Tonie Michel Williams

This entry is part 54 of 54 in the series

Tonie Michel WilliamsTonie Michel Williams

The J.M. Smucker Co.
Vice President of Marketing – Smucker’s and Hungry Jack

Years with company:  Ten years



Education degree and professional/volunteer affiliates:

  • BS in Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania
  • MBA from the University of Michigan
  • Board of Trustee for the Rainbow and Babies Children’s Hospital Foundation

Mentors and how they assisted you in your career:
Several years ago at a Network of Executive Women’s conference, I was introduced to the concept of having a Board of Directors of Mentors.  My “Advisory Board” is a diverse group and includes family members (husband, sister, mother, and even sometimes my children), a previous male boss, and a colleague from graduate school.  Some of my mentors provide brutally honest and critical feedback while others offer spiritual support.  My son and daughter on the other hand remind me to laugh often and have fun.

I also mentor younger people within my organization as a way to impart knowledge about our culture.  Being a mentor helps me maintain a pulse on the organization.  It helps me stay connected to changing organizational dynamics and reminds me to stay flexible in order to continue to grow.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment in your career today?
I am most proud of being part of the team that helped with the integration of the Jif ® brand into our company.  This acquisition was the springboard to tremendous momentum and growth for our company.  It was an exciting time to be part of the team.

Most challenging part of my job:
The most challenging part of my job is continuing to find growth for our brands in light of the economic situation.  On a personal level, it is often challenging maintaining family/work/volunteer balance.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
As I prepare to give advice to upcoming younger executives within our company, I often refer to a letter that Paul Smucker (the grandson of the company’s founder and the former chairman of the executive committee) wrote entitled “Our Commitment to Each Other.”  His letter outlines the following four basic values and guiding principles:

  1.   Always say thank you for a job well done,
  2.   Listen with your full attention,
  3.   Look for the good in others, and
  4.   Have a sense of humor, not at the expense of others but as a brief relief from difficult tasks.

These four tenets have become the core of my management philosophy.

Traveling, biking, and painting on ceramics.

Jennifer Weerheim

This entry is part 53 of 54 in the series

Weerheim_JenniferJennifer Weerheim

Yard House USA, Inc.
Vice President, Marketing

Years with company: Eight years




Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:

  • Bachelor of Arts, California State University, Fullerton
  • Board of Directors, Marketing Executives Group, National Restaurant Association
  • Co-Founder, Round It Up America

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
I don’t have a particular mentor; however I have known and followed the example of many great leaders.  Some who are iconic, and some who are just starting out but have this fresh and fearless perspective – that inspires me!

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
In early 2009 I co-founded an organization called Round It Up America, after hearing numerous reports that food banks and shelters in many cities across the county were running out of food and resources.  I was angry and thought, “Really? In this country we can’t feed our own people?”  We needed a solution and we needed it quickly because the economy was at its lowest levels and food banks were reporting that donations were at an all-time low.   The idea for Round It Up America® was that instead of asking a few people to make a large donation, we would ask many people to make a small donation.  At that time Yard House served nearly 30,000 guests every day.  If everyone gave a nickel, dime, quarter, or even a penny it would add up.  So we tasked our POS provider with modifying our credit card receipt (no easy task) to include a Round Up For Charity line, which had never been done.  The initial response from many was “cute idea, good luck” until after the first year we raised over $250,000 in just 27 restaurants, all of which was given to our local food banks, shelters, military support resources, etc.  From the beginning Round It Up America was designed to be a giving program for the foodservice industry, and not Yard House alone. Today, Round It Up America is live in 126 restaurants, in over 20 states, and raises $750,000 annually – and we’re just getting started.

Most challenging part of your job:
One might call it a challenge, but I would call it love – To innovate every day. To move the needle. To be relevant.  To actually make a difference.

Advice for upcoming executives:
Listen. Learn. Lead by example. Be an innovator. And then… BE RELENTLESS!

