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Women in the Lead: Keeping the Momentum Going

Although it’s true that more women than ever are holding leadership roles as chefs, CEOs and vice presidents, we are still a long way from a 50-50 gender split.

This panel brings together several female leaders of the fast casual industry who will discuss how they overcame the challenges they faced on their way to the top and how the industry can be more inclusive of all genders.


Amy Hom VP of Operations | sweetgreen

Amy Hom leads and supports sweetgreen operations. Amy has more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry and has served in operations leadership roles for major casual dining and fine dining brands. Before joining sweetgreen Amy served as Vice President of Red Robin leading over 250 locations in the US and Canada, Senior Operations Director of Wolfgang Puck Catering and multiple leadership roles for California Pizza Kitchen. Amy serves on the California Restaurant Association Board and is a volunteer for Calicinto Ranch. She helps lead the board for the Women’s Excellence committee in her current role. She is currently creating a program for upcoming individuals in the industry called LEAD.

Laurie Schalow | Chief Corporate Affairs & Food Safety Officer | Chipotle Mexican Grill

Laurie Schalow is a 20+ year Public Affairs veteran, starting her career with Yum! Brands in 1994 when she joined Taco Bell and served as the national spokesperson. In 2005, Laurie joined KFC, where she created publicity plans, managed community relations initiatives, all internal and external communications and crisis management. In 2011, Laurie became Vice President of Public Affairs for Yum! Brands overseeing Global Corporate Social Responsibility, PR and Crisis Management. In 2017, Laurie joined Chipotle Mexican Grill as the first Chief Communications Officer. Currently, Laurie is the Chief Corporate Affairs and Food Safety Officer and oversees all internal and external communications, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, customer service, social listening, food safety and quality assurance.

Carin Stutz | CEO | Native Foods

Carin Stutz is the CEO and President of Native Foods, the original 100% plant-based fast casual eatery. Prior experience includes the EVP/COO at Red Robin, President of McAlister’s Deli, CEO and President of Cosi, President of Global Business for Brinker, EVP of Operations for Applebee’s and Pacific DVP for Wendy’s International. She is Past Chair of Women’s Foodservice Forum; recognized in Chicago’s 100 Women to Watch; Texas Women Worth Watching; and the distinguished alumni award from WIU. She serves on the board of trustees for Western Illinois University, the Fast-Casual Industry Council, and the board of directors for Checkers and Rally’s restaurants.


Michelle Harden | Partner | Messner Reeves

Michelle Harden is a Partner with Messner Reeves LLP, a full-service national business law firm. Michelle leads several Messner Reeves’ Practice Groups including Litigation, Crisis Management, Employment Law, and Hospitality Law. Her active hospitality law practice and has been recognized locally and nationally for her efforts defending restaurants and other businesses. This practice includes proactive crisis management planning as well as partnering with her clients in the midst of crisis. She has been involved in the formation of advisory boards to assist clients in various topics including management practices, food safety, data security, and other issues. Her litigation and trial practice spans commercial matters, claims arising from foodborne and environmental illness and contamination.

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