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Meet the 2017 TWIC Senior-Level Leaders

NATIONAL REPORT — Fifty female executives, managers and up-and-comers who work in the convenience store industry will be honored this fall in the fourth-annual Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience awards program.

Honorees are selected based on nominations from their peers that illustrate a candidate's innovative corporate initiatives, extraordinary financial and strategic accomplishments, astute problem-solving acumen, exceptional performance and selfless charitable participation, among other attributes that go above and beyond the call of duty.

This year's judging panel selected five Women of the Year, 22 Senior-Level Leaders, 15 Rising Stars, and eight Mentors to be inducted into the 2017 TWIC class.

This year's Senior-Level Leaders are:

Carla Boyington
Corporate Director, Category Management, Core-Mark International

  • Boyington has 29 years of convenience store industry experience, with 19 years at Core-Mark.
  • She is responsible for development and merchandising programs for implementation in independent and small chains, as well as category management for center store including trend analysis, set analysis with recommendations, and chain-specific recommendations.
  • She is a two-time Manager of the Year winner at Core-Mark.

Kris Condon
Director of Human Resources, Family Express Corp.

  • Condon is responsible for the company's robust hiring and training process, which includes the implementation of industrial psychology and more than 50 computer-based training modules in a state-of-the-art learning center.
  • Her leadership led to the opening of a state-of-the-art fitness center with a personal trainer on staff at Family Express' corporate campus for the health and well-being of employees and their families.
  • Condon serves on the board of directors for her local Boys and Girls Club.

Suzanne Cramer
Director of Recruitment & Human Resources, Rutter's Farm Stores

  • Cramer is known for her strategic acumen combined with strong marketing skills, and helped Rutter's quickly evolve its social, mobile and loyalty initiatives.
  • Whenever a new Rutter's store opens, she travels there and recruits for new employees herself.
  • She received the 2015 Making a Difference Award, which recognizes individuals who go above and beyond to help position Rutter's at the forefront of the industry.

Kathy Cunnington
Vice President, Shared Services, North America, Circle K Stores Inc.

  • Cunnington has been with Circle K since 2003 and has more than 20 years of experience in the c-store industry in various financial leadership positions.
  • Her current responsibilities include: internal and external operational financial reporting; all aspects of general ledger accounting for store, fuel and transactional accounting; accounts payable; accounts receivable; payroll; supplier rebates; and global insurance and risk programs.
  • She is leading the integration of the CST Brands acquisition, and led the integration of 1,500 The Pantry locations into Circle K.

Jennifer Eaton
Tobacco Category Manager, GPM Investments LLC

  • Eaton, who received her MBA from East Carolina University, oversees all tobacco categories for GPM, managing 979 stores covering 16 states.
  • She works with the price model and pricebook personnel closely to run programs in the tobacco space; manages the planograms for all tobacco categories; and effectively decides which promotions to run and how to best align GPM's inventory with little administrative assistance.
  • She previously worked as the cigar category buyer for The Pantry.

Joan Elsing
Zone Leader, Kwik Trip Inc.

  • Elsing oversees all retail operations in north central Wisconsin, which includes 116 stores in seven districts, where she is responsible for the leadership, sales, success and direction of those stores.
  • She joined Kwik Trip in 2000 as a certified assistant store leader, and held positions including district leader and foodservice director before becoming zone leader.
  • With the current and rapid growth of Kwik Trip, Elsing has successfully opened 48 new stores and 14 rebuilds.

Jodi Gehrts
Tobacco Category Manager, Kum & Go LC

  • Gehrts has been in her current role for nine years and transformed the tobacco category at Kum & Go, yielding double-digit volume growth for moist snuff tobacco and cigars, as well as grown market share.
  • She is responsible for the design of the tobacco set at all new Kum & Go Marketplace stores, and the design of the tobacco offers within the &Rewards app, launched in 2016.
  • She leads the United Way fundraising effort for Kum & Go and participates in fundraising events for St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Monica Hayes
Senior Director, Convenience Channel, The Coca-Cola Co.

