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MFHA Roundtables 2024

Engaging Employees:
Building Communities to Foster Success

Join MFHA at the 2024 Roundtables to understand the significance of Employee Resource Groups in fostering inclusivity and engagement within your organization. Hosted onsite at some of the leading DEI companies in the industry, the Roundtables offer opportunities to network with industry colleagues, share real-world experiences and best practices, and learn specific actions you can take to engage diverse employees.


Registration is included in your MFHA membership! Number of registrants is allocated based on membership level. Please contact Nina Mercado for more information.

What To Expect

This year’s Roundtables will explore how Employee and Business Resource Groups (ERGs and BRGs) can serve as platforms for open dialogue, provide professional development opportunities and ultimately support your strategic business goals. ERG and BRG leaders from companies across the industry will share insights on how they establish, sustain and foster these groups, including defining their roles within the organization, addressing challenges and opportunities for growth, and measuring their impact on engagement and retention. Through practical strategies, real-world tactics and actionable steps, learn how ERGs and BRGs can implement positive change in your business. Focus Each Roundtable will feature different affinity groups represented by ERGs and BRGs:

  • Gender & Sexuality – February 7, 2024
  • Race & Ethnicity – June 27, 2024
  • Military ERG & Disabilities ERG – August 21, 2024
  • Special Interest, Identity & Wellbeing – November 13, 2024

Who Should Attend

  • Senior Executives
  • DEI Representatives
  • ERG/BRG Leaders
  • HR Professionals

2024 Roundtables Schedule

February 7, 2024 Inspire Brands Atlanta, GA Silver Sponsor: Paradox
Inspire Brands logo Paradox company logo
June 27, 2024 General Mills Minneapolis, MN
General Mills logo
August 21, 2024 National Restaurant Association Headquarters Washington, DC Hosted by Kellanova

Registration Now Open!

Kellanova logo
November 13, 2024 Brinker International Dallas, TX
Registration Now Open!
Brinker International logo

2024 Roundtables Agenda

Schedule will be the same for all events. DAY 1

5:30 – 7:00 pm
Welcome Reception Hors D’oeuvres will be served
9:00 – 9:15 am
9:15 a.m. – 10:30
ERG Presentation & Panel
10:30 – 12:00 noon
Roundtable Discussions
12:00 – 1:30 pm
Lunch & Allyship Spotlight
1:30 – 3:00
Roundtable Discussions
3:00 – 3:15
Closing Remarks

Speakers –  June 27th

ERG Panel:

Andre Howell
Andre Howell, Vice President of Operations, MFHA (Moderator): As MFHA’s “back-of-the-house” leader, Andre Howell wears many hats, but his greatest joy comes from collaborating with members to help advance DEI at their organizations. Before entering the non-profit realm, Andre held a variety of executive positions in the insurance and financial fields, where he established multicultural marketing initiatives that resulted in more than $30 million in new business from people of color. Andre received his B.S. in Marketing and Economics from The King’s College in New York, and a Master of Public Administration from Temple University. He is certified as a Master Diversity Trainer by the Antioch School of Executive Development at Temple University, an EEOC investigator and John Maxwell Executive Life Coach. A recognized leader in community service, Andre volunteers as a mentor to Black and Latino millennials.
photo of Vanessa Casali Lima
Vanessa Casali Lima, Director, Corporate Audit – Finance, The Coca-Cola Company: Vanessa is a global business finance leader with 24 years of experience at The Coca-Cola Company and seven years of external audit and consulting in EY and PwC. Within Coca-Cola, she has occupied various roles within Finance and Operations in Latin America and Africa Operating Units, and then in Atlanta with experiences ranging from projects and change management, to governance roles. Vanessa serves as a co-talent lead for the Hispanic + IN Network, as she is a passionate people and business leader with growth mindset, having developed sustainable relationships to achieve strategic priorities with successful outcomes. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Vanessa is passionate about empowering and inspiring minorities to grow in their careers, identifying their interests, strengths, and potential.
photo of Larissa DuBose
Larissa DuBose, National Director Beverages – Dining Division, Paradies Lagardère: Larissa DuBose leads the beverage department for Paradies Lagardère’s Dining Division, where she curates enriching wine experiences for customers at Vino Volo wine bars in airports. Coming to Paradies from a career in beverage wholesale, Larissa has a unique background in business development within the wholesale wine, airport concessions, hospitality, and pharmaceutical industries with in-depth understanding of on-premise and retail sales models, product launch, distribution management, branding, and territory management. Larissa also serves as director of education for Black Wine Professionals, a talent resource for Black professionals in all sectors of wine. Previously, she founded The Lotus and the Vines, a wine education site that offers merchandise and tastings. She earned her bachelor’s in Business Administration and Management from the University of New Hampshire.
photo of MIchelle Ji
Michelle Ji, Advanced Specialist Manufacturing Technology, Transportation and Electronics Business Group, 3M: In her role at 3M, Michelle Ji leads global manufacturing technology development for the largest product portfolio in the division, has led qualification efforts of capital projects over $100 million, and has introduced disruptive technology globally. She is also involved in mentorship programs, Women’s Leadership Forum Lean In Circles, the Steering Committee for A3CTION (Asian and Asian American Network Employee Resource Group), and is active on the Emergency Response Team. Michelle is the Fund Development Chair for The Journey School, a non-profit charter school in St. Paul, serves on the board of directors for Asian Student Achievement (ASA), and fosters dogs through Coco’s Heart Dog Rescue. She earned both her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and her M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Missouri.

Allyship Spotlight:

photos of Kindra Wray
Kindra Wray, Senior Manager, Diversity Inclusion and Belonging, General Mills: Kindra Wray is Senior Manager, Diversity Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) at General Mills, where she has had a fulfilling career for 20 years. After four years in North America Retail Sales, Trade Planning and Category Management, Kindra transitioned into Human Resources. Kindra is the DIB liaison for three employee networks (Asian Leadership, Black Champions, and Veterans). She leads workforce representation work and ensures General Mills delivers on its racial equity commitments. She spends lot of time with employees to help champion a culture of belonging. Kindra double-majored in Marketing and Management & Human Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earned a certificate in Diversity & Inclusion from eCornell and is currently working on a certification to be a Certified Personal Coach from iPEC.

Roundtable Discussion Facilitator:

photo of Damian Hanft
Damian Hanft, Vice President Training & Team Member Activation, Inspire Brands: Damian Hanft leads the talent experience at Inspire Brands. As a teacher and a learner, Damian believes that successful teams are developed through authenticity, radical candor and a lot of laughter. He is passionate about building innovative talent and learning teams in growth-centric environments, while developing an authentic culture that attracts and develops world-class talent. He has held leadership positions in training, talent management, labor relations and learning and development. Damian currently serves as the president for CHART, the hospitality and training association and as an advisory board member for MFHA. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He has participated in five 200-mile Chefs Cycle rides for Share Our Strength.


Anna Carver, Senior Manager Communications & Marketing, MFHA: Anna Carver develops and manages communications strategies, marketing campaigns, and member programming for MFHA. With more than 14 years of communications expertise in the non-profit association sector, she has an uncanny ability to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders in the foodservice and restaurant industry. Anna earned her M.B.A. from Boise State University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the University of Georgia. She is a member of the American Marketing Association. In her free time, Anna is section leader and percussionist for Batalá Washington, a non-profit, all-women, Afro-Brazilian drum band.


2023 Roundtables

Check out highlights from our 2023 Roundtable series.

See the 2023 Roundtables page