‘TOP WOMEN IN GROCERY’: Two DeCA leaders recognized among best, brightest female leaders in North American retail food industry
FORT LEE, Va. – Simone Blythe, store director at the Fort Eustis Commissary on Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, and Dawn Ballestracci, store manager at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, have been chosen by Progressive Grocer as “Top Women in Grocery for 2021.”
Since 2007, Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery has recognized the best and brightest female leaders in the North American retail food industry. This year, the Defense Commissary Agency’s Blythe and Ballestracci are two of 437 selected from over 1,000 nominees.
The winners demonstrate extraordinary achievement in leading innovative corporate initiatives, executing financial and/or strategic objectives, achieving exceptional performance benchmarks, problem-solving acumen and community outreach.
Honorees are recognized in one of three categories – Executive Level, Rising Stars and Store Managers. Blythe and Ballestracci are among only 78 winners chosen in the Store Manager category.
“I want to extend my congratulations to Simone and Dawn. It’s quite a prestigious honor for them and for DeCA, especially during this challenging year” said Bill Moore, DeCA director and CEO. “It shows their hard work and achievements are noticed, appreciated and valued by their peers in the grocery business.”
Blythe began her commissary career in 1999 as a supervisory sales store checker for the Neubrucke commissary in Germany. Her career is highlighted by a series of progressively responsible assignments in 14 different commissaries from Germany to Korea and throughout Virginia and Maryland.
Blythe served as the store director at the Fort Myer Commissary on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, from 2020 to 2021, when she was nominated for the Top Women in Grocery award. Blythe most recently accepted the position as Fort Eustis store director in May.
Beginning as a temporary hire at MCLB Barstow in 1988, Ballestracci embarked on a long career with DeCA, now at 33 years and going strong. While at Barstow, she saw an opportunity to gain leadership experience at Fort Irwin, California, where she eventually served as the front-end supervisor.
After several years at Irwin and with supervisory experience under her belt, Ballestracci returned to her beloved Barstow store, first as the grocery manager and ultimately, the store manager, where she and her team were chosen as the Best Small Commissary in 1997.
DeCA’s winners were recognized in the June print issue of Progressive Grocer magazine, as well as on progressivegrocer.com. The magazine will further honor the winners at a celebration to be held in Orlando, Florida, in November.
“Both women are mission-driven leaders who embody the leadership qualities that will move the Defense Commissary Agency forward – by effectively engaging with their communities, increasing operational efficiencies and mentoring future DeCA leaders, all while understanding the unique role we play in serving our military patrons,” said Moore.
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.