Women Grocers of America’s Emerging Leaders Share Group Premieres in Chicago

May 4, 2023

Chicago, IL  –  Women Grocers of America (WGA), operating as a professional development network supported by the National Grocers Association Foundation, launched its new emerging leaders share group, setting the stage for the second meeting of the growing Executive Female Leadership Network (EXFL), held this week in Chicago.

The first gathering of the Emerging Female Leaders (EFL) share group attracted 13 participants for two days of education, team building and networking, May 1-2 at the Hotel Chicago Downtown, Autograph Collection. This share group is open to any female leader with the support of a nominator from their company. These individuals have demonstrated high performance potential and are expected to continue to impact the industry in the future.

The inaugural meeting of this group was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, The Kellogg Co. and The Kraft Heinz Company.

“I am truly impressed by the talent and enthusiasm of the grocery industry’s next generation of women leaders,” said Kristin Popp, WGA president and executive vice president of Wisconsin-based Woodman’s Food Markets. “Career development is essential to the future of the grocery industry and WGA is dedicated to building up female leaders to take on whatever challenges lie ahead.”

Industry experts led sessions on topics including goal setting, mentoring and achieving work-life balance. The meeting also included an executive panel discussion, an update of industry issues and a store tour of Potash Markets in downtown Chicago.

Speakers included Alyssa Ziegler with grocery app platform Upside; Haley Sammis, account management team lead at Rosie; author and entrepreneur Rachael Melot; Caroline Catoe, president of POS solutions provider ECRS; Kathy Kuzava, president of the Georgia Food Industry Association; and Amy Niemetscheck, president and CEO of grocery distributor Certco Inc.

Following the EFL kickoff, EXFL convened May 2-4 at the Hotel Chicago Downtown, attracting more than 40 participants for its second gathering since debuting last fall in Washington, D.C.

The Executive Female Leaders Network is an exclusive group open to individuals at the director level and above. EXFL members networked with EFL participants before taking on their own agenda that included workshop sessions on topics such as negotiation strategies and communication styles, along with small-group discussions on personal branding, cross-department collaboration, being female in a male-dominated industry, and other issues.

“We’re excited to see this week’s event building on the momentum of EXFL’s premiere meeting last fall,” said NGA Foundation Director Chelsea Matzen. “Hosting these meetings together allows for specialized networking between the groups and further expanding opportunities. This level of support for up-and-coming professionals is unique but important for career development.”

Speakers from the share group gathering joined additional presenters for EXFL sessions, including Heidi Huff, senior vice president of consumer engagement at Alliance Retail Group; Diane Kavalhuna, director of team sales for The Kellogg Co.; Meagan Nelson, senior director of retail and distributor growth, and Stacey Grunewald, director of learning and development, SPINS; Kryssa (Anderson) Byron: senior engagement manager, and Daniel Duty, CEO, Conlego; Tarsha Rafferty, vice president of corporate distribution at Associated Wholesale Grocers; and Donna Zambo, vice president and chief marketing officer at Allegiance Retail Services LLC.

“The future of our industry is here, and NGA is ready to help the next generation of leaders to move it forward,” said NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara, who delivered updates on industry issues for both groups this week. “We are honored to help nurture this great pool of talent to meet whatever the future has in store for independent grocers.”

Designed for female leaders within the independent grocery industry, EXFL is a professional community that allows members to reach their fullest career potential while supporting both personal and business growth. Membership is available to women in retail, wholesale, supplier, manufacturer and vendor companies. The group meets in person to solve problems, openly swap ideas, share experiences and much more.

This meeting was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company; The Kellogg Co.; The Kraft Heinz Company; Rosie, an Instacart Company; and Upside.

Further information can be found at https://www.nationalgrocers.org/foundation/women-grocers-of-america/exfl/.

About NGA

NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale community grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating more than $250 billion in sales, 1.1 million jobs, $39 billion in wages and $36 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers located in every congressional district across the country, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit www.nationalgrocers.org.

About the 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.

About WGA

Operating under the NGA Foundation, Women Grocers of America is a professional development network for women that aims to inspire and empower women of the independent grocery industry through personal and professional development, cultivating connections and highlighting accomplishments and achievements.