International Franchise Association (IFA) Appoints Seven New Members to its Board

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The International Franchise Association (IFA) announced the addition of seven new franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers to its Board of Directors. 

With a mission to protect, enhance, and promote franchising, IFA voted to expand its size to better pursue the association’s mission and priorities. “I am thrilled with the addition of these new franchisor, franchisee, and supplier leaders to our Board of Directors,” said IFA Board Chair Catherine Monson. “Their insights, leadership, and enthusiasm will help the franchise community make wise use of its talent and resources this year and in the future.”

The impressive list of new board members includes major players in franchising who bring expertise in a variety of areas, including legal, financial and commercial real estate.

Wanda Williams, Head of Global Franchising, Yum! Brands 

Wanda Williams is the Head of Global Franchising at Yum! Brands. In her current role she is responsible for the Franchise Office, who leads global franchise management and partners with Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, Habit Burger and their franchisees to focus on franchisee unit level economics, share best practices and leverage the scale of Yum to provide unique franchise benefits. Previously, Wanda served as the Pizza Hut LLC, Vice President of Operations, responsible for the overall restaurant and delivery experience, including cutting edge technology, contactless operating procedures, and the operations growth strategy in the United States for 6,100+ restaurants. In addition, when Wanda joined Pizza Hut LLC, in 2015, she served as the Senior Director of Franchise Sales and was instrumental in transforming the Pizza Hut US franchise landscape by partnering to sell 2,000+ restaurants to new, well capitalized, diverse franchise buyers.


In 2020, Wanda led the launch of and continues to oversee the new Mosaic, multicultural under-represented employee resource group, including various Yum Brands’ employees from the Pizza Hut US, Pizza Hut Global and KFC Global divisions, headquartered in Plano, Texas. In this role, she is responsible for: 1) leading the Mosaic Steering Committee, 2) providing under-represented minority employees a voice and a seat at the table, and 3) ensuring Yum Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut & Habit Burger) is diverse, at all levels, as the communities they serve. Wanda will continue to leverage Mosaic’s, six pillar foundation to ensure the organization will quickly transform from an employee resource group into an employee business group that levels the playing field for under-represented minorities, advocates for racial equality and removes racial biases/discriminatory practices within corporate offices, restaurants, brand strategies, advertising, and the global, restaurant franchise system.

Marcus Banks, Senior Vice President of Litigation, Employment Law & Government Relations, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Marcus A. Banks serves as Senior Vice President – Litigation, Employment Law and Government Relations for Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Inc. (“WHR”), in Parsippany, New Jersey, overseeing those functions for WHR and its subsidiaries.  Prior to WHR’s spin-off from Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (“WWC”), Marcus served as Senior Vice President – Litigation, Employment Law and Intellectual Property, for WWC.  Marcus started his franchise law career at Cendant Corporation in May 2001.  Marcus has written and spoken on various franchise law topics, including litigation management, vicarious liability defense, bankruptcy and mediation.

Prior to working in-house, Marcus was an associate at Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis in Woodbridge, New Jersey, concentrating on commercial litigation matters.  Marcus is a graduate of Columbia University Law School, and Stanford University.   

Greg Flynn, CEO, Flynn Holdings

Greg Flynn is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Flynn Restaurant Group and Flynn Properties. With approximately 2,400 Applebee’s, Taco Bells, Paneras, Arby’s, Pizza Huts and Wendy’s restaurants generating $3.5 billion in sales and directly employing 73,000 people in 44 states, Flynn Restaurant Group is the largest franchise operator in the United States. Flynn Properties invests in commercial real estate and has owned and managed more than 3 million square feet since its founding in 1994; it also owns 10 hotels including, in partnership, the luxury resorts Esperanza, located in Los Cabos, Mexico, the Carneros Resort and Solage, both located in the Napa Valley, and the Madeline Hotel in Telluride.

Greg has been recognized as one of the Bay Area’s Most Admired CEO’s by the San Francisco Business Times. He has three times been named Franchisee of the Year and four times named Operator of the Year by Applebee’s Services Inc. He was honored as Restaurant Leader of the Year by Restaurant Business Magazine and Operator of the Year by Nation’s Restaurant News. He has also been recognized as Dealmaker of the Year by the Franchise Times and an Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young.

Greg has an AB Magna Cum Laude from Brown University, an MA from Yale University, and an MBA from the Stanford GSB. He serves on the boards of the Exploratorium and the International Franchise Association. He also serves on the Brown University President’s Leadership Council, the Applebee’s Franchise Business Council, the Panera Franchise Advisory Council, the Strategic Advisory Group of Goldman Sachs’ West Street Capital Partners VII, the Executive Advisory Board of Cove Hill Partners, L.P., and as a Yale GSAS Advisor. He is a past chairman of the Golden Gate Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization.

James Holthouser, CEO, FOCUS Brands 

Jim Holthouser is the Chief Executive Officer for Focus Brands, parent company of Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, McAlister’s Deli®, Schlotzsky’s®, and Seattle’s Best Coffee® (in certain military bases and in certain international markets). Jim is leading Focus Brands into its next phase of growth for its seven market-leading brands while driving results and profitability for franchisees, with a focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience. 

