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LAS VEGAS -- Thirty of the most outstanding female leaders in the convenience store industry, including five Women of the Year, were honored Wednesday at the inaugural Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience awards breakfast, held during the 2014 NACS Show.
Sponsored by Kraft and Altria Group Distribution Co., and presented in partnership with the Network of Executive Women (NEW), the event was the first of its kind for the c-store industry.
"The CSNews Top Women in Convenience awards program was created to recognize a diverse array of women from both the retailer and supplier sides of the industry," explained Don Longo, editorial director of Convenience Store News, a Stagnito Business Information brand.
Winners were announced in the June issue of CSNews magazine, but Wednesday's event took the recognition a step further, inviting all the honorees to gather and accept their awards and accolades in front of their peers and colleagues. In addition to the five Women of the Year, honorees included 15 senior-level executives (positions of vice president and above), eight rising stars (job titles above store manager, but below vice president) and two store managers.
Lauded as Women of the Year were Kim Lubel, president and CEO of CST Brands Inc.; Gwen Forman, vice president of marketing at Cumberland Farms Inc.; Allison Moran, CEO of RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., Barbara Poremba, vice president, national retail sales for the Foodservice in Retail Center of Excellence at Coca-Cola Refreshments; and Jennifer Rhoads, president and CEO of the Ohio Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association.
Upon accepting her award, Poremba said she is proud to be among those recognized and she believes in paying it forward for the women coming up in the industry behind her.
Rhoads expressed a similar sentiment, adding: "All of you are who inspire me."
The senior-level executives honored were:
- Angela Angelilli, executive vice president; Royal Buying Group
- Mary Banmiller, retail operations director; Warrenton Oil Co.
- Paula Conti, vice president of customer service; PDI
- Lucia Romenello Crater, director of sales, convenience; KIND Healthy Snacks
- Susan Curry, vice president of operations; XYIENCE
- Sonja Hubbard, CEO; E-Z Mart Stores Inc.
- Jennie Jones, vice president of marketing; S&D Coffee & Tea
- Kris Kingsbury, marketing and merchandising manager; Robinson Oil Co.
- Amy Lane, chief operating officer; The Parker Cos.
- Lori Lunt, division manager; Alliance Energy LLC
- Wendy Redmond, director of sales; S&D Coffee & Tea
- Debbie Robins, CEO and president; Century Distributors
- Yvette Spears, vice president, national retail sales; Coca-Cola North America
- Mary Szarmach, vice president, trade marketing and government relations; Smoker Friendly International
- Kathy Williams, vice president, national sales; Coca-Cola North America
The rising star honorees were:
- Jeannie Amerson, advertising and loyalty manager; Flash Foods Inc.
- Brittany Bayley-Murray, buyer and category manager; Martin & Bayley
- Madalena Ferreira, director of convenience store operations; Bobby & Steve’s Auto World
- Tanja Gassenmaier, district manager; The Parker Cos.
- Carly Goebel, category buyer; GetGo and Giant Eagle Express
- Jedy Majovsky, merchandising specialist; GetGo
- Cecilia Ottenweller, c-store specialist and district leader; GetGo
- Mila Spencer, benefits manager; Kwik Trip Inc.
Store managers Diane Hank of L&P Convenient Store in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and Jan Phipps of Autumn Grove Tiger Mart/Subway in Salisbury, Md., were recognized as well.
"These awards are very special to me — and in many ways, long overdue," remarked Reagan Lund, national development manager for NEW. When the organization was founded just 13 years ago, she recalled how women's leadership was "an HR issue; a box to check."
Today, though, women's leadership is "recognized for what it is: a competitive advantage and a business imperative," Lund said, pointing to NEW's 8,500-plus members representing 750 companies. "We've made some improvement, but there is still a lot of work to do."
The Top Women in Convenience program was open to convenience store industry retailers, suppliers and wholesalers. Honorees were selected from nominations by industry executives. Candidates were judged based on their achievements during the past 12 months in areas such as corporate initiatives, financial and strategic accomplishments, problem-solving acumen and charitable participation.