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WAFC’s Retail Management Certificate Program Marks Milestone


In reaching a milestone of 5,000 graduates from its Retail Management Certificate program, the Western Association of Food Chains was quick to credit leadership support.

“The WAFC wants to recognize our board members and Cherie Phipps, senior director of the Retail Management Program, for being the driving force behind the program,” said Pat Posey, chief operating officer of the WAFC.

Phipps, who started the program in 2001, is proud of where it stands today.

“Amassing 5,000 retail management graduates across the U.S. is quite a milestone,” she said. “The WAFC is grateful for the unwavering support of our food industry leaders and their dedicated HR teams, who use the RMC to grow future leaders in our industry.

“We also honor our community college partners who help us serve our students. Finally, we applaud the graduates for persevering through this robust eight-course program to achieve their education and career goals.”

Based in Lakewood, California, the nonprofit WAFC is the food industry’s hub for education. It supports workers with educational opportunities, one of which is the Retail Management Certificate.

Twenty-two years ago, the organization built the eight-course program in partnership with community colleges on the West Coast to help people in the industry acquire the skills and education needed to become future leaders.

According to WAFC, the intent was to support employees by building skills, fostering business acumen and giving them the confidence to continue beyond the certificate to an associate degree.

The courses are self-paced to accommodate a full-time worker’s schedule and do not require a high school diploma. Therefore, they are flexible for those wanting to learn and develop personally and professionally.

A recent survey by the organization found that more than 50 percent of graduates moved on to get a bachelor’s degree or higher. Over 80 percent of program graduates surveyed said the program correlates to a job promotion and/or salary progression.

“Supporting future leaders through education is our mission. Congratulations to all the graduates. And thank you to our donors who support our mission,” said Paul Gianetto, WAFC 2023-24 president and chairman, and SVP of sales and merchandising at Raley’s.

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