WFF, the premier leadership development organization in the foodservice sector, and The Coca-Cola Company named Yolanda Cook, quality, service, and cleanliness vice president for McDonald’s Raleigh region, the recipient of the first Chris Lowe Scholars Award.

Sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, the annual Chris Lowe Scholars Award recognizes high potential women in the foodservice industry. The award is named for Chris Lowe, a Coca-Cola veteran who championed women’s leadership and development at the company.

“Yolanda Cook is an inspirational leader at McDonald’s who exemplifies Chris Lowe’s dedication to women’s advancement and the core mission of the WFF,” says Kathleen Ciaramello, president, national food service and on-premise for Coca-Cola North America. “Not only has Yolanda risen to her position based on a superior skill set driven by operational results, but at the same time she has a passion for helping others develop at her company.”

Cook leads one of the largest business units in the McDonald’s U.S. System overseeing operations, training, technology, and deployment in the Raleigh region. The region comprises of nearly 800 restaurants in six states and serves over a million guests daily. She started at McDonald’s as a crew member and held several mid-management positions before joining the U.S. Operations team in 2004, when she helped to deploy new products across 14,000 U.S.-based restaurants. Cook later became senior director of operations in the Chicago region before being named to her current vice president role.

"We are extremely proud of Yolanda and the accomplishments that contributed to her success and this recognition," says Debbie Roberts, senior vice president of restaurant support officer for McDonald's East Division. "Yolanda is a great example of the strong, talented women we have among our leadership ranks at McDonald's and we appreciate all she does to empower and elevate others in our organization."

“Thanks to The Coca-Cola Company Chris Lowe Award, we are able to send one outstanding leader to our renowned Executive Leadership Program,” says Anna Mason, general manager of WFF. “We are honored to recognize Yolanda Cook, whose leadership at McDonald’s has included an emphasis on helping others advance in their own careers.”

Cook is also a divisional lead for McDonald’s African American Council and a member of McDonald’s Leadership Network.

The WFF Executive Leadership Program, led by Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management Faculty, is exclusively for the foodservice industry and provides high-potential leaders a global management perspective. Participants in the program have the opportunity to build the skill set necessary to successfully lead organizations while building strategic connections with industry peers. Sessions are held at Kellogg campuses and during the WFF's Executive Summit.