vee's HealthMarket departments recorded a 20 percent sales increase. Eddy, who was co-chair of the FMI Health and Wellness Advisory Council last year, is a board member of the Iowa Pharmacy Association and the Central Iowa Pharmacists Association, and serves as adjunct professor at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy and Drake University College of Pharmacy.
ASSISTANT VP OF OPERATIONS,
As assistant VP of operations for Hy-Vee's East Central district, Laura Fulton Is directly responsible for the day-to-day operations of 28 Hy-Vee stores and drug stores located in central, eastern and northeastern Iowa. The directors of these stores report directly to her and seek her guidance on all operational, financial, budgetary and personnel-related matters. In addition, Fulton Is consulted by Hy-Vee's top officers and the heads of retail departments on all issues affecting the operation of these stores. Fulton stayed busy in 2010: She led the stores in her region to achieve a 3.5 percent increase in total sales and a more than 43 percent increase in total profit, oversaw the completion of expansion or remodeling projects at five stores, and collaborated on plans for the rollout of a next-generation-format store. Fulton also served as the point person for Hy-Vee's involvement in Honor Flight, a program that transports World War II veterans to Washington, free of charge, for a tour of the World War II Memorial and other war memorials. The program has been one of the most successful community involvement initiatives the company has ever undertaken, according to a Hy-Vee spokeswoman. In recognition of her hard work, Fulton was named Officer of the Year, Operations for Hy-Vee at the company's stockholders' meeting in December 2009. She has also been elected to two terms on the Hy-Vee board of directors. Married with two daughters, Fulton enjoys family activities and golf in her spare time.
ASSISTANT VP, AUDITING SERVICES,
In her position as assistant VP of auditing services, Juli Egeland has a high degree of responsibility for safeguarding the financial and physical assets of Hy-Vee. Her department has saved the company millions of dollars by uncovering fraud and waste, and recommending better methods of handling transactions. Egeland completed a major initiative this year with the rollout of new register software for exception-based reporting (XBR). This software flags suspicious transactions and issues alerts so store personnel can respond in a timely manner to prevent loss.
The software is already helping stores reduce shrink, increase productivity, and quickly resolve compliance and training issues. At Hy-Vee's annual stockholders' meeting in December 2009, Egeland was recognized by her peers and supervisors as Officer of the Year, Administration She has earned the Competent Toastmaster designation and is a graduate of the Dale Carnegie leadership program. Egeland is also a member of Hy-Vee's audit committee and volunteers her time with the Hy-Vee Triathlon.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
ASSISTANT VP, EDUCATION & TRAINING,
In a career filled with outstanding accomplishments, 2010 proved to be a banner year for Denise Broderlck. Her peers and supervisors recognized her contributions to the company by electing her to the Hy-Vee Hall of Fame for the second time — this time as Department Director of the Year. To follow up this honor, she was promoted to the position of assistant VP, education and training, and charged with overseeing the development and delivery of education and training programs for more than 56,000 Hy-Vee employees. Although brand-new in the role, Broderick managed to complete work on two major initiatives for Hy-Vee — the restructured Hy-Vee University and the new Ronald D. Pearson Citizenship Program — while chairing three major company events and directing the activities of a staff of training specialists working In all 232 Hy-Vee stores.
Broderick is a board member for the University of Iowa REACH and serves as corporate liaison to the Dale Carnegie program. She also volunteers for Variety-The Children's Charity, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the Iowa Sports Foundation's “Exercise Your Character” event, and served as corporate team leader for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in 2009-10.
ADVERTISING MANAGER, CINCINNATI/
DAYTON DIVISION, THE KROGER CO.
Rachael Betzler was able run a strong multifaceted media campaign for 110 Kroger stores while staying within budget. Comprising a perfect blend of newspaper, radio, television and billboard advertising; circular printing; and distribution, her strategic media and marketing plan has kept the Kroger Cincinnati/Dayton division a household name as it protects market share.
What's more, Betzler's business savvy and relationships with key “mommy bloggers” have made her division the obvious choice for pilot programs that have gained national media exposure through such outlets as The Learning Channel and The Wall Street Journal. Betzler has served as a Games Ward Mentor for college students interested in joining the food retail industry, and her community involvement includes working with the Salvation Army kettle sponsorship campaign to boost donations, and an adopt-a-family initiative that yielded gifts for more than 500 needy families.
ASSISTANT VP, MARKETING,
Donna Tweeten is responsible for maintaining and managing Hy-Vee's brand, and developing innovative marketing objectives that enhance and evolve that brand. She successfully completed the second year of a large price position and service campaign, oversaw the launch and brand positioning of a major lawn and garden program, renegotiated a contract with Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson to serve as a company spokeswoman, supervised campaigns involving professional sports teams, and oversaw marketing and promotional activities surrounding the Hy-Vee Triathlon.
Tweeten has used her agency expertise to elevate Hy-Vee to a new level of professionalism in advertising, marketing and communications. These effective advertising and marketing campaigns are credited with helping the company achieve record sales and profits in a difficult economic environment.
KING SOOPERS DISTRICT 6, THE KROGER CO.
Melanie Greer may have started out 2010 as a store manager, but she didn't end the year as one. Promoted from her previous post as manager of King Soopers store #41 in Littleton, Colo., where she earned high employee satisfaction scores, Greer, a lifetime employee of the Kroger banner, has worked her way through the ranks as a true “company woman."
