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Dwaine Stevens champions Publix’s mission to be part of the fabric of the community

Dwaine Stevens, director of community relations, Publix (Photo courtesy of Publix)

Dwaine Stevens is passionate about his job. As director of community relations for Publix Super Markets, it’s his responsibility to communicate the company’s message to both associates and customers.

When it comes to customer service and philanthropy, Stevens and his team are socially responsible in all of Publix’s seven markets: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. “We are committed to ensuring these two main points go out daily,” he said.

In his role, Stevens, who has worked for Publix for 41 years, manages five divisional offices where each manager is focused on the mission of making Publix not only a great grocer but also an excellent community partner.

Stevens took time to speak with rolling out about some of the company’s community involvement initiatives.

Is community relations one of Publix’s cornerstones?
Absolutely. It goes back to the very beginning of our founder, George W. Jenkins. When he opened his first store in 1930 in Winter Haven, Florida, he knew that he needed to do more than just open a grocery store; he needed to be connected to the fabric of his local community. And we continue to embrace his legacy today by sharing that vision.

What type of community-related initiatives does Publix focus on?
As a food retailer, it’s our responsibility and privilege to alleviate hunger in the communities in which we live and work. In collaboration with Feeding America, our retail associates gather wholesome foods that are unsalable, and donate them to member food banks. Since 2011, we have donated more than 483 million pounds of food, equaling more than 403 million meals to those in need. In addition, Publix Super Markets Charities donates dollars on an annual basis to organizations that collaborate with us in the seven states where Publix operates.

How important is diversity inclusion?
At Publix, we appreciate the rich variety of experiences and perspectives across the diverse communities and cultures in the Southeast. We champion diversity and inclusion because they make us a better company and create a better experience for our associates and customers. We believe that diversity comes in many forms, including the ways we think, where we’re from, experiences we’ve had and what we believe. To ensure we represent true diversity within our walls, we seek and hire talent from a variety of backgrounds, abilities, and ethnicities and work hard to create a welcoming environment for all.

Can you give any examples of how Publix demonstrates a family-like environment?
There was an immediate connection with my daughter Darian and her store manager, Rick Henning, Publix #128. In 2008 when the country was going through a downturn, Darian was working at one of our stores and noticed a lot of her classmates’ parents were losing their jobs, and that touched her. So, she wrote a letter to her store manager and said, “Hey, I don’t really need this job, but my friends’ parents might need a job.” To this day, Rick has that letter in his office inside the store.

My daughter even invited Rick to her wedding back in June 2018, and although he was unable to attend due to the birth of his first grandchild, he still sent her a beautifully written card and gift. It’s the people and the Publix Family that are endearing and special.

Name three business leaders in the industry who inspire you.
Publix People always inspire me. Three Publix leaders were George W. Jenkins, Mark Hollis and Earnestine Ty.

I was 17 years old when I started working in our corporate headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. Mr. George, our founder, inspired me based on [his] spiritual and foundational principles.
Former president Mark Hollis was also very influential. He, just like Mr. George, took the time to talk and made me feel connected. That was impressionable for me. And when I was about 20 years old, I started in the accounting department, and Ms. Earnestine Ty nurtured me.

What is your favorite Publix deli food?
PubSub – Philly cheesesteak sandwich.

What is your favorite Publix guilty pleasure?
Publix Bakery Chantilly Cake.