DI People: Wingstop, JLL, EWF International, Starla Wines, and More Make Leadership Moves

In this week’s roundup of hires, promotions, and accolades in North Texas, you’ll also find news from CBRE, Merriman Anderson Architects, Bank of Texas, Quality Custom Distribution, EFG Cos., Dillas Quesadillas, BBG, the Catholic Foundation, and others.

Across North Texas, companies are promoting and hiring people to take on leadership positions within their organizations.

Dallas Innovates covers prominent personnel moves in Dallas-Fort Worth businesses and nonprofits—from the newest startups to well-established companies. Here are the people moves tied to innovation and technology in the region.

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Jennifer Carter (left) and Candice Tubera

EWF International Announces New CEO, COO

Dallas leadership development company EWF International has appointed its president Jennifer Carter to serve as the new company’s new CEO and named Candice Tubera as its new chief operating officer.

The company, which was founded in 1998, said Carter’s appointment comes after it was announced that Tanis Cornell is retiring as CEO and will serve in an advisory role on the company’s board of advisers.

“Tanis helped forge the strong foundation upon which we’re building EWF’s future,” Carter said in a statement. “We’re grateful for years of leadership and service and we’re honored to continue her legacy.”

Prior to EWF, Tubera served as chief program officer for UPWARD Women, a California-based nonprofit.

EWF also announced plans to launch a new initiative called “Transformational Leadership Development,” which will focus on building trust, inclusive workspaces, and managing employee burnout.

“The world is changing rapidly, and leaders are faced with higher levels of uncertainty, emotional labor and complexity than ever before,” Carter said. “Like many other companies, EWF is undergoing a transformation and our new programs are a reflection of that.”

Starla Wines Taps New Adviser and Chief Strategy Officer

Starla Wines, the Dallas-based ultra-premium alcohol-removed wine brand, announced that Debbie Novograd, former vice chairman of the board and CEO of BevZero, is joining Starla as adviser and chief strategy officer.

Debbie Novograd

Novograd brings over 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry to her new role and is a recognized expert in the burgeoning non-alcoholic beverage industry, Starla said in a statement.

During her time at BevZero, Novograd led the organization of winemakers, brewers, distillers, food scientists, and chemists through the development of more than 30 no/low alcohol products. She also led the company through a global rebranding and transformation from its historical roots in wine dealcoholization to become a leader in beverage innovation for both services and equipment, Starla said.

Before BevZero, Novograd worked with food and beverage giant ARAMARK Corp. as a vice president of business development in its Corporate Dining division and Starbucks Coffee Co. as director of marketing during their early years of rapid growth.

“Keeping up with demand and charting our course to meet significant expansion requires a best-in-class team, and there is no one more knowledgeable, skilled, and capable as Debbie.” said Dawn Maire, founder and CEO of Starla Wines. “As both a pioneer in the NA wine development space and a tenured expert in food and beverage, Debbie is key to helping us fulfill our mission of Transforming the Culture of Social Beverages. We’re honored that she is joining our team.”

EFG Companies Names New Chief Information Officer

Joe Vide has joined Irving-based EFG Companies as chief information officer, reflecting the company’s commitment to supporting the rapidly evolving consumer protection product industry.

Joe Vide

EFG said that Vide will set the vision for the company’s technology capabilities to fulfill strategic business objectives, improve efficiency, and enhance customer satisfaction.

“While our clients are undergoing significant changes in the digital realm, it is incumbent upon us to stay at least two steps ahead,” EFG CEO John Pappanastos said in a statement. “Digital retailing both by our clients and by EFG will only increase as a focus for our company and the entities we serve. Additionally, our successful and ongoing effort to diversify will be dependent upon our ability to deploy valuable consumer protection products into new segments while also driving cost efficiencies.”

EFG said it recognizes the value of providing seamless technology integration with clients and contract holders. This investment and commitment resulted in the development of the company’s nationally award-winning platforms, such as EFG’s client portal, DRIVE, the company said.