Now she's helping to define the template for the operations coordinator position. In her short time in this role, which she's one of the first eight individuals to hold within the company, Greer has already coordinated a holiday open house with the help of the new coordinator team, and helped lead the successful division rollout of a new patented Kroger process for expediting customers' time in the stores and at checkout. When not hard at work at the office, Greer volunteers at the schools attended by her daughters, one of whom suffers from serious health issues that have required her mother's attention and care as well.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
DIRECTOR, CUSTOMER 1ST STRATEGY & DIVERSITY, RALPHS GROCERY STORES, THE KROGER CO.
With a brief of overseeing the introduction, implementation and execution of all tactical plans relating to Kroger's Customer 1st Strategy in the Ralphs division, Jennifer Zubiate set to work developing the regularly updated Customer 1st Strategy Board to raise awareness and educate associates about the program, and creating the Women's Excellence Network, slated to bow this year, which will provide education, leadership and business development for the purpose of recruitment and retention of associates in support of the Customer 1st Strategy.
To champion diversity efforts both internally and externally, Zubiate came up with a monthly distributed calendar that highlights upcoming cultural events, traditional products and foods, among other items of interest. A parent volunteer in local Cub Scout and Little League activities, Zubiate also helps out at her church, as well as taking part in and sponsoring Susan G. Komen walks in the Los Angeles area.
CATEGORY MANAGER, HBC,
PUBLIX SUPER MARKETS INC.
Although 2010 proved to be a challenging year for the health and beauty care industry — both in terms of the economy and the record number of Industry recalls on products — Barbara Lucas and her team were more than up to the challenge: Not only did they exceed their sales growth goal, they also doubled It. In charge of HBC category management for Publix companywide, which encompasses more than 1,030 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama, Lucas developed a comprehensive merchandising/marketing program to support the monthly value program for HBC personal care items.
The program includes coupons, advertised price points, value bonus packs, retailer-specific POP and digital support. Beyond that, Lucas is a font of Information for Publix store managers, who routinely call her for help with customer questions about beauty care items, health products and industry recalls. She also participates in Publix's “Continuous Quality Improvement” program. Away from work, when not cheering her two young sons on in their sports endeavors, she volunteers for various causes through her church.
GENERAL MANAGER, DISTRIBUTION CENTER SMART & FINAL
As general manager of Smart & Final's Commerce, Calif., distribution center, Marisol Gutierrez oversees its daily operations, including a $27 million operating budget, 300 associates and service to all 182 of the chain's stores. She also manages the yearly strategies for growth within the DC, oversees the leadership development program for her direct reports, and is responsible for working with transportation to ensure uninterrupted service to Smart & Final's stores. Last year, her leadership played a critical role in driving efficiency and maintaining a low-cost structure in Smart & Final's supply chain. At the Commerce DC, Gutierrez's team processed 7 percent more cubes and cases while still lowering their variable dollars by 4 percent vs. 2009.
In addition, the team achieved a nearly 10 percent improvement in productivity, with no new capital investment and no new software. Gutierrez's team also significantly improved safety results through a comprehensive safety awareness initiative that led to more than $600,000 in savings related to worker's compensation and related costs. Outside the workplace, Gutierrez received the Class Spokesperson award for the USC Food Industry Management Program in 2009. She spoke at the awards banquet for the program as well as at the WAFC (Western Association of Food Chains) Convention. She's also a member of the Smart & Final Scholarship Taskforce.
SMART & FINAL
As a district manager for Smart & Final, Laura Jimenez oversees 16 stores and reports to the Southern regional VP of operations. She is responsible for the development and management of the budgets for each of her stores, and has total P&L responsibilities to ensure they are achieving their budgeted goals in sales and expenses. Her district ranges from Orange County to Long Beach, Calif. In 2010, Jimenez, was able to achieve the highest standards in day-to-day store operations within the company. In addition, she was able to beat her budgeted direct expenses for the year. While at Smart & Final, Jimenez has helped develop several company programs that her peers now use on a daily basis, including labor reporting, shrink control and communication tools.
She continues to work on the shrink control task force, as well as the store manager training program on daily store standards. She worked hard to receive the Western Association of Food Chains Retail Management Certificate and has done a great job encouraging others (particularly women) to return to school. Outside of work, Jimenez donates her time to the Union Rescue Mission helping the homeless and participates in fundraislng events for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
SMART & FINAL
Laurie Lombardo, a district manager at Smart & Final, is primarily responsible for supervising the operation of 16 stores in Arizona and Nevada. For her two districts, she actively participates in the development of each store's fiscal operating goals, including sales, gross profit and labor. In 2010, Lombardo successfully launched and executed a new company sales program that resulted in an Increased sales trend of 7 percent. Additionally, she achieved the highest corporate brand sales in the company. Fier districts also achieved the best inventory shrink control in the region. Lombardo additionally played an integral role in the Store Systems Task Force and was instrumental in several launches, including time and attendance, departmental RMIA, new handhelds and NCR patch updates.
To top it off, she maintained some of the highest customer service standards in the company, consistently scoring 100 percent on mystery shops. Lombardo serves on the education advisory board for the Western Association of Food Chains Retail Management Certificate Program for the Nevada and Arizona regions. She is seen as a role model for young women who are entering the grocery industry. Outside of work, Lombardo, who is also a mother, volunteers in the Las Vegas-area school district in two elementary-level classrooms.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS,
SMART & FINAL
In 2010, Rosie Squieri received Smart & Final's top store operations award: Operational Professional of the Year. This was not only in recognition of her accomplishments in her current role as director of operations, but also for additional responsibilities she assumed for the SVP position, which was vacant for much of 2010. Over the past 12 months, Squieri has provided direction and support for the launch of Smart & Final's new Smart Portal, which enables stores to read, store and retrieve Information, allowing store operations to run more efficiently; instituted task forces to enhance the portal to be user-friendly for store management; participated in the multicultural committee, the Kronos steering committee and the rollout of the WIC acceptance in stores; implemented a food safety program for district managers; and instituted, directed and developed the Automatic Distribution Program, which is scheduled for implementation in 2011 in all Smart & Final stores.