My hobbies include being a mother, wife, daughter, friend, philanthropist, and a little shopping here and there.

Caroline Tippett

This entry is part 52 of 54 in the series

Tippett_CarolineCaroline Tippett

Phillips Foods & Seafood Restaurants, Inc.
VP- Marketing & Strategic Development

Years with company: 4.5 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:
MBA – Robert Smith School of Business, University of Maryland; Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Management – University of South Carolina;  Member: IFEC, WFF, AMA, Smith Association of Women MBAs

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
Several people have supported me throughout my career.   Of these numerous people, my father has been the most influential person. My father is an experienced, successful businessman and has provided insight in all realms of business; from everyday workplace decisions to long-term career path navigation.  He still provides this support to this day.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
In my previous position, my greatest achievement was building a strong, highly effective marketing team and creatively repositioning an organization to reach needed short- and long-term goals.  Regarding my current position, my greatest achievements have been streamlining business channel strategies and providing new strategic insight for channel and product development. At both positions, I am also proud to have introduced internship programs with the goal of educating young marketers as well as providing additional support and unique insight for each organization.

Most challenging part of your job:
I am currently working through one of the most interesting challenges I have faced thus far in my career; streamlining and directing brand positioning for three business channels with unique initiatives.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
Make sure to spend time planning your personal professional brand and outlining your short- and long-term career growth goals.  Review these goals annually if not even quarterly to make sure you stay focused.

Travel is my number one passion.  I try to travel internationally at least once a year. I also enjoy numerous sports including scuba diving, biking, hiking, and Bikram yoga.  Last, I love cooking and continuous education on food and wine.

Ellen Story

This entry is part 51 of 54 in the series

Story_EllenEllen Story

Stew Leonard’s
Director of Management Development

Years with company: 26 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:
Bachelor’s degree from College of William & Mary and MBA from University of Connecticut; I am a past member of the Yonkers Public Schools Occupational Advisory Council, Yonkers Chamber of Commerce Youth Council, Literacy Volunteers of America, and Norwalk Mentor Program.

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
Tom Arthur, first president of the Yonkers Stew Leonard’s location; He was the master of people skills and thoughtful, creative problem-solving.  Sadly, he passed away a year ago from pancreatic cancer.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?  Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
I am especially proud to have been part of the opening of our first location outside of Connecticut back in 1999.  More recently, I am so pleased to have introduced a “Leadership Boot Camp” for our high-potential leaders in the organization as we look to open more stores and plan for the future.

Most challenging part of your job:
Communicating all of the wonderful programs, news, and information we have to share with our very diverse workforce and doing it well.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
Be open to all opportunities that cross your path.  I’ve spent time working with our wine group as well as over a year in our meat department.  Learn, learn, learn!

Yoga, collecting and enjoying wine.

Suzanne Staples

This entry is part 50 of 54 in the series

Staples_Suzanne-Suzanne Staples

Trimark United East

Current position:
Director of Design. The Interior Design Department does not require much direction. Our valuable Trimark Team consists of unusually talented and capable professional women. They are all highly motivated, dedicated and proficient in their area of expertise.

Years with company:  22 Years

Education degree and professional/volunteer organizations:

  • B.A. Psychology, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois
  • Interior Design, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I. (Adult Education)

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
My family, who were always supportive and proud of my accomplishments.

The Halpern, Bean and Goldberg family members who owned and operated United Restaurant Equipment Company. They offered me my first interior design position after I graduated from college. At that time I worked with Jerry Hyman when he was a salesman. Now he is president of the Trimark USA Companies located throughout the United States. His vision of success and business savvy have allowed him to stay the course over many years of company change and growth. I am thankful to be part of his many accomplishments.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have defining moment of your career to date?
Project openings when clients, guests, and all disciplines involved are happy, relaxed and proud of the completed interior design.

