Progressive Grocer proudly recognizes the significant contributions and exceptional leadership qualities of its 2010 Top Women in Grocery.
"Each of us has a personal calling that's as unique as a fingerprint…and the best way to succeed is to discover what you love, and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you."
— Oprah Winfrey
For Progressive Grocer's 2010 Top Women in Grocery winners, Ms. Winfrey's wise words ring especially true, as will be immediately revealed within the subsequent pages of our annual salute to exceptional women in the industry. Women who not only excel as leaders, mentors and role models in their professional endeavors and individual communities — but who also unmistakably love their jobs.
The fourth installment of PG's Top Women in Grocery awards program fielded an exceptional number of nominations for outstanding female executives from across the industry, 114 of whom were selected to collectively represent the true architects of change in a business where men have traditionally far outnumbered women in all capacities, save clerk.
However, a quick scan of the Top Women winners quickly dispels lingering perceptions that women are not making major strides to rapidly advance to the front offices, corner suites, store director's offices and distribution center control centers.
As in years past, the women we have the esteemed honor to pay to tribute to — comprising all major food retailing sectors — are classic movers and shakers who brilliantly exemplify the magnitude of remarkable talent, vision and dedication that abounds in the grocery industry today.
Yet, it's also abundantly clear that our Top Women winners' employers are evidently doing something right, as evidenced by the characteristics and caliber of the many dedicated and accomplished women who are an integral part of their organizations' workforces.
On the pages that follow, Progressive Grocer's 2010 Top Women in Grocery winners are listed by category — 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 — and then in alphabetical order by company/chain and last name.
The entire staff of Progressive Grocer and Stagnito Media extends sincere congratulations to all of our 2010 Top Women in Grocery, along with their employers, for helping the supermarket industry soar to new heights, not only in the workplace, but also in the local community.
VP, Director of Buildings and Equipment, B&R Stores, Inc.
Thanks to her background in construction, Jane Raybould has saved Midwest independent grocer B&R Stores, Inc. thousands of dollars as the company has begun more aggressively remodeling and renovating stores over the past few years. As VP and director of buildings and equipment, she will oversee capital investments of about $10 billion in 2010. Raybould has also been on the lookout for "energy hogs," to save money for the retailer. During remodels, she dissects each store, seeking out electricity-wasting components. She then replaces the equipment with more energy-efficient models. Raybould joined the employee-owned company, which was founded by her father, Russ, when she returned to Lincoln, Neb., in 2003, after more than 22 years living and working in Washington, D.C. She spent 16 years working for the District of Columbia Building Industry Association. In Nebraska, she sits on the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Lincoln Employers Coalition. Raybould also recently revealed her intent to contest a seat on the Lancaster County Board in November 2010. She was selected to represent Nebraska's First Congressional District at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and currently serves as the membership and newsletter chair for the Nebraska Democratic Women's Caucus.
CEO, The Bama Cos.
When you're a preferred vendor for Walmart, you have to be on top of your game. As CEO of the Bama Cos., which became a preferred vendor for Walmart in 2009, Paula Marshall strives to maintain the highest level in quality and food safety, and the lowest turnover possible. In addition to its work with Wal-Mart, Bama supplies about $8 million worth of product to a large national retail account for private label graham-cracker pie shells. In 2004, Bama received the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, which is given out annually to a handful of companies for attaining the highest level of customer satisfaction and quality based on world-class benchmarks. Marshall's personal accolades include being voted one of the country's Outstanding Entrepreneurs by Ernst & Young in 2000, as well as receiving an award for Principle Centered Leadership. She volunteered her services to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Board from 1994 to 2000, and has served the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce in multiple capacities. She is also chairperson for the Women in Food Service Forum.
SVP/President, North America Soup, Sauces, and Beverages, Campbell Soup Co.
Denise Morrison has been named a Top Woman in Grocery since the award's inception, and her achievements in fiscal 2009 prove that she's still a leader in the consumer packaged goods arena. Under her leadership, Campbell's U.S. soup sales grew 5 percent during the period between August 2008 and August 2009. In addition, the company continued to make progress in its sodium reduction journey and restaged Campbell's Chunky soups. Morrison also continued to drive high levels of employee engagement at Campbell Soup. Overall, the North American organization increased its grand mean Gallup score in 2009, and all three of the businesses under her charge increased their levels of employee engagement from 2008 to 2009. An advocate of obesity prevention, Morrison is a founding member and current board member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, an initiative designed to combat obesity in the marketplace, workplace and schools. She is also a member of the GMA Industry Affairs Council. And, as if all of that weren't enough, Philadelphia Magazine presented Morrison with its Trailblazer award in 2010.
VP Growth Channels, Campbell Sales Co.
As at most companies, growth is the name of the game at Campbell, and Nancy Reagan helps achieve that goal through her leadership of the team that handles sales within the club, value, dollar, drug and mass channels. In particular, Reagan has developed selling strategies for the club and value channels that differentiate them from traditional grocery, with early indications that this new approach will create significant growth opportunities for these businesses. Further, she's received accolades for her ability to develop, manage and guide high-performing employees. Her commitment to the CPG industry — and growth — goes well beyond her job description, however: besides being a part of Campbell's Mentoring Program and a graduate of the company's CEO Institute for leadership coaching, Reagan's affiliations include membership in Network of Executive Women, Catalyst and Leadership California. She's also an in-demand speaker on the challenges and rewards of being a woman in the business world.
VP of Business Development, Catalina Marketing Corp.
Catalina Marketing's Lisa Gosselin is a VP for the company's in-store, precision media and brand consulting business. She helps develop new retail technology and customer-centric campaigns that impact food, drug and mass marketers. Many of the strategic initiatives under her leadership have transformed into standardized best practices. Additionally, Gosselin is the senior West Coast executive responsible for managing a multimillion-dollar business portfolio, which under her direction grew more than 40 percent in 2009. A 20-year consumer packaged goods and retail industry veteran, Gosselin has held various sales and marketing management positions for organizations including Anheuser-Busch, Quaker Oats Co. and Suntory Water Group. Gosselin is involved in several groups that promote diversity in the workplace, including the Network of Executive Women, where she is committee leader for the SoCal and NorCal chapters, and Catalina Marketing's Women's Network. She's also a member of Catalina Marketing's Management Group Mentoring Program and Bright Future's Program.
Julie M. Francis,
SVP, Sales & Marketing, Coca-Cola Enterprises, LLC
Retailers may know Coca-Cola Enterprises' (CCE) Julie M. Francis for her management of key customer relationships, including Walmart, Kmart, Kroger, Safeway and Supervalu. But that's just one aspect of her job. She also oversees the leading beverage company's commercialization strategy, managing properties such as NFL, NBA, NCAA and NASCAR, and heads up business and sales development. Overall, Francis and her team focus on the company's objective to be its customers' most valued supplier. Clearly, they're doing something right, as CCE was named Most Valuable Supplier by three key customers in 2009. Francis is constantly looking for ways to make the company more efficient. In 2009, she successfully restructured the organization to reduce layers between customers and the company, increased decision-making speed and significantly improved effectiveness. Aside from her crucial roles at CCE, Francis is an active member of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC), and serves on the Global Customer and Commercial Leadership Board for the Coca-Cola system, providing insights into large- and small-format stores, as well as Hispanic customer needs. Within CCE, she serves on the Global Diversity Council and is an executive sponsor of the Women's Enterprising Network.
Hollie Gonzales has had a remarkable career in a relatively short time at Crossmark, a privately owned business services company serving the consumer packaged goods industry. She started out as a retail representative and worked her way up to CIO within 14 years. She has combined her wealth of CPG knowledge with a commitment to integrating cutting-edge technology and personalized service, to help Crossmark and the industry as a whole advance. In 2009, Gonzales facilitated the construction of a Grocery Manufacturers Association-sponsored research paper on the state of retail data sharing. She also co-hosted a dynamic collaborative session between Crossmark and a major client to identify ways of using social networking technology to communicate needs in real time and provide immediate resolution. In addition to her responsibilities at Crossmark, Gonzales holds a regional chair position for college campus out-reach for the Network of Executive Women, and serves as a Nielsen CIO board advisory member. In her local community, Gonzales serves as a volunteer for Frisco Family Services, is a soccer coach for young girls and is an active member of her church.
Carol Westbook Reindel,
Senior Director, Global Brand Strategy and Marketing, Daymon Worldwide
Carol Westbook Reindel joined Daymon Worldwide in 2008 as U.S. marketing director and was promoted to her current role as senior director on Jan. 1. She has been instrumental in the success of the Daymon marketing team, and is helping to transform the company and its retail partners to a true marketing and consumer-centric mindset. She has also shown leadership in developing key business relationships with retailers and suppliers. In fact, she has already received nine Outstanding Service Recognition awards for her work for retail partners, as well as larger strategic initiatives. As part of her leadership within marketing at Daymon, Reindel played an instrumental role in organizing and presenting at Daymon's first-ever Global Marketing Summit in 2009. Outside of her work duties, Reindel is a major driver of Daymon's Make a Wish Foundation annual charity drive, which last year raised $100,000 for the Connecticut chapter. She is also CMO and chairman of the board for the Foundation for Grieving Children, a nonprofit organization that raises funds and provides grants to community-based organizations that assist children, teens, young adults and their families after a loved one's death.
VP of Bloom, Delhaize America
Under the guidance of Tammy DeBoer, Delhaize America's Bloom banner had its most profitable year ever in 2009. The chain, which now includes 65 stores, also expanded in the Charlotte, N.C., market. DeBoer has been credited with implementing initiatives that have increased the company's efficiencies and productivity, as well as looking for ways to best leverage the larger Food Lion family enterprise to further enhance Bloom's operating model. DeBoer is the former co-chair of the Network of Executive Women (NEW) in the Carolinas and corporate ambassador of NEW within Delhaize America. She also serves as a board member for Communities in Schools. 2010 Top Women in Grocery
President of Food Lion, Delhaize America
Cathy Green continues to climb the corporate ladder at Delhaize America — in February, she was named president of Food Lion, as Delhaize Group restructured its U.S. operations. In this role, she leads all banner operations for the Food Lion family, including store financial performance, merchandising, pricing, customer service, and marketing. Before her latest appointment, Green was COO of Food Lion, in which capacity she oversaw merchandising, marketing, and the distribution and supply chain networks, and had overall responsibility for sales and profits. Green, who at one time oversaw fresh merchandising at Delhaize's Hannaford Supermarkets, recently served as chair of the Steering Committee of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), an ambitious industry-wide initiative that has created guidelines and milestones to establish harmonized traceability standards among trading partners. She currently serves on the national board of directors for the Network of Executive Women, and is a member of the national board of governors for the Children's Miracle Network.
VP Human Resources, General Mills, Inc.
Applying retail sales practices to the realm of human resources throughout General Mills, Beth Flynn's training team within the company's retail sales organization expanded this past year, taking training strategy and delivery responsibility for the Bakeries and Foodservice divisions, and also serving as consultants to the International Sales team. In fact, as the onetime VP, human resources for General Mills Canada, she brings a more global outlook to her current position. Further, under Flynn's guidance, her team has come up with innovative recruiting strategies such as the "Campus Ambassador" program, which reaches out to college students. Flynn wields considerable influence in the consumer packaged goods industry through her peer relationships and as a champion of diversity, while outside of work, she helps make the world a better place by striving to alleviate homelessness and hunger in the Minneapolis area.
VP Channels Innovation Team, General Mills, Inc.