As a graduate of the Western Association of Food Chains-sponsored University of Southern California's food industry management program, Squieri continues to encourage other members of the operations team to participate in higher-education opportunities.
CORPORATE DELI MERCHANDISING MANAGER, SMART & FINAL
As Smart & Final's corporate deli merchandising manager, Cindy Morgan has influence over all merchandising in the dairy and deli departments for the chain's 182 stores in three states. Over the past year, Morgan has dedicated a great deal of time to training and developing store associates, with a special emphasis on shrink. She has also played a vital role in store resets and schematic updates.
Specifically, Morgan implemented merchandising plans that target various ethnic areas. She also expanded the dairy and deli assortment of items, and expanded market itemization for Smart & Final. Morgan is described by one of her colleagues as a “great people person [who] is dedicated to assisting each manager to be the best they can be.” She began her career in grocery as a perishables clerk.
MANAGER, EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION, SAVE-A-LOT FOOD STORES/SUPERVALU
When you're a company spokeswoman, it's important to have poise and the ability to stay cool under pressure. Chon Tomlin, manager of external communications for Supervalu's Save-A-Lot division, appears to have plenty of both. On any given day, Tomiin is responsible for managing media inquiries, offering crisis communication support, developing and implementing media plans, and developing media relationships, among other duties. All told, she's responsible for Save-A-Lot's external presence, which represents more than $4 billion in sales across 39 states. Tomlin joined the team in June 2010 and has secured considerable media exposure for Save-A-lot in her short tenure, including multiple new store media events, new product exposure and Save-A-Lot segments on ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's The Early Show. She has also helped develop a licensee outreach program designed to help raise visibility among current and prospective licensees, a group that comprises 75 percent of Save-A-Lot's current and future growth plans.
A busy mother of two, Tomlin also finds time to volunteer as a mentor for young at-risk girls, and also provides public relations support for area nonprofit agencies during major events such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
TOP WOMEN IN GR0CERY2011
BROOKSHIRE'S STORE #53,
The highlight of 2010 for Angela Abies was promotion to store director in charge of Brookshire's Store #53 in Hillsboro, Texas. She hit the ground running on arrival and hasn't stopped since. Ables reset the entire store and in June 2010 held a grand reopening. She also implemented the company's efficiency initiative, the STARS program (Saving Time And Resources Systematically), and completely overhauled the back room. Then she reached out to the community and went about creating the best shopping experience she could at her new location.
In her spare time, Ables serves on the boards of Hillsboro's Chamber of Commerce and the Boys and Girls Club of America in the town. She also works closely with Hillsboro Elementary on events and special occasions involving the kids. These efforts have borne fruit: Store #53 was designated “Business of the Year” by the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce and received Brookshire's Customer Satisfaction Score Award in Ables' district for fiscal 2010. Not bad for a rookie store manager!
BROOKSHIRE'S STORE #11,
The Top Women in Grocery award is just one of three honors Sandra Miller has earned because of her leadership as a store director. She also picked up the company's Best Total Store Shrink and Best Store Labor to Budget awards for the year as well. From January 2010 until July 2010, Miller was store director of the Brookshire's in Seven Points, Texas, and the location produced an average of 15 percent sales increases each week under her direction. During this time, she mentored the lead assistant manager, who was promoted to store director when she moved on to the company's Athens, Texas, store. A strong proponent of community relations, Miller helped conduct a “Meet the Hornets” pep rally in the Athens store's parking lot at the beginning of the school year.
She also led store members in working the concession stand at the homecoming football game, and with the help of Coca-Cola was able to donate $500 to the school's Booster Club. Miller also coordinated a Spirit of Christmas Food Drive at her store, and working with the local Kiwanis Club, provided a week's worth of food to 35 needy families. She additionally worked with the Athens Tourism Bureau to establish an annual Green Egg Cooking Event at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries in Athens, making Brookshire's the exclusive food supplier at the event.
MANAGER, EDDIE'S OF ROLAND PARK ROLAND AVENUE STORE, BALTIMORE
Debbie Hampsey began her career with Eddie's in 1985 as a part-time bagger and cashier. After accepting an offer to become full-time, she leaped at the opportunity and has held multiple positions since then, including bookkeeper and various department management posts. Hampsey's aggressive enthusiasm, knowledge of her customers and effective in-store promotional tactics led to a positive fiscal-year sales increase at the Roland Avenue location. She maintains a customer-friendly environment that places shopper needs first. Not only are customers greeted by name, but even their family members are recognized with a friendly welcome.
Hampsey will often make customers aware of product specials by way of direct contact, and it's not unlike her to make a special delivery herself. Hampsey has created an environment of loyalty and trust among her employees, resulting in staff satisfaction and longevity. Her store has a high level of customer satisfaction, a testament to her unwavering commitment to quality and customer service.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
MANAGER, GIANT FOOD STORE #752,
Rakonda Delaney is a coach and facilitator, delegating and empowering her management team to oversee the daily operations of their departments. She demonstrates a strong, positive and proactive leadership style with her team while providing direction and feedback. Under Delaney's leadership, sales increased by 20 percent, gross profit rose to 32 percent and nonperishable shrink was down 0.11 percent. Despite construction and a road closing, her store's perishable departments increased in sales by 15 percent.