Vide has more than 35 years of executive leadership experience and will lead EFG’s technological expansion in support of the company’s commitment to bring about more opportunities to offer diverse consumer protection products in the marketplace. EFG said. He has a strong record of serving as a strategic visionary, leading sustainable, high-performing, and multinational technology teams for organizations such as AT&T, T-Mobile, EDS, Hypercom, and Hewlett-Packard.

Wingstop Appoints SVP of U.S. Development

Wingstop, the Addison-based fast casual restaurant chain, announced that Craig Sherwood has been appointed senior vice president of U.S. Development.

Craig Sherwood

In this position, he will lead domestic development and focus on executing Wingstop’s domestic development playbook through new and existing franchisees as the brand scales its U.S. footprint, the company said.

President and CEO Michael Shipworth said that Sherwood joins the company at a “pivotal time” as it looks to scale its more than 1,600-restaurant base to 4,000 plus across the country.

“With an average unit volume of $1.6 million and our industry leading unit economics, our franchisees continue to reinvest in Wingstop and position us with a strong domestic pipeline fueling development growth for Wingstop,” Shipworth said in a statement. “We have a great deal of white space across the country, and Craig’s leadership and experience of domestic franchised development make him an incredible asset for our brand.”

Sherwood formerly was VP of U.S. Development at Little Caesars Enterprises Inc. where he oversaw all aspects of domestic franchise development, real estate, and construction. He was chief development officer at Gold’s Gym and held various development-focused roles at other franchised brands including Sonic Drive-In and Yum! Brands.

Wingstop said its business model provides industry-leading returns for its franchisees and has fueled record development for the brand in 2022, opening a record 127 net new units for the first half of 2022, with a global target of 7,000-plus restaurants.

Quality Custom Distribution Promotes Exec to Group VP

California’s Golden State Foods promoted Shane Blanchette to group vice president, continuous improvement, at Frisco-based Quality Custom Distribution.

Shane Blanchette

Blanchette oversees QCD’s strategic continuous improvement initiatives, including warehouse and transportation operations, new facility builds, optimization projects, and quality standards to support strategic customer initiatives and overall growth, the company said.

“Shane brings a fresh, energetic approach to continuous improvement with his keen understanding of the operation and his solid partnership with our facility teams in the field,” QCD’s VP of Logistics Stephen Wetterau said in a statement. “His leadership is a great example of our creed and values, as he strives to make our associates’ jobs easier and our teams more effective for the benefit of our customers. Shane’s focus on ensuring our people are successful enables our customers’ success.”

Blanchette is a 25-year industry veteran and a QCD associate since 2016. He’s supported the company’s growth as an integral leader driving optimization and championing best practices across the U.S. network of distribution centers. In his previous QCD role as senior director of operations, Blanchette led his team to continually improve processes, including leadership of the logistics operations hub, optimization of routing and facility layouts, and implementation of business intelligence to inform decision-making. In 2022, he traveled to GSF’s Cairo, Egypt, facility to learn, partner, and support the GSF distribution team by sharing best practices and leadership.

He joined QCD Los Angeles as Senior Operations Manager with responsibility for monitoring and implementing performance initiatives, managing departmental financial results, and supporting a positive work culture for nearly 200 associates.

Formed in 2006 as a division of Golden States Food, Quality Custom Distribution provides custom distribution services to customers throughout the U.S.

JLL Announces Addition of SVP of Industrial Team

Kevin Griffiths

Dallas-based national professional services firm JLL announced that Kevin Griffiths has joined its industrial team in Dallas as a senior vice president.

Griffiths will join the Dallas industrial team led by Craig Jones and in his new role will continue to serve both users and owners of food- and beverage-related industrial properties on a national basis.

“Kevin’s vast knowledge of the cold storage space will serve as an invaluable asset to our business and clients,” Jones said in a statement.

Since May 2021, Griffiths has brokered and closed 1.2 million square feet worth of food and beverage related industrial deals, valued at nearly $200 million, JLL said. His areas of expertise include tenant representation, agency leasing, and investment sales.

