Corporate Leadership

Leadership

Read on to learn more about the team behind the indescribably good chicken.

Zach McLeroy

Chief Executive Officer

Zach McLeroy, CEO, and founder of Zaxby's, has grown a billion-dollar franchise through hard work, resiliency, and determination that all began with a dream and an opportunity in 1990.

Over the past 30 years, he has built the Zaxby's brand into more than just a quick-service chicken chain. He has found the secret to success is serving our communities quality food, providing team members opportunity, creating a definable culture of service, and collaborating with strategic partners to grow the brand to new heights.

Under Zach's leadership, Zaxby's has been recognized in numerous publications and trades throughout the years. Most recently, Forbes listed Zaxby's as one of its Best Large Employers in 2021 as well as Dealmakers of the Year 2021 by Franchise Times for our new partnership with Goldman Sachs.

Today, he oversees all business functions through a strong leadership team, collaborates with our partners at Goldman Sachs, and continues to cast vision for Zaxby’s bright future.

Blake Bailey

Chief Financial Officer

Blake has been with Zaxby’s since 2000 when there were only 85 locations. Since then, Blake has been instrumental in helping build Zaxby’s financial infrastructure to support a 900+ franchise operation.

As Chief Financial Officer, Blake collaborates with fellow Zaxby’s leaders to develop future financial strategies.

He is a graduate of Old Dominion University and serves on the board of Downtown Ministries, Inc., in Athens.

David Waters

Chief Operating Officer

David joined Zaxby’s in 2005 and brought leadership and project management experience from organizations like The Home Depot and the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

In David’s current role as Chief Operating Officer, he collaborates cross-functionally to keep our strategic goals on track and maintain our core value of operational excellence. Through collaboration and teamwork, David and his team develop, implement, and measure progress of key initiatives at Zaxby’s that shows in what our team members and guests experience when they walk through our doors.

David is a Georgia Tech graduate and holds his MBA from UGA’s Terry College of Business.

Joel Bulger

Chief Marketing Officer

Joel came to Zaxby’s in 2018 as our first Chief Marketing Officer. He brought with him 25 years of marketing and branding experience in the restaurant industry with brands like Johnny Rockets, Wendy’s, Church’s Chicken, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Darden Restaurants.

He oversees Zaxby’s national media and marketing strategies and strives to excite and engage our guests in ways they’ve never experienced before from Zaxby’s.

Joel has a B.A. in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Georgia and holds an M.B.A. in International Business from Mercer University’s Stetson School of Business and Economics.

Vanessa Fox

Chief Development Officer

Vanessa joined Zaxby’s in 2020 and became our first Chief Development Officer in our 30-year history. She joined our brand with experience from large organizations like Jack in the Box and Qdoba Mexican Eats, where she executed real estate strategy and led restaurant development.

In this role, Vanessa manages Zaxby’s franchise licensing and development teams and fosters continuity with the design and construction function. Vanessa believes that the recipe for franchising success lies within making building investments the most cost effective and return oriented as possible.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA in addition to her culinary certificate from the San Diego Culinary Institute.

Mike Nettles

Interim Chief Digital Technology Officer

Mike Nettles joined the Zaxby’s brand in 2021 as our Interim Chief Digital and Technology Officer where he has big plans to personalize our digital offerings and create harmony by using technology to streamline our processes and create a seamless technological experience for all of our guests.

Before joining Zaxby’s, Mike led IT teams for various brands including Papa John’s and Panera Bread. He began his career during his junior year of college when he was recruited to join a start-up called Babbage’s—known today as Game Stop where he developed and designed their integrated POS and warehouse management system from scratch.

Brenda Trickey

General Counsel

Brenda became Zaxby's first-ever in-house General Counsel in 2021. Brenda’s servant-led heart and exceptional experience at other culture-driven organizations such as Marriott International and Popeye’s made her a perfect fit as Zaxby’s continues to grow.

Brenda is excited to build a best-in-class in-house legal department at Zaxby’s that proactively anticipates the company’s needs and establishes processes and procedures to ensure legal matters, both big and small, are handled efficiently and expediently.

Brenda has a B.A. in political science from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctor with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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