Delaney aggressively added variety and introduced new items to help drive sales and exceed customer expectations. She also actively participated in community events and joined forces with local churches on “Feed the Hungry” and “Healthy Partners” programs. Her store is part of the “Eat Healthy in School” program, and Delaney hosts store tours for students to provide education on how to shop and make healthy food selections.
MANAGER, GIANT FOOD STORE #6300,
RED LION, PA.
Anne Singleton has increased her Giant-Carlisle store's earnings from 5.15 percent of sales in 2009 to 6.44 percent in 2010, and she achieved three weeks of record sales in 2010. A district trainer for salaried manager trainees, she has taken on the role of an assessor of and mentor for candidates being considered for management positions. Singleton has worked to improve her leadership skills daily, and to teach her associates the same. She is quick to think outside the box as she continually looks for methods to improve the operation. She uses logic and facts to arrive at best solutions to improve the operation as needed.
She is tenacious in her competitiveness, and continuously strives to be her best. Singleton is extremely passionate about her company, her store and her associates. Her ideals and expectations are high, and she strives to instill the same in others.
MANAGER, GIANT FOOD STORE #748,
Teresa Gibson demonstrates a strong, positive and proactive leadership style with her team while providing direction and feedback, and holding them accountable for performance and results. She ended 2010 with a 5.93 percent contribution to her stores' EBIT line and achieved an 11.4 percent sales increase over the previous year, of which overall perishables sales increased by 8.6 percent. During 2009-10, Gibson seamlessly led her store through a major remodel that was widely viewed as one of the most successful and flawlessly executed remodels at Giant-Landover. She was able to increase customer counts and increase store sales by 21 percent during the remodel process.
In 2010, she was able to continue the sales increase, growing it by an additional 10 percent and doubling the bottom line from the previous year. Gibson is a strong leader who always sets clear expectations and goals for herself and her staff.
THE GREENE GRAPE,
Just how instrumental has Sabrina Meinhardt proved to be as manager of Greene Grape Provisions in New York? Just ask owner Amy Bennett. “I can honestly say without hesitation that without Sabrina Meinhardt, my store might not still exist,” declares Bennett. After accepting Meinhardt's application at the cheese counter, Bennett tapped her a few months later to fill a vacant store management position. In that role, Meinhardt moved the two-store operation from red to black ink, and overcame challenges associated with product selection, staff retention and community support. Nearly three years later, The Greene Grape is profitable, expanding to a new bakehouse/ creamery and frequently mentioned in national publications like The New York Times.
From a sheer numbers perspective, Meinhardt helped the The Greene Grape improve sales by 37 percent in 2010 and completed a training grant of almost $30,000 from New York City. Meanwhile, her work has allowed The Greene Grape to source meat from farms in upstate New York and strengthened relationships with local farmers and bakers. To ensure that shoppers sample and savor the store's artisanal foods, Meinhardt has coordinated regular tastings and demos by vendors. A gourmet cook herself, she spent part of a recent vacation in France visiting a famous fish market.
SALIENT MANAGEMENT COMPANY
SR. VICE PRESIDENT
Salient Management Company, based in Horseheads, NY, has a singular focus across its customer constituencies: to empower and enable an organization's individuals to gain visibility to their absolute economic productivity and then measure those individuals on their improvement of that value. For the last 25 years, Salient has helped client partners improve profitability of their companies, with an economic value-add that is transparent and measurable. According to Paul Osinksi, senior vice president, Salient achieves that not by dropping in a Bí tool or providing endless consulting, but in a process that works through all user groups of a company, from category management to store managers.
Q: What are some other features that distinguish your business?
A: Our clients talk about the speed at which we provide them information to act upon.
We have one user group that runs through over 50 billion transactions every three seconds. We help our clients get to actionable root cause data in 30 seconds.
Even if these answers provide small returns, the impact on the volume in a retail environment is both significant and permanent.
Q: Please describe some of your latest offerings and solutions.
A: We maintain a focus on revenue management for all our clients and we customize that concept first by channel and then by customer. Every retailer is unique, and if you don't go in thinking that way you will not be successful and you will not help them be successful, either. We have focused on traditional areas, including promotional effectiveness and profitability analysis by category or department down to the linear foot. We are uniquely able to take POS, syndicated data, financial data and even planogram data into one integrated platform to accomplish that. Imagine being able to take that kind of True Margin negotiating power to the table with your manufacturing partners.
More recently, we have begun to focus on geo spatial analysis to look at how stores perform against a variety of metrics, such as penetration of household income, ethnicity objectives or dollar per capita sales. We also are working to do market basket analysis based on loyalty data down to the transaction log level. Based on our customer's requests, we have also developed capabilities to capture and attach causal data to their POS data such as store performance on displays, notes about competitive openings or even weekly ads.
Q: How is this paradigm different — and ultimately, more effective — in the grocery channel?
A: From what we are seeing there are still challenges around visibility, coherency and controllability. Traditional data warehouses are not connected and most reporting tools are just that: reporting tools. You need to ask someone in your IT department to create a report, get in line behind the other requests and then ask for the next one when you realize you didn't get to the real answer you can act on. With our approach we enable each user to get to the answers they need right now and on their own, and we work with IT to ensure that there is one version of the truth across the entire company, not in each department or for each author.
