SMITHFIELD, Va. – Officials with the National Association of Manufacturers announced the appointment of Smithfield Foods Inc.’s Keira Lombardo as the 2019 chair of the Manufacturing Institute’s Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Awards. Lombardo, Smithfield’s executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance, will lead the STEP initiative in the upcoming year to provide more women with career opportunities in the manufacturing sector, according to Carolyn Lee, executive director of the Manufacturing Institute, Washington, DC.

“Keira is the right choice at the right time for a program that has never been more relevant to the workforce challenges facing our industry and our country,” Lee said. “As a manufacturing leader herself, Keira understands the importance of honoring women leaders in today’s manufacturing industry and inspiring more women to join tomorrow’s.  

The Manufacturing Institute also announced it will be hosting a reception to honor 130 women in the manufacturing sector on April 11. According to the organization, the STEP Ahead Awards program recognizes women whose successful careers serve to demonstrate their leadership and excellence throughout the manufacturing industry. Each recipient’s accomplishments will be highlighted as part of the program, which will be held at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.   

Among the recipients being honored is Andrea Tucker, operations manager with Smithfield. An 18-year veteran of Smithfield, Tucker was selected based largely on her success leading operations at the company’s Wilson, North Carolina plant.

According to Smithfield: “Tucker is an extraordinary leader among her female colleagues, managing a workforce of nearly 70 percent women. She is committed to the success of her fellow female Smithfield employees and positively impacts many women throughout the company and in her community through mentorship.” 

“Women are the single largest pool of untapped potential talent within the manufacturing industry,” Lombardo said, “and we must continue to do everything we can to promote gender diversity within this field. The STEP Ahead Awards program not only recognizes the incredible women in manufacturing who have an impact on the daily lives of people all over the world, it sends an incredibly powerful message to the next generation of female leaders that the manufacturing industry offers innovative and fulfilling careers in which women can thrive.”