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Name and title: Elisa D. Garcia C., executive vice president, general counsel and secretary Age: 44 Domino’s dominates: Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Domino’s Pizza LLC began its rise in 1960 when Thomas Monaghan bought DomiNick’s, a small pizzeria in nearby Ypsilanti, for a $500 down payment, an investment that has since been parlayed into 2002 reported gross revenues of $3.96 billion. Today, Domino’s operates 7,253 stores (600 of which are corporate owned, the rest owned by franchisees) in 50 countries. It has 13,000 corporate employees, a number that swells to 140,000 counting the franchises and their personnel. Domino’s, no longer headed by Monaghan, is now a private equity company owned by Boston’s Bain Capital and members of management. Obesity suits: Although neither Domino’s nor the pizza industry is currently a defendant in the so-called Big Food litigation, Garcia C. is concerned that all quick-service restaurants and businesses are potential targets for blame in obesity-related suits. “Even more nefarious, I think, is the legislation,” she said. “There are probably about 25 states that are considering some form of legislation related to consumption, banning certain types of foods or soft drinks in schools, menu labeling, that sort of thing. I handle our government affairs, so I’m very much on top of lobbying Congress against these types of legislation.” She is carefully monitoring the situation, while contending that pizza should be considered less blameworthy because it is a more “wholesome” alternative to fast food. Sarbanes-Oxley: Unlike many of her peers, Garcia C. is a fan of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which sets guidelines used to validate the accuracy and integrity of corporate financial data. Sarbanes-Oxley has put the legal department more at the center of Domino’s operations, she said, and has also deepened her relationship with the finance department and its chief financial officer. “Not that I’m looking for accounting improprieties,” she added, “but I’m brought into the loop right away if there’s a difference of opinion with our auditor on any issue.” The accounting act and its emphasis on corporate transparency have also raised her profile with Domino’s board of directors, as “it’s enabled me to put corporate governance at the forefront of its agenda.” No agita: In contrast with Domino’s more turbulent early history, Garcia C. asserts that today “there is not any one big case that is giving me agita.” Customer suits do arise from time to time, precipitated by slip-and-fall events, patrons seared by cheese or, in one pending case, an insect found in a pizza. Garcia C. considers such matters to be “part of the normal course of business” for a large retailer and, as such, not particularly worrisome. She also points out that the company’s customer care center and managers generally are able to defuse such incidents before the legal department has to step in. Domino’s does face several employee suits over wage-and-hour issues and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims. The company, which relies heavily on deliveries, insists on driver-safety programs for its delivery staff, but in spite of its efforts in this area, also has 120 car accident-related complaints on its plate. Prompted by a spate of recent robberies and burglaries, Garcia C. and her team work, both on the policy side and on any suits that potentially could arise, on the safety and security of Domino’s delivery personnel and retail employees. Predating Garcia C.’s arrival, Domino’s was involved in several major legal actions. In 1993, a St. Louis jury ordered the pizza chain to pay $79 million to a woman who was struck by one of its drivers who ran a red light. Legal department: The GC oversees four attorneys (a labor and employment lawyer, a marketing specialist and two litigators) and supervises 10 “paraprofessionals.” Since the franchise services group and the corporate leasing group are also in her domain, there are roughly 25 staffers under Garcia C.’s leadership. She, in turn, reports directly to CEO David A. Brandon. Seventy percent of Domino’s legal work is done in-house. Outside counsel includes Boston’s Ropes & Gray for corporate securities matters and Piper Rudnick for franchise work. Having a huge roster of employees, Domino’s uses numerous labor and employment-oriented firms, which are chosen based on location, need and the issue in question. Primary focus: Today, the primary focus of Garcia C.’s law group is in the area of corporate compliance prompted by the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. Systems documentation and miscellaneous legislative matters are also part of her responsibilities. Should the need arise, mergers and acquisitions work is also in her bailiwick. Product distribution is another facet of the legal department’s duties, causing Garcia C. to remark, “Thank goodness we have no unions.” Her legal team also reviews documentation related to commercial partnerships and promotions with entities as diverse as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and eBay. In addition to her Domino’s duties, Garcia C. is vice president of the Michigan chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, an organization that she credits with helping her get established in the state and that also assists her in evaluating attorneys that her firm may hire. Route to the top: Garcia C. graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and, in 1985, earned her J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law. She then joined New York’s Willkie Farr & Gallagher as an associate in the corporate securities department, then moved in-house to GAF Corp. of Wayne, N.J., a manufacturer of specialty chemicals and roofing materials, then to Philip Morris Inc., initially as assistant counsel, then as international regional counsel for Latin America. In April 2002, Garcia C. joined Domino’s as its first-ever general counsel. “I know that Domino’s is a company that seeks diversity and I think having a Hispanic woman on the management team, in the executive ranks of the company, is something that they’re very proud of and something I am proud of.” Family: Garcia C. and her husband, lawyer and consultant John Hasluck, have two children: Brooke, 11, and Jake, 7. Last book and movie: There’s No Such Thing As “Business” Ethics, by John C. Maxwell, and The Barefoot Contessa. -Roger Adler

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