This month’s focus on women’s history closely coincides with the upcoming April 3rd anniversary of our Women in Leadership initiative, a companywide effort to propel more women to the top of our business. It’s been an exciting first year!

“We didn’t know how it was going to pan out,” initiative co-lead and Communications & Media Manager Sierra Burk shares honestly. “We knew leadership wanted to develop and recognize our women morebut the challenge was showing that this isn’t just a ‘nice to have,’ but that it’s a really meaningful program and a catalyst in our people development efforts.”

Sierra Burk is one of DRG’s most passionate advocates for creating a more inclusive culture.

DRG launched the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) (formerly known as Women in Leadership or WIL) on April 3, 2023, pinning its first cohort of 20 women at last year’s Leadership Summit.

Along with deserved recognition and cool swag, WLN members also received career opportunities like easier access to networking, mentoring and development tools.

The greatest benefit — to DRG as a whole and those touched personally — is that women reported feeling more valued and empowered, according to Sierra.

“More women came forward and said they wanted to move up,” she says. “I think we’ve really got ladies that are just hungry for more.”

Culture Shifting

Prior to the 2023 launch of the WLN, Sierra says there really wasn’t an outlet for DRG women to share, connect or be heard.

“Women were just kind of running with it, trying to roll with the punches,” she says. “This past year, women really felt that we cared — that they were heard and understood.” 

It’s no secret that DRG executives have historically been all men. In fact, until the WLN was introduced, Sierra was the only female featured on our leadership page. With the recent hires of Debra Wendorf, Senior VP of Human Resources, and Kara Ramirez, VP of Operations – Royal City Bell, we’re working hard to change that. We’re also celebrating rising stars like Area Coach Alma Morales and General Manager and Certified Training Manager Corinne Canavan for their achievements.

“I think our company’s really good at being a leader of change.” – Sierra Burk, Communications & Media Manager

2023 Highlights

Year one of the WLN was the building phase and revealed important learnings, according to Sierra.

“A lot of it was about putting all the pieces together,” she says. “Those pieces work. Now, how can we create even more connection?”

In October, DRG held an interactive Women’s Leadership Virtual Conference that drew together DRG leaders men and women from all five markets. It was a hit! “The Leadership Team was like, ‘Wow this is really cool,’” Sierra says. We made huge strides for the program this day, capturing the interest of employees and continuing to prove how valuable it is.

Plans for 2024

“This year we get to dig a little deeper,” Sierra says. To her, it’s about deepening relationships and connection, and harnessing the passion of these women. 

Approaching the Network’s first anniversary, Sierra and the newly formed Women’s Leadership Council (which includes 2024 women’s initiative co-lead Hayley O’Connor, DRG’s Field Training Leader; last year’s co-lead Katrina Davis, DRG’s Kansas City HR Business Partner; and five others) hosted a recruitment period and formalized the application process. The result? This year’s cohort doubled the size of last year’s! Forty women comprise our 2024 cohort.

About DRG’s Women’s Leadership Network (WLN)

The WLN is open to DRG area coaches and above, and office personnel. The 2024 application period is now closed but those interested in being considered for 2025 are encouraged to apply during the annual February application period (previous cohorts may also reapply).


WLN members play an integral role in changing workplace culture for the better while also growing their own potential. Program perks include:

  • Exclusive membership to Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF)
  • Access to WFF content library and special events
  • Quarterly mixers in individual markets (new in 2024!)
  • Monthly “lunch and learn” events with female leaders to facilitate discussion on obstacles, growth, professional goals, etc
  • An invitation to the end-of-the-year Fall workshop event (in-person in 2024!)
  • Eligibility for WFF’s conference and workshops
  • Cool WLN swag (of course!).

Congratulations to our 2024 WLN inductees! We look forward to another history-making year!