Meet the 2018 TWIC Rising Stars

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

Meet the 2018 TWIC Rising Stars

By Convenience Store News Staff Report - 08/17/2018

NATIONAL REPORT — Convenience Store News will welcome 45 more female leaders into its Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) family this fall.

Now in its fifth year, TWIC is the first and only convenience store industry awards program that recognizes women making outstanding contributions to their companies and the industry overall.

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, 15 Senior-Level Leaders, 20 Rising Stars and five Mentors to be inducted into the 2018 TWIC class.

This year's Rising Stars are: 

ASHLEY BORDEN

Center of Store Product Director, 7-Eleven Inc.

  • Borden successfully manages a variety of food and non-food categories.
  • During her 7-Eleven career, she’s also held the roles of senior category manager of confectionery and category manager for wireless.
  • According to her nominator, Borden is extremely creative, reinforces out-of-the-box thinking, and her strength is building collaborative vendor relationships at all levels.
MARIE-NOËLLE CANO

Senior Director, Global Communications, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K

  • Cano brings 17 years of communication and public relations experience in retail and fuel to her current role, where she oversees communications for all of Couche-Tard’s business units worldwide and supports the executive team in Canada, the United States and Europe. She reports directly to President and CEO Brian Hannasch.
  • As part of her accomplishments at Couche-Tard, Cano introduced and implemented a “360 strategic approach” that resulted in a global strategic communication plan with rigorous metrics to link the company’s vision and mission, and measure success based on business targets, internal and external inputs, data analysis, and regulatory and stakeholder issues.
  • Cano’s nominator notes that she has a knack for seeing the big picture and an ability to develop outreach strategies in line with those needs. There is no doubt the convenience store industry will feel this rising star’s influence for years to come, he added. 
SONIA CAZE

Senior National Distribution Manager, Convenience
Channel, General Mills Convenience

  • Caze leads the National Distribution Team and plays a major role in developing General Mills’ national strategy.
  • Not only does she lead the company’s Distributor Advisory Board and in-broker support for General Mills Convenience, but Caze also is an active member in the Women’s Employee Networks and the Hispanic Network at General Mills.
  • Caze, who was the 2009 General Mills Special Achievement Convenience & Foodservice Division Ring of Excellence honoree, deserves to be a “Rising Star” because of her passion for the c-store industry and her ability to continue to drive innovative solutions for her customers, according to her nominator.
ALICIA CLEARY

Director, Trade Relations, Anheuser-Busch

  • Among her successes at AB, Cleary implemented new strategies that have improved the company’s B2B marketing efforts, such as a year-round approach that allows AB to properly manage funds, content and advertising efforts.
  • She has increased the number of relationship building and knowledge-sharing opportunities in the c-store industry by 250 percent and created a model program for industry media and content creation, increasing exposure by 500-plus percent.
  • A member of the NACS Supplier Membership and Communications Committee and an advisor for the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association, Cleary also mentors MBA students on interview techniques, negation skills and developing competitive advantages.
VANESSA COPE

Customer Sales Lead for Immediate Consumption, Campbell Soup Co.

  • The sphere of Cope’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, financial planning and forecasting, and collaboration with cross-functional partners in marketing and shopper marketing to develop new-item launch support plans.
  • Cope is a two-time Merit Award winner, which is the highest internal sales honor at Campbell Soup Co., and has received two Greatness Awards, which recognize individuals and teams worldwide who have made a difference in shaping the future of Campbell.
  • Chair of Campbell’s chapter for the Network of Executive Women, Cope also started Campbell’s Women’s Golf League to break the “grass ceiling” and help women participate in customer events with confidence.
KATHRYN DALTON

Senior Category Manager, Tobacco, BP Products NA/ampm

  • Dalton is the in-store expert for visual merchandising, pricing, management and sales of the tobacco category across ampm’s 1,000-store footprint.
  • She has 18 years of experience in the c-store industry, beginning her career at 7-Eleven Inc., and has since managed nearly all categories within the convenience channel, including a stint as a buyer at United Pacific.
  • In her spare time, Dalton volunteers at a dog rescue in Los Angeles that specializes in abandoned or relinquished pugs.
RACHAEL GEARY

Category Manager, Cold Dispensed/Dry/Candy, First Coast Energy/Daily’s/Petro Services Inc.

