The University of Central Florida, in partnership with Dr. Phillips Charities, is proud to announce that Clarence Otis Jr., former CEO and chairman of Darden Restaurants and Lead Director of the Board of Directors of Verizon, will serve as the inaugural speaker for Crossroads: The Intersection of Business and Philanthropy, on November 19 from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater.

The public is invited to hear Mr. Otis discuss “lessons learned” during his time as the leader of the world’s largest full-service restaurant company. He also will share his views about how a successful business — and individual entrepreneurs — have an important role to play in improving their communities through philanthropy. The crossroads where business and philanthropy intersect often is the engine that drives the success and well-being of individual lives and entire communities.

The Crossroads Lecture Series is one example of how Dr. Phillips Charities and UCF work in partnership to improve our educational programming and the health and vitality of Downtown Orlando, Central Florida and beyond.

NOTE: Seating is limited and registration is required by November 12. You may register here. 


Clarence Otis, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer, Darden Restaurants Inc., 2004-2014
Chairman, Darden Restaurants Inc., 2005-2014

Darden is the world’s largest full-service restaurant company, and its brands are Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s and Yard House.

Under Mr. Otis’s leadership, Darden’s strategy combined active portfolio management, disciplined brand building, rigorous operational execution and the creation and sustaining of a motivating and inclusive culture. In addition to achieving strong operating and financial results during Mr. Otis’s tenure as CEO, in 2011 Darden became the first full-service restaurant company to be named one of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work, a distinction it achieved for four consecutive years.

Mr. Otis joined Darden in 1995 as treasurer, before becoming chief financial officer and then president of its Smokey Bones brand. Prior to Darden, he led the municipal securities group of Chemical Securities (a predecessor of JP Morgan Securities). A member of the New York Bar Association, Mr. Otis began his professional career as a securities attorney in New York City, practicing for four years before entering the financial services industry.

Mr. Otis serves on the board of directors of VF Corporation; Verizon Communications, Inc., where he is currently the independent lead director; the Travelers Companies; Union Square Hospitality Group; and Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he is chairman. He is also a member of the National Board of Governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and is on the board of trustees of Cleveland Clinic.

Mr. Otis has a JD from Stanford Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Williams College, where he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and where he has been recognized with an honorary degree. In 2007, Mr. Otis was inducted as a lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.


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