Q: In your opinion, how are today's progressive grocers truly using technology to improve both relationships with shoppers and bottom line?
A: In today's retail environment, survival is not measured in the number of stores you have or even in the total dollars you turn. Success is measured in the small changes and adjustments that people make everyday by making better decisions around a price point, managing labor at the right times and managing vendor performance better than the guy up the street. The retailers that are winning today and will win in the future cannot merely deploy technology, but must empower people through technology. At the same time, better performance improves your relationship with your consumers by allowing you to be more competitive at the shelf and increasing customer loyalty.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
HY-VEE STORE #3,
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.
Masterson joined Hy-Vee in 1987 as a part-time employee. Working her way up the management structure, she was selected to serve as the first store director at Hy-Vee's new Sioux Falls #5 store. Fier success there led to her 2006 selection as store director at Sioux Falls #3, which was about to relocate to a new 89,000-square-foot facility. Masterson's current store ranks first among all Hy-Vee stores in sales and second in profit, and sees nearly 50,000 customers per week — among the highest counts in the company. Masterson's personal attention to every employee goes well beyond what one would expect from such a large-volume store.
She meets with her management team on a weekly basis to set goals and evaluate progress, and she gives her department heads the leeway to plan promotions and determine sale Items. Three managers who have worked for Masterson have now become Hy-Vee store directors themselves.
KROGER STORE #517,
Coming to Kroger when the company acquired Hannaford Brothers stores in the Richmond/Tidewater area of Virginia, Alice Jones early on displayed the strong operations skills and people-savvy managerial style that got her promoted to the helm of store #517, the only location of its kind in the division. The 90,000-square-foot store which opened in July 2010, features a full Bistro/Chef Shoppe, gelato and wine bars, and expanded specialty departments. While involved in the normal duties of opening a store, Jones also built relationships with community members who then made the location the big success it Is, with nearly $800,000 in weekly sales.
Combining store-growth strategies with community outreach, she has worked with the ASPCA to sponsor pet adoption at her location and worked closely with Supported Employment of Virginia to provide jobs for special-needs adults. Jones also serves as a point person for other store managers and co-managers in the district on operational and merchandising issues. Active in her church, she devotes most of her time away from work to her daughter, who requires round-the-clock care.
HY-VEE STORE #4,
Described by one of her colleagues as an “innovator,” Mary Fuhrman has used her creative prowess to achieve success in her first year as store director at Hy-Vee store #4 in Davenport, Iowa. Under her leadership, the store achieved a 5.76 percent sales increase for 2010, set a new sales record for the Christmas week of 2010 by surpassing $1 million in sales, and posted record profit for 2010, on top of record profit in 2009. Last year, Fuhrman's store became the first in the company to hire a produce service manager — a customer service specialist in the produce department. This innovation Is now being copied by other Hy-Vee stores. Fuhrman also added a meat service manager to assist customers with meal planning and cooking tips, and hired a registered dietitian. Not surprisingly, her store received a 100 percent customer service rating on its Secret Shopper evaluation. In 2010, Fuhrman introduced a new promotion, “Kabob Mania,” for Memorial Day weekend, which proved so successful it's being expanded market-wide this year. Meanwhile, to increase the amount of locally grown produce her store carries, she set up meetings with area farmers to form partnerships and build mutually beneficial relationships.
Fuhrman was elected to serve a term on the Hy-Vee board of directors in 2008. She served on the Hy-Vee ad committee in 2009 and was selected to serve on the company's political action committee this year.
KROGER STORE #695,
Throughout 2010, Diann Lewis' commitment to excellence and dedication to associates and customers enabled her to drive sales of her store at a greater rate than other stores in her district. This led to her being honored by the Southwest division as a Top Sales Achiever at the annual Store Manager Meetings, as well as a promotion to the largest-volume store in her district, in Arlington, Texas.
Also during the past year, fueled by her passion for developing associates and enabling them to take on roles of greater responsibility, Lewis became district mentorship committee chair, extending her ability to shape and develop the company's future leadership well beyond her store. These achievements earned her many accolades in 2010, including recognition as a top performer in charitable organizations Kroger aids, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association and United Way.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
Jacqueline “Denise” McDonald
KROGER STORE #848,
The Knoxville, Tenn., Kroger store managed by Denise McDonald is consistently in the top 10 in its division in sales and EBITDA. The location is also a showplace: McDonald's two walk-through presentations to demonstrate upscale merchandising were attended by all district managers from across her division. Additionally, her mentoring and development of her management staff resulted in promotions for each of them in 2010.
In fact, McDonald serves as the district-designated trainer for candidates selected as managers in training. On the community service front, she works with the rabbi of a local synagogue to determine products that are important to Jewish shoppers, installing new equipment and researching items, and is part of the committee that organizes the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's annual golf tournament.
KROGER MARKETPLACE STORE #407,
Shawn Myers' store finished 2010 with more than $60 million in sales — a 15.33 percent increase over 2009. That distinction made the Lexington, Ky., location No. 1 in sales in Kroger's Mid-South division for 2010, and third in sales among Marketplace stores in the entire organization. In fact, it was because of Myers' proven leadership and record of success that she was selected to preside over an expansion that added 40,000 square feet to her store, resulting in its top sales spot in the division.
Myers' professional affiliations include serving on the human resources committee, assisting with retraining for co-managers, acting as a human resources facilitator for effective communication training, helping to train candidates in the management development program, and being a member of the district shrink team.