Left to right: Jerry Collazo, Trent Sampson, Derric Hicks, and Adriana Najera

Comerica Assembles South Dallas Business Banking Team

Dallas-based financial services giant Comerica Bank has named Trent Sampson, Jerry Collazo, and Adriana Najera to its newly formed South Dallas Business Banking Team that is led by Group Manager Derric Hicks.

“As the leading bank for business, it is imperative that we raise expectations in all the communities where we live and serve,” Comerica Bank Dallas Market President Amanda Mahaney said in a statement. “For many years, we’ve provided retail banking services and made community investments in the South Dallas community. Now, Derric and his team will focus on finding access to capital solutions for underserved entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Hicks said that he assembled a team that best represented the diverse communities the team will serve.

“This firm foundation will help our team build trust and cultivate key relationships as we continuously work to bridge the financial gap between conventional lending and meeting the needs of businesses in our footprint,” Hicks said

Sampson, who will serve as the DFW south senior relationship manager, has been a fixture in the North Texas commercial banking community as well as at Comerica for more than 25 years.

Collazo, a business banking relationship manager, has worked in banking for more than 15 years.

Najera has assumed the role of senior lending assistant after working as a member of Comerica’s retail banking team for nearly three years. In addition to her day-to-day responsibilities, Najera is a member of Comerica’s North Texas Women’s Forum and Mi Gente employee resource groups (ERG), designed to recruit and retain talent as well as provide personal and professional development opportunities among women and Latino employees, respectively.

The South Dallas Business Banking team is based in Comerica’s R.L. Thornton building.

Dillas Quesadillas Hires Former Raising Cane’s Exec as Its First VP of Marketing

North Texas-based Dillas Quesadillas, a fast casual restaurant chain offering cooked-to-order quesadillas and scratch-made dipping sauces, has hired former Raising Cane’s exec Adam Reed as it first vice president of marketing.

Adam Reed

“Adam is an incredible addition to our executive team and I am excited to see the immediate impact he will have on the brand,” said Kyle Gordon, owner and co-founder of Dillas Quesadillas. “We believe Adam’s passion, knowledge and extensive experience in the restaurant industry will be paramount to the success of our upcoming expansion goals.”

Previously, Reed worked for more than a decade with Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers beginning as a marketing manager and eventually becoming regional director of marketing. Before that, he worked at Chipotle Mexican Grill as a local store marketing consultant.

“I’ve known Kyle for many years, and I’m thrilled to begin working alongside him, Maggie and the rest of the Dillas team,” Reed said. “Dillas is a one-of-a-kind brand and has accomplished substantial success since its opening in 2013. We look forward to building on that even more and taking Dillas to the next level.”

Bank of Texas Announces VP, Trust Officer in Sherman

Amy George

Amy George has been named vice president and trust officer by Bank of Texas with responsibilities for all personal trust administration throughout Grayson County, north of Dallas.

The announcement was made by Mandy Austin, Dallas market president, and Eli Mercado, senior vice president and managing director, personal trust of Bank of Texas. George will be located at the company’s Sherman banking center,

Her appointment continues Bank of Texas’ focus on the expansion efforts throughout Grayson and Collin counties. She will join an experienced team of trust officers and associates that have more than 40 years of service to the Sherman community, the banking company said.

CBRE Names DFW Retail Business Managing Director

Katherine Gillis has been appointed managing director of CBRE’s retail business across Dallas-Fort Worth, the company announced.

Kathrine Gillis

In this new role, the company said that Gillis will drive its retail strategy locally and provide day-to-day leadership for the DFW retail team.

“Kathrine’s influence and command of our resources will provide immediate impact to our local professionals as we look for more ways to serve our new and existing clients,” said Jeff Kittleson,
managing director and retail major market leader for Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Denver, and Phoenix.

Gillis joined CBRE’s retail marketing team in January 2016, focusing on business development before moving into a sales management leadership role in 2019, supporting CBRE’s growth strategy in Dallas-Fort Worth, the company said.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for retail in Dallas-Fort Worth and there is a tremendous opportunity for growth not only in the sector, but for our team at CBRE,” Gillis said.

BBG Appoints Managing Director in Albany, New York

Chris Harland

BBG, a Dallas-based national commercial real estate services firm, has appointed industry-leader Chris Harland, MAI as managing director.

