Laura Karet

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series

Laura Karet: 2015 Female Executive of the Year

Giant Eagle Inc.


Laura Karet, CEO, of Giant Eagle was selected for in 2015 in recognition of her continuing contributions to the retail growth and community involvement of Giant Eagle Supermarkets.

In particular, her involvement in the creation of the Market District concept and continued growth of Giant Eagle and Get Go Convenience Stores has caught our attention. Her experiences in marketing, corporate development, expansion and innovative new concepts makes her uniquely qualified along with her involvement and support of community services which ensures Giant Eagle’s continuation as an outstanding corporate citizen.

Karet leads and oversees Giant Eagle, Inc., one of the nation’s largest multi-format food, fuel and pharmacy retailers with approximately 36,000 team members and approximately $9.6 billion in annual sales. Karet was appointed CEO on January 9, 2012.

Giant Eagle is ranked 33rd on the Forbes private corporations list. Founded in 1931, Giant Eagle has grown to be the number one supermarket retailer in the region with more than 420 corporate and independently-owned and operated supermarkets and fuel and convenience stores throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, north central West Virginia and western Maryland. Giant Eagle is expanding to Indianapolis, Indiana and will open a Market District and a GetGo location there in September.

Prior to leading the company’s day-to-day operations, Karet served as chief strategy officer and Sr. Executive V.P. In that role, Karet developed and managed Giant Eagle’s short and long-term strategic business plans, set the direction for the Company’s corporate priorities and was also directly responsible for the manufacturing ventures, including its fresh food production facilities.

Karet joined Giant Eagle in 2000 as V.P of Marketing and was later promoted to Sr. V.P. of Marketing and president of New Formats. During that time, Karet led the development, branding and implementation efforts behind the launch of the new innovative Market District format in 2006, which has grown to eight locations, including four in the Pittsburgh area and four in Ohio, including two in Columbus, one near Cleveland and one in the Akron-Canton area.

For her numerous leadership roles in food retailing, marketing and manufacturing, she received the 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia Award. She was also recognized as one of Progressive Grocer Magazine’s 2010 Top Women in Grocery.

Prior to joining Giant Eagle, Karet held marketing executive positions at Sara Lee from 1997 to 2000, including Director of Branded Marketing for the bakery division.  Karet also served in several brand management roles at Procter and Gamble from 1990 to 1997 for household name products such as Crisco shortening, Folgers coffee, Giorgio Beverly Hills fragrances and Secret antiperspirant.

Karet is currently an active member on the board of directors for various organizations, some of which include: The Allegheny Conference on Community Development; United Way of Allegheny County; Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation; and, Fox Chapel Country Day School.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennyslvania, Karet graduated from Amherst College with a Bachelor’s degree in English, and now resides in the Pittsburgh area with her husband and three children.


Dawn Sweeney

Dawn SweeneyDawn Sweeney: 2014 Female Executive of the Year

National Restaurant Assn.
President, CEO

Each year, as a successor to the Griffin Report’s  “Women of Influence in the Food Industry” feature in the February issue of The Griffin Report, we select and showcase the Female Executive of the Year.

Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Assn., has been selected for this year’s honor in recognition of her continuing contributions and innovative strategic planning to benefit the National Restaurant Association, its members and the food service industry in general.

She has a lot on her plate including health care, minimum wage, immigration reform,  menu-labeling and children’s nutrition, her affiliation with the Save the Children organization and the Child Obesity 180 initiative to name just a few. She has traveled all around the country, meeting with state associations and is quite personable and easy to talk to. Here is her biography and she also addressed some of the issues facing her and the NRA in a question and answer format.

The membership of the NRA includes quick service, fast casual, managed foodservice, casual and fine dining – along with manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. The American restaurant industry is composed of nearly one million restaurant and food service outlets and over 13 million employees. Since taking the helm at the end of 2007, Ms. Sweeney has led the association in a wide-range of policy issues, while offering services and products that promote the industry and help individual operators and large multi-unit companies succeed.

Ms., Sweeney has realigned the association’s priorities and structure to strengthen its core operations, including consolidating its foundation around a mission to develop a strong workforce and build the next generation of industry leaders. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s major goal is to educate students on the restaurant business through the ProStart program – running in high schools nationwide – and to provide educational scholarship

Ms. Sweeney has led the association to several major legislative victories, including achieving federal legislation on menu-labeling, and has launched the first-of-its-kind children’s menu initiative – Kids LiveWell. Under her leadership, the association’s annual trade show – the largest restaurant and hospitality industry tradeshow in the U.S. – has seen growth both in revenue and impact.