Julie M. Tolliver
KROGER MARKETPLACE STORE #522,
Promoted In all but two of the past nine years, Julie M. Tolliver has experienced success as a store manager because of the team-oriented approach she takes with her staffers. Among her standout accomplishments over the past year were achieving her store's customer satisfaction goal, mentoring a co-manager to improve performance; enhancing perishable merchandising, Marketplace home side merchandising and in-stock position; improving Customer 1st Strategy scheduling throughout the store; and cutting out-of-stocks in half.
A truly involved manager, Tolliver gives all store associates her personal cellphone number, and is always quick to help those who ask for advice.
PRICE CHOPPER STORE #165,
Tracey Hershenhorn began her career with Price Chopper in 1993 and has moved up the management ranks. She has managed stores in three Vermont locations and one in Connecticut, and currently manages the chain's largest Vermont store, which is one of the top five stores in the company. Hershenhorn has successfully guided the store through a seven-month renovation, minimizing expected sales loss by focusing on merchandising and reducing customer inconvenience. She increased 19 of 21 categories of her annual job satisfaction survey, making significant improvements in teamwork, manager motivation and associates' work being appreciated. Hershenhorn implemented a weekly associate luncheon to improve morale by uniting employees throughout the store; she launched an appreciation program in which associates recognize co-workers with a monthly award for outstanding work.
Due to her persistent attention to safe work habits, the company's worker compensation claims have been reduced and are well below budget. Hershenhorn creates “theater” in the store by building ingenious displays and creating a festive atmosphere, including an outdoor farmstand, Valentine's Day displays and a Mardi Gras-themed float. A leader who sets a high standard in all aspects of her job, Hershenhorn constantly improves the store, her company and herself.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
PRICE CHOPPER STORE #006,
Beside running a successful Price Chopper in Chatham N.Y. — 2010 net profits were up 9.2 percent over the previous year — Miranda Siek is also an adjunct professor at Bryant and Stratton College, teaching various business courses after having earned her MBA. As a professor, she has recommended prospective students to the company's recruitment department for potential job opportunities.
At the store, Siek worked with three of her department managers this past year to help train them to act as the manager on duty, enabling them to assist in the running of the store in her absence, and presided over the implementation of an in-store donated-food program for the local Ghent Food Pantry during the holiday season. The volume of donations received was so great that the store is now working with the Chatham Food Pantry on the same program. An avid runner herself, Siek received a Gold Level Wellness Award for an in-store employee wellness program including a softball team, healthy-eating options and weekly challenges. She also arranges for flowers to be donated on a weekly basis to a local nursing home.
PUBLIX STORE #1066,
Rhonda Brown manages a unique flagship facility that In addition to standard supermarket features includes an Event Planning Center and a state-of-the-art Publix Cooking School. She also runs the adjacent Publix Liquors store, and her supermarket was chosen as the location for a new deli service pilot. But despite all of those responsibilities, enduring economic challenges and a new competitor right across the street, Brown's store still met all goals for sales, gross profit, net profit and productivity, driven, in large part, by her attention to shoppers' needs. Through creative lobby themes, especially during the holidays, Brown keeps her store looking like grand-opening day perpetually, for which she has been recognized in many corporate contests.
Among her most successful in-store events last year was an off-site cooking school event with guest chef Paula Deen, which sold out and generated much praise and community awareness. In fact, Brown is such a star performer that she's currently on the succession training track as her district's candidate for district manager. In the area of community service, she is a United Way Leadership Giver, as well as a dedicated supporter of March of Dimes, the Children's Miracle Network and Special Olympics.
PRICE CHOPPER STORE #229,
Coming to Price Chopper through an acquisition, Tammie Sullivan has risen through local and regional managerial ranks. She currently runs one of the chain's newest higher-volume stores. Handpicked to open this location, Sullivan oversaw a seamless opening with little external assistance, and her store became the quickest in company history to make a profit, within eight weeks. Her strong leadership skills were clearly displayed in the opening of this store.
Flexible when it comes to the needs of her store or company, she is the total team player who always seems to do the right thing, and has a great feel for people and the business. Sullivan has been dubbed the “ambassador” of Price Chopper in her area, giving interviews with local media on supermarket-related issues. She is highly involved in the community and sets a wonderful example for her teammates.
Lillian Lane Chase
PUBLIX STORE #0319,
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.
This past year, Lillian Lane Chase became store manager at Store #0319 in West Palm Beach, Fla., where she exceeded, her goals for gross profit, net profit and sales. Additionally, in her brief time at the store, the number of associates interested in advancement has grown by more than 23 percent. Chase inspires her team to be passionately focused on customer value by boosting promotion of sale items through such methods as signage and intercom announcements every hour at peak traffic times, thereby producing results beyond division standards. At West Palm Beach, she and her team have revamped the lobby to include feature walls and sale item displays. Chase fosters team spirit with regular “Blue Shirt Fridays” during which employees wear their division anniversary shirts, and an associate recognition program for those who go above and beyond their daily responsibilities.
In-store events at Chase's new location included a mini fair with children's face painting and a bounce house. In 2010, on behalf of her store team, she accepted one of the company's top awards, the Publix Customer Service Excellence Award for the Miami Division. When not at work, Chase volunteers in her community for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, among other organizations.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
PUBLIX STORE #599,
Despite a daunting economy, Michelle Shultz set aggressive goals for her store last year, and her commitment paid off: She attained all 2010 financial goals for sales, profits and productivity, and also improved associate satisfaction. An additional achievement was her location's selection as region pilot store for a new labor management project underway at Publix, in which her location serves as a model for others. As part of her commitment to associate development, Shultz participates in the Publix Mentor Program, spending one-on-one time with her protege. Taking a personal interest in her employees, she has helped many from the inner city rise above their circumstances and fulfill their professional ambitions. Known for her creativity, Shultz strives to make work fun through unique suggestions and ideas.
