Colorado Mesa University

The Maverick : Fall 2018

The Maverick magazine is a great way to stay in touch with current events at your alma mater, old classmates and the bright future of Colorado Mesa University.

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8 A s a point guard for the Mesa women's basketball team in the 1980s, Lori Raya (then Lori Smith) was responsible for moving the ball down the court and making sure her teammates were working in concert and getting in position to score. It was great practice for running a major grocery store chain. "I did a lot of coaching at work. There was a lot of teamwork involved," said Raya, who most recently was the president of the Southwest Division of Albertsons, Safeway and Vons, overseeing 20,000 employees in 196 stores in five states. Raya came to Mesa in 1984, majoring in business management, but quickly learned that she didn't enjoy that area of study. She switched majors to biology and sports science in hopes of becoming a high school biology teacher and basketball coach. After four years at Mesa, she returned to her family home in Denver where she intended to continue her education at Metro State College. To earn money for tuition, she took a job as a courtesy clerk at a Safeway store in Englewood. She bagged groceries, cleaned bathrooms and collected carts. She coached high school basketball on the side. And she got noticed. A manager at the Safeway store told Raya that, with her inquisitive nature and her willingness to do whatever was needed, she could move up in the Safeway hierarchy. Raya decided to stay at the store. She spent thirty-one years at the company and broke glass ceilings as she steadily climbed up through the executive positions. She said she has long relied on another lesson she learned off the court at Mesa; "that it's okay to fail." She learned that even if you don't succeed at first, you can go on to do great things. • LORI (SMITH) RAYA Hometown: Englewood, Colorado Age: 52 Profession: Retail grocery executive Most memorable book: Happiness Advantage and True North Favorite places visited: Belize; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Sedona, Arizona Hobbies: golf, travel and Polaris adventures Favorite CMU professors: Karen Perrin, Bob Cortese and Byron Wiehe Accomplishments: • Division president for Albertsons, Safeway and Vons • First and only female president of Vons supermarket chain in southern California in its 112-year history • Named seven times to Top Women in Grocery by Progressive Grocer magazine • Named 2017 Progressive Grocer Trailblazer • 2017 California Conference for Equality and Justice Humanitarian Award recipient • Board member of Los Angeles Habitat for Humanity BLAZING HER OWN TRAIL Alumna learned lessons on and off the court that have served her well in corporate career By Nancy Lofholm

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