New IFA Board of Directors Begins Serving at 2023 Annual Convention

IFA Board of Directors 2023

Diverse Group of Franchise Industry Executives Will Start Terms Right Away

Eight franchisors and franchisees will begin serving on the International Franchise Association Board of Directors during the organization’s 2023 convention, which runs from Feb. 26 to March 1 in Las Vegas. The new directors hail from a wide range of industries.

Three New 2023 IFA Board Members are Franchisees

  • Rob Branca, president of Branded Management Group Inc./Branded Realty Group and a multistate, multi-unit franchisee of Dunkin’. Branca serves on the Dunkin’ national Brand Advisory Council as the franchisee chair of the Dunkin’ Northeast U.S. Region and is franchisee chair of the Inspire Brands Government Affairs Subcommittee. 
  • Azim Saju, president and CEO of HDG Hotels, a group made up of IHG, Choice Hotels, Hilton, Marriott and Wyndham. HDG Hotels acquires, develops and manages a portfolio of franchised hotels throughout the southeastern United States. Before joining HDG, Saju practiced employment law in Florida.
  • Omar Simmons, managing director of Exaltare Capital Partners (Planet Fitness and Urban Air) and a private equity professional and entrepreneur. Simmons has closed more than 20 principal transactions exceeding $2.6 billion in total value. 

Five Franchisors Join the IFA Board

  • Shane Evans, co-founder of Massage Heights Franchising, a membership-based massage and skin care company that provides services in a spa-like environment. Evans co-created the Massage Heights retail model, and under her leadership, the brand expanded to 120 units in the United States and Canada. She is vice chairman of Massage Heights’ board of directors and co-owns several Massage Heights retail locations and other businesses.
  • Karen Finberg, chief franchise officer of Marriott International. In this role, she oversees Marriott’s U.S. franchising efforts for more than 5,000 hotels. With vast experience in hotel operations, Finberg has a strong background of serving both customers and owners.
  • Tom Krouse, CEO of Donatos Pizzeria LLC. He has been with the franchise since 2000 in a variety of leadership positions. Krouse was named president and CEO in 2010, and his tasks include oversight of the company’s restaurant business and Jane’s Dough Foods manufacturing. Before joining Donatos, Krouse was vice president of marketing for Wendy’s International. 
  • Christina Russell, CEO of Radiance Holdings. The Radiance group of brands includes Sola Salon Studios, which has 600-plus sites around the United States and Canada; Woodhouse Day Spa, a day spa franchise; and BeautyHive, an online distributor. Russell formerly was CEO of Pure Barre, president of Camp Bow Wow and vice president of operations for Curves International. 
  • Michael Seid, chief concept officer of CFW Clinics and One Family Health. He also is a member of the board of directors and executive committee of the HealthStore Foundation. CFW and One Family Health, based in Kenya and Rwanda, were established to provide clinical services and essential medicines there. CFW and One Family Health have nearly 200 franchisee-owned medical clinics.

Praise from IFA Leaders

“This new group of directors will bring a wealth of experience to the IFA Board,” said IFA President and CEO Matt Haller. “The IFA Board is integral in guiding the organization in our mission to protect, enhance and promote franchising.” Haller adds that each of the new directors will contribute unique contributions and perspectives to their service.

Charlie Chase, chairman of the IFA board, said, “We appreciate their dedication to the business model and all the people it serves.” Chase is president and CEO of FirstService Brands Inc. and California Closets.

For more information about the new 2023 IFA Board Members, click here.

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Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning journalist who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. She also held reporting and editing roles at The Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer newspapers.

Before Mary began covering franchise news and trends as a staff writer for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine, she developed articles on topics ranging from lifestyle, education, health and science to home projects, horticulture, gardening, interior design and architecture. These articles included her reporting on academic news at her alma mater, Texas A&M University, when Mary worked in the marketing department of the Texas A&M Foundation. She continues to be a news junkie and subscribes to several publications.

Today Mary and her husband are empty nesters living on Galveston Island near Houston. The couple’s blended family – scattered around the United States – includes five children, four grandchildren and two very spoiled, very barky miniature schnauzer rescues.
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