07:25 AM

Whataburger Hires New Chief Operating Officer


Whataburger has hired Debbie Stroud as its new Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Debbie is a seasoned executive with more than 30 years of leadership experience in the restaurant and retail industry, most recently as Senior Vice President, U.S. Retail Operations for Starbucks Coffee Company.

During her five years at Starbucks, Debbie was instrumental in creating a strong vision for operational excellence and shared her passion to achieve results as a team. She led the regional vice president team that oversaw store operations across the country – with the responsibility and leadership for more than 10,000 Starbucks retail stores. Ms. Stroud served as a key brand leader, driving both strategy in critical workstreams and building a meaningful Starbucks experience for both partners (employees) and customers.

Prior to Starbucks, Debbie spent 27 years with McDonald’s, where she served in numerous financial roles and transitioned to operations in 2003, ultimately serving as vice president and general manager in the U.S. Southeast.

Debbie will join Whataburger on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, and will be based out of Whataburger’s San Antonio Home Office.

“I’m so excited that Debbie will be our new COO. She brings 30 years of high-impact leadership in the restaurant industry to Whataburger,” says Whataburger President and CEO Ed Nelson. “Her experience leading operations in a time of accelerated growth will truly benefit our brand as we continue to grow across 15 states and deliver bold flavors, extraordinary hospitality, and meaningful communities in our 930+ locations. She has a great energy and passion around connecting with people and building great teams, and I know our 51,000 Family Members are going to benefit from her knowledge.”

Debbie holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Illinois Wesleyan University and has previously served on the Women’s Foodservice Forum and other nonprofit organizations. She and her husband Bob have three daughters.

“There is something truly unique about Whataburger. It’s a family-founded, beloved brand with a strong legacy and a wildly loyal fan base – and it is in a truly exciting phase of growth,” Debbie says. “There is incredible pride among the Whataburger Family Members and in the brand’s fresh, high quality made-to-order food. I’m excited to contribute in a way that enhances the culture of pride, care & love through the experience for both Family Members and customers.”

Stroud will report to Whataburger President & Chief Executive Officer Ed Nelson and be part of the senior leadership team that also includes: Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Office Elena Kraus,  Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Rich Scheffler, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer James Turcotte, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer Janelle Sykes, Senior Vice President & Chief People Officer Peggy Rubenzer, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy & Supply Chain Officer Alexander Ivannikov and Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer Joe Shannon.


Whataburger is the hometown hamburger place that hasn’t compromised. We serve bold flavors and original recipes made to order, just like you like it, and pride ourselves on extraordinary hospitality and meaningful connections in our communities. That’s what’s led fans to Whataburger since Harmon Dobson served our first customer in 1950. Headquartered in San Antonio, we’ve stayed close to our roots while building sales of more than $3 billion annually across our 14-state footprint and more than 900 locations. Even with our exceptional menu, we know that people make the difference at Whataburger. That’s why we’re a national 2023 Top Workplaces award winner. Want to become part of our orange spirit? Apply to become a Family Member (what we call our employees) at whataburger.com/careers. Just hungry for a great meal? Download our app on ios or android to order ahead. Shop Whataburger branded merchandise and selected sauces including our famous Fancy and Spicy Ketchup at WhataStore.com and find Whataburger original-recipe products in grocery stores. See our press kit for a list of locations, fun facts, milestones and other company information.