Women’s Foodservice Forum Announces New Board Members to Advance Gender Equity and Drive Limitless Opportunities for Women

Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) has elected five senior leaders to its 2022 Board of Directors and named new positions for its Executive Committee members. They join a robust board of executives focused on increasing targeted learning opportunities for women building their careers in the Food Industry, expanding the organization’s global reach, and shining a light on the workplace challenges still experienced by many women, and more severely by women of color.  
“With unprecedented resilience and vision, the Food Industry is building toward an even brighter future that includes greater influence from women, people of color, and other previously underrepresented leaders,” said WFF President & CEO Therese Gearhart. “WFF is proud to play a pivotal role in cultivating more gender-diverse leadership across the industry as we continue to expand our year-long, career-long learning, inspiration and support for women, and the forward-thinking companies they represent.”
Tracy Skeans, Chief Operating Officer & Chief People Officer of Yum! Brands, Inc., and newly named WFF Board Chair for 2022, emphasized WFF’s commitment to expanding partner relationships into additional segments of the food ecosystem and delivering additional partner solutions.
“The global brands engaged with WFF, and that are committed to building inclusive workplaces, have an exciting opportunity to significantly accelerate the advancement of women. I look forward to working with industry leaders throughout the year as we take tangible actions toward achieving that goal,” Skeans said.
WFF Board Chair-Elect and Yum! Brands Chief Operating Officer & Chief People Officer Tracy Skeans has been appointed Chair of the WFF Board of Directors. Skeans reports to the Yum! Brands CEO and has global responsibility for leading cross-brand collaboration on operational execution, people capability and customer experience imperatives that will fuel Yum!’s same-store sales and net-new unit growth around the world. Yum! Brands, Inc. has over 52,000 restaurants in more than 150 countries and territories primarily operating the company’s restaurant brands – KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill.  
Board Treasurer and SVP, Chief Accounting Officer at Sysco, Anita Zielinski, has been appointed Chair-Elect of the Board of Directors and will succeed to Chair in 2023. Zielinski joined Sysco in 2017 and oversees the Company’s accounting functions, with responsibility for financial accounting and reporting, accounting policy, tax compliance and strategy and internal controls. With more than 58,000 associates, Sysco operates 343 distribution facilities worldwide and serves more than 650,000 customer locations.
Board Executive Committee Member and Senior Vice President, Chief People and Diversity Officer of Darden Restaurants, Sarah King, has been appointed Treasurer of the Board of Directors and will succeed to Chair-Elect and Chair over the next three years. A member of Darden’s Executive Team, she leads the execution of Darden’s people strategy as well as building organizational capability and employee culture to further enable Darden’s growth. She is also responsible for all aspects of the HR functions within Darden, including oversight of the HR organizations within each of Darden’s operating companies.
New WFF Board members serve two successive, three-year terms beginning January 1, 2022, and concluding December 31, 2027. 
Tanika Cabral is Senior Vice President of Customer Leadership and Chief of Staff to the Chief Customer Officer of the North America Operating Unit of The Coca-Cola Company. Her tenure in the Coca-Cola System spans customer operations, marketing commercialization, channel strategy, global marketing and general management.  In her current role, Tanika leads five interconnected functions including customer strategy, business development, industry relations and sales, as well as, business operations, high priority initiatives, and strategic projects for the Office of the Chief of Customer.

Linken Nigel D’Souza is the global head and vice president of food and beverage at Royal Caribbean International, the world’s largest cruise line. He oversees all the food and beverage functions of approximately 700 restaurants and beverage venues across the leading cruise line’s 26 ships sailing around the world and its top-rated private destinations. With more than a decade of experience in the food, beverage and hospitality industries, Linken has also spearheaded operations at Red Lobster and Darden Restaurants as vice president of operations and director of operations for western Canada, respectively.

Elizabeth Horvath is Vice President of Marketing in North America for Kerry. She leads a team of strategic planning, brand marketing, consumer insights, marketing communications, channel activation and sustainability professionals to drive business growth for Kerry in the region. Prior to Kerry, Elizabeth held roles in both the arts & entertainment and higher-education industries. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Saint Mary. 