  • Hayes' responsibilities include leading the development of a comprehensive annual business plan for Coca-Cola customer teams; overseeing the creation of retail price package promotion plans for all categories; and setting the vision for implementing the principles of trade spend optimization across the convenience channel.
  • She received the Woodruff Cup, an award given internally to recognize company business units that achieve their metrics while driving transformational change in the market, along with a 2016 Best of the Best National Retail Sales Award from Coca-Cola, which honors individuals and teams for delivering against revenue, volume and gross-profit goals.
  • Hayes serves as a board member and treasurer of Jack and Jill of America, an organization dedicated to nurturing future African-American leaders.

Kim James
Global Director of Brand Management, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.

  • Early in her career, James solidified herself as a brand leader when she pioneered a private label cosmetic brand launch. For more than 25 years since, she has been an influential leader in brand management and retail.
  • She has led multiple projects as part of the Circle K global brand launch, including conducting key supplier surveys/interviews, developing initiatives to support the stores, and aligning efforts between the senior leadership team and each of the Circle K business units.
  • James developed a successful and comprehensive training and development curriculum that is taught through classroom training held at the Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery. She has begun to give classes in other countries to support Couche-Tard employees who cannot travel to St. Louis.

Kellie Janssen
President, Henry's Foods

  • Janssen previously worked in the financial industry, where she gained experience in business development, strategic planning and leadership, before joining Henry's Foods five years ago.
  • In her current role, she is involved in all aspects of the company and oversees the departments of purchasing, marketing, operations, logistics, sales, warehousing, business development, customer relations, and finance.
  • Her goal is for Henry's to be a company built on commitment and dedication, accomplished by providing a work environment that focuses on individual happiness and building skills for the future.

Natalie Jones
President, Jones Petroleum Co.

  • Jones oversees all retail store operations at 26 locations that include multiple quick-service franchises, including Dunkin' Donuts, Dairy Queen, Burger King and Subway.
  • She is known for her passion for foodservice and for continually seeking ways to improve every aspect of the business.
  • She currently serves on the board of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

Kim Lazerus
Vice President of Human Resources, Maverik Inc.

  • Lazerus oversees all human resources functions for Maverik. These responsibilities include policy development, pay structures, performance appraisals, training, and personal interaction with all departments for employee progression and review.
  • Since joining Maverik four years ago, she's overseen the building of the company's training program, implemented strategies and tactics for improved employee retention, and advocated for all employees while executing her duty to Maverik.
  • In 2016, Maverik's operations group presented Lazerus with the Defender of the Legend Award in recognition of outstanding support for the stores group.

Lisa Luben
Foodservice Director, Country Fair, United Refining Corp. of Pennsylvania

  • Luben started her career with Country Fair at age 17 and was continually promoted until she reached her current role, where she is responsible for the operations, marketing, training and financial well-being of the foodservice department.
  • During her time as an operations area manager, Luben's area was often used as a test bed for new programs and procedures. Another accomplishment in her career was discovering and resolving a pricebook problem, easing shrink problems across the company.
  • She is a two-time Country Fair Manager of the Year.

Cassandra Matos
Director, Confections, McLane Co. Inc.

  • Matos is accountable for category development and related strategic initiatives on a national scale, overseeing 15 teammates and collectively managing more than $7 billion in annual revenue.
  • Under her leadership, the confections team in 2016 successfully managed more than 13,000 items — a 16-percent increase from 2015 — and increased total purchases and subsequent outbound sales by 4 percent.
  • She is a member of the National Confectioner Sales Association, on the Editorial Board for the National Confectioners Association (NCA), and on the NCA's Sweets and Snacks Expo's Innovative New Items Tasting Panel.

Abbey Mitchell
Zone Manager, General Mills Convenience

  • Mitchell has been with General Mills Convenience for 10 years and oversees a team of seven employees.
  • She developed and implemented a new trade strategy for General Mills Convenience to help it evaluate and assess spending and identify ways to save time through continuous improvement and automation efforts.
  • She is an active member of the General Mills Women's Mentor Circles and has served as General Mills' Ambassador for the Women in Foodservice Forum.

