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People on the Move: Global Partners, Mirabito, NACS & Zippin

Melissa Kress
Guy Zehner joins Mirabito Convenience Stores as foodservice director.
Guy Zehner joins Mirabito Convenience Stores as foodservice director.

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. 

Altria Group Inc.

Ellen R. Strahlman joined Altria Group Inc.'s board of directors on Nov. 2. She is a member of the Finance and Innovation committees.

Strahlman served as executive vice president, Research & Development, and chief medical officer of Becton, Dickinson and Co. from April 2013 until her retirement in January 2018. Before joining Becton Dickinson and Co., she served as a senior advisor to the CEO at GlaxoSmithKline from April 2012 through March 2013, after previously serving as the senior vice president and chief medical officer from April 2008 through March 2012.

Prior to 2008, Strahlman held senior executive leadership roles in global product development and commercialization, medical affairs and business development at leading pharmaceutical and medical technology companies including Pfizer Inc., Novartis AG, Virogen Limited, Bausch & Lomb Inc. and Merck & Co. Inc. She currently serves as a director of Syncona Limited and previously served as a director of Syncona Partners LLC.

Essentia Water

Essentia Water made several key promotions within its senior leadership team this fall. The company promoted Zola Kane to chief marketing officer; Kazumi Mechling to senior vice president of corporate communications and strategic alliances; and James Konsmo to senior vice president of operations.

The promotions establish the first two women of color, Zola Kane and Kazumi Mechling, as members of Essentia's senior leadership team. They also follow CEO Scott Miller's first 100 days at the company, where he has shared his philosophy of galvanizing a workplace culture of empowerment.


Financial Information Technologies LLC (Fintech) appointed Amit Aghara to the position of chief technology officer (CTO). Before joining Fintech, Aghara gained more than 20 years of experience at two successful technology startups, and Kony, as well as at IBM.

In his most recent position as CTO and general manager of Solutions Group with, Aghara effectively led the creation and implementation of a market-leading virtual assistant platform that contributed to significant company growth. During his time with Kony and IBM, he was responsible for the development of successful mobile application platforms and customer analytics frameworks.

Additionally, throughout his career, Aghara has filed five patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Global Partners

Global Partners LP appointed Robert W. Owens to the board of directors of its general partner, Global GP LLC.

Owens was appointed CEO of Sunoco LP upon the company's sale to Energy Transfer Partners LP in 2012. He helped grow Sunoco through a series of strategic transactions, including the acquisition of Susser Holdings Corpo. He joined Sunoco in 1997 and was responsible for the company's branded business. Additional areas of responsibility were added over time, including supply and trading of crude and refined products, biofuels manufacturing and marketing, and petrochemicals.

During his tenure, the company added renewable fuels, compressed natural gas, and electric charging stations at strategic retail outlets.

Prior to Sunoco, he served in executive roles for Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corp., Amerada Hess Corp. and Mobil Oil Corp.

Keurig Dr Pepper Inc.

Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. (KDP) announced several to its executive leadership team this fall. The following executive leadership changes result in broadened operating roles and were effective on Nov. 1:

  • Fernando Cortes, chief supply chain officer: In addition to his supply chain responsibilities, Cortes will assume leadership and oversight for the beverage concentrate manufacturing operations under development in Ireland.
  • Ozan Dokmecioglu, chief financial officer and president, International: In addition to his finance and IT responsibilities, Dokmecioglu will assume leadership for the Canadian and Mexican markets.
  • Derek Hopkins, president, Cold Beverages: In his new role, Hopkins, who was chief commercial officer, will assume expanded responsibility for KDP's portfolio of cold beverages, including brand marketing and innovation, all elements of KDP's broad distribution network, customer management across KDP brands and channels and all commercial functions.
  • Mauricio Leyva, president, Coffee: In his new role, Leyva, who was president, International and Business Development, will lead KDP's coffee and appliance portfolios, including brewer design, engineering and supply chain, marketing and innovation for the Keurig brand and the company's portfolio of owned and licensed coffee brands, the away from home business and KDP's industry-leading e-commerce platform.
  • Andrew Springate, chief marketing and concentrate officer: In addition to his responsibilities as chief marketing officer, Springate will assume leadership for the beverage concentrate business, reporting to Hopkins.

In addition, Jim Trebilcock, chief beverage concentrate officer with responsibility for the company's independent bottling network and concentrate business, is retiring at the end of 2020, and Andrew Loucks, president of Keurig Appliances, is leaving the company at year-end after supporting the transition to the new organizational structure. 

Mars Wrigley

Julia M. Brown joined Mars Wrigley as chief procurement officer. She comes to Mars Wrigley most directly from Carnival Corp. & plc where she spent the last five years as chief procurement officer overseeing global strategic sourcing and supply chain.

She brings with her nearly 30 years of experience in the consumer products and hospitality industry. Previously, Brown was chief procurement officer for Mondelēz, Kraft Foods and Clorox. In addition, she has prior experience at Procter & Gamble, Diageo and Gillette.

Mirabito Convenience Stores

Mirabito Convenience Stores hired Guy Zehner as the foodservice director. In his role, Zehner will focus his efforts on Mirabito’s foodservice business including its proprietary brand and franchises within its c-stores, including Subway and Krispy Krunchy Chicken. 

Most recently, Zehner worked for Maines Paper & Food Service where he was vice president of sales and marketing. Prior to that, he was a corporate executive chef and chef owner. He also hosted the PBS cooking show "Great Chefs of The Northeast."


The anti-human tracking organization In Our Backyard (IOB) named Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives at NACS, as its 2020 Hero of the Year. The Hero of the Year recognizes grassroots heroes whose exemplary efforts positively impact society in the fight against human trafficking.

IOB has created several industry-specific initiatives to address human trafficking, including Convenience Stores Against Trafficking, which provides the only industry-specific training and materials to equip convenience stores to take a stand against human trafficking.

"U.S. convenience stores serve 165 million customers a day in every community, and most of these businesses are open 24/7. Our industry is well equipped to share important messages in stores so that employees and customers can collectively create the equivalent of a neighborhood watch program in their communities. We are proud to work with CSAT on this important issue and grateful for this award recognizing all of the heroes in our industry who serve their communities," Lenard said.

Convenience Store News featured the explored how c-stores and truck stops are leading the battle against human trafficking in the United States in its "On the Front Line" series in September 2019 issue. The coverage won first place in the 2020 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Awards for Best Series of Articles. 


Zippin hired veteran retail executive Vivek Malik as senior vice president of store systems. In his new role, he will oversee all aspects of technical systems inside customers' stores, including Zippin's proprietary blend of cameras and shelf sensors. He will also be responsible for shopper and retailers' in-store experience.  

Malik brings nearly 20 years of experience working in the technology and retail industries to the Zippin leadership team. He is formerly the senior director of infrastructure and store IT at 7-Eleven Inc. Prior to his role at 7-Eleven, Malik most notably was director, Tax Technology & Operations, at Thomson Reuters, and director, Garage Innovation Hub, at Capital One.

About the Author

Melissa Kress

Melissa Kress

Melissa Kress is Executive Editor of Convenience Store News. She joined the brand in 2010. Melissa handles much of CSNews' hard news coverage, such as mergers and acquisitions and company financial reports, and the technology beat. She is also one of the industry's leading media experts on the tobacco category.

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