Dawn Rasmussen is SVP, Food Innovations Solutions Team at Ventura Foods. A member of the Senior Leadership Team, Dawn joined Ventura Foods in 2014 and oversees a team composed of Marketing, Strategic Insights, Research and Development, and Culinary. Previously, she oversaw the growth and development of Ventura Foods’ international business in Canada, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East, including manufacturing plants in Canada and three strategic partnerships in the Philippines and Mexico.
Debbie Roberts joined Panera as EVP, Chief Operating Officer in September 2020 and leads Panera’s bakery-cafes across 48 states and Ontario, Canada. Before joining Panera, Debbie held a 30-year career with McDonald’s with leadership roles as VP/General Manager Midwest Region, East Zone SVP Restaurant Support Officer, Northeast Zone President, and East Zone President where she had responsibility for 7,000+ restaurants.
WFF 2022 Board Executive Committee Members
Chair:              Tracy Skeans, Chief Operating Officer & Chief People Officer, Yum! Brands, Inc.
CEO:                Therese Gearhart, President & CEO, WFF
Chair-Elect:     Anita Zielinski, SVP & Chief Accounting Officer, Sysco Corporation
Treasurer:       Sarah King, SVP, Chief People and Diversity Officer, Darden Restaurants
WFF 2022 Executive Committee Members at Large
  • Ryan Elwart, Chief Customer Officer for Consumer Products Group, Georgia-Pacific
  • Katherine Jaspon, Chief Financial Officer, Inspire Brands
  • Ann Mamer Lloyd, SVP Distributor Sales, Ecolab
  • Loraine Yalch, Chief Commercial Officer, ARMADA
WFF 2022 Board of Directors
  • Carla Balakgie, President and CEO, National Automatic Merchandising Association
  • Tanika Cabral, SVP of Customer Leadership and Chief of Staff, North America Chief Customer Officer, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Kathleen Ciaramello, Immediate Past Chair, Former Chief Customer Officer, Coca-Cola North America
  • Christina Clarke, Chief Marketing Officer, Fry Cook and Cashier, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
  • Linken Nigel D’Souza, Global Head and VP of Food and Beverage, Royal Caribbean International
  • Ryan Elwart, Chief Customer Officer for Consumer Products Group, Georgia-Pacific
  • Catherine Fox, VP of Brand & Product Marketing, Dairy Foods, Land O’Lakes, Inc
  • Alisa Gmelich, Chief Brand Officer, Auntie Anne’s
  • Elizabeth Horvath, VP Marketing, North America, Kerry Group
  • Kelly Lefferts, EVP, Chief Legal Officer & Secretary, Bloomin’ Brands
  • Ann Mamer Lloyd, SVP Distributor Sales, Ecolab
  • Jamie McKeon, SVP, Demand Creation, Rich Products Corporation
  • Heather Neary, EVP and General Manager, KBP Brands
  • Coley O’Brien, Chief People Officer, The Wendy’s Company
  • Shawn O'Grady, Group President, Convenience & Foodservice; SVP, Global Revenue Development, General Mills
  • Dawn Rasmussen, SVP, Food Innovations Solutions Team, Ventura Foods
  • Debbie Roberts, EVP, Chief Operating Officer, Panera Bread
  • Dr. Merary Simeon, VP, Diversity & Engagement, PepsiCo North America
  • Kelli Valade, President & CEO, Red Lobster 
  • Libby Wanamaker, VP, Talent Experience, Chick-fil-A
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ABOUT WOMEN’S FOODSERVICE FORUM: Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) is the Food Industry’s thought leader on gender equity. WFF leverages research, insights and best practice solutions that enable food companies to address the pressing need for talent, drive better consumer insights and increase business performance by realizing the full potential of women leaders. Working since 1989 to provide the tools and resources to help women build leadership competencies that enhance career advancement, WFF also partners with the Food Industry to create work environments where women thrive, and organizations reap the rewards of a gender-diverse workforce. For more information, visit wff.org.

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