NSA Uplifts Female Leadership with Women’s Forum 2024

Nearly 200 attendees gathered at the Women’s Forum 2024, organized by the National Association Supermarkets (NSA) in New York on Wednesday, March 6.

The event at the TWA hotel honored established and generational female leaders in the independently owned and operated supermarket industry.

The NSA uplifted the voices of women not only in the supermarket industry but across several industries through three panels focused on topics such as successful leadership, women in finance, and work-life balance.

Founded in 1989 by Hispanic entrepreneurs, the NSA represents independent supermarket owners in New York and other urban cities on the East Coast, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida. Most of its 600 members are of Hispanic descent, serving communities of color.

The event felt Latino, with Spanish present in networking moments and in the language chosen by some award-winning women and panelists to address the audience. Men, families, and some elected officials from New York City and New York State attended the Women’s Forum 2024.

What Happened at Women’s Forum 2024

“Women have always been an integral part of the independently owned and operated supermarket industry, and it is more important now than ever before to support and celebrate the women deeply involved in our industry,” said Seny Taveras, Executive Director of NSA, during the opening of the Women’s Forum 2024.

Hilda Esteves, News 12 New Jersey’s Meteorologist, was the master of ceremony. The vent included a keynote address from Marlene Cintron, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In addition, there were leaders awarded for their significant contributions to the advancement of women in a predominately male-lead industry.

Generational leaders:

  • Caroline Diplan, President and Owner of C-Town Supermarket
  • Miveri Colon, Chief Executive Administrator at A&E Supermarket Group
  • Jenny Jorge, Partner at Gala Foods
  • Dilenia Torres, Owner and Operator of Sedwick Supermarket

Industry leaders:

  • Lucia Tejeda, VP of Sales at Nebraskaland
  • Cynthia Ramos, Chief Sales Officer at Krasdale Foods

Predominately Male-Lead Industry

Even in the food and beverage industry, everyday phrases like “Behind a great man is a great woman” have changed to “Next to a great man is a great woman.”

Store and supermarket owners’ partners are no longer called “wives” because they are family businesses. They are “partners” because they are directly involved in the operation and management.

“Today, I can tell you that women in our industry represent more than 20%, which is a big number,” said William Rodriguez, an NSA’s Emeritus Executive Board member.

At the Women’s Forum, Caroline Diplan, president and owner of C-Town Supermarket, was awarded as a generational leader.

“This award means a lot to me because being honored in a male industry means that we are doing really good,” she said.

Equity and the pursuit of achieving all goals was also a theme at the Women’s Forum 2024 hosted by NSA.

“Obviously, we are at that point of feminism where we can do whatever we want. We have that power, that mentality and it’s important to remember that for ourselves because we are super, women are thriving,” said Limer Vieluf, Assistant General Plant Manager at Cibao Meat Products.

Related Article: Female Leadership

What Women Do About Guilt

Being a successful woman at work means sacrificing other roles in your life: family and friends.

When the focus shifts, the guilt they feel is as an employee.

“I decided that I don’t want to have a family or kids because I don’t have a support system,” said Luisa Collins, VP Director of News Content at TelevisaUnivision Inc. She is from Colombia, where her parents still live. She oversees about 60 journalists in the New York tri-state area, which includes parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“I feel guilty as a mother, employee, spouse, and friend. I have such an amazing network and a lot of people they keep me grounded. But am I making enough time for them?” said Mayra Linares, VP of Public Affairs and Communications at Liberty Coca-Cola.

The panelists reminded the audience that taking care of ourselves is important.

“You have to find the time and notice to take care of yourself. Because we are nurturers, we do so much to many people and become vulnerable. So, what you need to do is find space and time for you, so you can show up in a better version of yourself,” said Nallely de Jesus, NSA Former VP and owner operator of Food Universe Supermarket.