People on the Move: Altria Group Inc., Circana & DAS Cos. Inc.

Delek US Holdings, McLane, Reynolds American and more also made personnel changes and announcements.

NATIONAL REPORT — Retailers, wholesalers and suppliers in the convenience store industry are only as good as their management teams and employees. In this special roundup, Convenience Store News runs down the most recent executive changes at the top in the industry.

[Read more: People on the Move: ARKO Corp., Just Born Quality Confections & Marathon Petroleum Corp.]

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Altria Group Inc.

Altria Group Inc. has seen two major retirements this year.

In February, Jacinto J. Hernandez retired from service on the company's board of directors as of Feb. 23, though he will stay on as a strategic advisor under a five-year advisory services agreement.

Hernandez is founder and principal of Cummings Consulting & Management. He previously served as a partner and investment analyst for Capital Group and its subsidiary, Capital World Investors, after having spent 22 years covering a variety of industries, including U.S. tobacco.

Additionally, Murray R. Garnick, executive vice president general counsel at Altria, notified the company of his decision to retire effective April 1, 2024. 

A 40-year veteran in the legal services field, Garnick joined Altria Client Services (ALCS) in 2008 as senior vice president and associate general counsel after more than two decades representing Altria and its subsidiaries in litigation matters as a partner at the law firm of Arnold & Porter.

"Under Murray's guidance, we have successfully managed significant litigation challenges and established Altria as a leading advocate for tobacco harm reduction policies in the U.S.," said Billy Gifford, Altria CEO. "I am grateful for his many contributions, and I wish him the best in retirement."

Robert A. McCarter will take over from Garnick as of April. Currently, McCarter serves in Garnick's old role at ALCS, where he supervises the management of tobacco, health and other litigation. He joined Altria in 2015 following 18 years in private practice representing Altria in litigation matters.


Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group, beefed up its global commercial organization, which will now encompass Circana's global client verticals and solution groups. The company promoted Jeremy Allen from president of consumer packaged goods to the newly created role of chief commercial officer to oversee the organization's function.

The adjusted leadership of the commercial organization also includes:

In global client verticals:

  • Wei Lin Wong, who has held several leadership positions for Circana and its heritage companies' retail and strategy teams has taken over Allen's former positions as CPG president.
  • Joanne Sackett, formerly the head of Circana's beauty, sports, apparel, footwear, accessories and luxury verticals, has been appointed president, general merchandise.
  • Rob Hill, who served as Circana's president of retail for North America, has been named president, global retail.

In global solution groups:

  • Brad Shelton, formerly president of collaborative gateway solutions, has been named to the newly created role of president of retail and manufacturer collaboration.
  • Patty Altman, who previously served as executive vice president in consumer and shopper insights, has been named president of consumer and shopper insights and e-commerce.
  • Amy Marentic, who will continue to serve as president, media and analytics solutions.

These changes coincide with the plans of Tim Bush, Circana's current president of general merchandise, to retire by the end of 2024 after more than two decades of contributions to Circana and its heritage companies. 

Steve Birli headshot
Steve Birli, DAS Cos.

DAS Cos. Inc.

Marketing and supply chain portfolio company DAS Cos. Inc. promoted Steve Birli to the role of president at DAS.

Birli began his career at DAS as a warehouse associate nearly four decades ago, rising up through the ranks into his most recent position as vice president of sales.

"Steve has not only made remarkable strides for our company, but also has been a driving force behind our unparalleled success," said David Abel, DAS founder and CEO. "This promotion is a long-overdue recognition of Steve's lifelong dedication and invaluable contributions to our organization as he has embodied our core value of 'Servant Leadership.'"

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Melissa Trimmer headshot
Melissa Trimmer, Dawn Food Products

Dawn Food Products Inc.

Melissa Trimmer, corporate executive chef and director of the culinary and innovation studio at bakery manufacturer and ingredients distributor Dawn Food Products Inc., was honored with the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Pastry Chef of the Year Award 2022 by the Michigan Chefs de Cuisine chapter of ACF. 

The award recognized Trimmer's passion for the craft, accomplished reputation in the pastry field, and dedication to educating others by sharing skills and knowledge. 

Trimmer plans to continue to contribute to the culinary field and the professional development of other chefs. In March, she will serve as a judge for the Michigan state ProStart competition, an industry-backed culinary arts and restaurant management program for high school students, while in April, Trimmer will speak at the Women in Culinary Apprenticeship fundraising event hosted by the Detroit Institute of Gastronomy. The event aims to provide women interested in the culinary industry with opportunities to learn culinary arts through apprenticeship programs. 

In the summer, Trimmer will serve as a judge for a SkillsUSA competition in Atlanta and participate in the Growing Hope community garden event in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Delek US Holdings Inc.

The board of directors of Delek US Holdings Inc. appointed Christine Benson Schwartzstein to serve as an independent director. Following the appointment, the Delek board consists of 10 directors, eight of whom are independent. 

[Read more: Delek US Announces Leadership Succession Plan]

Benson will subsequently stand for election at the company's 2024 annual meeting of stockholders on May 2. 

"The board is pleased to welcome Ms. Benson. Her experience in risk management, capital markets and green energies will provide us with instrumental insights," said Uzi Yemin, executive chairman of Delek US.