Before joining the National Restaurant Association, Ms. Sweeney was president and chief executive officer  of AARP Services, the wholly owned taxable subsidiary of AARP. She grew annual revenues from $175 million to $785 million during her tenure – serving 11 million AARP members annually. Her 25+ years of marketing, advocacy and policy experience also include leadership positions at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a membership organization of consumer-owned electric utilities, and the International Dairy Foods Association, the trade association for the nation’s dairy foods industry, where she played a major role in the launch of the “milk moustache” advertising campaign.

Ms. Sweeney has been named one of the perennial top association chief executive officers in the country for the past several years. She serves on the boards the U.S. Travel Association and the Women’s Foodservice Forum, and is an active member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100, the International Women’s Forum, and the Committee of 200, an international network of female executives.

She is also a charter member of Child Obesity 180, an initiative of private, public, non-profit and academic leaders committed to helping prevent childhood obesity through evidence-based initiatives.

She is a native of Maine, a graduate of Colby College,  and earned her MBA at George Washington University. Sweeney lives in northern Virginia with her husband and teenage son.

Some of her awards include:  “CEO Update’s Perennial Top CEO” in 2013 “50 Most Powerful People in Food” by The Daily Meal  in February 2013 and February 2014 and The Top 50  Power List” and Top 50 Catalysts by Nation’s Restaurant News.

 Questions & Answers

What is an average workday like for you?
Like in Lake Wobegon – they are all “above average”!  Seriously, I am not sure there is such a thing as an “average day” in our business.  Representing an industry as huge and as diverse as the restaurant industry means my days vary quite a bit.  When I’m in Washington, I may join our team for a conversation with members of the media or policy-makers up on the Hill or at the White House, review year-to-date accomplishments and challenges with our board officers over the phone, support our Foundation team in developing capacity and impact through our ProStart program, have breakfast and/or lunch and/or dinner with another trade association executive or someone with a different perspective on the world than I have (I go out to eat a lot!), work on a speech I have coming up, or review some of the projects under development with our staff.  When in Chicago with our team there, we are building the “next generation” of products, services and experiences for our growing industry.  The very next day will be dramatically different.  The variety is a pleasure – no one in my job could ever get bored!

What kind of things do you learn from your group visits?
I love meeting with restaurant professionals!  Every exchange shows me another facet of the industry.  The extraordinary creativity and drive that fuels the millions of careers in our industry is deeply inspirational to me.  And I love sharing those stories with people I meet who are not affiliated with foodservice.  Not many people understand what a juggernaut the industry is in our national economy.  While everyone may have a favorite restaurant, not everyone understands the restaurant industry.

How would you describe your management style?
Building relationships and coming to understand other peoples’ perspectives and points of view have definitely propelled me in my own career. I am inspired to do my best work by surrounding myself with a diverse and opinioned group of leaders, and working hard to help knit them into a highly functioning team.

What kind of challenges did you conquer to get where you are today?
That isn’t really an easy question.  Some of what may be defined as challenges I truly see as strength-builders.  I grew up in rural Maine in a loving family with a very strong work ethic, that gave me a rock-solid belief in myself and my abilities.  I’ve made a few hard choices that involved taking a career risk – jumping into the new – and those risks have always been worth it.  Along the way, I have always gravitated to the big challenges – the jobs that everyone didn’t always want to take on but the jobs that absolutely needed to be done.  I love where I am today and I know that the lessons learned from any character-building “challenges” are in large part what got me here.  Those lessons, as well as a ton of people who gave me opportunities to succeed, and fail, along the way.

Who were your mentors in your professional life; what did you learn from them; and which people do you see as role models and why?
My parents were my first and most impactful role models.  They taught me the value of good and hard work and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams.  I’ve also had some really remarkable bosses – and have worked with some fantastic board officers – who have “walked the talk” throughout their careers.  Behaving with personal integrity and honoring your word are two things that all of my mentors have lived by.

What are your hobbies and or things that make you happy?
First and foremost is my family.  I’ve been married to a wonderful man for nearly 20 years and we have a teenaged son who is a remarkable young man.  I love the times we get to spend together – knowing that our son will be out on his own soon enough.  Also, I am a voracious reader, always have been.  And I enjoy hiking, biking and lots of outdoor activities.

What are your predictions on what will happen to the top three issues facing the NRA: A. Minimum Wage. B. Health Care. C. Immigration Reform
Our industry plays a huge role in the U.S. economy as a job creator.  One in three Americans had their first job in food service and we employ fully 10 percent of the nation’s workforce currently.  Providing these jobs as the “first rung on the ladder of opportunity” is critical – both for those who choose to make a career in our industry, as well as for those who learn valuable skills that they take with them throughout their lives.

