Meet the 2019 TWIC Rising Stars


NATIONAL REPORT — Convenience Store News will welcome 42 more female leaders into its Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) family this fall.

Now in its sixth 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, 17 Senior-Level Leaders, 15 Rising Stars and five Mentors to be inducted into the 2019 TWIC class.

This year's Rising Stars are: 

Tracey Brown

Customer Category Manager, Mondelēz International Inc. 

  • Brown has been with Mondelēz for 14 years and currently leads the confections category for Mondelēz's largest convenience customer, 7-Eleven. Prior to working at Mondelēz, she worked at McLane Co. and Advantage Sales & Marketing.
  • Brown successfully manages Mondelēz's 7-Eleven confections category, which includes building long-term strategic plans with the retailer, creating and executing best-in-class scale events, and driving key initiatives. 
  • She was responsible for leading two of the largest c-store scale events at Mondelēz last year. The Sour Patch Kids Watermelon event aligned 7-Eleven and Slurpee to the Sour Patch Kids; and the Sour Patch Kids Zombie event included the launch of a 7-Eleven exclusive Sour Patch Kids Zombie package.

Breann Christiansen

District Manager, Maverik Inc.

  • Christiansen learned all aspects of operating a c-store in an intelligent and profitable way by working in many positions at Maverik. She has actively sought out opportunities to grow and improve her leadership skills.
  • She became a district manager eight years ago. In this role, she has direct responsibility for nine Maverik stores in northwest Wyoming. She has a hand in everything from human resources issues to loss prevention to the ongoing daily operations and profits of these locations.
  • Christiansen is known for her focus on people. By treating her team members well and leading by example, she has earned the admiration and respect of her peers, and is regarded as an extremely competent high performer.

Heather Clay

Category Manager, Cumberland Farms

  • Clay started out in the point-of-sale systems and pricebook department of Cumberland Farms 17 years ago, working her way up to manager, and then category manager nearly four years ago. She has demonstrated hard work, leadership and a knack for troubleshooting all along the way.
  • Her past work has been of critical benefit to the areas of IT, marketing, supply chain, finance and retail operations. Since becoming a category manager, she has made significant improvements to the consumer offering in her broad portfolio of categories, driving sales growth ahead of market trends in key categories.
  • According to her nominator, Clay has had an impressively broad scope of impact in a relatively short period of time. She’s been a nominee or winner of numerous internal awards at Cumberland Farms

Harvey Collins

Southeast Category Manager, Adult Beverage, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K

  • Collins oversees all aspects of the adult beverage category, including assortment, innovation, validations, marketing programs, implementing inventory guidelines, partnering with vendors, and working with the operation and store teams, for the entire Southeast Business Unit, which consists of more than 420 stores and nearly 50 franchise relationships.
  • Some of her notable achievements include: leading the creation of beer inventory guidelines; implementing an updated version of inventory maintenance control form; and phasing in a product ranking system to optimize assortment during spring beer validations. Collins also completed the Leadership Program within Circle K and is establishing the Circle K Women's Council Chapter for the Southeast Business Unit.
  • According to her nominator, Collins is one of the most creative and outstanding performers to ever be part of the division team.

Michelle Doyle

Project Manager, ExtraMile Convenience Stores

  • Doyle brings 30 years of petroleum, restaurant and retail industry experience to her current role, in which she manages site development for all northwestern states. She’s leveraged her extensive development experience to influence ExtraMile's new image production and application. 
  • As a team member, Doyle is known for fostering an environment that encourages exchange of ideas, best practices and developing process efficiencies.
  • In today's competitive retail convenience environment, Doyle's business acumen and focus on delivering a quality product make her an invaluable asset to the fast-growing ExtraMile franchise, according to her nominator.

Katie Duncan

Director, U.S. Convenience, Southeast, The Hershey Co.

  • Duncan is responsible for more than $120 million in revenue in the Southeast. Her responsibilities include hiring, training and developing sales executives, with dotted-line responsibilities that include finance, shopper marketing, customer development, category insights and retail.
  • She has held a variety of leadership roles over her 13 years with Hershey, as well as with organizations such as the Network of Executive Women, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Hershey Mentor Program.
  • According to her nominator, Duncan has not only delivered results for the organization, but she has also delivered significant talent to the organization through her exemplary coaching methods.

Nancy Gallardo

Category Buyer, Snacks, 7-Eleven Inc.

  • Gallardo joined 7-Eleven as a field consultant/district manager in the San Francisco Bay area, holding numerous positions in operations, operations support and fresh food before moving to Texas to be a center-of-store merchandiser.
  • She is a proven success at helping stores improve their sales performance and infrastructure, according to her nominator. 
  • In her current role as category manager for nutritional bars, alternative snacks and salty snacks, Gallardo manages more than $100 million in business and, in 2018, she launched a better-for-you snacks program. She credits her success to the great collaborative team environment at 7-Eleven.