A strategic framework designed by Laurie Greeno will enable General Mills to analyze customer needs and opportunities, as well as identify the strategies and resources needed to drive customer growth through 2014. Well before that time, however, Greeno achieved strong double-digit volume and significant share gains within strategic growth channels, by such means as specific finance, shopper insights, category management, supply chain and marketing initiatives at Target. She also initiated marketing and supply chain relationships with counterparts at seven customers, resulting in General Mills' first-ever integrated event executions, marketing tests and/or value stream map partnerships, and developed and piloted revamped research methodology to achieve earlier insights even more quickly. A staunch advocate of diversity and flexible work arrangements, and a board member of several nonprofit organizations, Greeno, who progressed from entry-level marketing assistant to VP in a mere six years, counts among her professional affiliations membership in the Hidden Brain Drain Task Force, which strives for a more inclusive business world.
Senior Director, Shopper Insights, General Mills, Inc.
Food marketing veteran Linda Kline probably knows more than anyone about the hearts and minds of General Mills' consumers, and she's crafted an effective conduit for that knowledge in the $14.9 billion manufacturer's Shopper Insights organization. Kline sets the vision and strategy for Shopper Insights, tracks key shopper trends, and develops innovative research and analytic platforms that help General Mills and its major retail customers deliver on their consumers' needs and desires at the store, aisle and category levels. She also excels as an internal consultant, sharing her shopper expertise with General Mills' brand, pricing, promotion and multicultural teams. Shopper Insights has grown substantially at General Mills since Kline assumed its leadership in 2006, expanding from three to 18 team members and attracting more than a dozen awards for innovation and excellence. Kline's mentoring contributions go beyond her department: she's a "Winnovation" trainer and a "Brand Champion Growth Idea" panelist at General Mills. In addition, she gives time and energy to her community via leadership roles in local church and school groups.
VP Customer Services, Gerland Corp.
A Gerland employee since the age of 16, Kathy Sweidel-Caton has worked her way up the ladder to take on a diverse range of responsibilities at the grocer, among them the operation and supervision of courtesy booths, checkout clerk training, and red-box and Coinstar kiosks, as well as stores-within-stores offering such services as personal and payroll check cashing, money orders, lottery ticket sales, and Texas license and permit renewals. This past year, Sweidel-Caton coordinated and directed the implementation of the Texas electronic WIC program (one of the first of its kind in the country), resulting in streamlined checkout efficiency and greater customer satisfaction. She also rolled out Gerland's Black Hawk gift card initiative, which, backed by advertising, merchandising and training she devised, provides regular and increasing revenue to the company. Sweidel-Caton's impact on her company and community is also felt through her membership on Gerland's executive board, her work as scholarship coordinator for the Houston Grocery Manufacturers Representative Association and teaching a 16-week class as part of her church's prison outreach ministry, among many other activities.
Senior EVP & Chief Strategy Officer, Giant Eagle, Inc.
Laura Karet is quick to attribute Giant Eagle's success to the hard work and dedication of its team members. But there's no doubt that she's a major reason for the regional chain's enviable reputation. Karet, who has held numerous high-level positions with the company, is currently responsible for the strategic direction of Giant Eagle and for overseeing the company's newer business ventures, including its beverage and fresh food production facilities. She has been involved in the chain's aggressive lower-price campaigns, too, including a program in 2009 that committed more than $50 million to lowering prices on popular items, along with the popular customer loyalty programs fuelperks! and foodperks! Karet is also closely involved in Giant Eagle's growth and expansion (the company now operates five banners). An active member of her community, Karet serves on the boards of Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and Fox Chapel Country Day School.
Laura H. Williams,
SVP, General Counsel, Giant Food Stores, LLC
An instrumental player in Giant Food Stores, LLC's merger and acquisition activity over the past few years, Laura H. Williams most recently led many aspects of the company's acquisition of Ukrop's Supermarkets, Inc. Additionally, her management of the legal work within her control has resulted in significant savings to the organization. Promoted to her current position last year, Williams is the only woman on the senior leadership team's operating committee. Beyond acquisitions, divestitures and her work in food safety and risk management, Williams offers counsel to senior management on the most critical issues facing the organization, from public policy positions at the state and local level to international issues related to the global industry. She also leads Giant's corporate responsibility initiatives, serving as an international liaison on issues relating to climate action, sustainable trade, healthy living and community engagement. Among many professional honors, Williams was selected to attend the Ahold Retail Academy, a distinction reserved for top talent in the organization, and she occasionally speaks at industry gatherings on various topics.
VP of Pharmacy, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.
Promoted to her present position last year for the hard work she put into A&P's pharmacy services integration of 126 Path-mark pharmacies following the company's acquisition of the onetime rival Northeast grocer, Carol DiNicolantonio additionally oversaw the rollout of the chain's Live Better! Wellness Club, which provides customers with discounts on hundreds of health-related items in the store, as well as pharmacy benefit management services. She also implemented a centralized pharmacy software solution that boosted year-over-year profitability by over 5 percent. When she's not earning a raft of industry awards, DiNicolantonio supports the wider community's wellbeing through A&P's sponsorships of such organizations as the Children's Health Fund, St. Jude's Research Hospital and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
CFO, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Inc.
The entire financial operations and IT function for A&P rest on the capable shoulders of Brenda Galgano, who's ably shown that she's more than up to the task. Among her most recent accomplishments in the demanding position was leading the Pathmark acquisition financing and latest capital raise. When she's not overseeing the monetary health of a $9.5 million company, Galgano serves on the Rutgers advisory board at the university's Finance Business School, and lends her intense focus and leadership skills to community efforts including the Children's Health Fund.
VP, Treasury Services, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.
Promoted early this year to her present role, Krystyna Lack focuses on cash flow and liquidity management through working capital and additional financings. Last August, she was an integral part of the financing team that raised $435 million of gross proceeds from the issuance of $175 million of convertible preferred stock and $260 million of high-yield debt, substantially bolstering A&P's balance sheet. Lack also played a key part in the Pathmark acquisition, participating in the negotiation of the committed financing of $780 million, and seamlessly integrating Pathmark's treasury and cash operations, thereby realizing cost savings of $500,000. A member of the Association for Financial Professionals and the Treasury Management Association of New York, Lack is an active volunteer in her local New Jersey community, donating time to the Friends of the Oradell Public Library and the Oradell Community Sports Program, as well as to fundraising efforts related to the eradication of breast cancer.
Senior Counsel, VP of Employment Law, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.
Responsible for all aspects of employment law at A&P, Sheryl Martin works to prevent and avoid litigation, and to resolve disputes cost-effectively when litigation is unavoidable. She's been tremendously successful in the role, as evidenced by the fact that for over 48,000 associates, there are currently just 13 cases pending. Additionally, Martin has worked on a number of high-level initiatives, among them leading all employment law activities related to the divestiture of the Farmer Jack and Sav-A-Center stores, and the integration of Pathmark. Such superior problem-solving abilities undoubtedly aid her efforts to improve conditions in the community through supporting worthy causes including the Children's Health Fund and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.
SVP, Merchandising and Supply & Logistics, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.
It's been a busy year for Rebecca Philbert. She led the implementation of several key A&P initiatives, including the acquisition of wine merchant Best Cellars, the introduction of Starbucks counters into select stores, the addition of pharmacies in strategic locations, and the negotiation of the groundbreaking C&S Wholesale Grocers contract. Upon A&P's acquisition of Pathmark, Philbert was responsible for merging two merchandising strategies while trying to ensure that all stores and formats continued to meet customer needs effectively. Also on Philbert's packed agenda was guiding the integration of Pathmark and A&P private label product lines, including the launch of such new brands as Green Way, Via Roma, Hartford Reserve and Smart Price — in the process growing the grocer's Own Brands penetration to over 17 percent. During a 27-year career in the food industry, Philbert has risen to a position of influence in the area of merchandising, but still manages to include in her punishing schedule involvement in such A&P philanthropic partnerships as the Waldbaum's Breast Cancer Fund, the TRU Foundation and the American Heart Association.
VP of Marketing, Grocery Outlet, Inc.
Over the past year, Melissa Porter has taken Grocery Outlet from a self-admitted "purely guerilla-based" marketing strategy to a multi-level, broad-based marketing strategy. The way she's accomplished this impressive feat is by instituting print, broadcast and outdoor advertising programs, developing a digital and social media marketing strategy, collaborating on a cross-company retail façade and interior sign package, and re-launching the company's Web site, www.groceryoutlet.com. A respected retail veteran who's put in time at HEB, Wild Oats and Furr's Supermarkets, Porter is equally revered for her community efforts, which include supervising Grocery Outlet's Habitat for Humanity activities and working with local animal shelters.
Julie Henderson Craven,
VP of Corporate Communications, Hormel Foods Corp.
Overseeing all communications and community relations activities for Hormel, Julie Henderson Craven has worked tirelessly to align the company's employees around one central mission, vision and values platform. One of the ways she has sought to enhance communications is through the adoption of digital tools, among them online contact databases, digital coupons and compelling brand Web sites, augmented by internal training sessions. The next item on Craven's digital checklist is the further development of social media programming. She has also played an instrumental role in driving Hormel's continued corporate responsibility efforts, particularly its initiatives to combat hunger, by such means as leading the cross-functional team that developed the company's first fully digital corporate responsibility report. A member of a wide range of professional organizations and a recognized communications expert in her own field and beyond, Craven helps her community through affiliations with the Minnesota Twins Community Fund Board and the Austin Public Education Foundation, to name just two worthy causes.
VP, Western Region, Hy-Vee, Inc.
One of two officers in charge of overseeing Hy-Vee's retail stores, Paula Correy is the highest-ranking woman in the grocer's retail operations area, as well as the first woman to attain such a position within that part of the company. Furthering her well-earned reputation as a trailblazer, Correy developed a strategic marketing partnership between stores in the Kansas City metropolitan area and the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, helped direct the implementation of an aggressive advertising campaign focused on special sales and deals in a tough economy, guided the rollout of the NuVal nutritional scoring system at stores in her region, and even helped lead the introduction of a professional standardized dress code for store departments. A board member of Food Marketing Institute and Perishables Distributors of Iowa, among many other industry affiliations, Correy spends her spare time performing fundraising duties for such deserving groups as Variety-The Children's Charity and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, as well as regularly participating in triathalons and half-marathons.
VP Human Resources, Hy-Vee, Inc.
In just her first year as Hy-Vee's VP human resources, Sheila Laing oversaw a major expansion of the grocer's employee health-and-wellness initiatives. Presiding over such successful efforts as 11,000 biometric screenings for store-level associates and the introduction of the "Naturally Slim" weight-loss program, Laing also boosted the number of employee participants in the "Live Healthy America" wellness challenge to 6,000. While she was at it, she rolled out a Web-based application system now used across the company, and managed to save employees a combined $7 million in health care expenditures, with another $2 million returned to associates through everyday premium discounts. Next up: a company-wide drug-testing program slated to roll out this year. An active Food Marketing Institute member, Laing, a Hy-Vee employee since 1986, helped develop the company's diversity department and was elected to the Hy-Vee Hall of Fame in 2004 for her strong record of community involvement and leadership.
Rose Kleyweg Mitchell,
SVP, Education & Governmental Affairs, Hy-Vee, Inc.
Recently appointed a permanent member of the Hy-Vee executive committee and board of directors for her contributions to the company, Rose Kleyweg Mitchell led the lobbying campaign to overturn a century-old South Dakota law restricting supermarkets' ability to sell beer, wine and spirits, opening the way for the grocer's nine locations in the state to sell those products, and boosting sales as a result. Mitchell also overhauled the company-wide Food Safety Program she initially developed several years ago, to reflect the latest information available, and, under her guidance, the Hy-Vee Employees PAC has experienced a 100 percent increase in associate contributions. The creator of company awards recognizing workplace diversity and volunteer and community service work, Mitchell herself, along with Hy-Vee CEO Ric Jurgens, is a founding member of the industry's Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a coalition of retailers, manufacturers, NGOs, nonprofits and associations dedicated to reducing obesity in the United States, and also takes part in numerous community activities.