Serving as team leader for her district's associate awards luncheon, she uses this creative talent to design eye-catching decorations, centerpieces and takeaways that support a theme and stay within budget. And she still finds time to personally assist customers. Her many charitable endeavors include membership on the board of directors of DREAM Dachshund Rescue, and volunteering for such organizations as March of Dimes and Special Olympics.
PUBLIX STORE #498,
NORTH FORT MYERS, FLA.
Deanne Smith's ability to coach, mentor and lead others makes her stand out from her peers. In addition to setting a daily example at her store, she participates in the formal Publix Mentoring Program, through which she has encouraged managers at other Publix stores and across various departments. Additionally, Smith's highly creative themed merchandising displays have shoppers wondering what she and her staffers will come up with next. In 2010, her team exceeded goals for sales, net profit and items per labor hour, as well as lowering workers' compensation and general liability expenses. Smith also held special holiday events last year in which each department showcased seasonal offerings, resulting in a 77 percent increase on key items — the highest increase in her district.
Among her strategies for creating a harmonious work environment are a “Wall of Fame” on which all customer compliments are posted, and covered-dish dinners held several times a year, at which associates and their families share food and fellowship. As well as leading her team in supporting March of Dimes, Special Olympics, the Children's Miracle Network and United Way, and volunteering for several charitable causes on her own time, Smith serves as primary caregiver for her mother.
PUBLIX STORE #785,
BOCA RATON, FLA.
Despite a challenging economy, Anita Skillas led her 90-person team to achieve increases in sales, gross profit and net profit. Her store also achieved a reduction in safety incidents. But, as impressive as those achievements are, they're not all this inspirational store manager has accomplished. When Publix rolled out a new campaign to support its corporate strategy, Skillas set an example for her staff, creating excitement throughout her store and working with associates to help them understand their role in supporting the initiative. She Incorporated fun activities to generate interest and enthusiasm in the campaign, a favorite tactic of hers. Skillas also leads team-building sessions to address P&L reports and other operational measurement tools. And, to keep the lines of communication open, she issues a monthly newsletter to share store, divisional and regional information.
The first to help out on any project or fundraiser, Skillas volunteers for Barton's Boosters, a program to enhance children's health and welfare, and the Healing Hearts Foundation, which aids those suffering from the loss of a child. She has also served as a mentor for young people and works with a runaway outreach program in her community.
PUBLIX STORE #1338,
Considered a “leader among leaders” at Publix,
Rose Thornton Is often asked to share her merchandising vision with other stores for grand openings, store resets and competition plans, among other occasions. She has also developed new program Implementations such as the “Fresh Department Checklist” and many team-building presentations, in addition to creating the “777” initiative to facilitate associate evaluations in 21 days. At the Curry Ford Square store in Orlando, Fla., a previous Albertsons location, the transition to a Publix store was smoothed by Thornton, who made sure the store was profitable and met sales goals. In 2010, the location actually exceeded goals for productivity, gross profit, net profit and particularly sales — this last metric by more than $2 million — despite store size and volume challenges.
Possessing an unerring eye for future Publix leaders, Thorton handles her district's Interviews for all external management candidates and skilled hourly candidates. Her additional accomplishments include the creation of an Improved communication and development process for her territory's newly promoted assistant department managers. A modest woman who shuns the spotlight, Thornton serves her community by volunteering for United Way, Central Florida Children's Home, BETA House, House of Hope and Nathaniel's Hope.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
SHOP SMART STORE #28,
CAVE JUNCTION, ORE.
In a small rural community where 29 percent of residents live below the poverty line, the Shop Smart store operated by Jessica Clark serves as a true community resource. She works with the state-run JOBS program for those on public assistance to provide job training and employment opportunities, helps parolees with job skills and training, and offers her store for community organizations' fundraisers and other good causes, including numerous youth sports team sponsorships. Beyond that, Clark's location experienced one of parent company C&K Market Inc.'s top-five sales increases in 2010, as well as making the list of the top five contributors to the overall profitability of the Brookings, Ore.-based grocer, which operates 62 stores in Oregon and northern California. Additionally, she serves as a dedicated mentor to many of the company's newer store managers, helping them launch their own partnerships with the JOBS program.
A C&K employee since 1991, Clark, who has received a bonus every year since she became store manager in 2000, based on her store's overall performance, sits on the board of directors of the local Boys and Girls Club and routinely volunteers for community events, including raising food and money for the homeless.
STORE MANAGER, SMART &
FINAL STORE #403, STOCKTON, CALIF.
Jessica Munoz is a renaissance woman in retailing. She started at Smart & Final in 1997 as a part-time associate, and spent several years learning the ropes in all departments of the store. She then progressed through the ranks, achieving an outstanding performance record in every area of the operation. Munoz was eventually promoted to senior assistant manager, and in 2007 to store manager. She has progressively been promoted to higher-volume stores, and in 2011 became store manager in the company's Stockton, Calif., Extra location, a new format for Smart & Final. Munoz hit all of her financial targets for 2010, and also received the merchandising award for her district.
