Joining Taco John’s in February 2024, Heather Neary brings more than two decades of relevant restaurant, brand, and franchise leadership experience to her new role as President and CEO. Most recently she served as the Brand President at KBP Brands, a large QSR Franchisee. She began her restaurant career with the international pretzel franchise, Auntie Anne’s, culminating in the role of Brand President. Neary is an active member of the International Franchise Association and has served on the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association, and the Women’s Foodservice Forum. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Essential Property Realty Trust (NYSE: EPRT), as well as on the Board of Advisors for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.


With over 20 years of food and beverage marketing experience, M. Barry Westrum was named Chief Marketing Officer for Taco John’s International in May, 2020. Prior to Taco John’s, Westrum was CMO for Del Taco in Southern California, leading their aggressive growth plans in both existing markets and new markets in the Mid-west and Southeastern parts of the country. Westrum previously served as Executive Vice President of Marketing for International Dairy Queen. Westrum also has 17 years of experience leading several concepts within Yum! Brands, most recently as Chief Marketing Officer at KFC. He also served as Chief Marketing Officer at A&W and Long John Silver’s Brands, and as Senior Director of Brand Marketing at Taco Bell.


Kocer was most recently a division vice president for Arby’s, responsible for the management and operations of over 400 franchised restaurants and almost 300 company-owned ventures across 10 states. Under his leadership, the division generated over $1 billion in sales and was the top-ranked in performance and second in volume last year. During his near 20-year career with Arby’s, Kocer served in various leadership roles including area supervisor, director of operations and senior director of operations. He eliminated redundancies, helped streamline the brand’s performance scorecard from 16 to nine initiatives, created and developed a national catering program and oversaw the implementation of several new technologies and operational processes.


Richard was named Chief Financial Officer for Taco John’s International in February 2021. Richard has more than 20 years of experience in the financial field, with most of his experience in the apparel retail industry. He was most recently the CFO for Christopher & Banks and has held a variety of leadership roles at retail brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Soma Intimates and Chico’s. Richard will lead Taco John’s financial strategy, including accounting, business analysis, and financial planning. In addition, he will oversee Supply Chain and Human Resources.

Stephanie Gooden, Vice President of Human Resources


Stephanie rejoined Taco John’s in 2016 as Vice President for Human Resources after spending 1-1/2 years with the Wyoming Department of Corrections as Deputy Human Resources Manager. Prior to the State, Stephanie was with Taco John’s for 33 years, primarily in Human Resources. Her areas of expertise are staffing, compensation/benefits, employee relations and training/development. Stephanie is a member of the Society of Human Resources Management and served as President of the Chain Restaurant Total Rewards Association.

Patricia Hays, General Counsel and SecretaryPATRICIA HAYS, GENERAL COUNSEL AND SECRETARY

Patt joined Taco John’s International in June 2010 as GC and corporate secretary and leads TJI’s internal legal department. Prior to joining TJI, Patt was assistant general counsel of TBC Corporation, parent company of Big O Tires, LLC, a retail tire franchisor, as well as parent company of Tire Kingdom and Merchant’s Tire & Auto, and National Tire and Battery where she was responsible for litigation management, real estate, and franchising matters.


Shannon Iverson was named Vice President for Franchise Development in February 2024. Early in her career, she taught kindergarten in Cusco, Peru while studying Spanish at the Amauta Academy. She then pursued graduate studies at the University of Louisville in Franchise Management and a CFE designation followed. Before joining Taco John’s, Shannon held the position of VP of Franchise Growth at Marco’s Pizza, where she led the charge in crafting and executing their strategy for existing and prospective franchisee growth, both nationally and internationally. Shannon contributes to the franchise community by serving on the IFA’s Women’s Franchise Committee and most recently, was appointed to the Northwest Ohio District Export Council (DEC) by the Secretary of Commerce. 


Ryan was named Vice President for Technology in January 2024. Ryan joins us with 20 years of experience leading technology teams in the restaurant industry. Before joining Taco John’s, Ryan was the Chief Technology Officer for Steele Brands. Prior to Steele Brands, Ryan held a variety of roles at Inspire Brands/Buffalo Wild Wings and International Dairy Queen. Ryan will lead the overall strategy for technology, implementation of restaurant systems, and innovation to improve the guest experience and team member productivity.