Lisa Ham

Senior Category Manager, Beer & Center Store, Yesway

  • After just two years in the industry, Ham has made her mark at Yesway. She successfully launched computer-generated ordering on cigarettes and pricing strategies in multiple states, leading to consistent growth that outpaced the market. Additionally, in the center store, she launched multiple new brands, better-for-you planogram designs and optimized SKU rationalization in a company where no two footprints are alike.
  • More recently, Ham has taken on the beer category, overseeing new resets that incorporate innovation, launching loyalty offers and maximizing center-store fuel offers that have led Yesway's sales growth for 2019.
  • According to her nominator, Ham excels in data analytics, has achieved consistent sales increases in all of her categories year over year, and has been recognized internally as a strong leader.

Dena Hawkins

Senior Account Executive, Convenience Channel Leader, Procter & Gamble

  • As leader of Procter & Gamble's (P&G) convenience channel business, Hawkins develops joint business plans and creates strong, trusting relationships with customers to meet or exceed volume, share and ROI objectives, and deliver North American Sales Team objectives.
  • In her first year as convenience channel leader, the 15-year P&G veteran led her team to exceed its objectives by 4 percent, and her team is on track to exceed its objectives again this fiscal year by 12 percent.
  • She assumes nothing and constantly looks for game-changing ideas and approaches. For example, Hawkins led the development of a plan with one of P&G's top brands, which grew distribution 31 percent in the convenience channel.

Amy Hobson

Texas Category Manager, Snacks & Candy, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K

  • Hobson's primary responsibility is the Texas Business Unit, but she also serves on the Snacks National Committee and serves as a resource for global procurement.
  • She developed a new-to-industry remerchandising store layout in less than four weeks, implementing it into 140-plus stores within four months after CST Brands Inc. merged with Circle K, and achieved positive sales results in all snack segments.
  • While serving as category manager at CST Brands, Hobson helped rebrand the company's private label snack line.

Dawn Letson

Category Manager, Snacks & Edible Grocery, McLane Co. Inc.

  • Letson's sphere of influence ranges from category stewardship to brand advancement. She engages directly with customers and suppliers at all levels and delivers insights on her categories with national relevance. She is responsible for providing in-depth category insights and nationally recommended planograms for her categories. 
  • Letson was instrumental in the development of McLane's Virtual Trade Show, an Internet-based trade show that enables retailers to access special offers from leading manufacturers, taking it from infancy to a multimillion-dollar sales tool.
  • Prior to taking on the snacks and grocery categories, Letson led the McLane Center for Category Innovation team, where she managed MPulse, the company's premier c-store database and information source.

Mary Mamalakis

Senior Category Manager, Packaged Beverages, General Merchandise & Services, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. 

  • Mamalakis manages a team of four who work to source products, determine in-store merchandising, and set pricing and promotion strategies for all alcoholic and non-alcoholic packaged beverages. She is responsible for the management of 100 vendors, 70 distributors and four private label brands for RaceTrac. 
  • She has been involved in LEAD, the company's grassroots women's initiative that strives to link, empower, achieve and develop its female employees and get real about the issues facing women in the industry.
  • In 2017, RaceTrac was named Convenience Store News' inaugural Beverage Leader of the Year due in part to Mamalakis' leadership of the packaged beverages category.

Holly McKown

Customer Development Manager, Convenience Retail, Coca-Cola Consolidated

  • McKown has 26 years of convenience retail experience with Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Refreshments, The Coca-Cola Co. and Coca-Cola Consolidated, working with corporate chain customers spanning the Northeast region. Her primary responsibilities include customer business planning combined with budget development evaluation and execution.
  • She successfully led her largest convenience retail corporate customer to positive sales dollar results for 2017 and 2018, even though the Maryland market convenience retail unit faced dollar declines.
  • She began her career with Coca-Cola Enterprises in 1992 during the transitional phase from conventional to advanced sales, quickly becoming the second female in Coca-Cola Enterprises to be promoted to an advanced sales account manager position.

Christine Vondran

National Account Manager, Convenience, BIC Consumer Products USA

  • In addition to managing the largest customers in the convenience channel, Vondran is responsible for national-level customers' sales, profitability and market share for BIC Consumer Products USA.
  • According to her nominator, she is a leader at BIC, guiding, coaching and directing customer teams to grow and develop customer business.
  • Vondran earned the BIC Top Achiever Award for excellence in sales and customer management, the 2016 Sales Manager of the Year award, and Chairman's Award for her work in developing a point-of-sale analytics tool utilized by the sales team. 

Laura White

Category Manager, Cigarettes, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.

  • White is responsible for the overall strategy, budgets, product assortment, merchandising, negotiation of manufacturer contracts, and category profitability across five states. 
  • White led a companywide initiative at RaceTrac to redesign backbar merchandising in order to optimize total tobacco category space to sales.
  • White plans and leads quarterly roadshows with operational teams by market to educate on upcoming strategy plans. She also serves on the board of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets.

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