Specific industry awards and commendations:

  • The first time that I designed our Boston restaurant show booth and we won “Best of Show.”
  • Interior Design recognition from my company and our vendors on completion of the new Trimark United East Headquarters in South Attleboro, Mass.
  • To date I am honored by the Griffin Report’s nomination of “A Women of Influence in the Food Industry for 2010.

Most challenging part of your job:
To satisfy client design objectives on time and within budget.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
Remain positive, flexible and focused. Although rewarding, interior design is hard work and very demanding. Think “out of the box;” there is always another creative solution.

Ballroom dancing, all forms of exercise and sports, boating and fashion design. Signature perfume creation and celebrating holidays and major sporting events with family and friends.

Cathy Shifflett

This entry is part 49 of 54 in the series

Shifflett_CathyCathy Shifflett

Tops Markets
Vice President of Center Store Sales And Marketing

Years with company: 1.5 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:
I have a BA in Marketing from Penn State

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
My first mentors were my parents, who taught me three very important lessons.   First, if you don’t like something or you think something is wrong, don’t wait for some else to fix it.  It’s up you to change it.   Second, if you are going to discuss a problem with someone, don’t just complain but offer solutions on how to improve it.   Third, sometimes the right answer is not the easy or popular choice, but you need to look yourself in the mirror and know you did the right thing.    Another mentor, Ray Smaltz, taught me to speak for those who have no voice and do the right thing for them, because no one else may do this.    He also taught me to be patient with people and to remember that almost everyone deserves a second chance.    The last group I want to recognize is my Duquesne University Women’s Executive Leadership cohort.   I was in a group of 8 amazing ladies, working with 6 coaches, who taught me to not be afraid but to believe in myself and my inner strength.  I would not be the person I am today without any of these individuals.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
Whenever I left a company to go work elsewhere, many people thanked me for teaching them, promoting them, supporting them or just making work more enjoyable. This is the best kind of achievement to me.

Most challenging part of the job:
The toughest part of the job is letting someone go.  For some reason, things don’t work out or they are poor fit for the job, but it is never pleasant.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
You don’t need to have your whole life figured out when you are 20, 30 or 40.   Start out by taking jobs that interest you or help you gain new experiences, even if they aren’t perfect.    You can always make changes as needed.  The important thing is to learn and grow.   With the benefit of hindsight, you’ll be able to see how it everything came together to make you what you are.

I spend most of my free time with my two daughters but also enjoy reading, running, biking and hiking.

Marygrace Sexton

This entry is part 48 of 54 in the series

Sexton_MarygraceMarygrace Sexton

Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co.
Chief Executive Officer

Years with company: 22 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:
I support many entities from churches to schools to not-for-profit organizations. I find it extremely important to support organizations, both locally and globally, that help foster our youth as well as organizations that support women.

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
Dr. Abraham Barkett was a great employer who instilled in me the self-discipline to be an exceptional employee.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
I would say it was winning the six national taste tests, beating the large national brands, and the acknowledgment Natalie’s received from such fine publications.  But what makes me feel the most proud is the incredibly loyal colleagues I work with at Natalie’s.

Most challenging part of your job:
Never take for granted the effort and persistence it takes for someone to take you from the books to the street. Mentoring the new generation of college grads. Helping them learn the difference between business school and the business world.

Bicycling, watching my daughter Lucy excel at Lacrosse, following my daughter Natalie’s mission work across the world.

Gail Scavetta

This entry is part 47 of 54 in the series

Scavetta_GailGail Scavetta

Stop & Shop, New England Division, Ahold USA
VP of Human Resources/Labor Relations, New England Division

Years with the company:  23 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:
Professional training including: Diversity Training, Performance Management, Michigan State HR program, Ahold Retail Academy.  Affiliated with Bottom Line, Boston; Morgan Memorial-Goodwill Industries, Boston; The Partnership, Boston; Year Up, Providence, RI; CT Food Association, member of the Network of Executive Women.