VP of Operations, The Kroger Co.-Dillon Division
Cost savings are a major focus for Colleen Juergensen, who in 2009 attained a shrink percentage five basis points below the company goal, lowered the out-of-stock count per store by 43 items, and capitalized on energy-savings costs by significantly reducing kilowatt usage. During the same time period, she successfully negotiated seven union contracts and made meaningful progress toward a successful bridging project involving fuel accumulation with another Kroger division. Attributing her success to the people she's worked with over the years, Juergensen has gone on to share her own knowledge and experience with others by coaching and training associates to staff the expanded Dillon store base. Her community activities include being a campaign sponsor for Race for the Cure in Wichita, Kan., and Omaha, Neb., as well as for the March of Dimes, and donating perishables to food banks in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.
VP of Merchandising, The Kroger Co.-Central Division
Last year, Kroger's central division was the first to undergo a massive transition affecting both the merchandising and operations sides of the organization. As VP of merchandising, Pamela Matthews worked closely with the management team to ensure a seamless transition while still meeting or exceeding sales goals. Throughout the eight-month process, Matthews skillfully shepherded her team through job function relocation, staff realignment and retraining, at the same time maintaining customer focus and sales momentum in a highly competitive Midwestern grocery market during a period of significant economic downturn. The recipient of many divisional awards over the years, Matthews contributes her time to community-based causes such as Habitat for Humanity, Race for the Cure and Gleaners Food Bank.
Director, Supplier Diversity, The Kroger Co.
Reporting to the chief diversity officer at Kroger, Denise Thomas is responsible for vendor relationships with women- and minority-owned suppliers, whose total spend exceeds $1 billion annually. Despite having had to contend with the effects of a crushing recession, Thomas has successfully led the company's efforts to maintain this highly important revenue source. The recipient of a raft of honors in recognition of her achievements, as well as a member of numerous professional organizations, including Food Marketing Institute and the Network of Executive Women, she shares her years of accumulated know-how as a certified trainer, instructing her peers in seminars on how to build an inclusive business culture. Veronica Moreno, VP/Owner, Olé Mexican Foods, Inc. Before founding Olé Mexican Foods, Inc., Veronica Moreno's only relevant experience consisted of an excellent palate and having helped her mother prepare homemade meals in Moreno's native country of Mexico. Now, in her role overseeing the sales, operations and financials for an 800-employee company, Moreno has guided Olé through one of the worst economies in recent times, achieving sales and profit increases while striving to remain competitive through such means as the introduction of six varieties of Extreme Wellness Wraps to capitalize on the growing consumer trend for healthier food items. An active member of various local chambers of commerce and Hispanic organizations, Moreno also belongs to such major trade groups as the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association and Food Marketing Institute, and has garnered many industry awards for her inspiring drive and ambition.
VP and General Manager, Floral Operations, Safeway, Inc.
Safeway's Traci Adams has the ability to handle the myriad responsibilities of a demanding position and still come up smelling like a rose. Her team launched the grocer's Floral Quality Guarantee in multiple divisions, implementing mechanisms to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty. These mechanisms included adding pull-date labels to fresh-cut flowers and plants, which led to better retail execution without an increase in shrink. Adams also helped make Safeway a destination for holiday gifts by introducing innovations in layout, design and products offered. What's more, her "zero waste" initiative, which requires the composting of perishable floral materials at all stores and the recycling of all plastics, reduced packaging materials for hard goods by 20 percent. As a direct result of Adams' fresh approach to the floral department, Safeway is able to offer customers a boutique shopping experience with the convenience and value of a conventional supermarket.
Group VP Advertising, Account Management, Safeway, Inc.
Over the past year, Safeway's Kim Brooks and her team have been involved in developing and implementing such key marketing initiatives as a comprehensive campaign in support of private label products, extensive advertising plans for eight new Lifestyle store openings and 133 remodels, the rolling launch of a price reduction campaign across all company divisions, and product and promotional campaigns for Frozen Food Month and local produce, among others. A winner of the company's prestigious President's Award, Brooks is an inspiration to her colleagues both professionally and personally, through her ability to surmount business challenges with the same zeal and determination she's brought to her battle against breast cancer.
VP of Leadership Development and Sustainability, Safeway, Inc.
Thinking about the future is an important part of Christy Consler's job at Safeway, and in that capacity she has launched the second phase of Safeway's internal leadership training and development program for directors and VPs, and works to identify and accelerate the advancement of high-potential and emerging leaders through a talent advisory board, among other projects. On the sustainability front, she assists the executive team in the development of a corporate social responsibility vision and strategies, as well as in implementing these directives throughout the company. A sought-after speaker and resource in the areas of leadership development and corporate social responsibility, Consler is a member of such professional associations as the Network of Executive Women, where she was elected to the board, and the American Society for Training and Development.
EVP, Chief Marketing Officer, Safeway, Inc.
One of only four EVPs at Safeway, Diane Dietz implemented a broad range of value-enhancing initiatives at the company in 2009, including the introduction of a successful price reduction program offering everyday low prices on thousands of products across the store. Additionally, under Dietz's direction, Safeway's Consumer Brands team expanded the company's thriving private label business with the debut of Waterfront Bistro, a line of nearly 30 seafood selections and prepared entrees, and launched the revamped Signature Café line of entrees, side dishes and desserts, rounding out the grocer's already robust line of meal replacement options. Viewed not only as a leader at Safeway, but also within the larger marketing world, Dietz has received many honors for her professional savvy, but still finds time to give back to the community through such activities as serving on the Centennial Board for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
VP Deli Food Service, Safeway, Inc.
In her role directing the marketing organization for Safeway's deli food service division, Jewel Hunt was the business unit leader for the successful development and launch of the grocer's Signature Café Meals prepared foods line; headed a team that created new strategies for various segments of the business, including deli sandwiches; and was the co-leader in the perishables business unit's "Mentoring for Success" program, which pairs mentors with protégées to spur current and future job growth. Joining the grocer as an entry-level clerk and working her way up to lead entire business units in bakery and food service, Hunt belongs to many professional organizations, among them the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, where she serves as an advisory resource on industry initiatives for products, item tracking, sustainability, country-of-origin labeling and labor initiatives.
Group VP, Information Technology, Safeway, Inc.
Working with Safeway business executives and external providers, Dianne Lamendola and her team have developed technology strategies to optimize store labor deployment and upgrade store system capabilities. She also led the development of program management structures to support the company's corporate social responsibility initiatives. Her additional responsibilities include the Project Management Office and the Innovation Services function, the latter of which establishes innovation opportunities and idea channels throughout the company. Lamendola's wide experience in application development, telecommunications, infrastructure, support services and growing teams across all functional areas of Safeway has prepared her well for the challenging role of guiding IT strategy and investment planning. A onetime corporate chair and current advisory board member of the company's Women's Network Group, Lamendola mentors up-and-coming leaders within the IT sphere. Her community contributions include being a board member of the Northern California Girl Scouts and leading a women's endurance multi-sport team that raises awareness and funds for various Bay Area children's charities.
SVP Finance and Investor Relations, Safeway, Inc.
During the U.S. banking "meltdown" in 2008, Melissa Plaisance guided Safeway's refinancing strategy, resulting in a solid credit rating and access to commercial paper that enabled the grocer to bridge its refinancing from October to December and save over $13.7 million in annual interest expense on $500 million of a five-year debt. The following year, Plaisance managed the financing of a further $500 million of debt, extending the maturity for 10 years and achieving a rate of 5 percent, which will save Safeway $12.5 million in annual interest expense. She additionally shepherded the company's stock repurchase and interest rate management programs. Along with highly visible roles at Food Marketing Institute and Retail Industry Investment Banking conferences, Plaisance frequently acts as a speaker and panelist for the National Investor Relations Institute. Her community commitments include volunteering in various capacities at her alma mater, Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pa.
Group VP, Deli/Food Service, Bakery and Branded Concepts, Safeway, Inc.
Among Lori Raya's stellar accomplishments this past year at Safeway were leading the bakery organization in category optimization for commercial bread and in-store bakery, spearheading the introduction of new categories and line extensions, developing innovative cost-saving and efficiency strategies, and deploying several work simplification models to enhance consumer experience and retail execution. Raya arrived at her present role by dint of hard work — in her 23-year career, she's held such positions as courtesy clerk, store manager, district manager of the Vons division, and corporate VP of retail and marketing strategies, all of which have provided her with the broad experience necessary to oversee all sales, marketing, pricing and merchandising for key perishables categories across Safeway's entire store base. Raya's extensive list of professional affiliations includes being the vice chair of the company's Women's Network Group, and she contributes to her community as an active supporter and fundraiser for breast cancer causes and as a board member of Northern California Easter Seals.
EVP, Chief Strategist & Administrative Officer, Safeway, Inc.
Safeway's power and influence as a grocer and corporate citizen owe much to Larree Renda. One of a few executives who run the $44.1 billion company, she oversees functions ranging from macro-level strategy to the finer details of operations. No less crucially, Renda heads the many facets of Safeway's human relationships with public officials, the labor community, its own employees and consumers. Her job description is epic, incorporating human resources, re-engineering, public affairs, corporate communications, labor negotiations and much more. Renda is indirectly in charge of the entire retail workforce as well as hundreds of administrative staffers, but her demeanor is like an efficient yet friendly store manager who leads by example — personable and approachable, a font of positive energy. Among her achievements in 2009 are Safeway's continued leadership on key industry initiatives such as health care reform, green retailing, food safety and fighting organized retail crime. Her presence also extends outside the workplace, as she chairs the Safeway Foundation, serves as national VP of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and contributes to the Retailing Initiative Advisory Board of the Wharton School of Business.
VP, Brand Marketing, Advertising, Safeway, Inc.
In close collaboration with multiple business units, Elizabeth Shoemaker led an innovative project to improve the shopping experience in key Safeway store departments, with a special emphasis on private label. As the grocer intensified its value strategy in 2009, Shoemaker played an instrumental role in developing a comprehensive public relations campaign across all U.S. divisions for a price reduction program involving thousands of products across the store. Diversity, partnership, teamwork and mentoring are all critical elements of Shoemaker's personal value strategy, as exemplified by her status as a founding member, former board co-chair and current advisory board member of Safeway's largest diversity organization, the Women's Network Group. Additional professional affiliations include her current stint as marketing committee co-chair on the board of the Northern California chapter of the Network of Executive Women. With so many accomplishments under her belt after just seven years at Safeway, Shoemaker's future at the company promises to be even more spectacular.
VP-Human Resources, Safeway, Inc.
An industry veteran with over 30 years of operations, finance and human resources experience, Michele Silva oversaw the establishment of key performance indicators and sustained control plans in Safeway's payroll organization, resulting in a reduced budget and improved overall accuracy; continued to move the company to a paperless system by designing and implementing an electronic payroll program to increase direct deposits, introducing a payroll paycard product and training employees; led the launch of HR reporting software; and rolled out the "My Child ID Kit," which enables parents to store critical data about their child on a small, convenient USB drive, at over 250 Safeway stores nationwide, to name just a few of her 2009 projects. Such accomplishments would be impressive enough on their own, but become all the more so with the additional knowledge that for much of the year, Silva was battling a rare form of cancer — and still managed to miss only a single day of work, maintain her many industry affiliations and contribute time to community causes. Additionally, as a respected industry resource, she was a featured speaker at the American Payroll Association last month.