Julie Montague
Vice President, Stores & Marketing, Jr Food Mart

  • Montague has been with Jr Food Mart for 33 years and in her current role, oversees overall store operations, store resets, planograms, and supplier agreements.
  • Among her accomplishments are streamlining the manager training program and implementing an office organization infrastructure.
  • She is in her second year as director of the Mississippi Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, is on the Convenience Store Sales Committee, and serves on the board of the Petal YMCA.

Tonia Petterson
Vice President, Convenience, Hy-Vee Inc.

  • Beginning her Hy-Vee career as a part-time checker and stocker in 1989, Petterson moved up the ranks, eventually joining the corporate side in 2014. She is a graduate of the Hy-Vee Management Training Program and Hy-Vee University Leadership Course.
  • In the year since she took on her current role, she's achieved her goal of standardizing the convenience store budget process and documenting the length of life of convenience store assets. She also oversaw the re-merchandising of all Hy-Vee c-stores to add more healthy, fresh and hot food options in easy-to-access locations.
  • Petterson was named a Progressive Grocer Top Women in Grocery in 2013.

Becky Schall
Director of Operations Systems, CST Brands Inc

  • Schall leads a team of 18 employees, and is responsible for the store accounting system, operational reporting, quality assurance, system interfaces and pricebook.
  • With a passion for automation, she received a bachelor's degree in Information Systems from American Intercontinental University College, where she is currently working on her master's degree with a concentration on Project Management.
  • In her spare time, she dedicates herself to her family and shares her knowledge and experience with Girl Scouts to encourage them to be future strong leaders.

Nancy Tosto
Payment Systems Manager, BP

  • After working in BP's Direct Retail Operations Group, Tosto moved to her current role 10 years ago. Her focus on improving the performance of BP's legacy hardware and software has resulted in marked improvement in the number of problem calls and hardware failures.
  • Her achievements include securing the first PCI-certified report on compliance among all of the major oil brands and introducing a dispenser security program that has been used as a model for other programs.
  • She serves on the Conexxus Data Security Standards Committee, and is well-respected internally at BP and externally by its customer operators.

Jackie Tressito
Area Vice President, Trade Marketing Services, Reynolds American Inc.

  • Tressito is one of nine executive members of the Trade Marketing Leadership Team.
  • She is accountable for the commercial business and people development for the Southeast sales area, overseeing six senior directors and 450 people.
  • She participates in various industry associations, such as the Michigan Distributors and Vendor Association, and several petroleum marketers and convenience associations.

Nicole Upshaw
Executive Director of Human Resources, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.

  • Upshaw began her RaceTrac career 12 years ago as a staffing coordinator. She now leads the Field HR Teams and various HR functions at the Store Support Center, including talent acquisition, talent management, employee experience, and The Learning Center.
  • She leads a team of more than 30 and has a company-wide sphere of influence as she manages teams in Georgia, Louisiana, Florida and Texas. Initiatives she has spearheaded include implementation of parental and bereavement leave policies, and updated benefits for store teams.
  • She is actively involved in the Network of Executive Women, and serves on the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's HR Council and the NACS Convention Committee.

Allison Wroe
Director of Marketing, PriceAdvantage

  • Wroe joined PriceAdvantage in 2014 and in less than two years, launched a new company brand, website, and strategic marketing programs.
  • She spends countless hours putting together educational information through white papers, webinars and case studies to engage the convenience store industry and help promote the latest thinking.
  • She is part of the Pikes Peak Ad Federation, a local chapter affiliated with the American Advertising Federation.  

All of the 2017 honorees will be celebrated at an awards reception taking place during the 2017 NACS Show, the largest annual gathering of the convenience store industry. The program will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18 at the Hyatt McCormick Place Hotel in Chicago, right after the NACS Show floor closes for the day. Marcia Clark, the lead Los Angeles prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson "Trial of the Century," will keynote this special event. 

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