Women’s Foodservice Forum celebrates leadership at annual confab

Women’s Foodservice Forum celebrates leadership at annual confab

WASHINGTON —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

This year’s event, at the recently opened Gaylord [2] National Resort & Convention Center, gave speakers, attendees and panelists ample opportunities to reflect on how far the WFF has come during its 19-year history while keeping their sights on the future as the organization’s 20th anniversary approaches. What began as a group of 14 women with the goal of empowering women in foodservice has grown to be an organization for developing the careers of women in foodservice, with a membership of more than 3,500 men and women from all segments of the industry. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

“The next generation of women in our industry will have new horizons,” said Linda Pharr, incoming chairwoman of the WFF and chief foodservice relations officer for Batrus Hollweg International, a human resources consulting firm. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

At the conference, retired general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered a keynote speech in which he addressed the expanded opportunities for women in the military and attributed such sea changes in policy to the activism of organizations like the WFF, which he says are “pushing the envelope” in the interest of making a better world. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

He also discussed the importance and development of leadership skills, which were key issues of the conference. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

“Leadership is leadership,” Powell said, and explained that if he were to take any leadership job in the WFF audience, he would do it the same way as in the Army. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

A key to good leadership, Powell said, is the perfect understanding that it is the followers who actually get the job done. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

“The essence of leadership is, ‘Do they trust you?’” he said. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

He later turned his comments to the future of the global economy, observing that as developing countries gain economic strength, their people begin to want two things: cars and food. When people move beyond a subsistence diet, Powell said, they want more and better food, especially meat, which requires even more food to produce, creating significant opportunities and challenges for the foodservice industry. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

According to author and motivational speaker Bertice Berry, Rosa Parks once said the next civil rights movement would take place in corporate America. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

“And if she’s looking down,” Berry said to the assembled WFF members, “I know she’s thinking it’s in this room.” —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

Berry also explained that while diversity programs are nice things to have and can generate good publicity, their greatest payoff comes from an increased variety of perspectives. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

“Diversity is not about ‘Kumbaya, can’t we all get along.’ It’s about critical thinking,” she said. “Like my mama said: ‘Inbreeding does not give birth to genius.’” —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

Between speeches, panels and workshops, conferees enjoyed a series of buffet meals and refreshment breaks that facilitated networking between members of all levels. A long buffet line is the great equalizer, allowing emerging leaders to mingle with established executives. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

This year saw the passing of the gavel from 2007-08 WFF chairwoman Jane Sumner, vice president of PepsiCo Foodservice, to incoming chairwoman Pharr. In addition, the WFF recognized outstanding achievement among its members for their roles advocating diversity in their companies and throughout the foodservice industry. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

Roz Mallet, interim chief executive of Caribou Coffee, received the 2008 Trailblazer Award, given annually to a female executive who is actively dedicated to improving the foodservice industry by supporting gender diversity and creating new pathways for women. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

The Leadership Award, which previously was called the WFF Emerging Leader Award, was presented to Robin Robison, regional director for Chili’s [3] Grill and Bar. The award recognizes a woman in the foodservice industry who demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities within both her organization and the industry at large. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

The Entrepreneur Award is presented annually to a business owner whose professional growth and business achievements have contributed to the industry. This year the award was presented to Joy Wallace, chief executive of J.O.Y. Foods, which the former Pizza Hut [4] executive founded in 1998 as a distributor of component pizza kits to K-12 schools and has expanded into a manufacturer and distributor of branded and private-label pizzas. —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.

“Each of these women are true role models for our industry,” said Mary Bentley, WFF president. “These awards celebrate their success, and we honor their contributions and continued support of elevating women leaders.” —Trust and transparency were top-of-mind issues during the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s annual leadership conference, held here earlier this month.