In recognition of alumni who demonstrate excellence in their field, many universities disburse awards of distinction. For example, the University of South Carolina Upstate (USCS) Alumni Association announced in a press release that Lee Ann Johnston is a Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
Criteria for the award include outstanding career accomplishments as well as service to local community and the university. Johnston received a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies in 1980. She and her husband, Allen Johnston, serve as principals of three management companies that operate various restaurants in the state and surrounding areas.
While dating in high school, the Johnstons met Jerry Richardson, the majority owner of the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise. Richardson recruited Lee Ann Johnston to work for his initial franchised concept, Hardee's Hamburgers. After graduating from USCS, she accepted a position as Richardson's administrative assistant.
In the fall of 1984, Richardson encouraged the Johnstons to open the first Fuddruckers in Spartanburg. More recently, they have opened two Bojangles franchises in the upstate region of South Carolina, under the corporate name of Chix and Bix, LLC.
Lee Ann currently serves as chief financial officer of The Butcher The Baker Companies; Piedmont Restaurant Group, LLC; and Chix and Bix, LLC. In 2007, she was honored with the South Carolina Restaurateur of the Year Award.
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