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Meet our 2012 Star Women in Grocery winners

A store manager in Newfoundland, a tofu entrepreneur, and the woman behind Canada’s most successful ethnic grocery chain are among the 16 women chosen to receive Canadian Grocer‘s first annual Star Women in Grocery awards.

The 2012 winners were announced this morning by the magazine.

Canadian Grocer launched the Star Women in Grocery awards to recognize the important role that women play in the grocery and consumer packaged goods industries in Canada.

This year, eight winners are from retail and the other eight from the vendor community. They were chosen for their leadership, innovation and dedication to the grocery business. Here is a complete list of the winners:

Retailers:

Cori Bonina. The owner of Stong’s Market in Vancouver was the first female chair of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and heads up one of the most impressive independent grocers in the country.

Carmen Churcott. A vice-president at B.C.-based Overwaitea Food Group, Churcott helped launch the retailer’s Kids Fan Club, where Overwaitea teams up with suppliers around hockey.

Cindy Lee. The founder of T&T Supermarket set the standard for ethnic grocery stores in Canada. In 2009, Loblaw Companies paid $225 million to own her business.

Jenny Longo. The director of private brands at Toronto-area Longo’s spearheaded the evolution of the chain’s two-tier private-label line, leading to double-digit growth.

Sylvia Colbert-Maier. The senior director of learning stores West for Loblaw Companies has led efforts to set up numerous training programs for Loblaw in Western Canada.

Krista Payne. At Sobeys Ontario, where she is director of operations team development, Payne has created training programs focused on employee and customer engagement, selling skills and customer service.

Monique Simard. A district manager for Loblaw’s Maxi and Maxi & Co stores in Quebec, Simard has put a big push on to get more local foods into her stores in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region.

Mondella Stacey started out as a part-time cashier at Colemans Food Centres in Newfoundland & Labrador. Now she’s manager of the retailer’s Stephenville store where she’s made community involvement and customer service a big priority.

Manufacturers:

Diane Craig. A partner at Ottawa’s Tofood, Craig has led the development of a whole new category, and her gluten-free, vegan Tofood product is showing up on more store shelves.

Heather Crees was the driving force behind the “It’s all good” campaign at McCain Foods Canada, where she is vice-president of marketing. Crees has pushed McCain to reformulate products so that they are made from simpler ingredients.

Stacey Kravitz. The vice-president of regional accounts at Kraft Canada, Kravitz leads one of the company’s largest customer business teams and is known for her collaborative efforts and commitment to the industry.

Karen Kuwahara. Since taking over as president of Nestle Purina, sales have doubled and Kuwahara (pictured in the lead photo of today’s e-newsletter) has established several programs to promote healthy pets and corporate philanthropy.

Susan Niczowski. Who says small startups can’t succeed in this business? Summer Fresh Salads, where Niczowski is CEO, is a remarkable success story in the grocery industry. Summer Fresh Salads is also consistently named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies by Deloitte.

Sarah O’Regan is a star contributor to the sales force at SC Johnson, where she is an account director and now leads the company’s Walmart business. She has also been a key driver of SCJ’s gender diversity council.

Andrea Ramlogan. The former vice-president of operational planning at Organic Meadow, Ramlogan spent years working with dairy, grain and egg farmers in Ontario to transition them to organic.

Eva Sun. Few people know as much about rice as Sun, the CEO of rice distributor Libra National. Today her company supplies both ethnic grocers and mainstream retailers like Walmart, Loblaw, Safeway and Costco.

The Star Women in Grocery winners were selected from among nominees sent to Canadian Grocer in the first half of this year and were chosen by a panel that included Canadian Grocer editor Rob Gerlsbeck, managing and web editor Nancy Kwon, Marketing magazine staff writer Alicia Androich and Corrine Sandler, CEO of Fresh Intelligence in Toronto.

The awards recognize women who demonstrate excellence in four key areas:

• Influence: Women who are “change agents” and can influence others both internally and externally to look at the business in a different way and improve current practices and create new strategies to achieve growth

• Innovation: Candidates must demonstrate that they have been innovative in their organizations.

• Dedication: Nominees must clearly demonstrate their commitment to the industry and their communities through charitable or philanthropic involvement. They should also be involved in at least one industry organization.

• Leadership: Women who demonstrate exceptional leadership and are considered a mentor to others in an organization.

The Star Women in Grocery Awards are supported by NEW Canada, Chatelaine and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.

To read the full profiles of the 2012 winners, pick up a copy of the June/July issue of Canadian Grocer, out now.

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