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The new retailer and wholesaler NGA board members include executives from ShopRite, Todos Supermarket, Houchens Industries, Associated Grocers Inc., Merchants Distributors Inc. and KeHE Distributors.

National Grocers Association board of directors names new members

Six retail, wholesale executives join independent grocery trade group’s governing body

A half-dozen new grocery retail and wholesale members have joined the National Grocers Association (NGA) board of directors.

NGA said yesterday that new retailers elected to serve on the board for the 2021 term include Melissa Buonadonna-Hernandez, president of Buonadonna ShopRite, part of the Wakefern Food Corp. cooperative; Carlos Castro, president of independent grocer Todos Supermarket; and Jimmy Nichols, chief operations officer for multi-format retailer Houchens Industries.

The two new wholesalers elected to the board are Manard Lagasse, president and CEO of Associated Grocers Inc., and Michele Azar, president of Merchants Distributors Inc., a subsidiary of Alex Lee Inc. NGA said Scott Widtfelt, executive vice president of commercial, natural and independents at natural, organic and specialty grocery wholesaler KeHE Distributors, also was appointed to fill a vacancy.

Other new board elections include Robert Graybill, president and CEO of FMS Solutions; Rick Brindle, vice president of industry development at Mondelez International; Mike Ridenour, head of industry relations and sales operations for The Kraft Heinz Co.; and Kathy Kuzava, president of the Georgia Food Industry Association.

The newly elected members were recommended by the NGA board’s nominating committee and voted onto the board by its membership.


New NGA retail and wholesale board members, clockwise from top left: Melissa Buonadonna-Hernandez of Buonadonna ShopRite, Carlos Castro of Todos Supermarket, Jimmy Nichols of Houchens, Manard Lagasse of Associated Grocers, Michele Azar of Merchants Distributors and Scott Widtfelt of KeHE.


In addition, six board members have been re-elected, including Jennifer Bosma, co-owner of Harvest Market IGA; Neil Greenstein, owner of Brookdale ShopRite; David Bullard, president of Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co.; Winston Griffin, chairman and CEO of Laurel Grocery Co.; Lori Raya, chief merchandising and marketing officer at SpartanNash; and Joe Wolf, president of Alliance Retail Group.

“I’m pleased to welcome our newly elected members to the board of directors and thank them for their willingness to serve our organization. Being a representative for the membership of NGA is a great responsibility, and I know each of these members will provide valuable contributions and perspective that will help guide NGA as we approach our 40th anniversary,” Mike Stigers, NGA chairman and CEO of United Natural Foods Inc. subsidiary Cub Foods, said in a statement.

“I also want to extend my deep appreciation for our outgoing board members who have provided invaluable service to the membership, especially over the past year as our industry navigated the challenges of the COVID pandemic,” Stigers added. “Their contributions and leadership have ensured NGA is an effective advocate for its membership.” 

Outgoing NGA board members are Neal Berube, former CEO of Associated Food Stores; Michelle Hurd, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association; Roger Lowe Jr., CEO of Lowe’s Market; Bob McTeir, former president of Merchant Distributors Inc.; Richard Morgan, president of North State Grocery Inc.; Brian Moyer, CEO of Freshop; and Eligio Pena, owner and founder of Compare Foods.

“I’m grateful to our outgoing board of directors members who have volunteered countless hours away from their businesses to serve our association, particularly over the past year,” commented Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of NGA. “Their guidance and support have kept NGA on a strong path of growth and effective advocacy for independent grocers. I’m also looking forward to working with our newly elected board members, who represent a diverse cross section of the independent supermarket community. I know their unique perspective and leadership will be essential as we guide NGA into its 40th year of being the voice of the independent supermarket industry.”

The NGA Foundation Board of Regents also elected officers and members for its 2021-22 term. Kirk Clark, director of merchandising at Mitchell Grocery Corp., was named as chairman, while Dante Franceschelli, director of corporate development at C&S Wholesale Grocers, became vice chairman. The other officers elected were Kelli Schaefer-McSpiritt, director of advertising at Wakefern, as secretary and Robert Graybill of FMS Solutions as treasurer. Newly elected members are Heidi Huff, vice president of business partnerships at IGA Inc., and Thomas Gioielli, head of industry relations and customer development, at Unilever.

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