Last Friday, March 16 the top 100 female students of Esperanza Academy Charter High School were selected to hear from Judy Spires, CEO and Chairman of Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market as part of Esperanza’s ongoing Speaker Series. Mrs. Spires shared a presentation called “Living the Dream” with the students recalling how she began her career as a cashier at Acme Markets. Thirty years later, she leads 50 stores nationwide and over 10,000 employees.
Spires encouraged the students to pursue their passion relentlessly, whatever it happened to be and regardless of the obstacles. She recalled beginning her career and longing to be in a management role, even though none of the people in management looked like her.
“They were all men with white shirts and black ties and suits,” Spires said. “But I wanted in.”
Spires grew up in a household where there were not different gender-based expectations for her and her brothers; her parents wanted all of them to go to college and be well-educated. She attended La Salle University in Philadelphia.
When Spires initially voiced her desire to be in management to her father, he encouraged her to pursue her goal, even though it wasn’t a role that women usually performed.
“You have to have that one person in life who really believes in you,” Judy Spires.
Finally, she encouraged the young women of Esperanza to break gender barriers and pursue their dreams.
“Never feel intimidated, that the men should be at the table and should do this kind of work and you shouldn’t,” Spires told the students.