Two retail executives were honored for their leadership and service to the industry during the ongoing National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Total Store Expo in Denver.
Mike Podgurski, Rite Aid Corp.’s VP of pharmacy services, received the Harold W. Pratt Award—NACDS’ highest honor commemorating service to pharmacy named in honor of Walgreens’ and the industry’s first director of professional services. San Antonio-based H-E-B, meanwhile, was honored with the association’s Politically Engaged Pharmacy Award (PEP Award) for political engagement.
“Mike Podgurski’s dedication to the profession of pharmacy and to this great industry inspires us all,” said NACDS Chairman Mark Panzer, SVP of pharmacy, health and wellness for Albertsons Cos., when presenting the award. Hailing Podgurski as “a true leader who puts his words into action,” Panzer described Podgurski for being “highly effective in advancing pharmacy’s public policy priorities through his tireless activism,” as well as for his “passion for collaborating to advance pharmacy patient care.”
Joining Rite Aid in 1987, Podgurski has held a number of positions of increasing leadership at the Camp Hill, Pa.-based chain, including roles in pharmacy operations, pharmacy services, pharmacy development and government affairs, all of which enabled him to contribute extensively to both the company as well as the industry at large. Podgurski began his four-decade pharmacy career at West Virginia University School of Pharmacy. As a practicing pharmacist, he joined the former SupeRx Drugs Inc., and advanced from a registered pharmacist position to district manager.
Podgurski was also recognized earlier this year at the NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill for his commitment to grassroots advocacy, as exemplified by his engagement at every NACDS RxImpact Day over the past decade. In 2015, he was named honorary president by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and has participated in many industry committees and task forces.
H-E-B COO Martin Otto, who previously was chairman of NACDS, accepted the PEP Award on behalf of H-E-B, in recognition of the retailer’s exemplary leadership and participation in the NACDS Political Action Committee (NACDS-PAC).
Martin Otto, H-E-B’s COO (r), accepted NACDS's 2018 PEP Award from Chris Lane, EVP at Wakefern Food Corp.; Photograph courtesy of NACDS
“Under Martin’s leadership, H-E-B has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to advancing community pharmacy legislative priorities with lawmakers,” said NACDS Vice Chairman Chris Lane, EVP of Wakefern Food Corp., while presenting the award to Otto. “H-E-B has consistently displayed its support for NACDS-PAC and its role in our advocacy efforts."
The bipartisan NACDS-PAC supports federal congressional candidates who advance pro-patient and pro-pharmacy policies.
Former White House press secretary and noted political commentator Josh Earnest served as a guest speaker at the event.