In a statement, BBG said Harland and his team of five commercial appraisers are joining BBG’s newly opened office in Albany, New York, the firm’s 49th U.S. office.

The addition of the Albany office will expand BBG’s coverage in the Northeast, further strengthening its presence in this region. Harland also will be responsible for overseeing the office’s operations and providing litigation support services.

For more than three decades, Harland’s career has focused on the appraisal, underwriting, and analysis of real estate throughout the Northeast.

Trademark Property Co. Announces New Director of Leasing

Trademark Property Co., a Fort Worth mixed-use investor, developer, and operator, announced that Stacy Barton has rejoined the company as a new director of leasing.

Stacy Barton

“Trademark continues to focus on community enhancement through curated leasing at our mixed-use properties to create unique tenant mixes across our portfolio,” said Daniel Goldware, SVP of leasing at Trademark. “Stacy’s return to the team will be an integral part of Trademark’s growth plans as we strive to set the next industry trends, meet consumer demands and remain relevant in today’s ever-evolving retail market.”

Barton previously worked in this role at Trademark and rejoins the company as it continues expanding its focus on mixed-use, retail, and multifamily developments.

Barton brings her 10 years of experience back to Trademark to lead leasing efforts and merchandising strategy in highly competitive markets throughout Texas, including Market Street – The Woodlands in the Houston area, WestBend in Fort Worth and La Palmera in Corpus Christi.

“Trademark’s innovative and dynamic leasing approach left a lasting impression. The company prioritizes inspiring and connecting with team members, so they continue to grow personally and professionally,” Barton said. “As retail leasing continues to evolve, this is a great time to rejoin the team while utilizing a holistic approach to creating value within these leading mixed-use properties.”

Ex-Cowboys Exec Joins Canadian Metaverse Firm as Adviser to CEO

Bill Priakos, a former president of merchandising for the Dallas Cowboys, has joined the team at the Canadian company Imagine AR as an adviser to the company’s CEO for the purposes of launching Immersive AR engagements in the global sports and retail marketplace.

Vancouver-based ImagineAR is a metaverse company that enables sports teams, brands, and businesses to create their own mobile phone immersive AR campaigns.

Priakos is the current owner of WHP2 Consulting LLC and was the Cowboys’ president of Merchandising for over 20 years. ImagineAR said in a statement that it believes Priakos will significantly accelerate the ompany’s presence in both live sports and retail merchandise markets.

“Bill Priakos is an icon in sports merchandising and considered a thought leader by many sports organizations around the world. He recognizes the innovative potential of integrating augmented reality with sports merchandise as well as a key technology for fan engagement in the metaverse,” Alen Paul Silverrstieen, CEO and president of Imagine AR, said in a statement.

Of his new role, Priakos said; “This is one of the most unique fan interactions I have ever experienced in my career. In professional sports, teams are focused on micro-moments with integrated marketing campaigns to sell merchandise. Integrating mobile augmented reality to deliver instant micro-moments campaigns directly into phones of fans to drive sales is truly a game changer.”

McDermott Law Firm Adds Two Litigators in Dallas

Chicago-founded international law firm McDermott Will Emery announced that two litigators have joined its partnership in Dallas from rival law firms.

The firm believes their addition will build on its growth in Texas.

Richard Salgado joins the firm from Jones Day. Salgado has led more than a dozen jury trials and handles tort, intellectual property, and regulatory matters, McDermott said.

David Genender, who represents energy, technology, private equity, professional services, real estate, and life sciences clients in arbitrations and litigation, comes to the firm from Baker Botts, where he practiced for 28 years.

The McDermott law has added 47 lawyers in Texas in the last two years, Partner-in-Charge of Strategy Mike Poulos told Reuters. He said that the firm is seeing demand across sectors in Texas, due in part to the size of the state’s legal market, and will continue to expand its transactional, litigation, and IP groups.

McDermott has offices in Dallas, Houston, and recently launched an office in Austin. Reuters reported that Poulos called expanding in Texas one of the firm’s “most important geographic strategic initiatives.”

