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More than 200 of Progressive Grocer’s 2014 Top Women in Grocery winners converged last night at Loews Chicago O'Hare Hotel in Rosemont, Ill., to accept engraved awards before a record crowd of nearly 500 industry luminaries, special guests and family members, all of whom came out to support and celebrate with the event’s recognized guests of honor.
During the gala celebration, Janel S. Haugarth, Supervalu’s EVP and president of Independent Business and Supply Chain Services, was honored with the distinguished Trailblazer Award from Progressive Grocer and the Network of Executive Women (NEW). Established in 2012 and sponsored by PepsiCo, the Trailblazer Award recognizes a single food industry executive whose leadership, vision and influence have had profound influences on blazing new trails for women in the retail food industry. (See related coverage here).
This year's Top Women in Grocery event also featured an afternoon learning, networking and leadership development program designed to foster and enhance the success and professional development of its honored guests.
Hosted by Brand Director and Stagnito Business Media VP Jeff Friedman and Chief Content Editor Meg Major, PG’s Top Women in Grocery event marked the eighth year the leading grocery trade publication has recognized the invaluable contributions of women from all walks of the retail food industry in three categories: Senior-Level Executives; Rising Stars; and Store Managers.
FMI’s President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin once again served in a special capacity during the event, during which she presided during the awards presentation ceremony for Top Women in Grocery attendees.
When describing the importance of the industry's premier women's recognition program, Major said the gala event "is indeed a very special occasion, because it provides a rare glimpse of our mission realized in one room, at one moment in time, while allowing us to experience the power of partnerships, unity, equity, connections and collaborations, which are not only the lasting keys to a healthy industry, but also to the sustained progression of women's continued advancement."
During her welcome remarks to honorees, Major said: "We have made great strides, but there is more to be done. Each of you is part of the legacy to do more to help drive forward a future where for all of us – our daughters, sisters, nieces and female colleagues and friends – anything is possible. And it's something well worth celebrating."
Deanie Elsner, EVP and chief marketing officer for Kraft Foods Group, provided a special message to Top Women in Grocery winners on behalf of the event's platinum sponsor, whose products were prominently featured during the sit-down dinner.
In addition to Kraft, other key sponsors of the sold-out gala included:
- Official Dessert Sponsor (including after-dinner party): The Hershey Co.
- Innovation Lounge Sponsor: Procter & Gamble
- Exclusive Beer Sponsor: Anheuser-Busch
- Exclusive Wine Sponsor: E&J Gallo
- Trailblazer Award: PepsiC
Gold Sponsors included:
- Advantage Marketing
- Domino Sugar
Essentials for Women Leaders
Nationally recognized business and workplace speaker and author Alexandra R. Levit served as luncheon keynote speaker. Using anecdotes of famous women leaders and research related to the future of work and women's current leadership status, Levit's engaging discussion focused on essential leadership capabilities women must develop if they are to be successful in a rapidly changing workforce.
Following Levit's presentation, the afternoon program continued with a strategic networking workshop – Setting Goals, Crafting Your Pitch, Putting it to Work – led by Eileen Tarjan, manager of learning for the Network of Executive Women (NEW).
The Top Women in Grocery afternoon session concluded with peer circle breakout discussions led by executives from some of the food industry’s most admired organizations, including:
- Kathy Bayert, VP, Learning and Advisory Services, Network of Executive Women
- Janel Haugarth, EVP and President, Independent Business & Supply Chain Services, Supervalu
- Workplace expert/author and luncheon keynote speaker Alexandra Levit
- Jane Sinclair Hilk, EVP & President, Kraft Foods Group
- Jane Novak-Cook, VP of Customer Business Development, Procter & Gamble
- Lisa Walsh, SVP of Sales, PepsiCo
The full list of PG’s 2014 Top Women in Grocery recipients can be found here.
Follow PG’s Top Women in Grocery coverage on Twitter @PGrocer with the hashtag #PGTopWomen.