Mentors and how they assisted you in your career:
Navigating the retail industry can be both a complex process as well as exciting.  With the help of great mentors, I have learned to draw from the experiences of others, develop leadership skills and create great networks.  Now that I am a seasoned professional with varied experience, I get to sit on the other side of the mentor relationship and work with young professionals learning the business.  The mentoring relationship for me has been a very rewarding two-way partnership.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?  Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
As a woman in retail, I am proud to have grown up in this business.  The relationships built along the way have morphed into life-long friendships.  I’m not sure I have just one defining moment in my career; however, watching the company transition from a 100-plus store chain to an 800+ store chain and top competitor in the industry has been very rewarding.  I’m proud to have been a part of the team that did it.

Most challenging part of your job:
Anyone in retail knows the business is constantly changing and never slows down; reaction time and delivery in our world is critical.  The biggest challenge is balancing the reactive nature of our business with proactive planning to create sustainable solutions that help us to be at the forefront of the industry and support innovation.  Although this is the most challenging part of my job, it’s also the most exciting.  Engaging people with different perspectives, delivering solutions that make the organization stronger and creating a trusted brand that helps move the business forward is highly rewarding.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
My advice for younger executives is to take the time to learn the core elements of the business, build strong relationships and embrace your passion for the business because that’s what makes the journey fun.

I enjoy spending time with my family, including my eight  grandchildren, antiquing and watching my husband body surfing off Cape Cod.

Amy Roy

This entry is part 46 of 54 in the series

Roy_AmyAmy Roy

The King Arthur Flour Company
Brand Research and Consumer Insights Analyst




Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Marketing, Ithaca College
  • Regional Committee Member of the Network of Executive Women
  • Junior Achievement

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
Through my 16 years in the CPG industry, I have been very fortunate to work with many confident and dedicated women that have shown me what it is to be a true professional.  From them, I have learned the importance of attention to detail, how to maintain confidence and composure in high stress situations, and that it’s OK to say no sometimes.  Women in the Network of Executive Women continue to inspire me with their constant positive outlook and high energy.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?  Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
Having been employed by two fantastic organizations in this industry has been a blessing.  My time at the E&J Gallo Winery and participation in their management development program was instrumental in building my skill set in sales and analytics.

King Arthur Flour is a rare example of sales success, corporate responsibility and an employee-centered work environment.  I feel very fortunate to have found a home at King Arthur Flour, a 100 percent employee-owned company.  I am proud to be a part of an organization and team of sales and marketing professionals that emphasizes both personal growth and team success.

Most challenging part of your job:
I am often involved in multiple projects across several different departments.  Creating appropriate timelines and deadlines in order to produce the highest quality work across the board can often be challenging.  Being a working Mom, balancing priorities and projects while maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be difficult, but is extremely important to me and my family.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
Be true to yourself, and work with integrity.  Let your personal values guide you, and you will never be disappointed with the outcome.

Spending time with my husband and our seven-year-old daughter, baking, enjoying great food and wine with friends.

Debbie Rookstool

This entry is part 45 of 54 in the series

Rookstool,-DebDebbie Rookstool

Safeway Inc.
Director, Learning and Leadership Development

Years with the company:  34 years

Education degrees and Professional/volunteer organizations:
Masters in Business Administration, USC; Food Industry Management program participant ’95; Co-chair NEW (Network of Executive Women) Northern California region (non-profit)

Mentors and how they assisted you in your career:

Christy Consler – helped me see that anything was possible, I just had to ask the right question and keep looking for solutions.

Lori Proctor – her leadership in NEW demonstrated how much fun one can have while making a difference to others by promoting the development of women in the CPG industry.

Rebecca Philbert – showed me how to find a way to “yes.”

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?  Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
I am most proud of the people I helped grow in their careers. Helping others reach their personal best is so rewarding.

Most challenging part of your job:
Adding value to the organization without adding costs in a margin-challenged industry.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
Learn to network effectively.  The relationships you build inside work and outside of the workplace are the number one most valuable assets you will have.

Blogging, downhill skiing, kayaking.