“The Heart of Associated,” is presented to a team member whose commitment, exceptional leadership and compassionate heart embody the core mission of Associated Food Stores – enriching lives, one grocer, one family, one meal at a time. Recipients of “The Heart of AFS” award shine as beacons of outstanding servant leadership within the Associated Food Stores’ system.   

Lezlie Sanders embarked on her journey with Associated Food Stores at a time when handwritten or typewriter-produced memorandums were the norm. Joining as a part-time microfiche clerk in accounts receivable in 1990, Lezlie meticulously scanned invoices and checks, demonstrating her commitment to mastering every aspect of her role.  

Through her dedication and diligence, she swiftly ascended to a role in the finance department, where she adeptly prepared loan documents. In 1995, Lezlie’s exceptional work ethic caught the attention of President and CEO Rich Parkinson, who personally selected her as corporate secretary. 

Lezlie’s nearly 36 years at Associated Food Stores are marked not only by her professional growth but also by her trusted leadership, amazing organizational skills and invaluable relationships with member owners and team members alike. Her dedication to excellence and her ability to foster strong connections within the organization have been instrumental in serving four CEOs and driving success and cohesion company wide. Lezlie’s commitment extends beyond mere responsibilities; it reflects her deep-seated passion for ensuring smooth operations and maintaining a harmonious work environment. As a beloved and deeply respected figure within the company, Lezlie continues to inspire those around her and is an ideal recipient of this prestigious recognition.