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Breakout Session / Tuesday / October 15, 2024 / 10:30 AM

Breaking Bread and Biases: Empowering Women for Fast Casual Leadership

The fast casual industry thrives on innovation and a customer-centric approach, yet, a key demographic is often underrepresented in leadership: women. This session dives into the benefits of gender diversity at the top table, exploring how attendees can unlock a wealth of talent, improve decision-making and gain a competitive edge by fostering female leadership. It will also equip them with the knowledge and tools needed to create a more inclusive leadership pipeline and empower more women to climb the corporate ladder within their brand.


Rachael Nemeth | CEO & Co-Founder | Opus Training
Rachael Nemeth, CEO and Co-Founder of Opus, is a multifaceted leader in the res-tech space. With a career spanning several decades, she has made an impact not only as a business professional but also as a public speaker and educator. Opus, revolutionizes learning and engagement for the "deskless" workforce in the restaurant industry. Her journey features work at renowned establishments like Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, Baked, and Hot Bread Kitchen, an NGO empowering underrepresented women through baking skills. Beyond her corporate roles, Rachael's influence extends into the education sphere, where she has championed instructional design and second language acquisition. Her first company, ESL Works, brought industry-relevant English training to kitchen staff via SMS text message. Widely respected in the res-tech space, Rachael is a public speaker, sharing her insights and expertise as a tech leader, restaurant veteran, and educator.
Shokouh Shafiei | President/CEO | DSA Signage
Shokouh Shafiei is a seasoned executive with 20 years of diverse leadership experience in Heavy Industrial Manufacturing. Her expertise expands across Engineering, Operations and Supply Chain. Her focus on Turnaround & Restructuring allows her to identify growth opportunities and develop highly profitable businesses that operate to their fullest potential.
Julie Swift | Founder | Foodservice Womens Alliance
Considered more “cowboy” than “corporate”, Julie Swift’s experience and leadership span across Foodservice sales and marketing in senior and executive leadership roles along with two years of service in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging as an Inaugural DE&I Board member with Advantage Solutions. Today, as owner of Julie-Swift, LLC, she deploys her over 30 years of experience spent at companies like French’s Foods and McCormick in helping clients gain greater effectiveness in the Foodservice marketplace. In addition to her consulting business, Julie is the Founder of the non-profit organization, Foodservice Women’s Alliance. Julie, along with the FWA Board, aim to fill a wide gender gap prevalent in Foodservice, recognizing this gap is exponentially so for women of color.
Suzie Tsai | CEO | Bonchon
Suzie Tsai is CEO of Bonchon, a global leader in Korean fried chicken. Bonchon operates more than 140 restaurants in the U.S. and 450 worldwide. Recently named one of Fast Casual’s Top 25 Executives, Suzie joined Bonchon in August 2023 as Chief Growth Officer and was appointed Chief Executive Officer in January 2024. Suzie is a Korean American and has been in the hospitality industry for 20 plus years. Before joining Bonchon, she was in leadership roles at Chili’s Grill & Bar, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina and KidZania USA.

Hannah Lopez | Director of Marketplace, Food Service | Plant Based Foods Association
Hannah Lopez is an accomplished brand developer and marketing expert with a strong background in creating better-for-you food and beverage brands within the retail and hospitality industry. With an unwavering passion for promoting healthier choices and sustainable living, Hannah has taken on the pivotal role of Foodservice Director at the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA). PBFA is the nation's only premier trade association for leading plant-based food companies and Hannah is dedicated to championing, fortifying, and uplifting both members and the entire plant-based foods sector.
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