GVP, Information Technology, Safeway, Inc.
If technology is the foundation of any recipe for successful food retailing today, then Cindy Stoddard is Safeway's top chef. She wields a multimillion-dollar budget to manage the grocer's mandate to find technology solutions that support and grow the business. Under her guidance, Safeway has been able to maximize technology ROI, improve operational efficiency and overall quality, and break new ground in shopper engagement. For example, her IT team this past year redesigned the company's consumer Web site to improve usability and interactivity. Most noteworthy was the launch and then revamp of the Food-Flex app, a tool that analyzes the nutritional value of a customer's shopping basket based on USDA guidelines, and identifies heart-healthy choices. The feature helped Safeway win recognition from Health Magazine as one of "America's Healthiest Grocery Stores." Behind the scenes, Stoddard's team helped to accelerate the implementation of the retailer's price reduction program. Her influence extends as well to the IT community at large, in various advisory roles.
Group VP, Consumer Communications & Brand Marketing, Safeway, Inc.
Backed by the results of extensive consumer insight work, Barbara Walker and her team created and activated all consumer communications and public messaging for Safeway's price reduction program, which launched in the second half of 2009. Making use of external and internal talent, Walker led the development of print, TV, radio and online/interactive messages; the coordination of reporter interviews; and the creation of all in-store collateral material. A key corporate contact for over a dozen advertising agencies, Walker is an acknowledged authority on the consumer communications and brand equity optimization needs of Fortune 500 companies, as well as an active member of the Network of Executive Women and the winner of two Safeway awards. She also finds the time to support such charities as the Safeway Foundation, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Autism Speaks.
Carol E. Austin,
VP, Brand and Marketing Strategy, Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover
With accountability for three key areas — brand strategy and delivery, integrated marketing planning, and customer relationship marketing and digital strategy — Carol E. Austin led several transformational strategies for Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover: the implementation of a new brand identity and logo across customer touchpoints; the development of an innovative customer relationship marketing and digital initiative, which included the repositioning and re-launch of the Stop & Shop loyalty card; and the integration of marketing with merchandising across channels. Austin's efforts, which laid the foundations for future direction and growth, have resulted in significant gains in customer tracking scores. Since joining the company just three years ago, Austin has recruited, developed and headed up a world-class marketing team, established a reputation as a strong customer advocate, and brought a balanced approach to projects by setting forth a compelling vision while building the support of key groups, demonstrating practicality and articulating expected outcomes. Additionally, as the single mother of an active 4-year-old, Austin serves as a visible role model for her colleagues who are also balancing family obligations and busy careers.
SVP Strategy and Program Management Office and Chief of Staff, Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover
Stop & Shop/Giant Landover owes a great deal of its recent revitalization to Marissa Nelson, who planned, organized and delivered on the company's Reinvention Plan. Nelson kept the organization focused on the importance of execution by developing cost efficiencies for the ambitious plan, which encompasses over 50 initiatives across three years, as well as establishing a program office consisting of certified project managers, to carry out the massive undertaking. She additionally facilitated the executive team's development of company growth strategies and organized the successful implementation of those strategies across the organization. Another major project involved her work on the Ahold USA retail transition/ consolidation effort, which included managing the overall transition for core support functions. When not helping to reinvent Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover, Nelson devotes her valuable time to such important causes as ending ovarian cancer.
Group VP, Retail Human Resources, Supervalu, Inc.
Human resources received an upgrade at Supervalu last year, thanks to Liz Garrett. She established customer-centric education and recruiting initiatives, led a company-wide initiative to identify the "success factors," of high-performing store directors and district managers, and established the retailer as a key sponsor of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) to build a foundation for college recruiting within the grocery industry. The recipient of the President's Medallion Award and the Excellence Award at Supervalu, Garrett is a founding member and chair of the grocer's Women's Business Resource Group-MESA (Mentoring, Encouraging, Supporting and Achieving). She has also sat on the board of SIFE since 2003, and is a member of the Network of Executive Women. In the area of community service, Garrett helps out at several nonprofit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and local food banks.
VP Store Design Services, Supervalu, Inc.
The ultimate designing woman, Sharon Lessard developed Supervalu's fully integrated in-house Store Design Services team to support the company's corporate banners, supply chains and licensee retailers. Lessard has achieved 70 percent to 80 percent overall cost reduction of new and remodeled corporate stores by using a focused approach to project scope and relevant consumer insights, leading to a simplified, holistic store experience. She additionally created and leads an annual retail excursion program for senior leadership to immerse them in key markets with focused learnings through the eyes of shoppers, a practice that enables Supervalu to stay competitive in an ever-changing retail environment. Her numerous professional affiliations include being president of the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of the Retail Design Institute and running for VP of the International Retail Design Institute for fiscal year 2010-2011. She additionally is a member of the board of DIVA MN, a nonprofit that performs fundraising and bestows grant awards for organizations supporting programs for AIDS/HIV affected communities in the Twin Cities.
SVP, Labor Relations and Employment, Supervalu, Inc.
In her capacity of handling union negotiations for over 240 union contracts covering around 110,000 associates, Michele Murphy has a significant impact on Supervalu's financial health. As well as that delicate task, which necessitates striking the right balance between business and associate needs — particularly in the midst of an ailing economy — Murphy supervises the grocer's Shared Services operations, encompassing more than 150,000 employees on a common payroll platform. She has additionally guided an associate engagement process that has led to dramatic improvements in participation. An outspoken advocate for workplace diversity, she acts as a mentor for other female executives at Supervalu, serves on the boards of the Network of Executive Women and the Council of Labor Law Equality, and also devotes time to such charitable organizations as United Way, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Special Olympics.
SVP, Finance, Supervalu, Inc.
Charged with the daunting responsibilities of managing the treasury, developing tax strategies, and crafting the annual financial and capital plan for a publicly held company with revenues of $41 billion, Sherry Smith in 2009 identified ways to lower costs and contribute to net earnings, realigned the finance departments to work better with the business and enhance the development of staffers, and implemented tax initiatives that added to Supervalu's cash flow — all in the midst of a crippling recession. A member of Women Corporate Directors and the Association of Financial Professionals, Smith mentors female professionals both at Supervalu and in the wider consumer packaged goods industry, thus exerting a considerable influence on the next generation of women executives. Additionally, Smith is treasurer and chairman of the finance committee for the nonprofit Washburn Center for Children.
VP Customer Marketing (United States), Unilever
Named VP Customer Marketing in November 2009, a position with broad management responsibilities for a multimillion-dollar budget across Unilever's foods and personal care portfolio in the United States, Kelly Downey excelled in her previous role as director of shopper marketing, in which capacity she led a major co-marketing effort between Unilever and Kimberly-Clark aimed at driving customers to specific retailers and encouraging multi-category purchases. Preliminary results of the undertaking reveal mid-single-digit growth and higher basket rings. A seasoned executive with membership positions in several professional associations, notably the In-Store Marketing Institute and the Promotion Marketing Association, Downey leads Junior Achievement classes at her daughters' elementary school, among other community endeavors.
VP Marketing, Wakefern Food Corp.
A true pioneer in the implementation of digital solutions in the retail grocery industry, Wakefern's Cheryl Williams was responsible for launching the ShopRite Weekly Specials iPhone App — the first app to focus specifically on specials at a single retailer (ShopRite is the banner under which the co-op's members operate their stores). Williams also led ShopRite's Cellfire coupon initiative, which allows shoppers to load coupons directly to their ShopRite Price Plus Club cards via computer or Web-enabled phone. Recognized by her peers as a leader in the industry, she devotes time to the Network of Executive Women and lends her support to ShopRite's long-running "Partners in Caring" program.
Group VP, Marketing, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.
As Winn-Dixie's busy group VP marketing, Mary Kellmanson has been at the forefront of several recent key company initiatives, among them the launch of the new SaveRite store prototype, which required the rebranding of all marketing and advertising elements; the unveiling of the new brand for the Louisiana region: "Local Flavor Since 1956"; the introduction of the "Fresh Checked Every Day" brand in all 51 stores in the grocer's hometown Jacksonville, Fla., market; and the implementation of the fuelperks! Rewards gas discount program in the Jacksonville area. Additionally, Kellmanson is president of the Winn-Dixie Foundation and a member of Food Marketing Institute's Communications Committee, with community activities including service on the alumni board executive committee for the University of Rochester in New York.
Partner Relations Manager, Brookshire Grocery Co.
Teresa Byrd had the chance to shine last year, when she developed a new communication model for regional operator Brookshire Grocery Co. She worked with consultants specializing in labor relations to design a program that places employees in "crews" for regularly scheduled meetings that allow information to flow from the grassroots level. The program is currently in place at five retail locations and will be rolled out company-wide. Byrd also produced a new employee relations training video and curriculum that was delivered to all employees, and helped to create the company's first internal job satisfaction survey and results-reporting process. She also devotes time outside the workplace to her community and helping others as an on-call victims' advocate at the East Texas Crisis Center; by serving meals to the area's homeless through participation in the Loaves and Fishes outreach program; by assisting with the annual homeless census for People Attempting to Help; and as a volunteer for the Texas Workforce Commission's annual Crystal Ball event for adults with special needs.
Director Pharmacy Operations, Brookshire Grocery Co.
Brookshire Grocery Co.'s pharmacy operation rings up more than $300 million in prescriptions annually, and Lisa Glorioso is a key player in every facet of the operation. Her achievements last year included completing the rollout of new pharmacy systems and hardware, as well as workflow changes at all 116 pharmacies in the chain; creating the new field position of training technician; in a clutch situation, assuming the suddenly vacant role of pharmacy supervisor for several months until she hired and trained a new supervisor; and helping to reduce labor costs significantly throughout the pharmacy operation. Her plate was full in 2009, but Glorioso also supports the youth committee at her church, and offers her time and assistance in several capacities at the local high school.
Director Supply Chain Business Systems, Brookshire Grocery Co.
As the business leader for Brookshire Grocery Co.'s core supply chain systems, in 2009, Kathy Joyce was the point person during nothing less than a revolution in the chain's supply chain strategy. As a key member of the planning committee, she's helping to map the company's future, and indirectly affects capital expenditures of about $10 million. Among her many achievements in that period, Joyce made crucial contributions to the creation of a new category management model, helped design a new vendor-to-store product flow process, oversaw the chain's transition to SAP and made significant improvements to pricing execution initiatives. More generally, she's valued at Brookshire as a professional team builder with key skills at hiring, training, and managing diverse functional and operational teams. Outside of work, Joyce supports the Women's Symphony League, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and other women's organizations.
Food Lion Director of Operations, Southwestern Market, Region 3, Delhaize America
In the past year, Tesha Sigmon was responsible for achieving 95.89 percent of budgeted sales, 86.64 percent of budgeted profit before tax, and averaged an 86 on standard practice execution. Additionally, her leadership resulted in significant shrink results for the year, which have continued into 2010, and customer satisfaction scores rose considerably. What's more, Sigmon played a key role in Food Lion's 2009 brand enhancement initiative, designing, developing and facilitating training and business plans for a more strategic, specialized operations structure across the entire banner. Besides being co-chair of the company's Women's Business Resource Group and a member of the board of directors of the Food Lion Charitable Foundation, Sigmon led her region of around 65 North Carolina stores in both the spring and fall Children's Miracle Network sales contests.
