I earned a B.A. from Furman University in 1977, graduating magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. By taking out student loans I was able to continue my education, and I earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1985. I serve on the boards of American University, Furman University, the Baker Retail Center at Wharton, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Atlantic Council, Suburban Hospital, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, and the Wharton Graduate Board.
Starting with one store, I built my company Total Wine & More, the largest private wine retailer in the United States. We have 6,000 employees nationwide, 600 of whom are based at our headquarters in Bethesda. The key to our success is investing in our employees. That’s why we pay higher wages and benefits than our competitors. In most retail, 25% of employees are full-time and receive benefits while 75% are part-time and do not. In my business, it’s the opposite. 75% of our employees are full-time and get full benefits, which include retirement, PTO, and medical insurance. Total Wine & More invests in our employees by paying for them to earn their GEDs and has a pilot program with the University of Maryland that offers a four-year college degree paid for by the company. As and one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the retail industry. We pride ourselves on being a socially responsible employer. In 2002, a decade before Maryland legalized same-sex marriage, we offered partner benefits to same-sex couples. We have banned the box asking about criminal convictions on employment forms and hired over 100 returning citizens. We’re working with the ACLU to encourage others to follow our lead. Total Wine & More also gives back to the communities we’re in. We’ve given to over 7,000 local charities including food banks, women’s shelters, organizations that support people with Autism, the Make a Wish Foundation, Boys and Girls’ Clubs, and others that play major roles in people’s lives.