Smithfield Foods, Inc. is pleased to announce that Jona Smith, vice president of IT applications services, received a 2021 STEP Ahead Honoree award from The Manufacturing Institute.

The institute, which is the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, seeks to build and inspire the next generation of female leaders in manufacturing—from the factory floor to the C-suite— through its STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Awards. The program annually recognizes outstanding accomplishments of women who are making significant contributions to the manufacturing industry and are demonstrating leadership in their companies and communities.

"It's an honor to be recognized by an initiative that is doing such impactful work to empower women in our industry," said Smith. "I'm proud to represent Smithfield and to advocate for women in technology. I can't name another industry with the amount of opportunity manufacturing has; it has limitless possibilities and a place for everyone."

Smith leads Smithfield's Information and Technology Application Systems & Services and was honored for her commitment to helping women in technology succeed in the agricultural and manufacturing professions. She recently celebrated her 40-year anniversary with the company in June. In addition to her work for Smithfield, Smith is an active supporter of Shriners Hospitals for Children and has held numerous board positions in her Shriners' women's group.  

"We're delighted that Jona has been recognized for her amazing contributions to support women in our Smithfield Family and beyond," said Keira Lombardo, chief administrative officer for Smithfield Foods. "The inclusion of women is critical to the future of our industry and we are proud to support The Manufacturing Institute's work to continue to close the gender gap while developing and advocating for the next generation of women who will inherit our legacy."

The Manufacturing Institute honored Smith and other honorees at a gala in Washington D.C. on November 4, 2021.

The Manufacturing Institute's 2021 study with Deloitte found that nearly 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2030. The cost of those missing jobs could total as much as $1 trillion in 2030 alone.

Source: Smithfield Foods