CEO Summit 16 KeyNotes

Elevating humanity through business

Dan T. Cathy



As CEO of one of the nation’s largest family-owned businesses, Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy represents the next generation of leadership for the Atlanta-based fast-food chicken restaurant chain. Since taking over the business from his father and founder, S. Truett Cathy, Dan Cathy has been eagerly infusing his own skills and talents into the business. Already he’s known for taking an unconventional, yet personally and professionally rewarding approach to Chick-fil-A leadership.

Named as Chairman and CEO in 2013, Dan served as the president and chief operating officer of the 2,000-plus unit chain since 2001. Throughout his tenure, he has personally challenged himself with upholding Chick-fil-A’s efforts to provide genuine, heartfelt hospitality, while ensuring that all customers have an exceptional dining experience when visiting a Chick-fil-A restaurant. In his quest to provide customers with “second-mile” service (exceeding even the highest expectations one would have of a typical fast-food restaurant), Dan has humbly defined his role by saying, “I work in customer service.”

Rather than leading from his corporate office in Atlanta, Dan chooses to spend the majority of his time traveling to the growing number of Chick-fil-A restaurants and interacting with the thousands of committed restaurant operators and team members. His actions stem from a belief that working in the field provides a clearer understanding of the ever-evolving wants and needs of Chick-fil-A customers; so he leads from the front lines where he is personally able to convey his servant spirit to the more than 100,000 restaurant employees.

The majority of his travels include participating in grand opening ceremonies for new Chick-fil-A restaurants. As yet another example of how he stays in tune with customers and employees, Dan attended numerous restaurant openings last year. In celebration of those openings, he spent many nights camping in restaurant parking lots with customers participating in the company’s First 100 events (participants win free Chick-fil-A for a year). Reflecting on these experiences, Dan notes, “I’m having the most fun I have ever had at Chick-fil-A.”

Several major marketplace awards have affirmed the commitment and performance of Chick-fil-A operators and team members. Technomic’s survey of 85,000 consumers recognized Chick-fil-A in 2015 with the “Consumer’s Choice Award” for pleasant and friendly service. Chick-fil-A was honored again in 2015 as leader of the fast-food industry in Temkin’s Customer Experience Survey. In the 2014 Glassdoor Employee’s Choice Awards, Chick-fil-A ranked among the top 50 Best Places to Work in the nation. Forbes also ranked Chick-fil-A as the fourth most inspiring company in the country based on a survey of more than 2,000 consumers evaluating 25 companies.

While Dan Cathy took the reins at Chick-fil-A in 2013, his career began at age nine when he sang songs for customers and performed radio commercials for the chain’s original “Dwarf House” restaurant in Hapeville, Ga.

After attending college and receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Georgia Southern University, Dan returned to Chick-fil-A where he served as director of operations – opening more than 50 new Chick-fil-A restaurants throughout the country.

As Chick-fil-A continued to grow, so did Dan’s responsibilities. Prior to being named president and chief operating officer, he served as senior director of operations, vice president of operations and executive vice president.

While fully dedicated to the employees and customers of Chick-fil-A, Dan also gives generously to his community. He currently serves on the board of directors for The Georgia Aquarium and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He is a board member for the Atlanta Committee for Progress, and he serves on the board of advisors for Eagle Ranch, Global Teen Challenge, and Heritage Preparatory School. Additionally, he is a member of the board of councilors for The Carter Center. He has received honorary degrees from Pepperdine University, Anderson College and Berry College. Dan is humbled to have received numerous honors for his service to others. He is a recipient of the Council for Quality Growth’s Four Pillars Award, the Urban League of Greater Atlanta’s Community Empowerment Award and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Outstanding American Award.

In his “spare” time, Dan earned his Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license and has completed numerous marathons in Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. Additionally, Dan is a passionate trumpet player, gardener, and avid motorcyclist.

A native of Jonesboro, Ga., Dan has been married to Rhonda Palmer Cathy (whom he met while in the first grade) for more than 40 years. He has two sons, Andrew, senior vice president of people at Chick-fil-A, and Ross, owner/operator of the Midland, Ga., Chick-fil-A restaurant. He is also the proud grandfather of three young grandchildren.

His personal passion is to see the fulfillment of the Chick-fil-A Corporate Purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Thomas E. Perez



Thomas E. Perez, the nation’s 26th secretary of labor, has dedicated his entire career to making good on the promise of opportunity for all. A civil rights lawyer by training, Secretary Perez leads the U.S. Department of Labor in its mission of giving all Americans the chance to get ahead and stay ahead.