Director, Retail Marketing & Innovation, Food Lion
A natural leader who's constantly bringing new ideas to the table, Shavonne Clark was a logical choice to serve as director of retail and marketing innovation for the Food Lion family of banners when Delhaize America recently restructured. In her new role, she's responsible for leading the development and implementation of market-specific initiatives for Food Lion, and for testing new promotion concepts. In addition, she will manage the strategic growth engines for Food Lion, including private brands, health and wellness, and ethnic marketing. Her prior role was director of private brand marketing for the former Delhaize Group. She led the work to drive private brand sales through customer and associate promotions, such as the Private Brand Super Sale. She also worked to launch several new private brand products, including a children's cereal, in all stores. Her efforts have helped bring double-digit growth over the previous year. In addition to her work at Delhaize, Clark is a fellow of ASCENT, an organization for multicultural women in corporate America; and a member of NextGen network. She is also a member of Toastmasters International and a volunteer with the National Urban League, as well as with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Director Trade Marketing, General Mills, Inc.
New-item growth, fresh pricing and merchandising strategies, better tactics for collaborating with key retail accounts — all of these achievements and more marked a busy 2009 for Kathryn Jakue, who oversees national sales planning and trade promotion for General Mills' Yoplait brand. The highly palatable results included new pricing and merchandising strategies across the portfolio that made promotions more effective and the brand more competitive in the market, a new conduit for productive communications between supply chain and marketing departments at Yoplait and their counterparts at key retail accounts, and strong new-item-launch plans for eight products in the first quarter of 2010. Outside of her direct trade marketing role, Jakue also made her mark at General Mills as a strong mentor to many female junior managers in the sales organization. More broadly, she is an active member of the Network of Executive Women.
Director Budgets, Financial Planning and Analysis, Giant Food Stores, LLC
In the 10 years she's been with Giant, Kathy Charles has continued to blossom professionally. This past year, her accomplishments included developing a scan-based trading (SBT) analysis and review to support the merchandising team in evaluating SBT opportunities; successfully adding the job responsibilities of three department directors to her existing duties while continuing to meet deadlines and providing timely and accurate business support; providing valuable input into programs involving such issues as personal development, recruitment and retention, as a steering team member for the Giant resource group; and hosting a community health fair booth representing Giant and promoting healthy living. A graduate of both Ahold Retail Academy and Giant School of Business, Charles was able to amass even more knowledge during a short-term assignment to the Netherlands to learn about the accounting and operating environment there. In addition to her service on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity and serving as the VP of recording for the National Black MBA Association, Charles takes part in such community programs as mentoring teens.
Director, Risk Management, Giant Food Stores, LLC
Libby Christman's chief duty at Giant is to provide a safe environment for customers and associates, which she accomplishes by creating safety programs for stores and distribution centers. Cost control is another vital part of her job: over the past two years, Christman has rolled out two programs that have led to significant financial savings for the company. Her successful program development and retail execution, as well as her engagement with store operations teams, have resulted in consecutive years of reduced claim frequency and improved workers' compensation and general liability results. 2009 has seen an additional 15 percent improvement in both areas — at a time when most retailers are experiencing increases. Christman's internally developed proprietary programs are on track to yield significant financial results into the future both for Giant and potentially other Ahold USA retail divisions. A four-time recipient of the Giant Food Stores Outstanding Store Support Award, she belongs to a wide spectrum of professional associations, including the Risk and Insurance Management Society and the Food Marketing Institute Risk, Insurance and Safety Group.
Director of Public and Community Relations, Giant Food Stores, LLC
The major announcements Tracy Pawelski oversaw for Giant in 2009 included Rick Herring's appointment as division president and the acquisition of Ukrop's Super Markets. Her position also encompasses acting as emcee at store grand-opening ceremonies such as those for the largest Giant Super Food Store in the chain and Giant To Go, the company's first convenience store format. She also wrote and designed the first-ever Giant corporate responsibility report, and is considered a leader in the area of community engagement, as evidenced by the fact that last year, her team orchestrated record donations of $15 million in charitable giving. A graduate of the Giant School of Business and a trusted communications resource for her colleagues — especially at Ahold Corporate Center in Amsterdam, where she was sent as the inaugural candidate for the Ahold Talent Exchange — Pawelski serves on the Public Relations Committee of the board of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, for which she helped design a grass-roots anti-hunger campaign. She is also chair of the Food Marketing Institute's Communications Committee, and is a member of the Be Food Safe Advisory Committee, among other professional and community affiliations.
Senior Human Resource Manager, Giant-Landover
Thanks to 29-plus years in the retail business, Robin Anderson has gained the experience and insight to deal effectively with any issues and concerns that arise in both her own districts and others. In 2009, Anderson worked with store leadership teams to gain understanding and buy-in from the associates in 37 Giant-Landover stores. A strong champion of proper succession planning, she has teamed up with her business partners to identify talent and establish development plans to prepare associates for future growth and responsibility. Additionally, as part of Giant-Landover's continuing focus on driving sales and customer engagement, she maintains a positive presence in the community through close collaboration with several local organizations assisting challenged individuals. Additional community efforts include coordinating the participation of 11 stores and the Giant HR team in the Salvation Army "Angel Stocking" program, which provided more than 200 filled stockings to needy children at Christmas. Among her personal community-related pursuits are volunteering in the food2feed collection at Thanksgiving and being a team captain in the Susan G. Komen Foundation three-day 60-mile walk to beat breast cancer.
Lead Transportation Operations Manager, Giant-Landover
With Phyllis Moore in the driver's seat, Giant-Landover is able to keep on trucking. Moore implemented the first-ever fuel incentive program for the chain's drivers in 2009, boosting overall fuel economy 2.6 percent and generating a savings in fuel consumption of about 28,000 gallons, in addition to reducing the operation's carbon footprint. Along with fuel economy, Moore concentrated on building a more successful, productive team by inspiring colleagues to participate in Giant-Landover's Women's Resource Group and such initiatives as the inaugural Supply Chain Food Drive. Moreover, her positive influence has been felt in nearly every facet of the operation: not just cost and associate engagement, but also productivity, on-time performance, communication and safety. Moore is involved in professional organizations that serve and represent the interest of the trucking industry, including the Maryland Motor Truck Association, the American Trucking Association and the National Private Truck Council. When it comes to the community, she supports such groups as the NAACP, Greater Urban Leagues (Washington and Baltimore) and the National Council of Negro Women, in addition to mentoring and tutoring students in after-school programs, among other activities.
Senior Director, Sales & Execution, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.
Charged with the responsibilities of executing company merchandising strategies, ensuring operational guidelines and initiatives, and driving sales and profits for A&P's North Region, Debbie Daly was instrumental in the 2009 rollout of the next-generation Fresh store concept in Clark, Jersey City, West New York and Park Ridge, N.J. These outstanding efforts have enabled Daly to become a valuable asset of A&P, to say nothing of her unparalleled abilities to rally the troops in pursuit of a common goal, as well as her honesty and forthrightness. Daly additionally supports programs relating to women's and children's health issues through the company's philanthropic partnerships, which include St. Jude's Hospital, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Children's Health Fund.
Senior Director HR Administration & HR Information Systems, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.
At the intersection of technology and people, Lisa Hartman-Loos plays a pivotal role for A&P. She's responsible for leveraging technology and data management to contribute to key HR initiatives, and then delivering them in automated fashion to support the retail giant's key strategic and operational priorities. It's a big effort, and Hartman-Loos managed to contribute more than $1 million in savings for her company in fiscal 2009 through a raft of initiatives ranging from enhancements and implementations of applications and tracking systems, to enforcement and auditing of pay policies and timekeeping rules up and down the A&P organization. She's a recognized leader in the specialized HRIS community, as well as a longstanding member of the Society of Human Resource Management. In another human dimension, Hartman-Loos supports community initiatives including The Boys & Girls Club of America and local efforts to prevent domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Lauren La Bruno,
Senior Director, Public Relations, Community Affairs and Customer Care, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.
It's no exaggeration to describe Lauren La Bruno as A&P's Great Communicator. She sits at the head of the multi-banner grocer's wide-ranging efforts in PR, community and government relations, social responsibility, crisis communications, special event planning and execution, and internal communications. She's even responsible for in-store demo strategy and A&P's crucial customer service initiatives. In all, La Bruno is in charge of generating hundreds of millions of consumer impressions annually for A&P. Even so, 2009 was especially busy for La Bruno, as in the course of the year, she established a new-look communications department that substantially expanded the department role within the organization, consolidating several key functions in one wide-reaching network. In the process, she helped meld Pathmark's massive communications arm into the corporate network. In the area of charitable work, she far exceeded fundraising targets in a tough economic climate, which A&P says placed it at the forefront of overall charitable giving in the industry. Not surprisingly, her efforts earned her accolades such as the Platinum Marcom Award for Outstanding Public Relations from the Association for Marketing & Communications Professionals.
Assistant VP of Operations, West Central District, Hy-Vee, Inc.
Last year brought a major career milestone to Jen Kopriva. In her first full year as assistant VP of operations at Hy-Vee, she achieved most of her sales and profit goals in a region that contains 33 stores in small, rural communities that have been hardest hit by the economic downturn. Kopriva was able to help three of those stores move from a loss to a profit situation, qualifying them for Hy-Vee's bonus/commission compensation system. Over the past 18 months, she has succeeded in helping one-third of the store directors in her territory secure promotions to larger stores, and has trained a number of first-time store directors. She also completed a major expansion/remodeling project at a large store in Sioux City, Iowa, and supervised remodeling projects in Clarinda and Shenandoah, Iowa, that are scheduled for completion this year. Kopriva served a term on the Hy-Vee board of directors in 2006 and a term on the Hy-Vee Advertising Committee in 2007. She is on the board of directors for Ankeny YMCA, and has volunteered in numerous fundraisers for Hy-Vee and other organizations.
Corporate Data Quality & Reporting Manager, The Kroger Co.
With miscellaneous transactions accounting for billions of dollars in sales annually, data quality touches every part of Kroger's business, and Holly Abernathy is the person who keeps this critical back-room function up and running. She provides strategic vision for corporate data and drives positive process change and data-cleansing efforts to achieve the utmost data quality. Coordinating reporting for key sales initiatives and providing ad hoc information on request to a number of business units, Abernathy imparts the necessary expertise to maintain and build accurate data for the entire enterprise, thereby aiding all aspects of Kroger's business. No less remarkable is her commitment to her community as an active church volunteer and as a mentor to a young man from her neighborhood, whom she helped finish high school and has now seen off to community college.
District Manager, The Kroger Co.-King Soopers Division
Guiding the sales growth and implementation of programs and strategies of 13 King Soopers units, Chris Albi was a crack district manager who in 2009 led by example and inspiration. She prides herself on her commitment to the company's Customer 1st strategy. Her motto is: "Creating sales by putting our customers and associates first in a business culture focused on integrity, respect, inclusion, safety, honesty and diversity." Those are high-minded aspirations that Albi delivers on, not only by the way she ran her district, but also via participation in corporate organizations such as the King Soopers District Cultural Council, Regional Cultural Council and the Council of Councils. And her star is truly rising: just recently Albi was named corporate director of natural foods for Kroger and at presstime was gearing up for a transfer to Cincinnati.
District Manager, The Kroger Co.
Last year was a good one for Kathy Andrews, as well as for the 17-store district she oversees in the Kroger Co.'s Eastern Region of Cincinnati. In 2009, she managed to grow identical-store sales for the district, no mean feat in a time of persistent economic distress. Her district was the third-best profit generator in the year. In addition, her zone ranked 14th for total shrink performance. Andrews also was responsible for the launch of the chain's loyalty program in the Cincinnati/Dayton Division. For her contributions to business and community, she received the Chairman's Award.
Director of General Merchandise, The Kroger Co.
