Focus Brands, parent company of iconic brands Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli, and Schlotzsky’s, announced the promotions of top executives for its Restaurant and Specialty brands.

Effective immediately, the company has made the following appointments:

  • Mike Freeman, chief brand officer, McAlister’s Deli
  • Danielle Porto Parra, senior vice president of marketing, Restaurant Category
  • Nicolle DuBose, vice president of marketing, Schlotzsky’s
  • Karyn Sarago, senior vice president of marketing, Specialty Category


“As a leading [quick-service restaurant] company, we are focused on the growth and career development of our associates,” says Jim Holthouser, CEO of Focus Brands. “We are fortunate to have tremendous talent driving brand relevance and best-in-class brand management, and we are always thrilled to see these strong and influential leaders continue to grow and lead our brands and categories with creative marketing strategies and unmatched brand management and culinary innovation.”

Mike Freeman has been named chief brand officer of McAlister’s Deli. He has been working with the brand for 13 years and most recently served as vice president of operations. Mike started as an assistant general manager at the McAlister’s Deli in Bossier City, La. He has worked in various operations and training leadership roles. Mike has 25 years of experience in the food service industry ensuring dynamic brand development and consistent growth. He is known for advancing his team members and leveraging company restaurants to create strong community relationships. He has also held leadership positions in casual and fine dining concepts. Mike studied at Penn State University and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

The company also made two significant moves to bolster strategic marketing at both the restaurant and specialty categories. Karyn Sarago has been promoted to senior vice president of marketing for the Specialty Category and Danielle Porto Parra will be her counterpart as senior vice president of marketing for the Restaurant Category. For more than three years, Karyn served as vice president of marketing for Cinnabon and has more than 18 years of experience in the food and hotel space. Danielle recently served as vice president of marketing for McAlister’s Deli and brings 20 years of experience as a chief marketing and digital officer in the retail and hospitality industries. Together, Karyn and Danielle will work with key leaders within the organization to enhance digital engagement, strategic initiatives, creative development and services across the Focus Brands categories and portfolio of brands.

Nicolle DuBose has been appointed to vice president of marketing for Schlotzsky’s. She has built her career at Focus Brands for the past 12 years starting with Moe’s Southwest Grill followed by the International Division predominantly supporting Cinnabon International. Most recently, she was the vice president of marketing for Carvel. She brings strong business acumen of the company’s iconic brands and global business while also creating breakthrough marketing strategies and brand relevancy.

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