N.J. Food Council honors 4 at annual Night of Distinction event

The New Jersey Food Council honored four of its best during its annual “Night of Distinction” reception earlier this month.

Gordon Reid (president, Stop & Shop), Kevin McDonnell (senior vice president, Price Rite Marketplace), Christine Curtis (SVP and general manager, Northeast Independents, C&S Wholesale Grocers) and Gus Lebiak (president and chief operating officer, Krasdale Foods) were honored as industry influencers in an event that drew more than 500 guests and prominent food industry executives.

“This event truly represents the `who’s who’ of the New Jersey grocery industry, as we come together, to celebrate and pay tribute to our industry leaders who have helped us strive to be the ‘best in class’ food trade association in the country,” event Chair Mike Biase of Mission Foods said.

“We celebrate four industry leaders, who have made a meaningful contribution to advance the mission of the Food Council, have achieved significant grocery industry success and have a history of civic service within the New Jersey food community.”

Here’s a look at the honorees:

  • Reid: He oversees Stop & Shop, a local brand of Ahold Delhaize USA. Founded in 1914, Stop & Shop now has more than 400 stores across the Northeast and employs nearly 60,000 associates. Reid previously served as president of Giant Food and lead the brand to the No. 1 market share position in its local markets.
  • McDonnell: He oversees 54 supermarkets in seven states. He is responsible for all aspects of Price Rite Marketplace, including sales and advertising programs, retail store operations, real estate and facilities management. McDonnell is a founder of Friends of the Food Industry, providing aid to people and their families in the food industry who have fallen on hard times. Since its beginning seven years ago, the nonprofit has raised more than $750,000, supporting more than 35 families.
  • Curtis: She is responsible for private brands, category management and retail services for all the C&S independent retail stores. In her role, she focuses on strategy, sales and customer satisfaction. Working with all corporate functions, she drives improvement in performance and profitability.
  • Lebiak: He runs a grocery distribution, merchandising and marketing services company that supports more than 300 store owners. He leads operations for the 114-year-old company, overseeing all departments, including its distribution facility in the Bronx and managing the company’s base of operations in the Greater New York area, the Northeast and Florida.

As part of the event, the NJFC graduated its sixth Leadership Development class, young professionals in the food industry who are considered the future leaders of tomorrow.

About the NJFC

The New Jersey Food Council is the Garden State’s preeminent trade association, representing almost 400 companies, including 1,200 retail food stores, wholesalers, manufacturing and service companies that collectively employ more than 200,000 associates in New Jersey.

“This Leadership Class learned firsthand how a pandemic can redirect our program, but still absorbed the value of its merits,” NJFC President Linda Doherty said. “Starting pre-pandemic, and to their credit, these young professionals managed to stay connected virtually and then safely during recent in-person sessions.

The graduates include: Perry Blatt of Village Supermarkets, Sean Bruno of Bimbo Bakeries, Nicole Burke of Stop & Shop, Kimberly Friel of Wakefern Food Corp., Caitlyn Gilligan of Kings Food Markets, Ben Murphy of Unilever and Nicole Scaduto of Food Circus Supermarkets.