Women in Franchising

As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, we wanted to hear from some of the inspirational female franchisors who are inspiring other women to follow their business dreams.  


Marianna Magee, Director of Marketing, Chicken Salad Chick

Marianna Magee is a seasoned brand leader with more than 15 years of experience in marketing and has a proven track record of delivering impactful strategies that build sales and profitability. She has spent the majority of her career working with nationally-recognized restaurant franchise brands such as Popeye's, Arby's and Mrs. Winner's Chicken & Biscuits, focusing on brand marketing and communications, strategic planning, and project management. She was appointed Chicken Salad Chick's director of marketing in September 2020 and is responsible for driving brand awareness for the brand’s 175+ locations through both brand level and regional initiatives and media plans; developing key marketing strategies to optimize sales; serving as a member of the leadership team; and leading marketing initiatives for the brand's robust grand opening pipeline.

Marianna Magee: “Working in the franchise industry for the majority of my career, I’ve learned that nothing is more important that the relationships that you develop with your franchise partners. Mutual trust is not always easy to build, but if you start with an open mind, honest communication and reciprocate respect, the relationship will follow.”


Mandy Shaw, President and Chief Executive Officer at Blaze Pizza

Mandy Shaw joined Blaze Pizza as chief financial officer in January 2018 and became the brand's president and chief executive officer in November 2019. For 16 years now, Shaw has been an influential player in the franchise industry - serving large international companies like Bloomin Brands as chief accounting officer, chief information officer and chief financial officer of the International Division. After 13 years, she joined Blaze Pizza, eager to leverage her background and past experience to catapult the brand to tremendous growth and scale. Despite facing an unpredictable worldwide pandemic and the complexities of mandated closures and CDC guidelines, Shaw's agility, leadership and hands-on approach has enabled Blaze Pizza to weather the storm and positioned the brand to accelerate growth in 2021 and beyond. 

Mandy Shaw: “About two years into my career, I suddenly became unafraid of getting fired, and I encourage every young woman looking to blaze her path to embrace the same mentality. In corporate America, and life in general, things are going to happen to you that are unfair and simply out of your control. Approach everything with the perspective that you can only control yourself and understand that while lay-offs could happen one day, what matters most is that you bring the best version of yourself to the table. Keep your humility intact as you progress throughout your career. Instead of focusing on how you can achieve your personal ambitions, center your decisions on how best to serve the enterprise – and most importantly the people within the enterprise and you will win.”


Alice Crowder, VP of Menu Strategy and Innovation at Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Alice Crowder joined Tropical Smoothie Cafe as VP of Menu Strategy and Innovation in August 2019. Under her leadership, the brand has revamped, expanded and formalized its menu development and innovation processes, resulting in a harder working core menu and LTOs that serve to connect and transport. Prior to joining Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Crowder was Vice President of Marketing at The Krystal Company and has held multiple other restaurant leadership positions throughout her career.

Alice Crowder: “You’ll hear people say “business isn’t personal,” and I strongly disagree.  Your business, your brand, your teams, your customers – if you don’t take them personally, if you don’t imprint good and meaningful parts of yourself on each of them, every day, then how can you expect to succeed?”



Jessica Stanley, co-founder and CMO of Card My Yard & Amy Arnold, co-founder and CBO of Card My Yard

Amy Arnold and Jessica Stanley, both moms of three, met at a women's Bible Study and quickly became friends. In October 2014, the two moms along with their husbands founded Card My Yard with a simple goal to serve families and make a positive impact in the community as small business owners. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Card My Yard now has over 350 franchise locations in operation across the United States spreading joy on a daily basis. They are honored to share in celebrating milestone moments in others' lives and hearing stories of great joy and accomplishment.


Jessica Stanley: “Franchising was a leap of faith for us. We knew our concept and brand were built on solid business principles and trusted that our foundation was built for success, but every day is not easy. When you persevere through the hard stuff the end result brings lots of joy. Stay true to yourself, your brand and focus on JOY!”

Amy Arnold: “Continue to work with purpose. It is easy to lose sight of the impact that you are making as you walk through building a business and all of the many responsibilities and tasks that you have in front of you. Our founding mission has always been spreading joy and that remains our driving force today.”


Shane Evans, co-founder and president of Massage Heights

Co-founder and president Shane Evans founded the company in 2004 with her husband, Wayne, after realizing the need for professional and affordable massage services. After experiencing years of painful, recurring back pain ­­­­and being unable to find a consistently affordable, therapeutic option for massage therapy, Shane and Wayne opened the first Massage Heights location. After realizing the growing demand for massage therapy as part of people’s everyday lives to manage chronic pain, reduce stress, and countless other symptoms, they saw an opportunity to take the brand national, giving consumers an elevated experience in each retreat. The brand has grown from a single retreat in San Antonio, Texas, to more than 120 locations across North America.


Heather McLeod, Chief Marketing Officer, Authority Brands

Heather joined The Cleaning Authority in 2015 as the Director of Marketing and in 2017 she was named Vice President of Marketing. As Authority Brands started acquiring additional brands, her role continued to evolve within the company and in 2018 she was named CMO for Authority Brands. Heather’s primary focus is streamlining marketing processes, facilitating the sharing of best practices across the ten brands, and continuously improving marketing programming to drive more business to the company’s 1000+ franchise owners. Heather has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University and an MBA from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. Most recently, Heather helped launch the Women in Franchising Chapter in Maryland.

Heather McLeod: "My advice to young female executives in franchising is to work hard and keep your eyes and ears open. Learn the business of your franchise — spend time with franchisees, the operations team, everyone who has a hand in making the business run. Ask for help when you need it and seek out other women who have been there before to help mentor you. Don’t be afraid to make a major change if that’s what you think can best help your career."