Throughout the years, Munoz has developed outstanding leadership skills that have enabled her to motivate and train her team to achieve outstanding results. This is reflected in the pride and workmanship of the associates in her store, as well as the sense of urgency shown by her team. Stores #593 and #403 were both nominated for company store of the year during the times Munoz managed them, and store #593 was the district store of the year under her direction.
STORE MANAGER, SMART & FINAL STORE #494, CHINO, CALIF.
Smart & Final's Chino, Calif., store began 2010 with a decrease in sales over the prior year. By July, under Julie Leogrande's management, the store reported double-digit increases over the prior year, and inventory levels had been lowered by more than $80,000. Leogrande, who is also a single mom to three children, started as a cashier at Smart & Final's Riverside, Calif., store in 1997.
In 2005 she was promoted to senior assistant manager at stores in Moreno Valley and Redlands, and was then transferred back to Moreno Valley to assist in the relocation of the store and its transformation from a core Smart & Final to a Smart & Final Extra. She remained there four months before being promoted to store manager of the Corona, Calif., store, and nine months later she came to Smart & Final's Chino location. Last year, Leogrande was recognized with a financial award for both the second and fourth quarters, and was nominated for store of the year in her district.
STORE MANAGER, SMART &
FINAL STORE #401, HAYWARD, CALIF.
Celina Ramirez has been on the fast track at Smart & Final. She originally joined the company as a cashier, and in less than five years was promoted to key carrier, assistant manager, senior assistant and now manager of store #401 in Hayward, Calif. Last year, Ramirez was able to maintain year-over-year sales in the face of heated competition surrounding her store. She excelled as a team leader by developing a high sense of morale and pride among her associates through solid training.
Ramirez's commitment has been evident through the increased productivity and engagement of her team. Associates have been more focused on improving store conditions, and have shown more consistent adherence to company policies and procedures. Each district at Smart & Final provides quarterly awards for store managers. Ramirez has received the merchandising award — which recognizes her innovative techniques to drive sales — three times, as well as one award for her store's financial performance. A professional working mom, Ramirez also dedicates her time to her family, which includes her husband, Steven, and their two young sons.
TOPWOMEN IN GROCERY
STOP & SHOP STORE #66,
MARSTONS MILLS, MASS.
In addition to overall store operations, Allen is responsible for managing a team of associates that number just over 100 during the off-season and 185 during the summer tourist season. Annually, she seamlessly transitions seasonal associates into their new roles while continuing to provide excellent service to her customers. Allen led her team through an extensive remodel of Store #12 in fall 2010, engaging the customers so the store didn't experience any loss in sales during the remodel period. She was so successful that she was transferred to Store #66 to execute a remodel there.
Allen's commitment was further demonstrated when she broke up a ring of thieves stealing DVDs from multiple stores, resulting in the recovery of thousands of dollars in merchandise. Allen takes ownership in teamwork and is actively visible on the sales floor. Her dedication to impeccable customer service has been instilled in her entire team. Starting as a part-time cashier in 1996, Allen moved through the management training program and has worked in customer service, perishables and nonperishables.
MANAGER, STOP & SHOP STORE #2633,
NEW HAVEN, CONN.
Anne Demchak's store generates actual sales in excess of $47 million, and last year saw an increase of nearly 7 percent. She is associate modular training coordinator for her district, which promoted 11 associates from part-time to full-time; six of these 11 came from her store. Demchak works well in the community she serves, promoting diversity for Stop & Shop. She works with many community organizations, including Easter Seals, Goodwill Industries, Marrakech and Chapel Haven. Starting with the company as a part-time deli associate in 1981, Demchak worked her way up to deli manager, night manager and other intermediate manager positions until becoming store manager in 1998.
Demchak manages a diverse workforce for a demanding store. She does an outstanding job working with those with special needs, and is involved with many organizations in the community both on her own time and on behalf of Stop & Shop.
MANAGER, STOP & SHOP STORE #736,
Lisa Silvia closed an older store and opened Its replacement, a superstore, achieving positive bottom-line results within six months of operation. She achieved her shrink targets in the new store, achieved SG&A expenses better than her district averages, and improved budgeted payroll dollars and controllable expenses. Silvia managed the training and development of a new workforce in the midst of a peak summer selling season, leading her team to one of the most successful holiday seasons in the Westerly location in years. She works with many community organizations, raising significant funds for the Westerly Warm Shelter through Stop & Shop's “Foods for Friends” program, Westerly Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society, United Way and Special Olympics.
Silvia started with Stop & Shop as a cashier, and then entered its management training program after college. She has worked various management roles, including in the areas of customer service, non-perishables and perishables. As a store manager, Silvia has quickly established herself as a leader among her peers.
MANAGER, STOP & SHOP STORE #613, VERNON, CONN.
Beth Young and her team reduced operating expenses, capitalized labor expense and drove gross profit, all while having a new sister store opening in the first quarter of 2010 that directly competed for customers. Her biggest achievement was capitalizing sales and ending the year on positive sales. Young was crucial in driving center store profit and sales for the district; she also mentored store teams on how to merchandise for profitability and advised stores on operational best practices. She assisted in two core remodels and two new stores in the district. Young additionally worked with her entire store team to drive the company's gas point program and increase sales of both gas and center store items.
She and her team promoted company programs that rewarded customers for purchasing select items; these programs were communicated to customers through signage, engagement and creative merchandising. Young started as a part-time cashier in 1998, and after college worked her way up through the managerial ranks, working in general merchandise, customer service and perishables.