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WGA Thrives At NGA Show

Kathy Sweidel-Caton, president of WGA and VP of customer services at Gerland’s, presents WGA’s Woman of the Year Award to IGA’s Barbara Wiest at the NGA Show.

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 10:27 am

by Aileen Munster/VP of Education & Research, National Grocers Association

The Women Grocers of America (WGA) showed off their pride and spirit in a number of different events at this year’s NGA Show. Furthering its mission to develop the next generation of industry leaders, with an emphasis on young women, WGA once again organized its annual 5K Fun Run/Walk, awarded the prestigious Woman of the Year Award and hosted the highest-rated session at The NGA Show.

The WGA 5K Fun Run/Walk, sponsored by Kellogg Co., continued to gain momentum with more than 200 runners this year. The third annual 5K Fun Run/Walk once again raised proceeds to support the Mary Macey Scholarship Program, which awards scholarships to college students planning a career in the grocery industry.

WGA was excited to present the Woman of the Year Award (WOTYA) to Barbara Wiest, VP of administration and communication for IGA Inc. The WOTYA is given to a recipient who exemplifies the true characteristics of a leader with passion for the independent grocery industry. Barbara began her career in the grocery industry 33 years ago, at a time when women had very little opportunity for working their way up the ladder.

Participants prepare for the 5K Fun Run/Walk sponsored by the WGA at the NGA Show.

Throughout her career, Barbara has proven herself a diligent taskmaster, willing to take on any job. Praised for her very visible role in IGA events and marketing, Mark Batenic, president and CEO of IGA USA, called Barbara a pioneer in this industry for having a key role in inspiring women to be more active and involved in the grocery community. Leading by example through her own work ethic, Barbara encouraged women to become more involved in the businesses they owned with their husbands, and has had an impact on IGA’s retail family.

Additionally, WGA held an educational session entitled “Diversity Means Business,” which explored the positive impact on a company’s performance when women are active leaders in the organization. Led by Joan Toth, president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women (NEW), panelists Lisa Walsh, SVP-PepsiCo Sales, Alison Castillo, director of industry relations and sustainable living for Unilever, and Janel Haugarth, president of independent business for Supervalu Inc., discussed the importance of providing a sense of purpose, community and balance for both women and Millennials and how the independent supermarket industry is well positioned to meet the needs of these specific demographics in the workforce.

WGA is working to not only advance women in the independent food sector, but to ensure long-term prosperity for the industry as a whole for generations to come. For more information on how to support the WGA mission and your fellow women in the independent grocery industry, visit nationalgrocers.org/WGA.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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