Convenience Store News Celebrates Sixth Class of Top Women in Convenience

Danielle Romano
Managing Editor
Danielle Romano profile picture

ATLANTA — Set against the backdrop of the 2019 NACS Show, the convenience store industry's top female leaders and up-and-comers were honored Wednesday evening at Convenience Store News' 2019 Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards gala, held at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta.

The sixth-annual event recognized and celebrated the accomplishments of 42 women who are making their mark on the c-store industry. TWIC is the first and only convenience store industry awards program that recognizes women for outstanding contributions to their companies and the industry overall.

Keynote speaker Angela Buttimer, a leadership, mindfulness and wellness expert, encouraged the audience to acknowledge the everyday presence and culture that convenience stores play in the lives of consumers. 

"C-stores can often be taken for granted," she expressed. "There are so many moving parts and chaos behind the scenes that consumers don’t see, and we may feel the pressure and stress trying to keep our head above water sometimes."

Buttimer advised both the women and men in the audience to strive for a "Thriver Mojo," a hand-in-hand concept that emphasizes that when people feel their best, they perform their best. She provided three strategies to achieve this positive mind and body space:

  1. Practice compassion. Celebrate victories, big and small, and use words that inspire ourselves.
  2. Strengthen our resilience. "C-stores are not a 9 to 5 business, but a 24/7 one. We need to ask ourselves: Are we mind full or mindful?" she said. 
  3. Elevate our mindset. The emotions, attitudes and lifestyles of those around us impact our wellbeing, so we should choose words and actions that reaffirm our best selves.

Following the keynote, the awards presentation kicked off. The 2019 TWIC honorees included five Women of the Year, 17 Senior-Level Leaders, 15 Rising Stars and five Mentors. Judging was conducted by CSNews in collaboration with the Network of Executive Women (NEW) and the 2019 Top Women in Convenience Advisory Board. 

The Women of the Year were: Sarah Bibbs, vice president, merchandising, candy and snacks, Eby-Brown Co.; Deb Hall Lefevre, chief information officer, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K; Jayne Rice, partner, managing director and director of institutional sales, marketing and investor relations, Yesway; JoAnn Saverino, vice president, sales and marketing, Saverino & Associates Inc.; and Rebecca Troutman, director of ecommerce, 7-Eleven Inc.

Upon accepting her award, Bibbs pointed out that during a recent 2020 planning meeting in which four executives took part, all four executives were women. "Let's acknowledge how awesome that is," she expressed.

Lefevre applauded the c-store industry and programs like TWIC for elevating the conversation around diversity and inclusion. She also encouraged everyone in the audience to find a balance by creating high-performing teams.

A self-professed convenience store industry novice, Rice noted that it never ceases to amaze her how complex and diverse the channel is, and how it is evolving to include female leaders at all levels.

Saverino, who has been with her family's company for more than 30 years, commented on how she looks forward to the day when "our daughters and granddaughters will not know what it's like to be excluded from opportunities because of their gender."

7-Eleven's Troutman echoed a similar sentiment, praising her 12-year-old daughter for wanting to be an electrical engineer when she grows up, as opposed to a role traditionally netted for women, such as a teacher. She offered some final pearls of wisdom for fellow women in the industry: stretch yourself, build diversity and learn what you can.

The 2019 Top Women in Convenience awards ceremony was sponsored by founding and presenting sponsor Altria Group Distribution Co.; platinum sponsors RAI Trade Marketing Services and Ruiz Food Products Inc.; gold sponsors Anheuser-Busch, BIC USA Inc., The Coca-Cola Co., The Hershey Co., Juul Labs, McLane Co. Inc., Mondelēz International Inc., Procter & Gamble and Sysco; and silver sponsors S&D Coffee & Tea and MillerCoors.

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