With direct influence over all general merchandise in all Kroger formats, Louisa Awbery helped coordinate the opening of eight new Marketplace stores in 2009, and worked on plans for another 50 in the next year (there are currently 47 in nine major markets across the country). Awbery also established best practices across several merchandising and operational disciplines, trained associates in 10 divisions on new procedures and policies, and arranged a kickoff meeting with senior management in each division for the successful launch of new stores across the company. In her 26 years with the company, she has gone from strength to strength, making key contributions to the development of new stores, as well as departments such as nutrition, Kitchenplace and Pet Centers. Beyond her job, she has a positive impact on Kroger as a whole through her membership in the Department Cultural Council.
District Manager, The Kroger Co.-Ralphs Division
Despite a struggling economy, Jerelyn Coleman managed to increase second-half sales in her district, which outperformed the rest of the Ralphs chain in the area of customer service by 4.3 percent. Coleman's district, which encompasses 1,500 associates, also exceeded parent company Kroger's member tracker initiatives in all attributes. Other professional activities include serving on Kroger's Division Cultural Council and lending support to its District Cultural Councils. Such endeavors have earned her a Dale Carnegie Excellence in Leadership Award. Additionally, Coleman's solid service to her community includes acting as a ladle sponsor for the Second Harvest Food Bank of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.
District Manager, The Kroger Co.
Monica Gordon is quickly becoming a pro in the retail grocery industry. She's spent 15 years at Kroger in various positions, including store manager, HR coordinator, produce buyer, and division public/media relations manager. Her latest role is perhaps the most challenging, as she is responsible for directing all operations within the 18 stores in her district within Kroger's Columbus division. During 2009, two of those stores were selected to pilot Kroger's new Power Pricing Program, which proved so successful that it was rolled out across the entire division. Gordon also oversaw the Division Confirmation store, which tests various operational and merchandising concepts that are eventually rolled out to the remaining stores in the division. She successfully managed the closing of one location and the grand opening of its replacement store, which is seeing a double-digit increase in sales. Gordon received the Kroger Columbus Division's Community Service Award in 2002 for her work with the Reading Recovery Program in Columbus city schools. Her other community involvements include being a founding member of United Way's Women's Leadership Council.
Sally J. Hermann,
District/Zone Manager, The Kroger Co.
One of the major traits of any successful supermarket is strong employee morale. Recognizing this truth early on, Sally J. Hermann has been able to bring pride to the employees she oversees, and as a result, has helped bring positive identical-store sales to the 17 retail stores in her district, located in rural Kansas. In 2009, Hermann elevated the level of store conditions in her area by executing the company's marketing plan consistently and creating in-store sales excitement. She spent her time developing, coaching and mentoring team members to make sure the right staff was on board to help achieve profitable growth. Hermann has achieved United Way 100 percent store associate participation honors at Kroger, and her zone has been named the 16th best in the company in terms of shrink performance. In addition to her responsibilities at Kroger, Hermann serves as co-chair of United Way of the Plains and co-chair for the local March of Dimes chapter.
Corporate Labor Manager, The Kroger Co.
Serving as a corporate labor manager for Kroger, Lisa McQueary was instrumental in helping to develop, pilot and implement a new Lean Operations model for store labor in three divisions for which she has direct responsibility. This major undertaking included the first-phase pilot of Kroger's Corporate Labor Forecasting Center of Excellence. McQueary has been consistently rated as a high-potential candidate during her more than two years at Kroger's general office in Cincinnati. Her work on the Lean Operations model reflects her solid relationship-building skills. Last year, McQueary served as co-chair of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati campaign. She has also served on Kroger's G.O. Cultural Council, its Retail Operations Department Cultural Council and the Cincinnati/Dayton Division Cultural Council.
VP, Corporate Benefits, The Kroger Co.
All of Theresa Monti's hard work as director of health-and-wellness benefit plans for Kroger has paid off, as she was recently promoted to VP of corporate benefits. Monti co-chaired the United Way campaign at Kroger's general office for the 2008-09 contribution year with record-setting results. She also restructured her department to deliver better results and employee engagement in health care. What's more, Monti also led a successful open-enrollment campaign for 70,000 associates that resulted in the fifth year of growth in HAS enrollment. Monti's efforts have helped save money for Kroger as well. She helped lead two audits of Kroger's health care vendors, resulting in improved medical oversight processes and better financial results, and also led the department's sustainability efforts by moving from paper enrollment and communication material to online communication — resulting in both cost and environmental savings. Industry groups she's involved in include the FMI Leadership Institute — Future Connect, EHCA (Employer Health Care Alliance) in Cincinnati, the National Business Group on Health, the Anthem Client Advisory Group, and the National Leadership Group on Consumer Directed Health Plans.
District/Zone Manager, The Kroger Co.
In true competitive form, Kimberly Svoboda, district/zone manager for Kroger's Dillon division, took action when she learned about several competitive openings in her zone in 2009. To combat the changes in her marketing area — which includes 22 stores in Kansas and Missouri — she realigned her marketing staff to be more effective, and even "re-grand opened" an expanded general merchandise format store in her largest MSA of Topeka. The store's fresh presentation resulted in double-digit sales increases consistently from day one. Last year, Svoboda was also instrumental in elevating the level of store conditions, marketing plan execution and in-store sales excitement in her zone. She's active in multiple community groups, including serving on the YMCA volunteer board of directors and being a volunteer for United Way. She's also a Living the Dream business partner in Topeka, as well as chapter chair for March of Dimes.
Manager of 6Star, Price Chopper Supermarkets/Golub Corp.
Throughout 2009, Cindy Mullin brought 25 Price Chopper stores up to speed on 6Star, the grocer's associate appreciation program, as well as undertaking to train 700 office associates in the initiative, while staying within budget. Warehouse associates are also on course be fully trained in 6Star by the end of this calendar year. The recipient of rave reviews from peers and supervisors alike, Mullin has the satisfaction of seeing many of her store-level trainees recognized with Star of the Month awards by CEO Neil Golub. A veteran of Walt Disney World, where she garnered much of the knowledge and experience that enhances her role at Price Chopper, Mullin is a member of the grocer's branding team, in addition to continuous-improvement teams in a number of departments within the organization.
Industrial Engineer, The Kroger Co.
Kroger's only industrial engineer, Karla Tankersley leads efforts and supports all current projects for the company's End to End (E2E) team, an internal process improvement initiative. Reporting to E2E director Mike Siegert, she oversees the 12 members of Project Manager GOLD and two interns. Her professional association affiliations include the presidency of the South Ohio Society of Women Engineers, and the alumni board membership chairmanship at the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering. Tankersley's industry concerns extend well beyond the present, however: she speaks regularly at area high schools and colleges about women's careers in industrial engineering and has been a member of Mentornet for the past five years.
Service Manager, Stop & Shop
At all 33 stores under her purview, Paulette Harland has increased the use of customer touchpoints, which has led to higher customer satisfaction for both checkout speed and length of lines, as well as additional sales. She's known for continually putting customer needs first, and the results of this are clear: her stores receive fewer complaints and more praise, and enthusiastic shopper survey responses are reflected in positive sales growth. Inspired by Harland's own selfless example, her stores' associates have striven to give back to the communities they serve by holding food drives for local food pantries, collecting supplies for schools and warm coats for homeless women and children, and "adopting" a needy family during Christmas. In addition to serving as co-chair of the newly formed internal Women's Resource Group, Harland is board secretary of the Christian Outreach Project, for which she also puts in time as a home-repair team leader/youth mentor; regularly volunteers at a local homeless shelter; and has taken part in two mission trips to the Dominican Republic, to name just a few of her charitable activities.
Distribution Center Director, Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover
Under Lynn Blasio's leadership, Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover's American Sales Co. (ASC) GM/HBC and seasonal distribution centers achieved unprecedented performance levels, due to a process orientation she implemented for the entire team, and the environment of accountability and participation she fosters. Her service orientation has also translated into customer-friendly slotting and pallet building, opportunistic direct deliveries to stores (instead of cross-docking), and combo-loading GM/HBC and seasonal product. Most rewarding of all, productivity improvements and tight expense controls have driven the grocer's GM/ HBC markup down significantly, resulting in huge reductions in charges to stores. A participant in "Store Council" meetings to hear feedback directly from her customers, as well as co-chair of the ASC retention committee, a problem-solving, cross-functional team of operations and human resources partners, Blasio headed a company-wide team dealing with freshness and food safety issues, validating that only properly dated quality food products are shipped from the facilities she manages. Maintaining several professional relationships across various disciplines, including operations, systems and standards, she is also a member of the Association for Operations Management.
Service Manager, Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover
Working with associates at all 34 Giant stores to build partnerships within their local communities, Maribel Dichard has coordinated participation in food drives supporting local school, church and youth programs such as the Salvation Army "Angel Tree," as well as several other community programs for local residents. Beyond that, she was able to collect over $500 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, $500 for the Susan G. Komen fund and $3,000 for the Diabetes Association through individual donations. Viewed as a role model for positive attitude and voluntary participation in many company-sponsored events as well as other community activities, among them taking part in the Tour de Cure event in Reston, Va., Dichard has also improved customer service standards and reduced long-line, general service and customer service complaints by 38 percent over the previous year for her region, which in turn led to positive ID sales for 2009, in spite of a down economy and strong competition. Additionally, under her guidance, customer service and speed of checkout tracking scores increased by 10 percent in her region.
District Manager, Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover
During 2009, the 15 stores in Patricia Maguire's district achieved increases in total sales (up 3.81 percent), item movement (up 3.57 percent) and gross profit (up 7.60 percent). Maguire and her team also logged percentage increases that surpassed the regional average in identical and total customer count, perishable shrink rate and total contribution. She was able to accomplish all this even as two major competitors moved into her district marketplace. Additionally, Maguire's participation on committees focusing on warehousing and distribution, maintenance and expense control, and simplifying business has helped to lower maintenance costs for the region, reduce delivery times for transportation and generate actionable streamlining ideas, and she's joined forces with the construction department to run a training class for managers who'll oversee new store construction and remodels. A mentor who has developed and promoted four new store managers over the past 15 months, Maguire inspired 50 members of her team to volunteer at the Rhode Island Special Olympics last year, among other charitable endeavors.
Director of Human Resources, Acme Markets-Supervalu
Since joining Acme Markets from Jewel-Osco in 2009, Ericka Anderson has taken the lead on talent acquisition and performance management for the Supervalu-owned banner's 300-plus exempt-level leaders. She's worked closely with these employees to develop and enact a strategic reorganization in the division, and has acquired key talent, including a new SVP of operations and two seasoned district managers. Anderson also helped enact a consistent performance management process to help develop employees. Perhaps most impressively, during two separate, highly tenuous union negotiations, she worked with Acme's executive team and the human resources leadership at other Supervalu banners to develop a strategic, comprehensive contingency plan, helping to achieve a quick resolution for the parties involved. Anderson is a member of the League of Black Women and the Society of Human Resources Management. She has participated in multiple activities tied to her work at Supervalu, including the Urban League of Philadelphia, St. Joseph's University's Citation Award Dinner Dance and Pennsylvania Governor's Conference for Women. She is also involved in several early-education initiatives in the greater Philadelphia area, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Director of Finance, Acme Markets-Supervalu
Among the ways that Cindy Burns has helped improve the balance sheet at Supervalu's Acme division over the past year were leading and supporting finance restructuring to ensure the finance organization's seamless business support and dedication to customers; instituting period-end profit-and-loss (P&L) review meetings with a cross-functional team to discuss challenges and needs, as well as to share ideas for greater effectiveness and accountability; and supporting retail operations and labor teams in a successful negotiation of five union contract renewals, along with implementing the contract terms through labor scheduling and other means. She also continues to manage the division's P&L. Burns' professional association affiliations include membership in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Regional Customer Service Manager, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.