Significant increases in the minimum wage negatively impact restaurants’ opportunities to provide jobs and growth opportunities for individuals.  The Congressional Budget Office issued a report recently, concluding that by increasing the minimum wage to $10.10, there would be an accompanying loss of at least 500,000 jobs.  Restaurant owners operate on extraordinarily slim margins of 3-4 percent on average, so we are concerned both about job loss and the impact on upward mobility within the industry, tied to a sizable wage increase.  There is a great deal of activity on the wage issue at the federal, state and local levels, and we will remain vigilant in advocating the industry’s viewpoint and concerns.

Regarding health care, we recognize that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains one of the greatest challenges restaurant operators will ever face.  The ACA is causing tremendous uncertainty for our members, and is likely to impose significant cost and administrative burdens on businesses of all sizes.

The NRA has been working since before the law passed and throughout the implementation process for maximum flexibility for restaurants under the law.  As we work with agencies to provide regulatory flexibility, we also urge Congress to make changes to alleviate the costs and regulatory burdens for employers – and ensure that the law does not harm employees whose hours and pay may be cut back as employers struggle to absorb new costs and paperwork requirements.

The House passed a measure in April to change the ACA’s definition of full-time to 40 hours a week, from the current 30.  We have provided leadership on this issue for the last several years and were very gratified to see this move forward.  There’s also growing bipartisan support in Congress for measures to make it easier to determine who’s considered a “large employer” under the ACA, and scale back or simplify the complicated reporting requirements due to hit many employers starting in 2016.

On immigration, the NRA played a major role in generating support for the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year.  We will continue to work to encourage action in the House to pass sensible immigration policy that will bring certainty to America’s workers and employers.

While this is an election year –creating additional challenges in passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill – we are working with House leaders to support measures that offer a clear path to legalization for otherwise law-abiding people working and contributing to the nation’s economy; a simple, reliable federal employment verification system; and improved border security that does not hinder legitimate travel and tourism.

Other than those three issues, what are your goals for the coming year at the NRA?
We’re committed to educating our customers, the media, and lawmakers – everyone – about the restaurant industry.  You’ve seen the news stories that imply that the industry is composed of dead-end jobs that keep people in poverty.  Those stories just aren’t true and we cannot sit back and let those misleading characterizations stand.

We build careers in this industry.  Life-long careers – not just entry-level, but sustaining-level.  Allowing millions to buy homes, put kids through college, and, yes, start and maintain businesses.  The restaurant industry opens the door for anyone to work hard and achieve the American Dream.  The nation needs us to keep doing that.  We want to keep doing that.  So we have a campaign going to share the true story of our industry wherever possible.  I appreciate the opportunity to do that here!

Mary Kellmanson

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series

kellmansonMary Kellmanson: 2012 Southeast Executive of the Year


Group Vice President of Marketing


Mary Kellmanson, group vice president of marketing, has been a vital key to the development of Winn-Dixie Stores.

Winn-Dixie is a Fortune 500 food and pharmacy retailer with fiscal year 2011 annual net sales of approximately $6.9 billion. The company operates 482 supermarkets throughout the southeastern United States. Founded in 1925, Winn-Dixie is headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla.

In her role, Ms. Kellmanson has oversight of Winn-Dixie’s advertising, customer insights, brand management, neighborhood marketing and communications, and community groups. Ms. Kellmanson is also president of the Winn-Dixie Foundation. Entrepreneurial and action-oriented, Ms. Kellmanson builds marketing efforts using new products, new processes and new media to drive revenue. She has been at the forefront of several key Winn-Dixie initiatives, such as the Right Now produce and Neighborhood Butcher campaigns and the implementation of the fuelperks! gas discount program.

Prior to joining Winn-Dixie, Ms. Kellmanson served as vice president of marketing and advertising at Wegmans Food Markets, responsible for branding, new store openings, market research, loyalty card and online programs. She was the architect of a new brand strategy focused on lifestyle solutions. Ms. Kellmanson’s customer-centric marketing approach helped Wegmans earn $4.8 billion in annual sales in 2008.Ms. Kellmanson holds a bachelor of arts degree in government from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., and a master of business administration in marketing from the University of Rochester in New York. She is an active member of the Food Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and University of Rochester’s Alumni Board Executive Committee.

The Griffin Report posed some general questions to her about management and philosophies, and here are her responses.

What do you think are your successes in your career and especially at Winn Dixie?
Over the course of my career, I’ve been able to contribute to the success of the companies I’ve worked for by driving strategy and keeping the organization focused on key initiatives and priorities to drive business. Most recently at Winn-Dixie this strategic focus involves rebuilding the brand, enhancing our service and developing a guest-centric culture in our stores.

