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The Women's Foodservice Forum (WFF) kicked off its 11th Annual Executive Summit at the JW Marriott Chicago this week.

The two-day Summit featured keynotes by Cheryl Bachelder, CEO, AFC Enterprises, parent company of Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen, Steve Cahillane, president, Coca Cola Americas, and Edie Weiner, president, Weiner, Edrich & Brown, a product development and strategic planning consulting firm.

WFF is unveiling the groundbreaking sponsorship model presented by partner company, Deloitte. This inaugural presentation includes the introduction of the Sponsorship Maturity Map and strategies to utilize the tool to improve sponsorship dynamics within organizations. Darden sponsored this work.

"Our Sponsorship Maturity Model is the first of its kind to clearly articulate the strength of an additional layer to setting leaders up for success: the sponsor – protégé relationship. Data now confirms that sponsorship is a catalyst for advancing leaders," said WFF President and CEO Fritzi Woods.

WFF's newly launched blog, Advancing Women Leaders, will feature discussion and engagement around the research. WFF will continually release highlights of the research and invite executives to review and apply findings to their own organizations.

Additionally, a series of breakout sessions are being facilitated by Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. The sessions are designed to offer women executives a unique opportunity to gain new insights and further enhance their sphere of influence and drive industry change.

Fred Paglia, president, North America Foodservice for Kraft Foods and WFF board member, is also on hand to discuss the recent Daily Beast/Newsweek feature story, "CEO Dads Want Their Daughters in the Boardroom". Paglia and Woods were both interviewed for the article.

"This year's Executive Summit marks a critical turning point in WFF's history," Woods said. "For the first time in our nearly 25 year history, industry surveys show a modest increase in women executives entering the ranks of the often male dominated c-suites of major organizations in our industry. While this growth should be applauded, the fact remains there's still a great deal of work to be done. Our Executive Summit this year will convene the greatest number of corporate foodservice women leaders ever in history. We're anticipating an active dialogue and exchange of ideas to further prepare and position women in our industry for success."

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