  • Now category manager for a mixed assortment of products, Geary started in marketing/brand management and began taking on more responsibilities as they related to category management, loyalty programs, rebates and store setup.
  • Geary has influence over new products, distribution, budget, rewards and more, and has earned the trust and respect of her employer, as well as vendors, brokers and distributors.
  • According to her nominator, Geary always has a smile on her face and in her voice, yet is direct when needed and lets suppliers know what is and isn’t working.
JULIE LOGAN

District Leader, GetGo (Giant Eagle)

  • Logan got her start at GetGo in 2012 as crew lead, quickly moving into the roles of kitchen lead and senior team leader before becoming the first GetGo store leader in Indianapolis in 2015. She was promoted to district leader in 2017.
  • In her current role, Logan oversees six stores in the Indianapolis market, including store leader placement and development, and is held accountable for all aspects of her regional profit and loss report.
  • Logan has developed relationships with local vendors, as well as the communities in which her stores are located, to ensure GetGo provides customers with hometown items and gains a better understanding of what the market’s customers enjoy in their c-store experiences, according to her nominator.
DIANA LUK

Senior Account Manager, Altria Group Distribution Co.

  • Luk manages a four-member account team that supports one retailer’s roughly 1,200-store footprint across 20 states. She is responsible for unit growth, category profitability, contract compliance and operational execution.
  • According to her nominator, Luk’s knowledge of the category and the industry are huge resources, but not as great as her willingness to be creative in suggesting new tactics, push for additional resources to support her category manager, and create strong relationships with the senior team and all levels of the company’s operations.
  • A member of Women in Sales at Altria, Luk is a single mom to three-year-old Brittany.
STEPHANIE MARTONE

Category Manager, OTP, Cumberland Farms Inc.

  • Nearly 13 years ago, Martone got her start at Cumberland Farms as a temporary employee in training in the planning department before transitioning to a full-time position in the merchandising department in 2006. This was followed by several years in the POS department handling pricing and promotions, with increasing responsibility for reporting.
  • For the past four years, Martone has successfully managed the OTP portfolio and vendor relationships for this growing category at Cumberland Farms, reporting to the head of the tobacco category, Anne Flint. This year, Martone was given full responsibility for the OTP category across all of the retailer’s 560 stores.
  • Martone is a member of NACS and the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association.
CAITLIN MCCORMICK

Director, Marketing Programs, Core-Mark International

  • McCormick joined Core-Mark in 2015 as marketing program manager. During her two years in this role, she was accountable for development of the company’s customer-centric “Core-Partners” program, which creates relationships with third-party service providers to assist Core-Mark’s base of independent c-store clients.
  • She has been influential in bringing new distribution opportunities in the alcoholic beverage category, specifically state-by-state regional wines/spirits to drive category sales and profits for the independent and chain retailers serviced by Core-Mark.
  • Without a doubt, McCormick is adding new ideas and fresh perspectives on less-than-glamorous categories and will be a value to the industry for years to come, according to her nominator.
KESSLER PAMPLIN

Brand Manager, CEFCO Stores

  • Pamplin joined CEFCO in June 2015 as social media manager and was promoted to her current role in July 2017, overseeing social media outreach, advertising, promotions and special events across the chain’s 225 stores.
  • She received the Well Deserved Recognition award from The Fikes Co (CEFCO’s parent company) for outstanding performance and lasting contribution, and is part of the CEFCO Bright Ideas Committee.
  • Pamplin brings a special blend of business-savvy millennial know-how to her position and works diligently every day to ensure that every member of the CEFCO team is truly a “keeper of the brand,” her nominator commented.
KATE SCHUSTER

Director, National Accounts, Convenience, Mondelez International Inc.