Deanna Wilson started her career at Winn-Dixie as a part-time cashier while attending a community college right down the street, and last year she earned a bachelor's degree in business administration while performing her current job at peak levels. Even with this busy schedule, she makes time for her spiritual beliefs, family and hobbies. In 2009, Wilson's regional team of seven specialists in the Jacksonville, Fla., area consistently led other regions in executing processes that directly impact sales and profits. Major initiatives included a regional rollout of the Customer Experience Tool, Smart Check Tool and Front End Asset Protection Process. Wilson's strong work ethic has netted her several company accolades, including the Star Leadership Award for improving customer service, the Orlando Region Award and the Community/Family Award. In addition to her work at Winn-Dixie, she serves as a board member for the United Negro College Fund and participates on a local advisory council when time permits.
Store Director, Albertsons Store 6601, Glendora, Calif.
Kathy McClard loves her job. She loves it so much, in fact, that after being asked to take on grocery operations responsibility for the Lucky's banner's Central Coast region, a role she performed for two years, McClard requested to return to being a store director, where she felt she could have a bigger impact and provide a greater benefit to the company by driving store results. Her wish granted, McClard recently led her team through a months-long store remodel without any loss in sales, despite the many inconveniences associated with such a project. She additionally set a new grand-opening standard by achieving her store labor budget, coming in under budget on remodel labor, and maintaining impeccable store standards and conditions. One of her district's four labor coaches responsible for instructing store directors in the effective management of such details as contract terms and associate mix, McClard also teaches associate store directors both the analytical and technical sides of the business. Among her additional professional commitments are active membership in the MESA Business Resource Group and active status on the store directors' council.
Store Director, Brookshire's #34, Monroe, La.
Sharon Boyett has what you might call "contagious enthusiasm." After being trained by Brookshire Grocery Co. on a new "product knowledge" initiative, she came back to her store in Monroe, La. "on fire," according to one of her colleagues. The new program is designed to encourage store partners to learn more about food to better serve their customers. Boyett began by getting all employees familiar with the produce department. Then she launched weekly one-hour classes that include a quiz at the end of each quarter, with a prize awarded for the highest score. Last year, she improved her store's net profit and labor percent figures over the previous year. She finished the year with the highest net profit of all 120-plus Brookshire banner stores, breaking the store's record. Boyett received Brookshire's Store Director of the Year Award in 2007 — the first time a woman was so honored — and at press time had just been named a grand-prize winner of Food Marketing Institute's 2010 Store Manager Awards. She has also received numerous community service awards from organizations such as the MDA, Zion Springs Outreach Ministry and United Way.
Store Manager, First Colony, California, Md.
Despite having been a store manager for less than a year, Debbie Gwynn accomplished quite a lot in 2009. Gwynn engaged associates and maintained high morale amid the headaches accompanying a store remodel, even with the added wrinkle of a new SuperTarget just next door. She also kept customers informed and aware of store changes through a weekly newsletter, had a greeter assist them as they entered the store, and involved every associate in creating a satisfying shopping experience. As well as completing the remodel on time and within budget Gwynn ended the year with zero customer complaints, decreased the number of workers' compensation claims for the year, maintained her customer base, reduced nonperishable shrink by 50.68 percent from the previous year and achieved a double-digit increase in identical sales. In the area of community involvement, she actively rallies her store's associates in support of a charitable cause each month. Additionally, Gwynn shows her appreciation for our troops overseas by volunteering her time on a weekly basis to package donated clothing and food to send to U.S. Marines.
Store Manager, Giant Food Store, Annapolis, Md.
Managing one of Giant's highest revenue-producing stores is a daunting job, but Felismina "Felis" Andrade makes it look easy. Under her capable leadership, the location has experienced impressive year-over-year growth despite having two competitors open within a 1-mile radius last year. In a tough market, Andrade was able to maintain sales and increase bottom-line earnings by 0.74 percent over last year, while also lowering operating expenses by 0.76 percent from last year — without compromising customer service. She also takes a great interest in her associates' development, working closely with several last year to prepare them for promotions. The winner of multiple professional awards for her managerial prowess, Andrade recognizes the importance of community partnership and visibility by collaborating with such organizations as the American Breast Cancer Foundation, local churches helping needy families, and the Knights of Columbus fundraising campaign for the mentally handicapped. That she was able to do so much while raising two children under the age of 2 makes her accomplishments all the more remarkable.
Store Manager, Giant Food Store, LaPlata, Md.
Named the Top Merchant in her region — one of the highest honors for a Giant-Landover store manager — 27-year grocery veteran Cindie Jones led her store to achieve record-breaking sales in 2009, creating a solid foundation for the future of the new location. Specifically, she improved total store sales by 37.3 percent year to date, food sales by 15.8 percent year to date and gas sales by an amazing 195.2 percent. Through weekly meetings with department managers to review projected sales and merchandising plans, Jones guided her team to reach their business goals. Additionally, to build strong community relationships, she joined forces with the mayor of LaPlata, further bolstering sales and overall store success. In recognition of her store's success, many of Jones' merchandising ideas have been implemented throughout her district. As well as working on several Giant Food community projects, including constructing a new playground for an underserved Baltimore school with Kaboom!, Jones is involved in the company's women's resource group and participates in clothing drives for Suited for Change.
Store Manager, Giant Food Store, Lusby, Md.
Amy McAllister-Flynn excels at identifying and developing tomorrow's leaders from within the store ranks by such methods as encouraging decision-making at all levels to promote empowerment and inclusion, and the results speak for themselves: in 2009, her store drove 70 percent positive indentical-store sales, delivering a 40 percent increase in bottom-line results and boosting customer count by a phenomenal 99 percent. McAllister-Flynn's commitment to associate development doesn't stop with her own store, however; since 2007, she's been the designated training store manager in the district, within two years of her placement as a manager. This investment in the chain's future has already led to the appointment of several new department managers. A strong supporter of local schools, McAllister-Flynn provides them with bag lunches when needed, conducts lively tours and donates supplies. She also assists local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts with fundraising efforts and meeting arrangements.
Giant Food Store, Crofton, Md.
A store manager since 2001, Betsy Myers is the type of leader that district and corporate superiors point to again and again as a model for other store managers in the organization. No matter where she's assigned, you can count on the facility at some point being a show store for the organization. In 2009, that facility was the Crofton Station Giant in Crofton, Md., which underwent a major remodel within a 12-week timeframe, staying open throughout. Under Myers' leadership, the store maintained positive sales growth, but that wasn't all; it also led the district in mystery shopper scores, and was a regional winner as well. In the end, Crofton proved to be one of the most successful remodels for Giant in 2009, and Myers made sure it was a seamless experience for her customers throughout construction and remerchandising.
Store Manager, The Kroger Co.-Mid-Atlantic Division, Kroger #336, Raleigh, N.C.
Although she's been with Kroger for a relatively short time, Vonice Brown is generating excitement in her store and giving back to the local community. She started her career in 2001 in Kroger's management program, and served as co-manager for five years before being promoted to associate manager for two years. Last year was her first year as store manager. During this time she served as a member of the Mid-Atlantic Division Cultural Council, a trainer for "Selling Through Service" in Kroger's District A and a chair for the District A Cultural Council. Last year, Brown was responsible for coordinating lunches for the golfers at the Jimmy V Classic. She also organized a major book signing for Dr. David Jeremiah at her store, and implemented a Cupcake Pull-apart destination center, increasing bakery sales. In total, she helped her store achieve double-digit sales increases. Among her many community activities, Brown was integral in store #336's win of the City of Raleigh Beautification Award, and was honored by Community Workforce for hiring and working with special-needs individuals.
Store Sales Director, The Kroger Co.-Fred Meyer Division, Richland, Wash.
Tiffany Carr is one to watch in the grocery industry. In her first year as sales director at her present store, sales were up 6 percent over the previous year. In addition, associate survey scores were up from 2008 and were the 11th best in all of Fred Meyer. Carr's store also raised the most money for Fred Meyer's employee assistance fund in a one-day fundraiser. A 20-year Fred Meyer veteran, Carr has worked in all aspects of the store, and entered the director training pool from her previous position as apparel manager at a Spokane, Wash., store. She recently participated in the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. Her team raised $8,000, making it one of the largest fundraising teams in the area. Carr also devotes time as a volunteer for Page Ahead, a reading group for kids.
The Kroger Co., Mid-South Division, Kroger #L-906, Whitley City, Ky.
A former independent operator who stayed on as manager after her store was acquired by Kroger, Sandra Cundiff has an independent's real-world, platitude-free attitude toward customer service: "No matter how hard we strive to be our best, we will never be perfect in the eyes of every single person," she says of her store and team. "What customers do expect is for us to fix things that go wrong, and that is where we strive to be perfect." That level of understanding earns Cundiff speaking engagements on the topic of customer service, as well as recognition as a role model in the Mid-South Division of Kroger. Still, perfection isn't out of the question: her front end associates earned a 100 percent score in a recent mystery shopper audit, and her store team has a running record of 1,595 accident-free workdays. Outside of Kroger, she was named 2009 Business Person of the Year by the Whitley City Chamber of Commerce.
The Kroger Co.-Dillon Division, Dillon Store #87, Topeka, Kan.
Stacie Falor has become a bit of an expert in managing store remodels for this Kroger division, and last year, she topped herself by managing two stores through the chaos of dual closures, consolidation, remodeling and reopening. Here's how it played out: Falor managed store #64 continually, while closing the original #87, combining both staffs in the process; supervised the expansion of the old #87 into a new 86,000-square-foot unit; closed #64 and reopened #87 in November. The payoff has been double-digit sales growth week after week, bettering the expectations of the business model. Having supervised three major remodels as a store manager, Falor is a role model for assuming greater responsibility and project ownership. She brings her talent for organization to community action as well, through organizations such as United Way, Helping Hands, the Red Cross and March of Dimes.
The Kroger Co.-Dillon Division, Dillon Store #84, Newton, Kan.
The job description for a store manager is laden with references to the mechanics of efficiently operating the physical plant of the store and wringing cost savings and profits out of the receiving, merchandising and selling of merchandise. But for Sheryl Henderson, the real magic and passion of the task lay in managing people, which she accomplishes with abundant energy and enthusiasm. On paper, her facility at people management, as well as facility and operations management, netted double-digit sales gains in 2009. But in other, less tangible but no less crucial, measurements, Henderson's influence as a manager shone through as well. A telling example: the store's tenured produce manager had been struggling with disillusionment tied to constant changes and climbing expectations in his work life, but after Henderson assumed leadership, the changes she instituted turned him around. Last year, he thanked her for making such a difference at the store, saying he had never enjoyed working for someone more.
The Kroger Co.-Michigan Division, Kroger #693, Lincoln Park, Mich.
It wasn't enough that Brenda Hibbs' store meet expectations for major pricing initiatives handed down from the corporate level in January 2009. This store manager made sure her Lincoln Park, Mich., store was the No. 1 moneymaker during the initiative, leading the way for her market area, and one of the top sellers in almost every item involved in the program. In all, she led her district in sales in 2009, and grew her unit's customer count for the year into the bargain. This kind of success wasn't new to Hibbs: she's been named sales promoter of the year before, and has excelled in special charity-related drives such as Toys for Tots, nabbing a community service award in 2007.
The Kroger Co.-Food 4 Less Division, Food 4 Less Store #565, Oak Forest, Calif.