How would you describe your management and communication style?
As much as I have strong convictions about our business, I’m a firm believer that in order to succeed, all members of an organization need to be aligned, working for a common purpose. So, I place a tremendous amount of emphasis on building consensus. And in order to do that, I believe you need open, honest communication in an environment that people feel comfortable expressing their points of view and asking questions.

 Who have been your career mentors and why?
I’ve been fortunate to work with many incredibly talented people and incorporate elements of each of them in my leadership style and business approach. I began my career with Wegmans and had the opportunity to work side-by-side with three generations of the Wegman family, who fostered in me a passion for the business, taught me what it means to be a merchant and instilled in me the value of doing things the right way. I learned early and am reminded daily the importance of people in the success of any endeavor.

Judy Spires

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series

Judy-spiresJudy Spires: 2008 Executive of the Year

Acme Markets

When Supervalu acquired Albertsons in 2006, there were a number of experts in the food trade who said that Shaw’s and Acme Markets were the jewels of the chains coming under the wing of Supervalu.

Judy Spires, president of Acme Markets, agrees with that statement as she exudes pride in her company, her staff, store customers, and vendors. A confident, happy person, she looks forward to coming to her office every day, noting it is more of a hobby than just a job. “I really have never worked a day in my life. I love my job. It’s my passion.” She describes her management style as “very, very people-oriented, energetic, and inspiring.”

She began her career at Acme as a teenage cashier in 1970 noting that her father drove a bread truck. “I bleed Acme blood,” she said.

During her food career, she has worked at various roles within the company such as vice president of sales and advertising, vice president of human relations and administration, operations and marketing. She was the first woman to be accepted in the Acme management training program in 1975 and knew on the first day that she would one day be Acme president. She has also served as president of Albertsons’ operations, spending two years in the Rocky Mountain division and another two years in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. When she was appointed as president in 2006, on Valentine’s Day no less, Ms. Spires said it was a life-long dream of hers to keep the family connection at Acme.

“From my early days of listening to my father, an Acme truck driver, talk about the company to my first day as president here, I have always been impressed by the passion displayed by Acme associates.”

One of the keys to her success is her organization and communication skills. She believes very strongly in organization and discipline. The basic management philosophy she tells her staff is three driving principles: “We want to be the best place to work, the best place to shop, and the best place to invest.”

But with that comes the statement that she must let her staff know that the company can’t be run without them. She is quick to point out each recognition and success for her employers. In weekly internal newsletters, she publishes Judy’s Corner, a celebration of staff members and their accomplishments.

She has a weekly meeting with department heads and a monthly Town Meeting where associates from each store are invited to openly ask questions.

Ms. Spires said this Town Hall and weekly meetings have helped her tremendously, communicating with the entire staff while getting valuable input. She has an open door policy and every associate has her business phone number with a promise that every phone call will be returned within 24 hours.

Ms. Spires has encouraged vendors to meet with her and let her know about their concerns. In a previous interview she said, “Tell me like it is. Don’t beat around the bush. This world is moving too fast not to handle issues directly. Get ahead of the curve. Come to me with things that can help us get ahead in this very competitive arena. Tell me how we can make Acme better and benefit your business as well.”

She is not afraid of change, noting that “We have always looked at change as an opportunity for growth and renewal of our focus on our customers.” She is not afraid of the economy either, saying that eating at home will spur more grocery sales and opportunities for customers to rediscover Acme through fresh, quality products, and healthy solutions.

And she is not afraid of competition, noting that her marketplace can be summed up in four W’s: Wegmans, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart and Wawa. In what she calls a “Share of Stomach,” she estimated that within the Philadelphia market there are 25 opportunities a day to purchase something.

She strongly believes that the company’s 117-year history, the great ideas of 16,000 store associates, and the neighborhood touch of its stores will set Acme apart from its competitors.

Ms. Spires is very excited about the company’s premium fresh store concept, which debuted a few years ago and ahead of the curve. It includes a cheese shop, a grain-olive bar, an expanded organics, and new ready-to-go foods. This program has shaped the remodeling of Acme’s stores, which are averaging 20 to 25 remodels per year among the 130-store chain.

She has been impressed with Acme’s new owners, Supervalu and its leader Jeff Noddle. “ I think he is a fabulous leader. He is approachable and smart and wants people to talk to him.”

She has helped to promote a women’s group at Acme and the Network of Executive Women in the Philadelphia area.

