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Three women who have made a substantial impact on the independent grocery industry -- Debbie Dory of Newport Avenue Market, Kathleen DiChiara, founder, president and CEO of the Community Foodbank of New Jersey and Frances "Chi Chi" Puhl, SVP, general counsel and corporate secretary of Associated Wholesale Grocers – were honored by the Women Grocers of America (WGA) at the National Grocers Association’s 2013 Chairman's Gala.
For over 20 years, Dory has been a pioneer to the industry and her community. Her award-winning Newport Avenue Market was the first IGA Plus store on the West Coast and has been voted Best Grocery Store in Central Oregon for 15 years in a row. In 2013, Newport Avenue Market became the first Boar's Head Deli of Distinction west of the Mississippi. But Dory's leadership extends beyond the store. Co-founder of the Hunger Prevention Coalition, her store served as the pilot store for "The Help Fill Empty Plates" program, which raised over $429,000 for the coalition. Despite the trying economy, her drive to create extraordinary customer service resulted in 12 percent growth in 2012 and movement toward a second-generation leader in her daughter, Lauren.
WGA also presented its Humanitarian Award to Kathleen DiChiara, founder, president and CEO of the Community Foodbank of New Jersey, which distributed 39 million pounds of food and groceries last year.
Frances "Chi Chi" Puhl, SVP, general counsel and corporate secretary of Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG), also received WGA's Legend Award for her vital contributions to the growth of AWG into from a small two-warehouse wholesale cooperative into the $8 billion operation it is today.
Meanwhile, NGA's president/CEO, Peter J. Larkin, presented its most distinguished public affairs honor -- the 2013 Clarence G. Adamy Great American Award -- to Kevin Doris, president/CEO, Gerland Corp. Having been presented to only 21 recipients since its inception in 1982, Doris received the award for his support of NGA's Government Affairs program on behalf of the independent retail and wholesale grocer in Washington, D.C. He was an early supporter of NGA's Grocers PAC, and is a longtime supporter of NGA's Campaign to Preserve Competition, Consumer Choice and a Democratic Workplace. Whether traveling to meet with elected officials in Washington or Austin, Texas, NGA commended Doris’s commitment to focus on the important role grocers play by educating their elected officials on the implications legislation and regulation have on the grocery industry.
"Kevin Doris has had a tremendous positive impact on NGA's Government Affairs program", said Larkin. "He recognized that the independent grocers' need for a strong voice in Washington must be matched with a commitment by its members to get involved and engage with their elected officials."
Also at the gala, NGA chairman Joe Sheridan, president/COO of Wakefern Food Corp., recognized longtime industry veteran and good friend, Joe Burke with the NGA Industry Service Award. Burke, VP/Retail Industry Affairs for Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, has for over 34 years played an important part in the proud and successful tradition of Coca-Cola and its service to independent retailers. Through his leadership of the North America Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council, Burke has fostered meaningful and cutting-edge research that has innovated the industry. Additionally, he has played a key role in fostering meaningful relationships as a distinguished member of NGA's Trading Partner Advisory Council.
Attendees at the Chairman's Gala then enjoyed dinner and an evening of spectacular entertainment featuring Motown hits by multi-platinum artists Human Nature, made possible by key sponsors Wakefern Food Corporation, General Mills,Inc., VISA, Inc. and PepsiCo, Inc., as well as Anheuser-Busch, InBev, E. & J. Gallo Winery, The Hershey Company and The Queens Flowers. Proceeds from the event went to the Grocers Research and Education Foundation (GREF).