IFA Adds 8 Franchise Executives to Board of Directors

IFA Adds 8 Franchise Executives to Board of Directors

New Members from Diverse Businesses Will Begin Terms in February

The International Franchise Association has elected eight new franchise executives to its board of directors. Franchisees, franchisors and suppliers comprise the IFA board, whose members bring a diverse representation of industries and personal backgrounds as they steer the association’s initiatives. The new board members will start their three-year terms in February during the 2024 IFA Annual Convention in Phoenix. 

Based in Washington, D.C., the IFA supports the franchise business model globally. In the United States, franchising makes up 11.4% of restaurants, non-casino hotels and motels, new car dealers, real estate agents and brokers, beauty salons, bars, convenience stores, electronics stores, and fitness and recreational sports centers, according to a 2021 Census Bureau report.

Names, Titles of New Board Members

Because of franchising’s impact within such a wide range of industries, decisions of the IFA board can exert a powerful economic force. New members of the board are:  

  • Christopher Fuller, chief communications and impact officer of Inspire Brands (portfolio includes Arby’s, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin’ and Jimmy John’s). 
  • Robin Gagnon, CEO and co-founder of We Sell Restaurants. 
  • Michael Gonda, McDonald’s senior vice president and chief impact officer/North America. 
  • Jon Hixson, chief sustainability officer and vice president of global government affairs for Yum! Brands (portfolio includes KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell).  
  • Lillian Kirstein, 7-Eleven senior vice president and general counsel.  
  • Sarah Powell, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Focus Brands (portfolio includes Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky’s, McAlister’s Deli and Jamba).  
  • Christine Son, global senior vice president/legal and general counsel and secretary for Dine Brands (portfolio includes Applebee’s, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and IHOP).
  • John Teza, CEO and president of Hand & Stone Franchise LLC. 

IFA Leaders’ Welcome

In a news release, IFA President and CEO Matt Haller said the new board “bring significant experience in franchising at one of the most consequential times for the business model. The IFA Board is integral in guiding the organization in our mission to protect, enhance and promote franchising – and these new directors will play a critical role in moving the organization and the entire franchising sector forward. They each bring unique contributions and perspectives.” 

David Humphrey, current chairman of the IFA Board of Directors and vice chair of Ignite Fitness Holdings, who also welcomed the new board members in the news release, stated, “We look forward to their guidance and the leadership they will provide in the coming years, as we work together to build an even stronger future for the franchise business model.”  

Officers on Board of Directors 

Incoming leaders of the IFA Board of Directors include:

  • Great Clips CEO Steve Hockett, who will serve as board chairman.  
  • Neighborly Chief Operating Officer Mary Thompson, vice chair.
  • East Coast Wings + Grill CEO Sam Ballas, second vice chair.

About the IFA

In its efforts to support the success of the franchise business model, the 63-year-old IFA focuses on influencing government relations and public policy, being proactive in media and public relations, and providing educational programs and resources to its members. IFA research has tallied roughly 775,000 businesses that contribute $787.7 billion to the U.S. economy. 

The IFA’s membership is made up of franchisors in 300-plus business formats and individual franchisees as well as companies that provide supporting roles such as franchise development, law, marketing and technology. The IFA holds an annual convention that provides educational and networking opportunities to attendees; this year’s gathering will be Feb. 17-24 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

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Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning writer who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. A seasoned journalist, Mary covers the latest franchising news in her role as staff writer for FranchiseWire.
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