Her top mentors have been her father, Bill Rogers who told her that she could be anyone she wanted to be; Jack Ottinger, her first store manager, her husband Bob Spires; her merchandising director, Toney Devinney; Theresa Buck, president of American Stores; and Mike Jackson and Jeff Noddle of Supervalu.

Mona Golub

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series

Mona Golub: 2009 Executive of the Year

Price Chopper
Vice President of Public Relations and Consumer Services

Mona Golub is not only the official spokesperson for Price Chopper for the public, media and store customers but has a unique position of combining her love for the arts, music and theater and working those ideas into helping to drive store traffic for Price Chopper. Ms. Golub is the second annual choice for The Griffin Report of Food Marketing Women Executive of the Year. She follows the first selection of Judy Spires, who is the president of Acme Markets.

Ms. Golub’s official title is vice president of public relations and consumer services for Price Chopper. She handles public and media information and customer relations for the company while overseeing promotions and several events. She also helps direct the Golub Foundation, which supports community activities through charitable giving. She is part of a fourth generation of a 75-year-old American family-managed and associate-owned business.

The Price Chopper chain, owned by the Golub family, operates more than 100 Price Chopper grocery stores in New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The company prides itself on longstanding traditions of innovative food merchandising, leadership in community service and cooperative associate relations. The nearly 25,000 total associates in the company collectively own 51 percent of the company’s privately held stock.

Ms. Golub has a BA from Bowdoin College and has won many awards including Volunteer Center of the Capital Region Outstanding Citizen of the Year; Cultural Arts Preservation Award from the Latin American Community Council; Community Service Special Recognition Award from the Schenectady Chamber of Commerce; Leadership Schenectady Distinguished Alumnus Award; Business Review Forty Under Forty Award; Women’s Employment and Resource Center Harriet Rifkin Leadership Award; Mohawk Pathway Girl Scout’s Juliet Lowe Woman of Distinction Award; the New York State Harriet Tubman Spirit Award; the Temple Israel Circle of Humanity Award; the American Cancer Society Bean of Hope Award; and the Troy Music Hall Leadership of the Arts Award.

She has many civic affiliations including membership on many music, arts, theater organizations and helping out the Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Chamber of Commerce, Girls Scouts and Special Olympic organizations.

Growing up in the Golub family, Ms. Golub had a choice of careers including education, science and music but chose the supermarket field and truly loves her profession every day. She was not forced to choose the grocery business by her parents, Neil and Jane. “All my parents told me was to work hard and do something I love to do,” she said.

“I truly love the supermarket business because it is so vital to people. People depend on us for nourishment, careers and support for the community. No two days are the same. It’s a fast-paced day, but I face each day with enthusiasm.”

Part of her past had been serving as a regional legislator. The lesson she took away from her service was developing patience to deal with others. “Politics does not tend to move quickly,” she said.

Her latest project among many is helping Price Chopper implement NuVal, a comprehensive scientific food-scoring system on virtually every product in every one of Price Chopper’s stores. The goal is to help consumers look for a better way to make more informed food choices and improve the nutritional value of their diets. NuVal scores tell customers the overall nutritional value of food in a single number from one to 100. The higher the NuVal scores, the higher the nutrition on the product.

Ms. Golub has been a big backer of “Sunday Night Dinners With The Family,” dating back to 2006 and even before with her family upbringing. With the downturn of the economy, in-home entertainment and family dinners are more prevalent. The new twist, said Ms. Golub, is “how to feed your family for less” but yet put good food on the table.

Part of her job focuses on community events and linking the supermarket to the region’s events. Price Chopper has developed the “Ski Any Three” Program, which allows shoppers the choice to have special discounts on skiing and skiing lessons at various lodges in the region.

Ms. Golub helped develop “Tickets To Go,” which allows shoppers to purchase tickets for various community events right at the register. This includes tickets to music, art, theater, ballet and sports events.

One of the newest programs developed by Ms. Golub is the company’s Community Ambassador Program. An individual employed by Price Chopper and not a store or department manager is the store’s r liaison to the community. Currently there are 25 store ambassadors with more on the way. Part of the job is to deliver checks to charity, accept awards for the company, and help explain company programs such as NuVal. “We are looking for enthusiastic people with great communication skills to represent us well and feel the pulse of the community,” said Ms. Golub.


Both her parents encouraged Ms. Golub to do “what I love to do.” Ms. Golub mentioned her father, Neil, who encourages her to explore her own ideas and to “make my points with reason and compassions”; and her mother, Jane, a third-grade teacher for 25 years who instilled a sense of being a strong, independent woman.

Ms. Golub also mentioned Ralph Crowley, chief executive officer of Polar Beverages and a former Bowdoin graduate. While at Bowdoin, Ms. Golub conducted an on-campus soda distribution business. She learned from Mr. Crowley marketing, promotions and motivating people how to sell a product they had not seen before.