Under Secretary Perez’s leadership, priorities for the department include ensuring a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work through continued efforts to raise the minimum wage, expand overtime protections, and by being smarter and more strategic in the department’s enforcement of federal law. Secretary Perez strives every day to ensure that Americans return home from their jobs safe and healthy. Perez has made job training and workforce development a focal point of his tenure. With historic investments in community colleges and apprenticeships and the department’s implementation of the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, he is committed to connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs. His efforts to protect Americans’ hard-earned retirement savings include a proposed new rule to require financial advisers to put their customers’ best interest first. Additionally, Perez has kept up the drumbeat on state and local progress to expand access to paid leave. He also helps ensure that people with disabilities and veterans have access to employment opportunities and other supports to help them succeed.

During his tenure, Secretary Perez has collaborated with a wide variety of stakeholders – including private-sector employers, labor unions, nonprofits and foundations – to build a broad coalition and forge lasting partnerships to address inequality and create shared prosperity. Notably, President Obama tapped Secretary Perez to assist with a monthslong dispute at the West Coast ports, where he helped broker a deal between labor and management that enabled the ports to resume operations. He has earned a reputation for listening to all sides and crafting pragmatic solutions rooted in progressive values.

He has worked at all levels of government to move our country forward on a host of fundamental issues of fairness. Prior to his swearing in as secretary of labor, Secretary Perez served as assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he fought to protect voting rights, ensure that communities have effective and democratically accountable policing, crack down on discriminatory lending and housing, and expand opportunity for marginalized communities. As director of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration, he helped ensure that people of all backgrounds could access quality, affordable health care. Perez also tackled civil rights, criminal justice and constitutional issues as a special counselor for Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Secretary Perez also served the people of Maryland in a variety of roles. He was the first Latino elected to the Montgomery County Council, where he served from 2002 to 2006. Later, as secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation from 2007 to 2009, he helped implement the country’s first living wage law and spearheaded a package of reforms to address the foreclosure crisis.

The son of Dominican immigrants, Secretary Perez was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Public service was the family business. Perez’s maternal grandfather was the ambassador to the United States from the Dominican Republic in the 1930s, until he spoke out against his home country’s brutal dictator and was declared non grata. Perez’s father, a physician, served in the U.S. Army and worked for many years at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Buffalo. 

A graduate of Brown University and Harvard University, Perez has taught law and public health at universities in Maryland and the District of Columbia. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Ann Marie Staudenmaier, and their three children. An avid runner and athlete, he coaches his children’s basketball and baseball teams. He credits his unrelenting optimism to being a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan.

Denise Morrison



Denise Morrison is President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company. Under her leadership, Campbell is realizing the potential of its Purpose, “Real Food that Matters for Life’s Moments.” The company is a leader in soup, fresh carrots, refrigerated juice and organic baby food with brands like Campbell’s, Bolthouse Farms and Plum Organics. It is also a leader in Global Biscuits and Snacks with trusted brands like Pepperidge Farm, Arnott’s, Royal Dansk and Kjeldsens. Campbell is committed to strengthening its core business while expanding into faster growing spaces.

Denise has a distinguished track record of building strong businesses and growing iconic brands. She became Campbell’s CEO in August 2011, after more than eight years at Campbell and more than 30 years in the food business. She is 12th leader in the company’s 147-year history. Denise joined Campbell in 2003 as President-Global Sales and Chief Customer Officer. She then served as President-Campbell USA and Senior Vice President and President-North America Soup, Sauces and Beverages. She was named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 2010, and she was also appointed as a Director of Campbell’s board. 

Previously, Denise was Executive Vice President and General Manager of Kraft Foods’ Snacks and Confections divisions. Her extensive food business experience also includes senior leadership roles at Nabisco, Nestle and Pepsi-Cola. She began her career at Procter & Gamble. 

Denise was elected to the MetLife, Inc. board in February 2014. She was appointed Co-Chair of the Consumer Goods Forum in 2015 and serves on the organization’s board. Denise was named to President Barack Obama’s Export Council in 2012. She is a founding member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, an initiative of manufacturers and retailers to combat obesity in the marketplace, workplace, and schools. Denise is also a member of the board of directors for the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Catalyst. She is regularly named among the Fortune and Forbes “Most Powerful Women.”

Denise earned her B.S. degree in economics and psychology from Boston College, graduating magna cum laude. She resides in Princeton, N.J., with her husband, Tom, and they have two grown children.

Greg Glassman



Greg Glassman is the founder and CEO of CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, moms, dads, grandmothers and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide. The challenging program combines weightlifting, gymnastics, and calisthenics into a daily Workout of the Day, known in CrossFit parlance as a “WOD.” 

Glassman was an elite level gymnast and athlete all his life. In 1995, he began training officers at the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department. As Glassman says, “Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.” In 2001 Glassman started and began affiliating gyms under the CrossFit name. Today there are over 13,000 independently-owned CrossFit affiliates in over 140 countries, and the annual CrossFit Games, which attracted over 330,000 participants in 2016, are televised on ESPN 1, ESPN 2, and ESPN 3. Most noteworthy, Greg stands at the forefront of the fight against chronic disease around the world.