Benson has nearly 20 years of experience in natural resources risk management, capital markets and investing. She is currently a director of Apollo Infrastructure Co., as well as Talen Energy Corp. She previously served as a member of the senior advisory board of Orion Infrastructure Capital in 2023, after serving as a managing director and investment principal from 2021 to 2022. Before joining Orion, Benson spent 17 years in various roles at Goldman Sachs & Co. 

Derek Brodt headshot
Derek Brodt, Electrolux Professional Group

Electrolux Professional Group

Derek Brodt joined foodservice equipment manufacturer Electrolux Professional Group as the company's new director of customer care.

Brodt will be responsible for driving the long-term strategic vision and direction of Electrolux's branded service program, Essentia, and creating a seamless after-sale customer experience in support of the program's mission to elevate customer care through comprehensive maintenance.

Brodt joined the food service industry in 2015 after serving in the U.S. Army. After five years at Unified Brands as a production manager and business development manager, he most recently served as a business development manager for chains at Duke Manufacturing. He is currently studying to take his Certified Food Service Professional exam in 2024. 

McLane Co. Inc.

McLane Co. Inc. appointed Terry Levee the company's new senior director of food safety and quality assurance. He will be taking over from Sam Richardson, who plans to retire this month after 48 years with the company.

Levee brings more than 35 years of expertise in food safety, quality assurance and regulatory affairs to his new role, having most recently served as senior director of food safety and regulatory compliance for Giant Eagle. 

"Terry's appointment reinforces our continued focus on upholding the highest standards in food safety. We look forward to Terry's leadership carrying forward and further enhancing our food safety practices, ensuring our retail and restaurant partners receive the best-in-class service they have come to expect from McLane," said Larry Parsons, McLane's chief administrative officer.

Levee's appointment coincides with McLane promoting Mike Rose and Michelle Viverette to director, food safety and senior manager, food safety, respectively. 

Christy Canary-Garner and Valerie Mras headshots
From left: Christy Canary-Garner and Valerie Mras

Reynolds American Inc.

Reynolds American Inc., the BAT Group's U.S. subsidiary, promoted two senior leaders within its operating companies: Christy Canary-Garner, currently vice president of marketing, to senior vice president of marketing; and Valerie Mras, currently vice president of vapor marketing commercialization, to senior vice president of vapor.

[Read more: Reynolds American Named a 2024 Top Employer]

Canary-Garner will use her extensive experience in the combustibles brand portfolio and transformative new categories to lead R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s combustible portfolio, which will continue to invest into Reynolds' new category products. Canary-Garner began her career with the organization in 1992 as a territory manager with Brown & Williamson. She then held various leadership roles in brand marketing, consumer experience, human resources and regulatory engagement.  

Mras joined Reynolds in 2008 as a territory manager in trade marketing and during her 16-year tenure has held a number of leadership roles. In 2012, she joined the consumer marketing division, working across several brand marketing roles, including Camel, VUSE, Grizzly, Newport and Pall Mall. In 2020, she began an international assignment at BAT's headquarters in London as the head of new categories platform development, where she was instrumental in developing and executing the global product and pipeline strategy. In 2023, Valerie returned to the States to lead R.J. Reynolds' commercial business.

Tyler Cameron headshot
Tyler Cameron


Tyler Cameron, the former director of loyalty for MAPCO, joined Rovertown in the newly created position of head of strategy and analytics. 

Cameron will be responsible for spearheading the development of next-generation digital engagement analytics and reporting, with the goal of unlocking a deeper understanding of customer behavior for retailers.

He spent more than a decade at MAPCO, holding roles in category management and business intelligence. As director of loyalty, he helped transform the digital experience for customers at more than 300 locations with a guest segmentation-driven rewards approach, replacing a legacy one-size-fits-all program. He also launched the new MAPCO mobile app, which quickly grew to be one of the most engaging on the Rovertown platform, according to the company. 

This move follows the hire of several industry leaders, including Chris Patton, the former senior director of technical consulting at Punchh, who joined Rovertown as head of integrations and implementation in early January. Bill Bustin earlier joined the company as head of customer success after serving as marketing director of convenience retailer Dandy. Frank Beard, the former senior marketing manager at Standard AI, was also brought onboard as head of marketing.

Jacob Merrill and Norm Cross headshots
Jacob Merrill (L); Norm Cross (R)

Unique Snacks

Due to continued growth and momentum leading into 2024, family-operated Unique Snacks internally promoted two of its senior leaders.

Norm Cross was promoted to vice president, brand sales and marketing. In his new role, Cross will lead the continued growth of grocery chain ACV and direct store delivery distribution, along with Unique Snacks' expansion into c-store chains, club store accounts, drug stores and e-commerce.

Jacob Merrill was promoted to director of e-commerce to manage the brand's continued online growth. Merrill will manage all aspects of online sales, marketing, and fulfillment for the web store and expand the business's Amazon marketplace.

"We had a remarkable year, and our continued growth is due to the support of our loyal fans and the efforts of all of our dedicated employees," said Justin Spannuth, chief operating officer of Unique Snacks. "We're looking forward to an exciting 2024 and introducing innovations to meet our customer's interests for more flavor profiles, new high-quality snacks, and health-conscious snack options."

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