She also mentioned Schenectady Mayor Karen Johnson for helping her to produce concerts for the Central Park Stage; her high school Volleyball Coach Lyn Cleveland of Niskayuna High School, who “taught me that being short should not hold me back”; and college professor Gabor Brogyanyi, who taught her about foreign literature and different world perspectives and views.

Ms. Golub describes her management style as “hands on and interactive” as she strives to engage ideas and idea sharing and to help others find solutions to problems from within themselves. “Sometimes I shoot from the hip and sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants,” she says.

“Our business is very volatile. Things happen very quickly, and you have to learn how to react. For example a recall comes across and you have to react to it very quickly.”


Ms. Golub spends time with her 12-year-old son, sometimes works on producing free concerts in the park, and she likes cooking and entertaining, traveling the world, and working out.

Cathy Green

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series

green-cathyCathy Green:  2010 Executive of the Year

Price Chopper
President of Food Lion

With her familiarity of Hannaford and her firsthand knowledge of Food Lion banners, Cathy Green is known as a retail supermarket executive from Maine to Miami.

Starting as a store clerk at Hannaford, she has spent more than 22 years in the supermarket industry, rising quickly through many executive positions at Hannaford and Food Lion.

Ms. Green recently assumed leadership as president of the Food Lion family of banners, which includes Food Lion, Bloom, Harveys and Reid’s.

In her new role, Ms. Green will lead all banner operations for the Food Lion family, including store financial performance, merchandising, pricing, customer service and marketing.

“Cathy is an outstanding leader with significant retail expertise,” said Mr. Hodge. “Her in-depth knowledge of the grocery industry will significantly benefit the Food Lion family of banners. She is a leader who operates with the customer in mind, focused on delivering excellent service, quality products and lower prices to our customers. Her leadership will be visible to customers and associates through her drive and passion for the business.”

Ms. Green most recently served as chief operating officer (COO) for Food Lion LLC, where she was responsible for overseeing operations for Food Lion, Bloom, Bottom Dollar Food, Harveys and Reid’s.

Prior to being named COO, Ms. Green served Food Lion as senior vice president for the chain’s northern retail operations and previously as senior vice president of fresh merchandising, distribution and quality assurance. She joined Food Lion in 2002 from its sister grocery chain, Hannaford Supermarkets, where she held the title of vice president of fresh merchandising.

She began her career at Hannaford as a part-time clerk while attending high school and college. Later, she completed the grocer’s retail training program and went on to hold several management positions, including assistant store manager, perishable manager and store manager.

Prior to being named chief operating officer of Food Lion LLC in 2005, she was Food Lion’s vice president of retail operations–north and previously served as vice president of fresh merchandising, distribution and quality assurance.

“I look forward to delivering the great prices that customers in our 11-state operating area have come to expect from the Food Lion family of banners,” said Ms. Green. “In today’s economy, our consumers are placing great demands on their grocery store, and we are here to serve their needs and save them money every time they shop our stores. We remain strongly committed to serving our customers and ensuring we deliver a rewarding and meaningful shopping experience.”

Ms. Green’s position as one of the top leaders in the industry is evidenced by her being named a 2007 Top Woman in Grocery by Progressive Grocer, one of Supermarket News’ Power 50 in 2009, and in January 2010 she was named one of Mass Market Retailer’s Most Influential Women in Mass Market Retailing. Ms. Green recently served as chair of the Steering Committee of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), working to create alignment among various constituents participating in the program and ensuring guidelines and milestones were set for the initiative to be implemented by the food industry. She continues to be involved with PTI’s progress and was awarded The Packer’s 2008 Produce Marketer of the Year award because of her work with PTI.

Ms. Green also serves on the national Board of Directors for the Network of Executive Women (NEW) and is a member of the national Board of Governors for Children’s Miracle Network.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing from the University of Maine and has completed coursework in strategic retail management at the College of William and Mary.

Catherine D’Amato

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series

catherine-damatoCatherine D’Amato: 2011 Female Executive of the Year

Greater Boston Food
President and Chief Executive Officer

As president and chief executive officer of the Greater Boston Food Bank, Catherine D’Amato runs New England’s largest hunger-relief organization in an extremely efficient and effective manner as a nonprofit food distribution business.

She has relentless compassion for those she serves and galvanizes others in the corporate and civic communities to partner for an important cause. She answers to many, including her staff, the board of directors, donors, suppliers, and customers and herself.

