Wakefern leaders earn PepsiCo, Women Grocers of America grants to attend annual career-building conference
Washington, D.C. – Employees of northeastern grocery cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. have been awarded scholarships to attend the Executive Leadership Development Program, hosted by the National Grocers Association Foundation, to be held June 4-8, 2023, at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
Edwin “Nino” Vazquez, district manager with Wakefern’s Price Rite Marketplace banner, is the recipient of this year’s PepsiCo Diversity in Leadership Scholarship. The ELDP is sponsored by PepsiCo.
Margarita “Maggie” Rivera, perishables manager with Ravitz Family Markets, has received the Women Grocers of America Scholarship. WGA operates under the NGA Foundation. Ravitz Family Markets operates five ShopRite banner stores in and around Cherry Hill, N.J.
Hired in 2009 as a full-time meat supervisor, Vasquez was promoted to night crew chief in 2010 and a CGO specialist in 2012. Not long after, he was promoted to store management as an assistant store manager, then store manager, as which he successfully ran several Price Rite stores for five years. In 2017, Vasquez was promoted to district manager, in charge of Price Rite’s Connecticut District; he has also run the Western Massachusetts District. Vasquez oversees up to 10 stores and more than 400 employees.
“With Nino’s diverse cultural background and his experience in culinary school, and cooking as a hobby, Nino has brought a positive influence to his district, which in turn has driven sales throughout his market,” said Jon Wiltrout, Price Rite HR director, who nominated Vasquez for the scholarship.
In fiscal year 2022, Vasquez was recognized for several notable achievements, including highest sales volume, highest bottom line, most productive district and lowest shrink.
Vasquez tapped his childhood experience learning about Hispanic cuisine through his father to look for new opportunities to serve customers of various backgrounds in his district. He was instrumental in expanding product lines to include ethnically diverse foods, which helped boost his district’s bottom line.
“PepsiCo is honored to recognize Nino Vazquez for his commitment to excellence in business as well as his community,” said Kent Montgomery, SVP of industry relations and multicultural development at PepsiCo. “We are proud to continue our partnership with the NGA Foundation by supporting the development of leadership for the success and continued growth of the grocery industry. Increasing diverse representation in the workplace and lifting up diverse communities are among PepsiCo’s most important priorities.”
Rivera started her career with Ravitz Family Markets in 2015 as a part-time overnight baker. She later accepted a full-time baker position and eventually became a full-time cake decorator. Joining the company’s management development program, Rivera soon became a bakery manager, volunteering to be a manager on duty while still running the bakery so that she could learn more about management.
After spending time as an evening manager, Rivera leveraged her knowledge of perishable merchandising to earn a promotion to her current position as a perishables manager, responsible for bakery, produce, deli, meat and seafood in one of the company’s highest volume stores.
“I have no doubt that Maggie will achieve her goal of becoming a store director for our company when the opportunity arises,” said Kenneth Brahl, senior director at Ravitz Family Markets, who nominated Rivera for the scholarship. “Her hard work and drive make her success possible. She is definitely a role model for women in our company as well as our Hispanic associates.”
In addition to her career achievements, Rivera recently volunteered to be a mentor to foster children through her company’s partnership with Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey. “We are thrilled to have her in our company and very happy that we can offer her the opportunity to be a successful businesswoman,” Brahl said.
Chelsea Matzen, NGA Foundation director, added, “We are thrilled to provide these rising stars of the industry an opportunity to nurture their career development. Their drive and determination exemplify the type of talent that make independent community grocers a success.”
Additional Media Resources
Click here to view Edwin “Nino” Vazquez’s headshot
About the ELDP
The NGA Foundation Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) is designed to develop and prepare leaders to face business challenges in the 21st-century marketplace. The conference is a high-impact learning opportunity encompassing intense, interactive instruction presented by a mix of respected academics and industry leaders. Reserved for employees of retailer and wholesaler members of NGA, the program is designed for current mid to upper-level executives with large spans of control and responsibilities that require delegation of tasks to others. These employees must be rising executives who are candidates for increased “people” and general management responsibilities.
About NGA Foundation
The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association. The Foundation provides independent retailers with tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers. For more information, visit www.ngafoundation.org.