November 10, 2022

Nov. 15 panel discussion about franchising, inclusive entrepreneurship

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Faculty, staff and students are invited to a virtual event that delves into the world of franchising and explains how this business model is embracing inclusive entrepreneurship.

“Franchising and Inclusive Entrepreneurship” is set for 5:30-6:45 p.m. Nov. 15 via Zoom. The College of Business and Analytics’ Office of Diversity and Inclusion is sponsoring the free event featuring a panel of successful business professionals who will share their franchising stories, tell what got them interested in franchising and reveal lessons they have learned as entrepreneurs.

The panelists include:

  • Rikki Amos, executive director for the International Franchise Association (IFA) Foundation Diversity Institute.
  • Ericka Garza, president of Au Bon Pain, a restaurant/bakery/café chain, and chair of the IFA Hispanic Latino Franchise Leadership Council.
  • Paul Pickett, chief development officer for Wild Birds Unlimited and co-chair/co-founder of the IFA Pride Council.
  • Carolyn Thurston, chief executive officer of Wisdom Senior Care, IFA board member and vice chair of the Black Franchise Leadership Council.
  • Cassidy Ford, director of franchise sales for Entrepreneur Media and advocate for destigmatizing Tourette syndrome, which she has.

Register online to join the conversation or email Jennifer Butler, the college’s director of diversity and inclusion, at