Debra Smithart-Oglesby to speak at GGC commencement

Georgia Gwinnett College’s graduating seniors will be addressed by prominent business leader Debra Smithart-Oglesby at the college’s spring commencement ceremony, set for 10:00 a.m., May 11.

Photo of Debra Smithart-Oglesby

Debra Smithart-Oglesby 

Georgia Gwinnett College’s graduating seniors will be addressed by prominent business leader Debra Smithart-Oglesby at the college’s spring commencement ceremony, set for 10:00 a.m., May 11.

“We are very excited that our students will hear from an individual of Ms. Smithart-Oglesby’s stature in the business community,” said GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman. “Her varied roles in business provide her with a broad view on the expectations and needs of employers in today’s economic climate. We look forward to the advice and perspectives she will share with our students.”

Smithart-Oglesby currently serves as chairman of the board of directors for Denny’s Inc., America’s largest full-service family dining restaurant chain with more than 1,650 locations and system-wide sales of $2.4 billion. She served as interim CEO of Denny’s from June 2010 through January 2011. 

Additionally, she is founder and president of O/S Partners, which provides investment capital and consulting services to early-stage start-up companies in food service and specialty retail. Before joining O/S Partners in 2000, Smithart-Oglesby served as the chief financial officer for Dekor, Inc., an early-stage retail start-up company in the home improvement/decorating industry. 

From 1997 to 1999, Smithart-Oglesby served as president of Corporate Services and chief financial officer for FirstAmerica Automotive, where she directed all financial, administrative and strategic planning functions for this automotive dealership retailer and consolidator that generated $1.6 billion in revenue. 

Before joining FirstAmerica Automotive, from 1985 to 1997, Smithart-Oglesby worked at Brinker International, a multi-concept casual dining restaurant company which operates Chili’s Grill & Bar, On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, Maggiano’s Little Italy and Romano’s Macaroni Grill. She  served on the board of directors from 1991 to 1997, as well as executive vice president and chief financial officer. She provided strategic direction and managed the financial and administrative functions for the company with sales of $1.8 billion and more than 800 locations internationally. 

Smithart-Oglesby’s early career experience includes audit, controller and accountant positions with companies including Coopers and Lybrand, OKC Liquidating Trust, and New York Merchandise Co.

While working full time, Smithart-Oglesby earned a master’s degree in business administration from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington.  She currently holds a position on the advisory board of CFO Magazine. 

She has served on the board of directors of Noodles and Company, a quick casual dining restaurant chain, the finance committee for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Presbyterian Hospital Resource Board, president of the board of the Family Place, and on the advisory board of the University of Texas at Dallas.

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