Fire swept through Jennifer Johnston's Food 4 Less unit last year. After the smoke cleared and the fire department departed, Johnston was left with more than $600,000 worth of damage to contend with. So, she and her team got to work, cleaning, restocking and reopening the store in a record 30 hours. That feat alone is worth a prize, but Johnston was awarded for bravery and heroism displayed during the fire, conduct way beyond the job description of a store manager. That level of dedication runs through the more mundane side of this store manager's daily life. Last year, she signed on to train new store managers, and has taken on the role of Labor Champion for her district, consulting with 14 other store directors on tactics to improve labor results. She has a hand in marketing as well, routinely suggesting initiatives such as Cake of the Month or free bag giveaways that have proved successful at many stores. The call to duty for Johnston has also led her to work with her community to sponsor a survivor dinner for a Relay for Life event, and to play leading roles in local book drives and the PTA.
The Kroger Co.-Central Division, Kroger #J-647, Morton, Ill.
A major remodel is a litmus test for the knowledge, skill and resiliency of store managers. Debbie Neumann last year passed her litmus test with flying colors, even with the added challenge of adding a Wine & Beer store to her unit, where such an addition had earlier been prohibited by local regulations. The extensive revamp also introduced several new specialty departments to the store, which required expert-level merchandising and operations acumen to start up and sustain successfully. In particular, these changes challenged Neumann to solve the puzzle of placing the right people in the right positions. Neumann proved up to the task, and supervised the sweeping changes to her store while not only maintaining continuity, but also growing the business and keeping operating expenses in line. In recognition, Neumann received a Divisional President award. Her contributions go beyond the store, in the role of mentor in Kroger's co-manager development program.
The Kroger Co., Kroger #990, Columbus, Ohio
In 2007, the Kroger store in inner-city Columbus needed a manager to guide it through a major transition to a unique "Value" reset, and division management selected Catherine Riddle for the job. It was a wise choice, as Riddle, with more than a dozen years of experience as a store manager, immediately dug in and met the challenge head-on. Two years later, Riddle and her team have substantially improved overall store conditions and standards, based on the specific demands of her clientele. Store #990 continues to meet or beat expectations, scoring high in customer satisfaction surveys for perishable quality, cleanliness, checkout speed, product availability and overall value of the shopping experience. Food safety scores exceeded goals as well for 2009. In community outreach, Riddle excelled last year by collaborating with local church leaders to organize food baskets for needy families.
Store Manager, The Kroger Co.-Dillon Division, Dillon Store Marketplace #85, Andover, Kan.
Hired in 1978 as a cashier, Debra Schauf eventually rose to become a store manager and in 2009 was selected to run Dillon's first brand-new Marketplace store, which posted a company record for grand-opening day sales. As part of growing her staff from 150 to 350 at the 112,000-square-foot location — the division's largest — Schauf took her department managers on a teambuilding world-class perishables department tour at another Kroger division Marketplace store. Largely due to such care and preparation, her store was able to achieve 8 percent positive sales growth last year, in the midst of a recession. Schauf's professional distinctions include being chosen to represent Dillon at the launch of Food Marketing Institute's Future Connect conference, and she makes her community a better place by supporting Race for the Cure, United Way and Helping Hands.
The Kroger Co.-Smith's Division, Store #178, Brigham City, Utah
Michelene Toller had been working in Smith's supermarkets since she was 16, rising through the store ranks while simultaneously studying to earn a college degree in education. Her intention was to move on to teach college-level courses, but in the course of her journey, she realized she had already arrived at her destination, and chose to stay with Smith's as a store manager. Still, her skills in teaching won't lay dormant, as she has been selected to be an "OZ Principle" trainer for her district. Her store was chosen as a classroom — a test unit for service deli key retailing practices — and has been presented as a prime example of retail best practices. Her next step: under a Smith's scholarship, she'll earn an MBA and continue moving up in the Kroger organization.
Store Manager, Publix #877, Land O Lakes, Fla.
Dawne Carn is a hands-on store manager who recognizes that associates who feel appreciated make for a positive store environment. She's been able to improve productivity at her store while maintaining sales — in a competitive retail environment where new players are constantly entering the marketplace. To show her team her appreciation, she holds Associate Appreciation Luncheons, and recognizes their achievements by handing out an Associate of the Month award a Quarterly Safety Recognition Award, and a Quarterly Superior Customer Service Award. Carn also tries to make learning fun for her team by developing games and giving out rewards. She has been active in her district's mentoring program, too. Her positive spirit carries over to customer relations. Carn has been known to send personalized thank-you notes to customers, and shoppers consistently cite her leadership, humility, attentiveness, knowledge and enthusiasm. She even holds events to show her appreciation to loyal customers. Carn has received recognition for her participation and leadership on both divisional and regional leadership steering committees. In addition to her duties at Publix, she is actively involved in the United Way of Tampa Bay Women's Leadership Steering Committee.
Store Manager, Publix #1211, Nashville, Tenn.
Catrina Christner, a Publix employee since 1988, was selected to be store manager at the new Belle Meade Publix, a unique, affluent location west of Nashville. For the opening year at this location, she met all of her sales and profit goals. A strong competitor opened across the street, and, thanks to her aggressive advertising efforts, Christner retained the majority of her business. Publix received positive feedback from countless customers about their great service experience during this time period. The store features Publix's only Boar's Head marquee in Tennessee, and Christner led the hiring, training and validation of the deli. Her efforts earned her recognition as "Best of the Best" by the Boar's Head corporate marquee team. Christner's store is involved with such charities as United Way, March of Dimes, Children's Miracle Network and Special Olympics. She served on the 2009 board of directors for the Nashville Executive Women International, and led the group's ways & means committee, as well as its program committee.
Leigh Ann Dobbins,
Publix #1216, Saint Cloud, Fla.
Opening a new store is always a challenge, but becomes even more so in a county facing high unemployment, spreading home foreclosures and general economic distress. But Leigh Ann Dobbins took on the challenge, and by the end of 2009, one year after its opening, her location was growing its total sales and customer counts. Her superiors attribute that achievement to Dobbins' commitment to managing the store with both shopper and associate satisfaction in mind. She involves her store team in daily decisions and the execution of strategy, and that empowerment shows in the glowing praise she receives in associate surveys. Four of her departments managed to score above 90 percent in mystery shopper audits in 2009. Outside the store, Dobbins gives of her time generously, helping the local Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity, United Way and a local women's shelter.
Publix #652, Miramar, Fla.
Relationship building is a high priority for Michelle Harper at her current store, and has been at the several stores she has managed for Publix in the Miami area since 2007. Her current station is managing the store in Miramar, where weekly customer count has grown by 10 percent under her watch. Those customers are likely to know her by name and face, as Harper spends much of her time on the sales floor, and will jump into any customer-facing role if need be, from cashier to department clerk. She seeks feedback from shoppers, and has been able to increase item count in the store, thanks to suggestions from regular customers. Her servant leadership is a shining example to the store's associates and fosters a high-morale atmosphere. In female associates especially, she has also inspired a desire to pursue careers in management at the chain. In the community at large, Harper has made her mark supporting local schools with special events such as Publix Math Night and fundraising efforts.
Store Manager, Publix #0730, Lithia Springs, Ga.
A truly hands-on manager, Katherine Kennedy holds weekly meetings with department managers to work together on improving her store, has "30-day check-ins" with every associate to get to know each individual better, and is a strong proponent of training and development. Kennedy's personal involvement even extends to home-baked birthday cupcakes and holiday cards for employees. As a result of the sense of family she fosters, Kennedy and her team were able to pull together when a devastating flood hit the area. The mother of a special-needs child, Kennedy sets a positive example for her colleagues through her achievement of a successful work-life balance. Along with raising funds for March of Dimes, Junior Achievement, United Way and Special Olympics, she works with special-needs high school students, employing three of them as part of a work/education program.
Publix #1007, Cape Coral, Fla.
Store management success is never a destination; it is always a work in progress, punctuated by small victories as well as big, and marked by command of the details. Sonya Lawman was with Publix for close to 20 years before fulfilling the dream of getting her own store to manage in 2007, but that achievement was just a pit stop. Her current Cape Coral store is in an area hit hard by economic downturn, and Lawman has had to work hard to improve her team's merchandising activity and morale to keep momentum. In 2009, the store outscored its district and region in several categories in a customer audit, and in the year's associate survey, the location's scores improved in 23 of 25 categories, with some scores up by 20 points or higher. Small yet crucial tactics deployed by Lawman included a series of employee appreciation efforts ranging from a small party in the break room for associates graduating from high school, to store-wide themed food fests where managers cooked and hosted for associates and customers. At the merchandising level, she instituted lobby display events that pulled in each department and reinforced store-wide cooperation and comradeship. The year saw the store surpass goals for gross and net profits, but just as important, it saw Lawman's passion for retailing spread throughout the store.
Store Manager, Publix #1201, Ocala, Fla.
Thanks to Jacquelin "Jackie" Lenz's leadership and commitment to excellence, her store hit all 2009 goals for gross profit, net profit and items per labor hour. She participates in the Publix Mentor Program to impart her knowledge and experience with the newest members of management, helping to instill the company's culture and create better managers. As well as representing Publix at Food Marketing Institute's annual conference, Lenz saw her store lauded in the local paper for having the area's best grocery, bakery and deli in 2009. A staunch supporter of education in her community, she took part in the Altrusia Read-In and the "Heroes Read" program at a local elementary school, as well as initiating Publix Math Night, for which participation has grown from 50 students to over 200. Having achieved her goal of being named a store manager, Lenz is already preparing for her next step up the ladder, to district manager.
Store Manager, Publix #252, Davie, Fla.
According to Monica Melchor-Correll, the proudest day of her career was in 2003, when she became a store manager. Since that time, she's made Publix proud of its wise decision to promote her. In 2009 alone, Melchor-Correll's store upped its customer count, saw higher net profit as a percentage of sales, and, thanks to outstanding service, increased items per labor hour. In her constant quest to refine customer service, Melchor-Correll added such amenities as floral specialties, catering and deliveries for large orders, while her commitment to associate development has led to three managerial promotions and 14 other associate promotions on the management track. Selected by Publix to represent the company as a speaker for Women of Tomorrow, Melchor-Correll participates in many community activities, including the Glam-A-Thon for Breast Cancer and the Russell Life Skills and Reading Foundation. Passion for community service is evidently a family affair for Melchor-Correll and her husband, as they've been named "Fort Lauderdale's Finest Couple" in recognition of their ongoing efforts in this area.
Publix #1118, Publix, Conyers, Ga.
Ester Santillie's enthusiasm and commitment are infectious. The associates at her store, many of them with longer-than-usual tenure at the location, follow her example as a compassionate Publix employee who's as involved in her local community as she is in the success of her store. And that store is indeed a success: despite the challenges of a tough local economy, the unit was the second-highest profit generator in the district, and scored high in recent mystery shopper audits and consumer satisfaction surveys. Santillie embodies the chain's philosophy of continuous improvement, and last year, she challenged herself to deepen her knowledge in every facet of department operations, from bakery to meat. Her associates tend to follow suit, and she encourages them by mentoring; her current protégé is an assistant bakery manager. Santillie is also a role model for community support, playing roles in the local chamber of commerce and United Way.
Store Director, Winn-Dixie #1490, Crowley, La.
In fiscal year 2008, Jessica Credeur was placed at a struggling location that was down in sales and losing money. With Credeur at the helm, the store finished fiscal year 2009 with a positive sales increase. The location has since continued to operate in the black. Her consistently high standards for maintaining excellent store conditions, coupled with her faithful execution of company programs and policies, were chiefly responsible for turning around a location that had earlier exhibited problematic store and back-room conditions. Credeur's achievements have earned her Winn-Dixie's annual President's Club award, which is given to the top 15 percent of the company's store directors in the company. She has also been appointed district Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the chain's Lafayette area, in which capacity she's responsible for training new store directors. Such recognition indicates that the one-time part-time cashier has certainly come a long way.