  • Schuster has 14-plus years of Fortune 500 company experience, with nearly 10 years being spent in the convenience channel. She utilizes that experience in her current role, where she is responsible for driving portfolio growth across 40 of Mondelez’s national and strategic customers.
  • She collaborates with various cross-functional groups in the organization, including the shopper marketing, foodservice, finance and brand marketing teams, to help develop Mondelez’s annual marketing and innovation plan for the convenience channel.
  • In 2017, Schuster was recognized with the Leadership for Performance award. She was the Mondelez International Circle of Champions winner in 2012 and 2013.
DESIRE SHIFFER

Director, Human Resources for U.S. Shared Services & Information Technology, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K

  • With a strong background in internal audit, Shiffer jumped right into the world of human resources in the convenience store industry and today oversees and supports all of Couche-Tard’s HR functions for North America, such as employee relations, recruiting, succession planning, performance management, and organizational design.
  • Shiffer successfully handled the employee exit process and prepared severance contracts for 250 employees after The Pantry acquisition, while taking on her new role.
  • According to her nominator, Shiffer is a champion of the Circle K customer service and culture, is very passionate about her work, carries herself with an approachable demeanor, and does an exceptional job when dealing with employees.
SALENA SIMS

Category Manager, Beer, Wine & Dairy, Speedway LLC

  • Throughout her 20-plus years in the c-store industry, Sims has spent the majority of her career in operations, human resources and, most recently, marketing. She joined Speedway in 2003 and has held five positions during her 15-year career at the company.
  • After taking responsibility of the beer category at the beginning of 2017, Sims grew the total beer category by a 3-percent increase in dollar sales and a 3.8 percent gain in unit sales.
  • She has worked through litigation and licensing challenges by opening 200 plus new licenses in Michigan and garnering an additional 4-percent share of the c-store beer business in the state.
  • Recipient of internal ACE awards from Speedway, Sims is also involved in local Junior Achievers activations.
RANATA SMILEY

Restaurant Manager, Rutter’s

  • Smiley began her career at Rutter’s eight years ago as a retail team member and was then quickly promoted to shift leader before again progressing when she took on a new challenge as roving restaurant manager.
  • Today, she is restaurant manager at Rutter’s York Springs location, one of the retailer’s largest sites and top producer of food.
  • Smiley was a Restaurant Manager of the Year finalist in 2014 and 2017.
ELISABETH STRICKLAND

Director of Marketing, Holmes Oil Co.

  • Thanks to Strickland’s insightful category planning, promotional development and unique marketing campaigns, Holmes Oil has experienced year-over-year growth.
  • Her accomplishments resulted in her promotion to director of marketing in October 2017, overseeing advertising, sponsorship, brand development and category management across the company’s Cruizers convenience store brand.
  • Strickland was hired two years ago as a category manager. In that role, she set up a new planogram process to ensure timely updates with the company’s DSD suppliers and grocery wholesalers, driving aboveaverage performance in her assigned categories.
  • According to her nominator, Strickland clearly sees the objectives of the business, sets and monitors goals, and drives category growth with her amazing consumer insight.
WHITNEY THOMAS

Tobacco Category Manager, CL Thomas Inc. dba Speedy Shop

  • Thomas, who recently completed her MBA at New York University, has held various roles at C.L. Thomas across human resources, fuel and, most recently, inside sales. She stepped into her current role one year ago.
  • According to her nominator, Thomas is open to trying new things to continue to innovate in the c-store environment and expand Speedy Stop in the digital arena. For example, she is launching a technology-forward text QR code for a tobacco loyalty program.
  • Thomas also devotes her time and energy spearheading the company’s efforts in sponsoring, developing and running local community charities and initiatives.
TERESA VOELTER

Product Director, General Merchandise, HBW & Automotive; General Manager, Consumer Value Products Inc., McLane Co. Inc.

  • As a product director, Voelter is responsible for category growth and development, strategic initiatives and financial performance at a national level. She manages 10 teammates and $750 million in annual volume.
  • In her role as general manager of McLane’s Consumer Value Products, she oversees the development of private label brands and marketing strategies, and initiates actions to source, develop, market and launch new CVP brands and items.
  • Voelter is chair of the McLane Committee for the Future of Convenience, a member of the McLane Mentor Leadership Team, and a member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and Private Label Manufacturers Association.
PARKE WHITLEY

Lead Sales Analyst, Altria Group Distribution Co.

  • Whitley joined the Altria family in 2014 and assumed her current role after sales experiences in the Richmond and Charlottesville, Va., markets.
  • As a lead sales analyst, Whitley supports three chain and wholesale accounts with data analysis and operational strategies for Altria’s tobacco operating companies Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, John Middleton and Nu Mark.
  • According to her nominator, Whitley’s data analysis, execution plans and collaboration sessions have been outstanding, and her support has been instrumental.

RELATED TOPICS