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Top Women in Convenience: Senior-Level Leaders

NATIONAL REPORT — The Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience program celebrates a diverse array of women — from retailer, supplier and wholesaler companies — making a positive impact in the convenience retail channel.

This year’s judging panel selected 22 senior-level leaders, five mentors, 18 rising stars, five store managers and three single-store owners to receive the esteemed title of Top Women in Convenience for 2015. Like last year, the panel also chose five nominees as the best of the best from among all the nominations and awarded them the title of Women of the Year.

Here are the 2015 honorees in the senior-level leaders category:

Treasurer, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc

  • Ahlert’s primary responsibilities include overseeing the company’s capital planning and funding, treasury operations, corporate cash and investments, and trade credit.
  • She was appointed to chair RaceTrac’s Finance Committee from 2010–2013, and was selected to represent RaceTrac on the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) board in 2013, holding an ongoing board member position.
  • She is a member of the Association of Finance Professionals, the Merchant Advisory Group and Fifth Third Bank’s Treasury Advisory Council.

General Manager/Owner-Operator, Allen Oil Co.

  • Armentrout is tasked with category management, store sets, marketing, foodservice development, system/technology implementation and inventory control for the company’s Quik Mart and More chain.
  • Armentrout and her husband started their careers in gasoline wholesale distribution as the owners and operators of Allen Oil and bought their first c-store 30 years ago.
  • One of her first foodservice initiatives was to introduce a homemade Stromboli to the seven-store chain as a unique item to draw in customers.

President, Global Customer Team, Coca-Cola North America

  • Boggs is president of the 7-Eleven Global Customer Team, Coca-Cola’s largest convenience retailer with 55,000 outlets in 16 countries.
  • She is an active member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, the Network of Executive Women and Women’s LINC at The Coca-Cola Co.
  • Outside of work, Boggs is a founding member of Ribbons of Hope, an Atlanta-based charity for women that identifies worthy causes related to women and families.

CVP-C-store National Accounts, Kraft Foods Group

  • As the leader of Kraft’s c-store national accounts team, Byrd is responsible for almost 60 percent of the company’s convenience store revenue.
  • She is credited with growing national account sales by two times the channel growth across Kraft’s portfolio of five retail business units and the foodservice unit.
  • Her professional involvement includes the Women at Kraft Employee Resource Group (ERG) and the NACS Supplier Membership Committee.

President, Simmons Corp

  • Canterbury is involved with future developed programs that will be offered to retailers of several different industry segments that sell and track fuel inventory.
  • Her previous role at Simmons was vice president of information technology, and she is a recognized authority in office and system automation.
  • She served as chairwoman for the NACS Standards – Device Integration Committee and chairwoman of the E-Commerce Committee for the NACS Supplier Board.

CEO, Chronister Oil Co.

  • As chief executive of the family business, she is responsible for the management of its Qik-n-EZ convenience stores in central Illinois.
  • Chronister serves on the board of directors of NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, and is chair of the NACS Show.
  • Before joining Chronister Oil, she was a partner in the law firm Kirkland & Ellis and a partner in a private equity firm.

Senior VP, Store Development, Kum & Go LC

  • Her primary focus at Kum & Go is to oversee all activities related to site selection, government approvals and construction of 20 new convenience stores annually.
  • She began her career with Kum & Go as an administrative assistant at 22 years old and rose to her current position in just 12 years.
  • DePhilips is a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), received her Six Sigma Greenbelt Certification and was honored as a “40 under 40” in 2014.

Senior Category Development Manager, General Mills Convenience

  • Fulford joined General Mills in 2003 and currently leads the category management team for General Mills Convenience. She is responsible for analyzing category data along with consumer insight research to identify how retailers can drive sales and profit throughout the store.
  • She has won several retailer awards including the 2014 Maverik Strategic Snacks Outfitter of the Year, the 2013 Kum & Go Strategic Partner, and the 2012 Circle K West Silver Award of Excellence.

VP, Marketing, Swisher International

  • Green leads marketing strategy and new product development for mass-market cigars, including all advertising, point-of-sale and field sales support programs.
  • She spearheaded the introduction of Swisher Sweets’ limited-edition cigarillos, the first time that limited-edition tastes have been developed for the Sweets brand.
  • Green is involved with the Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program, which is sponsored by Swisher Sweets. Celebrating 25 years in 2014, the program honors an outstanding farmer in 10 Southeast states.

Executive Director, Operations Support, CST Brands Inc.

  • Henderson is marking her 14th year at CST Brands, 12 of which were with Valero Energy Corp. She oversees the retail stores’ daily operations, as well as operations projects, new programs and new initiatives.
  • She became involved with the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) a year ago.
  • Henderson has 34 years of experience in the industry, previously holding positions with 7-Eleven Inc., a 7-Eleven licensee company and a privately held convenience store company in Texas.

Director, Convenience Channel, KIND Healthy Snacks

  • Hood joined KIND in 2012 to lead the company's growth expansion into the convenience channel. She oversaw the c-store business for the company’s Western division and works closely with c-store wholesalers such as McLane Co. Inc. and Core-Mark Holding Co., and retailers such as 7-Eleven Inc.
  • She helped KIND grow to 20 independent wholesalers and gain huge distribution all-commodity volume for the brand.
  • Hood recently left KIND and joined Wm. Bolthouse Farms as national sales director.
  • She is an advocate for adoption and an incoming board member for nonprofit adoption agency The Gladney Center. 