Phil Licari, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Greater Boston Food Bank, summed it up best when he said that Ms. D’Amato’s professional skill set is quite extensive to go along with her engaging and wonderful personality. She understands the complexity of operating one of the largest food banks in the region, fundraising, a how to interact with government agencies and the internal staff of the food bank. “The combination of all of these skill sets is difficult to find in an executive, either in a profit or nonprofit organization. People love to talk to her and listen to her. She is a wonderful person to be around,” said Mr. Licari, who has known Catherine for seven years.

“Catherine has done an incredible job in servicing the needs of the hungry in Eastern Massachusetts,” said Chris Flynn, president of the Mass. Food Assn. “She arrived at the food bank in 1997 and has since more than tripled the amount of food distributed to almost 35 million pounds of food last year; she moved the food bank into a state-of-the-art facility that will allow the food bank to distribute 50 million pounds of food; and she has raised $35 million to pay for the facility. Her tireless work, along with the talented team she has assembled at the food bank, allows hungry people to have access to nutritional and wholesome food. She truly deserves the recognition she receives for the enthusiasm, compassion and energy she brings to her valuable work on behalf of all who want to play a role in ending hunger,” said Mr. Flynn.

Colleen Wegman

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series

wegman2Colleen Wegman: 2012 Northeast Executive of the Year



It is easy to honor Colleen Wegman’s work as president of a company that, time and again, has been named one of the Best Companies to Work for by Fortune Magazine. In addition, in the last few months, Wegmans was named to Ethisphere’s 2012 World’s Most Ethical Companies List and just recently was named as one of the top supermarket choices in Consumer Reports. The company is well liked by its employees and noted for its diversity.

Headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., Wegmans is a privately held, family-owned company founded in 1916 by the Wegman family. Danny Wegman is chief executive officer and Colleen Wegman, his daughter, is president. Robert Wegman, Danny’s father, was chairman until his death in April 2006. Wegmans operates 79 stores: 47 in New York state, 14 in Pennsylvania, seven in New Jersey, six in Virginia, four in Maryland and one in Massachusetts. The company employs more than 42,000 people. In 2011, its annual sales were $6.2 billion and the company was on Forbes Magazine’s annual list of the “Largest Private Companies in the U.S.” ranking No. 55. Wegmans has been named one of the “100 Best Companies to Work for” by Fortune Magazine for 15 consecutive years. In 2012, Wegmans ranked No. 4 on the list.

Colleen first joined Wegmans in 1991 and since that time has held a number of assignments, including store manager and director of e-commerce. She was also responsible for the development of Wegman’s Nature Marketplace departments and has served as senior vice president of merchandising. She is a 1994 graduate of the University of Colorado and in 2000 received an MBA from the Simon School at the University of Rochester. She has served as a director of the Food Marketing Institute. As president she oversees the day-to-day operations and is involved with the long-range planning of the company.

One of World’s Most Ethical Companies

In March, the Ethisphere Institute, the leading business ethics think-tank, recognized Wegmans as one of the 2012 World’s Most Ethical (WME) Companies. Out of a record number of nominations for the award, Wegmans secured a hard-earned spot on the list by implementing and maintaining upright business practices and initiatives that are instrumental to the company’s success, benefit the community, and raise the bar for ethical standards within the industry.

“A strong ethical foundation is a competitive advantage, and Wegmans recognizes the important role corporate responsibility plays in improving its bottom line,” said Alex Brigham, executive director of the Ethisphere Institute. “As more and more organizations strive for this honor each year, Wegmans’ inclusion as a World’s Most Ethical Company for 2012 demonstrates its industry-leading commitment to ethics and dedication to integrity.”

The methodology for the WME ranking includes reviewing codes of ethics, litigation and regulatory infraction histories; evaluating the investment in innovation and sustainable business practices; looking at activities designed to improve corporate citizenship; and studying nominations from senior executives, industry peers, suppliers and customers.

 Consumer Reports Supermarket Ratings

Consumer Reports subscribers rated Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Publix and Fareway tops among 52 of the nation’s major grocery stores. The survey determined that most consumers have several shopping choices, and some supermarkets gave customers much of what they want. National grocers Costco and Trader Joe’s, along with Fareway Stores (Midwest) and Wegmans, said Consumer Reports, offer quality meat and produce, a clean shopping environment, and very good or exceptional prices. All but Costco also earned the highest possible marks for service, defined as employee courtesy and checkout speed.

