Focus Brands — parent company of Auntie Anne's, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, Moe's Southwest Grill, McAlister's Deli and Schlotzsky's — has promoted former senior vice president of human resources, Melissa Smith, to chief people officer after more than eight years in various positions in the company.
Smith’s promotion was announced among several other executive appointments at Focus Brands, including Kendall Ware, chief brand officer for Carvel and Cinnabon; Alisa Gmelich, chief brand officer for Auntie Anne’s, Cynthia Liu, vice president of Marketing for Auntie Anne's; and Danielle Porto Parra, vice president of Marketing for McAlister's Deli.
"This year has been about refining our structure and our brands to accelerate performance and prepare us for the future," Focus Brands CEO Jim Holthouser said in a statement. "As we end 2020, I know we have the right talent, with the right strategies in place to take our brands and our business to the next level."
Smith has held multiple positions at Focus Brands, including vice president of human resources and vice president of training and development. In her new position she will focus on recruitment, retention and company culture and work to build upon a culture of diversity and inclusion.
Kendall Ware – formerly president and chief operating officer of Orange Leaf — will be responsible for brand management for Carvel and Cinnabon, franchise and company operations, as well as marketing. Alisa Gmelich — formerly of McDonald’s, Burger King, and IHOP — will be replacing Heather Neary, who is stepping down as chief brand officer of Auntie Anne’s at the end of the year. She will lead global brand's operations, marketing and brand management.
Cynthia Liu previously worked at the Hershey Company and Kraft Heinz, the former of which she served as director of partnerships and occasion marketing. Danielle Porto Parra previously worked as chief marketing officer and head of eCommerce for Pep Boys and other brands.
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