Director of Foodservice, Circle K

  • Peterson is responsible for the discovery of new product offerings, and directly negotiates and procures products and equipment from suppliers, vendors and other representatives for Circle K’s Arizona division.
  • She oversees 650 stores in her division, or 20 percent of the Circle K locations in the United States, and is responsible for monitoring and evaluating store performance. Previously, she served as a Circle K category manager for 10 years.
  • Peterson founded a nonprofit animal rescue and ran it as a founding director until 2008.

Director, Sales & Marketing, Insight Beverages Inc.

  • Porter is responsible for new business development in the convenience channel, and development and execution of company and channel marketing strategy.
  • She has more than 30 years of c-store industry experience in both retail operations and corporate office chain management.
  • Porter participates in numerous roundtables, advisory panels, the NACS Retailer Convention Committee – Content and the NACS Supplier Board Committee – Manpower.

VP, Quik Stop, C-stores/Small Format Division, The Kroger Co.

  • Riggs oversees operations, merchandising, fuel, facilities and real estate and is responsible for budget oversight, sales growth, EBITDA growth, new store growth, store conditions and associate development.
  • She won several awards for sales increases and store appearance during her time as a district advisor. As an executive team member at Loaf ‘N Jug, Riggs contributed to the banner’s success in earning the Kroger C-Stores Banner of the Year award for four years. She was promoted to her current position this year.

Customer Sales Executive, Northeast Convenience, The Hershey Co.

  • Ronan works in conjunction with c-store partners and internal Hershey teams to provide marketing and consumer insights, as well as develop sales and marketing plans to grow profitability.
  • She was instrumental in building a successful partnership between Hershey and Rutter’s Farm Stores, having helped develop Hershey’s participation in the launch of the Rutter’s Rewards program.
  • Ronan has been recognized as a top sales performer and honored for her commitment to partner success.

Founder & CEO, Locali Conscious Convenience

  • Rosen is involved in every facet of the business and has daily involvement in store operations that span menu development to staff training.
  • She served as the driving force that grew Locali from a simple neighborhood market to a thriving three-store chain. Rosen plans for Locali to begin national expansion via corporate-owned and franchised units in 2016.
  • As a small business consultant, Rosen advises local food artisan startups and woman-owned entities. She was named one of Los Angeles’ most influential businesswomen of 2010.

VP of Human Resources, Cumberland Farms

  • Russell is responsible for talent management, acquisition, benefits and engagement at Cumberland Farms, where she drives organizational change through strategic design, development and implementation of leadership, employee engagement, recruiting and training, and benefit initiatives.
  • She leads a team of 28 human resources professionals.
  • To enhance company leaders’ skills at engaging and motivating their teams, Russell designed and implemented a leadership development roadmap.

President, Stop’nGo of Medina

  • Shotwell has been involved with the family-owned c-store business since 1987 and has experience in store operations, training, acquisitions and marketing.
  • She is a past chair of the Ohio Association of Convenience Stores board and has served on the board for more than 20 years. She also served as a past chair for the National Convenience Store Advisory Group.
  • Awards presented to Shotwell include the Medina County Development Business Leader of the Year Award and the Medina Jaycees Distinguished Service Award.

VP of Operations, Tom Thumb, C-stores/Small Format Division, The Kroger Co.

  • Smith leads the operations team across four states and participates in planning, analysis and approval of capital projects.
  • She coordinates store openings, including startup support, merchandising, training, store sets, point-of-purchase and execution of all. Additionally, she participates in the site selection and remodel design processes.
  • Smith lists “shaping a culture laser-focused on both associate and customer engagement” as one of her most important missions.

Director of Sales, Convenience, Clif Bar & Co.

  • Thrift creates and executes the c-store strategy for Clif Bar and develops trade spend, customer event budgets and account-specific marketing plans.
  • Along with leading and mentoring a team that executes strategy through a national broker network, Thrift co-leads the sales team training task force that is responsible for the ongoing professional development of the entire sales team at Clif Bar.
  • She helped co-found Discover Y.O.U., a leadership skills development program for high-school students.

Chief Information Officer, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores

  • Webb is responsible for technology solutions that support the current business along with future growth.
  • She recruited and hired a team that is responsible for technology infrastructure, applications and support, and worked with other business teams to deliver new financial processes and reporting plus a mobile app for Love’s TireCare business.
  • She prioritizes collaboration, mentoring and empowerment to allow her team members to own their decisions and responsibilities.

VP of Human Resources, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.

  • Woodward leads RaceTrac’s human resources team in attracting and hiring top talent, assessing and developing current talent, and retaining and rewarding RaceTrac’s store support center and field team members.
  • She oversees approximately 100 team members.
  • Woodward is a founder of RaceTrac’s LEAD program, a women’s initiative designed to link, empower, achieve and develop future leaders, and is enrolled in a Women’s Leadership Program through the Kellogg School of Management.
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