Tom Gardner


Tom Gardner co-founded The Motley Fool with his brother David in 1993. He now serves as its Co-Chairman and CEO. In 2014 & 2015, Glassdoor ranked The Motley Fool the #1 place to work in the U.S. for companies with between 250-1000 employees. Tom serves as the lead adviser on Motley Fool One — the company’s all-access service. He manages The Everlasting Portfolio, committed to holding every investment for more than 5 years, and has beaten the market soundly since its inception. Tom is a graduate of Brown University.

Brené Brown



Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work.

She has spent the past fifteen years studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of three #1 New York Times bestsellers – The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong.

Her TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 25 million views.

Brené is the Founder and CEO of both COURAGEworks – an online learning platform that offers classes for individuals and families on braver living and loving, and BRAVE LEADERS INC – a platform that brings her latest research on leadership development and culture change to teams, leaders, entrepreneurs, change makers, and culture shifters.Brené lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, Steve, and their children Ellen and Charlie.

Arthur Brooks



Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a public policy think tank in Washington, DC. He is also a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. Previously, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government at Syracuse University.

At age 19, Brooks left college to become a professional musician and spent several seasons with the City Orchestra of Barcelona, Spain. After a decade he returned to college and studied economics, mathematics, and languages, ultimately earning BA and MA degrees in economics and MPhil and PhD degrees in public policy. Brooks then spent 10 years as a university professor teaching economics and entrepreneurship before coming to AEI.

Brooks is the author of hundreds of articles and 11 books, including The New York Times best-sellers “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Happier, Fairer, and More Prosperous America” (2015) and “The Road to Freedom” (2012).

He is a native of Seattle, Washington, and has been married for 23 years to his wife, Ester. They have three children: Joaquim (17), Carlos (15), and Marina (12) and currently live in Bethesda, Maryland.

Selim Bassoul



As CEO of the Middleby Corporation, Selim Bassoul has led the company to record-breaking growth and top innovation over the past two decades. Under Selim’s leadership, Middleby has grown from $100 million and a few brands to a $2 billion global company with 60+ brands and three business platforms. The company is one of the best performing companies on the NASDAQ exchange since 2000.

Central in Selim’s life is giving back. Through his foundation, The Bassoul Dignity Foundation, he has developed a stove for refugees and personally delivered them to the camps. It is his goal to make their lives easier and to lessen the time women and girls spend searching for wood. In June at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the World Event in Monaco, Selim was awarded the EOY Alumni Award for Social Impact, on behalf of his efforts. He plans to expand this effort, manufacture and deliver more ovens throughout 2016.

Selim has also been honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and YPO International Legacy Award recipient. He serves on the boards of several corporate, civic and philanthropic organizations. He is featured on the 2016 Nation’s Restaurant News Power List. Selim’s proven, effective and unconventional management style has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, Fortune, Forbes, CNBC and other top business media. He was named The Motley Fool’s “Best CEO of all time.”

Jostein Solheim


Jostein Solheim now in his sixth year as Chief Executive Officer at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. is not your average CEO. Solheim continues to champion the iconic ice cream maker as it navigates its next chapter in business history. The vision, according to Solheim, is that Ben & Jerry’s must continue to aspire to be a social justice company that just happens to make ice cream.

The native of Norway challenges the roughly 500 Vermont employees to practice the company’s belief to “love its fans more than they love Ben & Jerry’s,” both with new and innovative flavors and in creative ways to continue to give back to the community. In addition Solheim and his team work with Unilever, its parent company, to partner in 35 countries around the world to bring Ben & Jerry’s message of peace, love and ice cream to the masses.

Unilever is where Jostein has amassed two decades of business experience. The juxtaposition perfectly positions Solheim with a foot in each camp to be able to meet and exceed the expectations of both Unilever – responsible for manufacturing, distribution and finance, and Ben & Jerry’s independent Board of Directors who oversee the company’s Social Mission, quality and brand equity.

Jostein is proud to have the support of Ben & Jerry’s co-founders – Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen – especially as he continues the company’s focus on Social Mission projects such as values led sourcing, supporting Fairtrade, non-GMO labeling, being established as the first wholly-owned certified b-corporation and other progressive endeavors.

Michael C. Bush


Michael is responsible for the growth and management of the Great Place to Work global network of U.S. businesses. He joined GPTW at a time of rapid growth, and brings over 30 years of experience in growing consulting organizations and increasing efficiencies of innovative business units. Michael has served as President of 8 Factors, an online learning organization, CEO of Clark Sustainable Resource Developments, and CEO of Tetra Tech Communications which he grew from $40 million to $300 million in revenues.