Jim brings more than 30 years of experience in worldwide brand development, concept innovation, franchise management and digital marketing. He most recently served as Executive Vice President, Global Brands, Marketing and Loyalty at Hilton Worldwide, where he was responsible for Hilton’s entire portfolio of 15 brands with over 5,000 hotels across 105 countries, generating annual revenues of $36 billion. He spent more than 20 years at Hilton in various strategic and brand management roles and has a proven track record of spearheading the launch, development and repositioning of leading consumer brands. 

Jim earned both an MBA from the America Graduate School of International Management as well as a B.A. and an M.A. in Economics and Political Science from University of Louisville. He has served on boards and advisory councils, including the Executive Committee at the American Lodging Association, and multiple credit unions, hotels, and nonprofit organizations. Jim is fluent in German, conversant in French, and is also a trained pianist with a number of recordings to his credit.

Kenny Thompson, Head of External Affairs, PepsiCo

Kenny Thompson, Jr. is a public affairs executive with expertise in building corporate strategies and assessing political risk in the public and private sectors. He applies his experience with social impact, corporate responsibility, sustainability, advocacy and communications to generate new business, amplify PepsiCo’s business partnerships and grow PepsiCo’s reputation as a responsible corporate citizen. Under his leadership, the External Affairs team ensures PepsiCo’s stakeholder engagement plan delivers long-term value and sustained purpose to investors, employees, suppliers, customers and the communities that PepsiCo serves.  

Before joining PepsiCo, Kenny held several positions in the Obama White House, including Director of Message Events for Vice President Joe Biden, Senior Advisor to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Special Assistant and Advance Lead for President Barack Obama.

In 2020, Thompson was selected to serve on the Biden – Harris Transition as the Private Sector Liaison where he provided strategic and management oversight of the interaction with the private sector while managing relationships with Fortune 500 CEOs, Wall Street firms, venture-backed enterprises and industry groups.

A native Texan, Kenny completed his undergraduate degree at Texas Christian University, where he was a proud member of the Horned Frog baseball team. He later earned a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University. Currently, Kenny serves on the board of directors of the Women’s Congressional Policy Institute, Corporate Advisory Council at the National Urban League, and the AddRan College of Liberal Arts at TCU.

Earsa Jackson, Member, Clark Hill Strasburger

Earsa Jackson is a partner at the law firm of Strasburger & Price, LLP in Dallas, Texas, and she is a Certified Franchise Executive. As the leader for the firm’s Franchise & Distribution team, she orchestrates business development efforts for growth of the franchise practice. She handles transactional and litigation matters for franchises of all sizes ranging from a few to hundreds of units. She regularly speaks at conferences across the country to educate small business owners about franchising.

Earsa is a former director of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Division of the American Bar Association Forum on Franchising. She serves as Chair of the board of the Diversity Institute created by the International Franchise Association’s Educational Foundation. She chairs Strasburger’s Diversity Committee. She also serves on the board for two nonprofit organizations: Dallas Children’s Theatre and Dallas Christian Women’s Job Corp.

She has been recognized for franchise work among “Legal Eagles” by Franchise Times, “Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers, “Texas Rising Stars” by Texas Monthly magazine and International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers in Franchise. She is named among “Most Power and Influential Women in Texas” by Texas Diversity magazine and “2015 Most Influential Black Lawyers” by Savoy Magazine. She received her law degree from the University of Virginia.

Jay Duke, National Managing Partner, BDO

Jay has more than 35 years of public accounting experience and leads BDO’s National Franchise Practice and National Advisory Practice. Jay’s heavy involvement in the International Franchise Association (IFA) ranges from Hall of Fame Awards presenter, to well-known conference speaker at numerous IFA and franchise-industry conferences. He has spoken on topics including Private Equity in Franchising, International Franchise expansion, and numerous transactional, operational and financial franchise topics. Additionally, BDO co-authored a Franchise Tax Study with the IFA exploring the implications of the recent tax law changes in the industry. Jay is also a personal Max Contributor to the IFA’s FranPAC. Conferences include IFA’s Annual Convention, UnConference, Multi-Unit Franchising Conference (MUFC), International Franchise Expo (IFE), FaegreBD Franchise Summit, IFA Board Meeting, Springboard, Franchise Capital Exchange, IFA Fall Leadership & Public Affairs Conference, Franchise Leadership and Development Conference, and the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference. 

During his BDO career, Jay served on the BDO Board of Directors and as the National Assurance Business Line Leader and the Managing Partner for the Dallas office assurance practice. He currently leads the Firm’s national Marketing Task Force and is involved in national and international M&A expansion efforts. 

Jay has led numerous audit and consulting engagements for a diverse client base, assisting clients with mergers, acquisitions, hostile takeovers, and divestitures. He has provided consultation on public offerings, complex transactions and reporting requirements, arbitration matters, and discussions with the SEC.  His industry experience includes franchising, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution, retail & consumer products and financial services. Prior to joining BDO, Jay worked in the internal audit and cost accounting staff of Archer Daniels Midland, a Fortune 100 international agricultural corporation.

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