Diversity Successes

  • In 1991, President George H.W. Bush awarded the American Business Press Points of Light Award to Robert Wegman for the Work Scholarship Connection.
  • In 2003, the National Youth Employment Coalition recognized the Work Scholarship Connection with its PEPNet award, a recognition given to the strongest youth programs in the country.
  • In 2005, Wegmans received the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce FAME award in recognition of the kindness and consideration displayed to customers and employees with disabilities.
  • In 2006, Wegmans received the Champion of Diversity award from Supermarket News for programs and strategies that advance diversity in the workplace.
  • In 2007, Wegmans received the FMI People Maxx award for its youth leadership program.
  • In 2008, Wegmans received the Youth Latina Leadership Award from Latinas Unidas for its youth leadership intern program and was one of 15 companies awarded a Corporate Honorary Award


Voni Woods

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series

Voni-WoodsVoni Woods: 2013 Female Executive of the Year

Giant Eagle
Senior Director of Deli

The response has been terrific to The Griffin Report’s 2013 choice for 2013 Female Executive of the Year: Voni Woods, senior director of deli at Giant Eagle. She recently was named chairman of the board of directors of the Int’l Dairy Deli Bakery Assn (IDDBA).

Here is a short biography as prepared by Ms. Woods:

“I’ve always been a very passionate strategic thinker, inspiring high performance in my teams, but falling in love with the deli began as a way to pay for college!

“I’ve spent my work life in almost every aspect of deli, bakery and prepared foods, with a focus on continual learning. This has helped me hone my skills in not only the love and knowledge of food, but in business acumen and strategy, the leadership of people and my role of relevance in a changing deli marketplace!

“ There are many role models and mentors in my family, colleagues, supervisors, and coaches who have inspired me and I’ve learned so much from them.  I have served on the board of directors of the IDDBA for over nine years and currently serve as chairman of the board for 2013.

“I am a 2009 graduate of the Women’s Executive Leadership series at Duquesne University, where I brought some of the learnings alive by launching the Women’s Business Resource Group at Giant Eagle. Our membership has over 700 team members throughout the organization and I serve as president.

“I volunteer at my church by leading a ministry as well as serving on an advisory council to the pastor.

“My husband, daughters, son-in-law and grandson inspire me every day in their own way to work hard, play hard and rest easy! Somehow the rest part is never an equal part of the equation!”

Questions & Answers:

What are goals and objectives as IDDBA president?
My first obligation is to uphold the vision and mission of the organization which is to promote the industry and  expand our leadership in the specific areas of Dairy, Deli and Bakery…and to be the essential resource for relevant information and services that add value across all food channels for those categories.

What would you like to see accomplished in a year’s time?
This is an extremely mature and respected organization and I have the great pleasure to serve as Chairman of the Board for a short period of time!  My affiliation on the Board of this organization has been over the last 9 years but many more as a guest at the annual trade show as well as a user of some of the IDDBA training and education programs.  There are many past Presidents and Board Members as well as the dedicated professions who work full time on Staff that I respect and learn from.  I hope to provide leadership this year as a role model and ambassador of the industry I and love to pass on to future leaders..

What are your biggest challenges as both IDDBA president and buyer for Giant Eagle?
Time.  Is that just the same for life?  One other thing that comes to mind is the challenges in this economic environment and to continue to focus on delivering value and quality and good food!  I have a passion for the industry and what I call “affordable luxuries” – good deli and simply delicious foods that let you eat well and be well…and live well.

What is a typical work day for you like?
Let’s just say I love to work and I spend time every day finding the joy in it in a different way.  Waking up every day and finding a better way to do something, a more efficient way and having fun in the process.

I find incredible meaning and value in “work” and I’ve enjoyed the freedom and encouragement to continually improve my business and inspire others.  Over the years, Giant Eagle has given me many opportunities and challenges and it has always been up to me to do something with them every day. Good leaders and mentors have taught me that leadership is much more than being the expert, or the achiever.  I’ve been able to work entrepreneurial and it’s been much more about being good as an individual contributor, about transforming oneself, others and an organization. At Giant Eagle, and every day, I have been able to integrate aspects of what is important to me personally, and to the community, which has allowed me to find purpose and true joy in work, which is a real gift!

What do you think are your biggest professional career accomplishments to date?
Connections and People I have worked with who have developed and moved into other positions of responsibility and somehow communicate a moment in time that I helped them get there.  On a personal level, I have a supportive husband who makes my life easy and joyous and two grown daughters that have grown into beautiful and responsible women who inspire me and keep me energized …

Do you have a defining moment in your professional career?
Understanding my role as leader and motivator and coach of is probably the most defining and launching moment of my career.  It didn’t come “fast and early”!  When I was much younger I thought my actions would translate to followership.  I learned thru mentors of my own that transformational growth into exceptional leadership involved fostering my ability to create sustainable change and that through coaching and stewardship….and more listening than talking…I could become more effective!