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Carol Sapoznik, 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

After retiring from 40 years in retailing, including serving as VP for the national giant Crate and Barrel, Carol Sapoznik (’69) has dipped into her second career—running a “foodie” boutique in her New England hometown. Beyond her retail venture, Sapoznik has spent years giving back to her community, connecting with her Wisconsin alma mater, and exploring the world as a human ecologist. Congratulations to our 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award winner.

Adapted from the nomination statement.

In 2015, Carol Sapoznik and her husband and son partnered to open Olive Connection, a gourmet food boutique near their home in Brookline, Massachusetts. Of course, she approaches this family endeavor with the savvy business-sense she’s cultivated throughout her career, but most importantly she’s keeping a keen eye on what’s important to customers. Having lived in Brookline for over 30 years, Sapoznik is connecting Olive Connection customers to high quality products by local producers and food artisans. Her approach has “been with intensity for whatever I am doing. I thrive on challenge and want to inspire.”

Warmth, Passion, Vision

Prior to this new entrepreneurship, Sapoznik built a 40+ year career with Crate and Barrel as a key leader who was instrumental to the company’s growth and success. Starting in 1971 as an assistant store manager in Chicago, Carol was quickly promoted to store manager and then served on the merchandising team to launch their catalog division. When Crate and Barrel expanded to the East coast, Sapoznik moved to Boston to assist in regional store openings and later was on the team that led expansion north into Canada. By the time she retired as East Regional Vice President in 2013, Sapoznik was responsible for more than 45 stores, from New Hampshire to North Carolina. Even after her official retirement, Crate and Barrel has continued to reach back to leverage her experience, asking her to mentor corporate leadership. Looking back at her career, Sapoznik considers herself a thought leader and agent of change and the keys to her success to be warmth, passion, and vision.

Making a Difference Every Day

Since graduating from UW-Madison, Sapoznik has been an engaged SoHE alumna, returning to campus on several occasions over the years to give guest lectures to Retailing and Consumer Science students, providing insight and advice to the school through participation with the Center for Retailing Excellence’s board of advisors, and connecting SoHE grads with careers in the industry, even recruiting some to work in Crate and Barrel’s East Coast region.

Closer to home, Sapoznik serves on the board of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. She is a member of the Boston Club of women executives and professionals who promote the advancement of women to significant and visible leadership roles, and served in key volunteer roles with REACH for the safety and support of survivors of domestic violence, the Back Bay Business Board, is a Brookline Senior Center board member, and is the Vice President of the Brookline Garden Club. Sapoznik has also been the creative force at ConnectionsAndDots.com where she has shared her passions: family, travel, learning, championing the development of girls and women, building relationships and her belief that “every day, you can make a difference.”

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