Unleashed Brands Announces Diane Sanford as Chief People Officer

HW- Diane Sanford, Unleashed Brands

The New Role was Created to Foster the Corporation’s Growth

Unleashed Brands, an umbrella corporation of child enrichment franchises, has hired Diane Sanford as Chief People Officer. The new role was created amid the corporation’s growth and expansion. As Chief People Officer, Sanford will shape Unleashed’s culture and is responsible for the corporation’s compliance, talent management, employee relations, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The human resources veteran brings more than 25 years of experience to the role. Unleashed’s portfolio of brands include The Little Gym, Snapology, Class 101, Urban Air Adventure ParkXP League, and Premier Martial Arts (PMA). In addition to Sanford’s new role, Unleashed recently named Scott Thompson president of PMA.    

Sanford was familiar with Unleashed’s distinctive culture through its social media posts. “I was impressed with the mission of building a company around the purpose of enriching kids’ lives and the story behind our reason for being. Regardless of the terminology, i.e., giving back, paying it forward, etc., I’m passionate about taking every opportunity possible to make a positive difference in people’s lives, whether I’m mentoring someone, volunteering my time or helping people find their lane professionally,” Sanford said. She is excited to contribute to Unleashed’s culture and believes that the corporation can achieve the distinction of being a Great Place to Work, which is the global authority on workplace culture. 

Diane Sanford is the new Chief People Officer for Unleashed Brands. 

Unleashed Brands founder and CEO Michael Browning, Jr. believes that Sanford is the right person for the role. “We have experienced major growth in our team and across our individual brands this past year. Diane brings great experience to this position, and her role will continue to support the growth and the culture at Unleashed Brands. We are extremely excited to welcome Diane to the team.”

A Career in Human Resources 

Sanford’s career in human resources began with Brinker International, a leading casual dining company. Before joining Unleashed’s leadership team, she served as Chief People Officer for Local Favorite Restaurants and On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina. During her time in human resources, she has enjoyed watching businesses grow and helping franchisees achieve their goals.

To Sanford, franchising is a great way for entrepreneurs to start their own business while benefiting from support from a franchise. She urges candidates to do their research, understand the business model, and be prepared to work hard before going all-in. “Look into the company’s history, take the time to understand the franchisor’s system and support structure, as well as the franchisee’s obligations and responsibilities. Be prepared to work hard and to have fun.”

Improving DEI Initiatives

Sanford believes that franchisors can improve their DEI initiatives by fostering a culture of inclusivity where individuals feel valued and supported regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Additionally, franchisors can diversify their leadership team and decision-making processes and should be purposeful about recruiting and promoting individuals from diverse backgrounds, she said. 

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Haley Cafarella is a passionate journalist and writer for IFPG. In her role as content and marketing specialist, she creates original articles for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine. Her specialties include educational articles about buying a franchise and franchise consulting. She also reports on franchise professionals who were recently promoted or hired through FranchiseWire’s popular HireWire series.

Haley has contributed to a variety of regional publications, including Quo Vadis, New Brunswick Today, and the Trenton Monitor. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Rutgers University.
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