Cracker Barrel Old Country Store announced that Gisel Ruiz, 49, has been elected to the company’s Board of Directors, effective immediately. Her appointment is the most recent result of the Board’s multiyear succession planning and refreshment process, under which the company has added four directors with deep and diverse talent over the past three years.

Ruiz joins the Board after having held a number of senior executive positions within the Walmart organization during a career that spanned over 26 years. Most recently, Ruiz served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Sam’s Club, in which role she oversaw operations, real estate, territory sales, food service operation and in-store innovation for the $65 billion warehouse club with more than 100,000 employees in approximately 600 facilities in the United States, including Puerto Rico.

From 2015 to 2017 she was the Executive Vice President of International People for Walmart International. From 2012 until 2015 she served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Walmart US, leading the operations of over 4,100 Walmart stores and with P&L responsibility for the organization’s $279 billion in revenue. She served as Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer of Walmart US from 2010 until 2012, where she oversaw all aspects of human resources for the company’s 1.3 million employees.  She also served for three years on the Board of Directors of Walmart de Mexico S.A. de C.V., and three years on the Board of Directors of Yihaodian, China’s fourth largest business to consumer eCommerce website. She currently serves as a director of Vital Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ: VITL), a Certified B Corporation that offers a range of ethically produced pasture-raised foods nationwide.

In 2008, Ruiz was recognized as one of the Top 25 Powerful Minority Women in Business by the Minority Enterprise Executive Council. She received the 2008 Walmart Leadership Award and was chosen by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the Top 25 Businesswomen of 2009. Latina Style honored her as 2010 Latina Executive of the Year, and in 2012, 2013 and 2014, she was named by FORTUNE magazine as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. In 2013, Ruiz was awarded the Hispanic Federation’s “Premio Orgullo” award, honoring Latinos who have shown an unwavering dedication to their community and received the 2013 “Woman of the Year” Distinguished Service Award from the USO of Metropolitan New York.  Earlier this year Ruiz was named one of 10 Most Influential Women of the Century by USA Today, representing the state of Arkansas.

“As part of our established succession planning process and commitment to Board refreshment, we have been working for more than three months to recruit Gisel, and we are thrilled to welcome her to the Board,” says William McCarten, Chairman of the Cracker Barrel Board of Directors. “Gisel’s experience leading complex operations and human resources functions for Walmart will add to our Board’s depth of expertise, and will help our management team navigate operational and people challenges that will only continue as we navigate through and beyond the pandemic.” 

McCarten adds: “The caliber of the four directors we have added to our Board over the last three years demonstrates that we are able to attract the best people from the best companies to help us drive our business forward.”

Ruiz will stand for election at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders on November 19, 2020 and will be included among the slate of directors proposed by the Board.  After consideration and recommendation of the Company’s Nominating and Governance Committee, and with input from a nationally recognized recruiting firm, the Board has determined not to recommend Raymond “Rick” Barbrick for election to the Board. The Lion Fund II, L.P., an entity controlled by Sardar Biglari, previously submitted a notice to the company of its intent to nominate Barbrick at the 2020 Annual Meeting.  

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