This award, established in 1998, honors a WFF Board Member who has helped make a major impact on advancing WFF’s mission.

2017 Recipient


President & COO

Sysco Corporation

“Tom Bené is a role model for men who champion women and a true asset to the WFF community. From his strategic thinking and clear vision of WFF’s future, to bringing over 300 plus women and men to Conference and the LDWs in 2016, Tom turned Houston into a winning market for WFF with sheer determination. Additionally, Tom played an integral role in our 2017 bold move to engage an alliance between WFF and McKinsey & Company, a game-changing collaboration that will set the groundwork for years of enhanced development opportunities. Tom has infused WFF as a primary pillar for development and inspiration for leaders at Sysco and beyond.”

Marie Perry, EVP & CFO, Jamba Juice & WFF Board Chair

“Integrity, commitment and passion have always been the foundation of who Tom Bené is. He is a tremendous champion of WFF, and our industry is very lucky to have Tom’s leadership and unwavering support. Thanks, Tom!”

Doug Allison, Industry Relations, PepsiCo Foodservice

“Tom Bené and the Sysco team set an industry standard for advancing women leaders in the food industry. We are honored to have Tom on our Board of Directors, and are immensely grateful for his contribution to WFF.”

Hattie Hill, President & CEO, WFF

“Tom Bené has provided perspective, insight and guidance to WFF on how we support and advance women. His leadership within Sysco and the industry has provided a strong example for valuing and pursuing diversity.”

Susan Adzick, VP Sales & Marketing, McLane Foodservice, Inc.

View Past Winners
  • 2016 - Anne Varano, Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer, TGI Fridays (Retired)
  • 2015 - Marie Perry, Senior Vice President, Controller and Treasurer, Brinker International
  • 2014 - Kathleen Wood, Founder & President, Kathleen Wood Partners
  • 2013 - Julie Swann, Former VP of Finance Specialty Business, Sysco
  • 2012 - Laurie Burns, Chief Development Officer, Darden Restaurants
  • 2011 - Hattie Hill, CEO, Hattie Hill Enterprises, Inc.
  • 2010 - Doug Barber, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.
  • 2009 - WFF Executive Committee: Maureen Hurley, Carin Stutz, Lorna Donatone, Gretchen Sussman, Mike Archer, Mary O’Broin, Veena Puri & Fritzi Woods
  • 2008 - Linda Pharr, Chief Foodservice Relations Officer, Batrus Hollweg International
  • 2007 - Frank Steed, President & CEO, The Steed Consultancy
  • 2006 - Paula J. Shives, SVP, General Counsel and Secretary, Darden Restaurants, Inc.
  • 2005 - Bill Gisel, COO, Rich Products Corporation & Dave Smallwood - VP of Multi-Unit Sales, Sysco
  • 2004 - Peggy Marshall-Mims, President, Marshall Mims and Co.
  • 2003 - Leslie Sharman, SVP of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide
  • 2002 - Joan Ray, SVP of Elliot Associates
  • 2001 - Lee Ellen Hayes, SVP, Industry Relations, NRAEF
  • 2000 - Joanne Plichta, Ph.D., Chief R & D / QA Officer, Tricon-KFC Corporation
  • 1999 - Karen Settlemyer, VP Product Development/Purchasing, California Pizza Kitchen
  • 1998 - Gwen Sheard, Employment Law Counsel, Friendly’s Ice Cream, LLC