Catholic Foundation Brings Senior Development Officer Aboard

The Catholic Foundation announced that veteran philanthropic giving adviser Anna LeBlanc, CAP, will join the organization as senior development officer, strengthening the team that works closely with donors and professional advisers to serve donors and the needs of the Dallas-area community.

Anna LeBlanc

She will begin her new position Oct. 3.

“Anna’s more than 30 years of experience in development and fundraising expands the expertise and professionalism The Catholic Foundation provides our donors,” said Darina O’Dowd Padian, VP of development at The Catholic Foundation. “Her diverse background in major gifts, planned gifts, annual funds, capital campaigns and stewardship will be instrumental in the continued growth and success of the Foundation.”

Currently, LeBlanc is director of gift planning at The University of Texas at Dallas, a position she has held for the past 10 years at the school in Richardson.

Before UTD, she was director of development at The Warren Center, director of development for SMU Catholic Ministry, and director of Major Gifts at Texas A&M University-Commerce, along with several other development roles.

LeBlanc is a former board member and conference chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals in the Dallas and San Antonio chapters, a chartered adviser in philanthropy, a past president and current member of the Dallas Council of Charitable Gift Planners, and a member of the Dallas Estate Planning Council.

Arctos Sports Partners Adds Four Operating Advisers

Dallas-based Arctos Sports Partners announced that Shane Battier, Jessica Gelman, Chris Grove, and Normand Legault are joining the firm as operating advisors.

Arctos is a private investment platform dedicated to providing growth capital and liquidity solutions to industry-leading professional sports franchise owners in major North American leagues and premier global sports organizations. It has offices in Dallas and New York.

The firm’s operating advisers play a broad role in its operations, including identifying and completing due diligence on potential investments, providing insights into industry trends and deepening relationships with key stakeholders across the industry.

“As we’ve built Arctos, we’ve focused on surrounding ourselves with who we believe are the best minds and operators in the sports ecosystem,” said Doc O’Connor, managing partner at Arctos. “Our operating advisers provide additional expertise to the Arctos team so that we’re positioned to identify and execute on investment opportunities and support the growth and innovation of our portfolio franchises,” 

Battier has won championships at the college and professional levels. After retiring from the NBA in 2014, he has led a successful business and philanthropic career, serving as vice president of basketball development and analytics for the Miami Heat; becoming a sought-after speaker; founding the Battier Take Charge Foundation, dedicated to elevating underserved young scholars; and serving as a board member and investor in early stage technology companies.

Gelman, CEO of Kraft Analytics Group, has spent more than 20 years at the intersection of the business of sports and analytics. Her work has influenced how sports franchises use data and analytics at all levels of their organization to increase value, improve the fan experience, and gain a competitive edge.

Grove is a co-founder and general partner at Acies Investments, a venture capital fund focused on companies in the global sports betting, iGaming, esports, and sports technology industries.

Legault is the president of GPF1 Inc., an advisory and mergers & acquisition firm, dealing in professional sports, live entertainment and communications. He has served as an executive in the motor sports industry, including as general manager of the Canadian Grand Prix.

The new advisers join Arctos’ existing operating advisers, who include:

  • TJ Adeshola, head of Global Content Partnerships at Twitter
  • William Chambers, former CFO & COO of Sinclair Broadcast Group and EVP of Finance at Fox Sports Media
  • Neil Glat, co-president Americas of SPORTFIVE and former president of New York Jets and SVP of corporate development at the NFL
  • Jeff Krolik, former president of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox Regional Sports Networks
  • Tim Leiweke, chairman and CEO of Oak View Group
  • David Levy, chairman of Genius Sports and former President of Turner Broadcasting
  • Angela Ruggiero, CEO of Sports Innovation Lab and four-time Olympian in women’s ice hockey
  • Richard Scudamore, former executive chairman & CEO of the English Premier League
  • Nzinga Shaw, president and global practice head, ESG & DEI at ZRG Partners and former Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer of Starbucks and the Atlanta Hawks
  • Kenneth Shropshire, Wharton School of Business professor emeritus and senior advisor to the Dean’s Coalition for Equity and Opportunity
  • Sara Slane, founder of Slane Advisory and former SVP of American Gaming Association
    Malcom Turner, head of corporate development and strategy at Draft Kings and former President of NBA G-League.


