Powering the Purpose

This award goes to the Ambassador or Ambassador team that have achieved all-around engagement at their organization, and participation by their organization in a majority of NextUp programs, events, conferences, Ambassador monthly calls, etc.


  • Example 1: YOY increase in NextUp DEI&B Learning and Development programming, including engagement from internal DEI Leaders.
  • Example 2: Collaborated with NextUp Learning and Development team to provide elevated learning opportunities within your organization through NextUp Ascend, Transform, Women in Tech Affinity Group or customized program.
  • Example 3: Implemented customized programming as an extension of the work they have done with NextUp which supports NextUp engagement and the overall mission.

2023 Winner

Altria is a gold-standard partner when it comes to all things NextUp and we are happy to recognize Ambassadors Holly White and Kelli Zwick for their exceptional work and dedication by awarding them with the Powering the Purpose Ambassador Award.  Altria has had a strong line of amazing Ambassadors providing leadership and direction to their NextUp members.  This past year, Holly and Kelli continued that legacy to Power the Purpose within Altria.

The highlights below demonstrate the outstanding contributions of the Altria NextUp Ambassador team. Kelli and Holly, along with the greater partnership team’s unwavering commitment to aligning with Altria’s Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (ID&E) goals has reinforced the symbiotic relationship between Altria and NextUp, creating a mutually beneficial collaboration. Their efforts have significantly enhanced engagement, increased diversity and inclusion, and elevated leadership support within the organization.

Highlights for Altria/NextUp 2023

Leveraging NextUp Opportunities – Participated in NextUp opportunities to engage other NextUp members/ambassadors outside of Altria:

  • Two additional Altria leaders, Ebony Peterson, and Michelle Ramirez, participated in the Advancing All Women Podcast. They shared their Rising Stars experience and provided insights on how to elevate the experience in their career journeys.
  •  The NextUp partnership team from Altria shared best practices during the March and May NextUp Lunch & Learn sessions with other ambassadors. In the March call, they discussed the team’s refined process for selecting participants for NextUp’s learning programs and how these programs contribute to meeting Altria’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (ID&E) goals. In May, they shared information on strategic planning, measurement, and internal findings sharing to increase executive support.
  • Michele Allen, VP Sales, has been invited as a guest speaker at the 2023 Executive Forum conference. She will share insights on being a disruptive leader who pushes beyond the status quo.
  • Altria maintains a continuous partnership with NextUp to align with the company’s Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and ID&E goals.

Broader Participation – Elevated awareness and implemented strategies to increase diversity and inclusion for women of color (WOC) within NextUp engagement:

  • Created an internal NextUp brochure that highlights the learning programs and showcases attendees’ advancements and demographics. This resource has facilitated long-term conversations around development, gaining support from executive leaders, and encouraging employees to participate in the right programs at the right time in their careers.
  • Expanded involvement with NextUp beyond AGDC Sales & Distribution and the Women in Sales Employee Resource Group (ERG), including other operating companies and ERGs. 

  • Increased the budget for personal learning and development programs. To date, 125 participants have attended major NextUp programs, representing a 140% increase in participation.

Enhanced Leadership Support – Elevated leadership support for selecting individuals for personal development programs and conferences:

  • The Altria NextUp Partnership team implemented a new evaluation process by surveying participants before and after attending the Launch and Soar programs. This proactive approach enabled the team to quantify the growth and development experienced by participants during these learning programs. Leveraging the survey data, the team was able to evaluate participants’ progress and identify those who showed exceptional growth and potential. Based on these evaluations, the team provided insightful recommendations to NextUp and their WSN leadership team regarding individuals who would benefit most from attending future learning programs, maximizing the program’s positive impact on participants.
  • Compared to the last all in-person Rising Stars event in 2019, there has been a 257% increase in participation, with 54 participants in person in 2023.
  • SOAR saw a 115% increase in participation, with 15 participants in 2023.
  • The new program Launch had 51 participants in 2023.
  • The team ensured executive attendance at the Executive Forum and Summit.  Coming Soon:  Implementation of membership fulfillment through different avenues, including an application process, to create an inclusive selection process.

Holly White
AGDC Sales Manager

Kelli L. Zwick
Lead Operations Specialist – Circle K

Previous Winners

2022 Recipients

  • Amber Epperson, Altria
  • Nicki Heitzler, Altria
  • Holly White, Altria
  • Nicole Wright, Acosta Group
  • Kelli Zwick, Altria

2021 Recipient

  • Nicole Henjum, General Mills
  • Jenni Skiba: General Mills

2020 Recipient

  • Morgan Millard, Mars Petcare
  • Kelly Nguyen, Mars Petcare

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