Smithfield Foods, Inc., has announced that Keira L. Lombardo, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, has been named as an honoree for The Manufacturing Institute's annual STEP Ahead Awards. The Manufacturing Institute launched the award program in 2012 as part of its efforts to promote the role of women in manufacturing through the STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead initiative. The award recognizes women for their positive impact on the industry through advocacy, mentorship, engagement, promotion and leadership.

According to The Manufacturing Institute, the non-profit arm of the National Association of Manufacturers, women constitute nearly half of the labor force, yet they make up just over a quarter of the manufacturing workforce. To improve upon this statistic, STEP Ahead engages industry leaders to advocate for the manufacturing industry, mentor young women interested in the field, promote personal development, and collaborate with one another to share ideas and best practices throughout the industry.

"I am grateful to be recognized among these accomplished women — an esteemed group of leaders in the manufacturing industry," said Lombardo. "With this recognition comes a shared responsibility, and I look forward to working with other STEP honorees and emerging leaders to continue mentoring and empowering the next generation of female manufacturing talent."

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The Manufacturing Institute selected Lombardo, in part, due to her dedication to sharing her skills and experiences with others through informal and structured mentoring programs. She is a regular lecturer at many Smithfield internal programs that help prepare employees who have management potential for greater levels of responsibility.

In her role with Smithfield Foods, Lombardo leads the company's communications, government-affairs, sustainability, employee-engagement and investor-relations efforts. Lombardo earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics from the Newark College of Arts and Sciences and a bachelor of science degree in finance from Rutgers Business School at Rutgers University.