Back row: Leah Culver, Emily Neil, Kaylee Lamb, Nicolas Otto, Raphael Anguiano, David Anderson, Nicholas Reachi; Front row: Bristie Smith, Audrey Spradlin, Courtney Batten, Eli Tomlanovich, Brady Porter, Chuy Adame, Kevin Vandersall [Photo: Merriman Anderson Architects]

Merriman Anderson Architects Adds 20 Professionals in Dallas

Dallas-based Merriman Anderson Architects (MAA) has added 20 professionals to the Dallas office.

“Merriman Anderson Architects has been in a constant state of growth, and we’re fortunate to have a multitude of interesting and impactful work from new and devoted clients,” President Milton Anderson said in a statement. “We’re pleased to add 20 new architects and designers to our firm that have demonstrated an immense amount of talent and skills. I’m confident each and every one of them will be able to carry forward our firm’s commitment to design integrity and client service.”

Architects and designers who have joined the firm in the last few months include:

  • Chuy Adame
  • David Anderson
  • Raphael Anguiano
  • Courtney Batten
  • Jordi Brown
  • Leah Culver
  • Sunil Demel
  • Sam Goulas
  • Kaylee Lamb
  • Allison McCoy
  • Emily Neil
  • Nicolas Otto
  • Rhody Parrish
  • Brady Porter
  • Nicholas Reachi
  • Andy Shell
  • Bristie Smith
  • Audrey Spradlin
  • Matthew “Eli” Tomalanovich
  • Kevin Vandersall

Merriman Anderson provides the full spectrum of architectural and interior design services including programming, urban planning, architectural design, space planning, interior architecture and design, graphic design, construction document production, construction observation, 3D visualization, and facilities move coordination.

The firm’s portfolio features projects of all types, including master planned developments, urban housing, office buildings, corporate facilities, hotels, hospitals, schools, and retail projects throughout the United States and internationally.


Southwestern Medical Foundation Names New Board Chair, Adds Six New Members

Southwestern Medical Foundation announced that Ambit Energy Co-founder and CEO Jere W. Thompson Jr. has been elected chairman of the board of trustees and that six new board members have been named.

Jere Thompson

The announcement was made at the foundation’s recent annual meeting.

New Trustees Kim Askew, Pete Chilian, Peter Brundage, Michael Kahn, Linda Kao, and Amy McKnight will bring their unique perspective and proven leadership to the board, the foundation added.

Southwestern Medical Foundation is a public healthcare charitable corporation advancing progress in medicine, primarily at UT Southwestern Medical Center and its related institutions, by connecting donors with innovative programs, managing philanthropic funds, and building broad engagement on the need for quality medical education, research, and clinical care.

The foundation said that in his new role as board chair, Thompson will work closely with foundation President and CEO Kathleen M. Gibson to lead the board of trustees in growing the organization’s impact and reach.

Thompson has been a member of the board since 1999. He is succeeding James R. Huffines, who served as chairman since 2019.

Tech Titans Adds Six New Board Members

Richardson-based Tech Titans recently announced that it has welcomed new members to its board of directors.The new members are Sirisha Ghanta from Trintech, Marvin Harris Jr. P. E. from Qorvo Inc., Todd Gaske from Red Hat, Clint Wilkins from Haynes and Boone LLP, Brad Bonin from Cisco, and Joel Buys from Ericsson.

Tech Titans says that it strengthens the North Texas tech community and its reputation by acting as the innovation hub for entrepreneurs, universities, and corporations.

The organization says it keeps technology thriving in North Texas by:

  • Growing future tech leaders with its talent and workforce development initiative
  • Advocating technology’s advancement in governmental arenas
  • Connecting people and inspiring innovative ideas through its programs and special interest groups

Tech Titans is the largest technology trade association in Texas, representing a quarter million employees through its 300 member companies.

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