Brenda J. LauderbackBoard Member
As the nation’s first African American Board Chair at a public food service company, Brenda J. Lauderback is an executive trailblazer who drives bottom-line results, supports her community, and invests in future generations.
Lauderback’s track record of success, grounded in hard work and strategic thinking, has fueled her career, leading her into the senior ranks in corporate America, including her current role as chairman of the board for Denny’s, Inc. (DENN), one of America’s largest full-service family restaurant chains.
Her career in retailing began at Gimbel’s Department store in downtown Pittsburgh where she worked across the company in multiple departments, quickly learning what it takes to be an effective leader. She strategically navigated through Gimbel’s before she decided to take on greater responsibility in Minneapolis as a merchandise buyer at Dayton-Hudson, now known as Target Corporation.
She became the company’s first and only African American to become Vice President and General Merchandise Manager for shoes, cosmetics, accessories, intimate apparel, and children. Lauderback moved to U.S. Shoe Corporation, where she became the president of the wholesale and manufacturing divisions while also leading the company’s international offices. Later, when Nine West acquired U.S. Shoe, she became the company’s president of the wholesale and retail divisions.
All of these experiences in leadership and strategic business growth have positioned Lauderback as a highly sought-after board member and a widely lauded and recognized business leader. She is a member of the Sleep Number and Wolverine Worldwide corporate boards. Additionally, she is one of the National Association of Corporate Director’s Top 100 Directors. She is on the National Restaurant News’ Power List of Most Influential People in Foodservice and one of Savoy Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Corporate America. She received the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award from the White House in May 2022 which resulted in the city of Charleston, SC, Mayor proclaiming May 9, 2022, as Brenda Lauderback Day.
Lauderback’s unique blend of experience has landed her on the covers or featured in Forbes, Essence, Black Enterprise, Ebony, and Savoy Magazines.
As someone who values the importance of paying it forward, Lauderback is a major supporter of the James E. Clyburn Scholarship and Research Foundation and Tom Joyner Foundation, providing financial assistance to students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She also supports the International African American Museum in Charleston, the South Carolina Aquarium, and the Gibbes Museum of Art.
Her business acumen and philanthropic efforts have not gone unnoticed. Over the years, she has received numerous awards, including the YWCA Greater Charleston “What Women Bring” Award for business achievement. The National Black MBA Association honored her with the President’s Award, and she received an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from her alma mater, Robert Morris University. She has also been awarded the Alumni Achievement Award and has a boardroom named in her honor. She is always willing to mentor young business leaders, especially other minority women.
As a breast cancer survivor, she has actively supported the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Worldwide.
She is a member of The Links, Incorporated, The Girlfriends, Chums, Smart Set, and the AKA Sorority.
Lauderback, the daughter of Clayton and Dorothy, is married to Dr. Boyd Wright, and they have two children, Phallon and Adam. When she’s not traveling, she resides between Dallas and Charleston, SC.