JANE GROTE ABELL has built her reputation as a catalyst with a unique perspective on family businesses that includes mergers and acquisitions. She has a strong history of demonstrating the ability to create vision and empower people to help make it a reality through sound strategic leadership. She is a thought leader who has a credible voice in decision making, financial direction and problem solving. Jane has provided over 30 years of transformational leadership, growing brands, corporate and financial governance, operations, marketing, human resources, acquisitions, crisis management, franchising, strategic business development and philanthropic endeavors.
Jane is Chairwoman of the Board for Donatos Pizza and Jane’s Dough Foods, a $200M, 55-year-old family owned and operated restaurant, franchisor and manufacturing company. In addition, she is the Donatos brand ambassador and is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the company. As an author and expert in the field of culture, Jane is a frequent speaker at both industry conferences and universities. In 2015, Jane released her first book THE MISSING PIECE: Doing Business the Donatos Way, the story of a classic American family business, and an insightful account of Jane’s lifelong education in leadership, authenticity and running a values-based business. She was also featured in an episode of CBS’s hit series Undercover Boss in 2013.
Jane has remarkable experience in family business transitions. By 1999, Donatos had grown with the help of Jane’s leadership to a size that captured the interest of the world’s biggest restaurant company – McDonalds. After the acquisition by McDonalds, Jane remained with Donatos as its Chief People Officer. In that role, she drove the internal and external communication strategy, created the onboarding roadmap for the merging of cultures, and guided its employees through the transition of leadership and company ownership. By 2003, McDonalds had begun to let the Donatos brand suffer. Jane recognized the significant opportunity to rebuild Donatos and led the successful effort to buy Donatos back from McDonalds. Jane’s 4C’s of success – Character, Courage, Conviction and Compassion were the guideposts that helped her lead the Donatos team back to the success it is enjoying today.
Jane is a co-founder and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the non-profit Reeb Avenue Center, where she raised $16M to create a new model for lifting people out of poverty. The Center houses 14 non-profits with a focus on education and workforce development and has gained national attention for its efforts. In addition, Jane is Past President of the Board of Directors of Action for Children, and serves on the boards of Experience Columbus and I Know I Can. She is an Emeritus Board member of Goodwill Columbus, a member of the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women. Jane is a founding member of the Ross Leadership Institute, serves on the Otterbein University Women’s Leadership Advisory Council, and Columbus’ Young President’s Organization.
Jane was named to the 2014 YWCA Academy of Women of Achievement, the 2014 CEO of the Year by Columbus CEO Magazine and is listed as one of the Top 24 Women in Franchising by Franchise Update Magazine. Jane holds a degree from The Ohio State University.