Hooters, the original American wing joint, announced Cheryl Whiting-Kish has been promoted to chief people officer of HOA Brands, the franchisor and operator of more than 400 Hooters restaurants. Previously she served as senior vice president of organizational effectiveness and development after returning to the company following an acclaimed career as founder and president of an executive coaching and leadership development consultancy.
In her new role as chief people officer, Kish will continue to drive the future state of the company by focusing on its culture, organizational design, and progressive talent management strategy, allowing the organization to scale and leadership to grow in the most sustainable way possible.
“Cheryl is developing the next generation of leaders and driving organic growth across our brands, and we are thrilled to promote her to this new post,” says HOA Brands LLC President and CEO Sal Melilli. “Cheryl has risen to the challenge again and again, helping achieve milestones and opportunities for our staff around the world, and we are grateful to continue to collaborate on the very best culture we can create.”
“This role, in a company I love, allows me to give back, make a difference and to celebrate, elevate, and empower our people, Kish says. “Our mission is to provide a platform that enables others to be as successful as possible while they are working with us and to help prepare them for career growth within and or life beyond the brand. This new position is an opportunity to continually build our business by working directly with colleagues who bring our brand to life each and every day.”
Kish has worked several stints with the company, starting as a Hooters Girl and assuming ascending responsibilities including in-store promotions and traveling the U.S. to support training various franchise locations. Over the years, her talent and determination helped Kish rise in the company, becoming the company’s first female promoted to vice president in 1997.
Some of Kish’s proudest milestones include serving as company spokesperson, leading the March of Washington and addressing journalists at the D.C. Press Club about the legal “bona fide occupational qualification” precedent protecting Hooters Girls as a central concept of the business. She has recently helped the organization mark International Women’s Day and other occasions with empowering programs and has shepherded a mini-documentary about the Hooters origin stories of many high-profile Hooters Girl alumnae superstars in the world of business, entertainment, sports, hospitality, philanthropy and beyond.
Twenty years ago, Kish launched her own executive coaching company Define Consulting. Among her achievements, she led the design and facilitation of staff training for the award-winning guest experience of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in her current hometown of Atlanta. Broadcasting know-how she honed at Hooters helped her lead video education initiatives for a major healthcare consultancy. She has provided leadership training to a variety of CEOs and companies in industries ranging from hospitality to healthcare, from retail to railroads, from teaching to technology.
Outside of work, Kish lives with her husband, George, in Atlanta’s Poncey-Highland district and supports charities ranging from animal adoption to cancer research.