As vice president of corporate communications for Hormel Foods Corporation, Wendy Watkins oversees public affairs and strategic communications, serves as the company’s chief spokesperson and is responsible for Studio H — the company’s creative and culinary services group. In this capacity, Watkins has overall responsibility for internal and external communications, the company’s digital presence, issues management, corporate social responsibility initiatives and the consumer response group. She serves as director to the Hormel Foods Charitable Trust, which features the company’s scholarship and matching gift programs.
Watkins joined the company as vice president of corporate communications in 2015 with more than 20 years of experience in strategic communications, marketing and media relations. Prior to joining Hormel Foods Corporation, Watkins spent 15 years as global vice president of corporate communications for Delaware North, a global leader in hospitality and food service with worldwide operations on four continents and 60,000 employees serving half a billion customers. She joined Delaware North after more than a decade in corporate communications with the Marriott family of companies including Host Marriott and Host Marriott Services.
Watkins is active in travel and tourism and food service industry issues. She was part of the initial launch of First Lady Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative and the Chefs Move to School program. She was also an advisor and staff representative to the Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and US Travel CEO Roundtable, and helped craft the first national tourism strategy for the United States. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently appointed Watkins to a second term on the Health Research Science Board for the State of New York.
As a breast cancer survivor, Watkins has been an advocate for breast cancer research and efforts. Most recently, Watkins lent her expertise to help launch the Cancer Nutrition Consortium. The group was formed to look at the issue of proper nutrition during cancer treatment, with a focus on improving the quality of life of cancer patients through nutrition. The Cancer Nutrition Consortium is supported by representatives from the world’s leading cancer centers and corporations as well as renowned physicians, chefs and nutritionists. Watkins was appointed president of the board of directors for the Cancer Nutrition Consortium in 2013.
Watkins was named a Woman of Influence in 2011 by Business First and was the recipient of the 2014 Advocacy Award by Boston’s Art beCAUSE Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and currently serves on its Board of Directors. She is a member of the Vice President’s Forum and the Arthur Page Society, senior leadership groups of corporate communications executives from around the world and participates on numerous other boards and committees of national organizations. She was recently named Chairperson of the Grocery Manufacturers Association Communication Committee.
Watkins received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and has completed advanced management and leadership programs. She recently moved to Austin, Minnesota from Orchard Park, New York with her husband Larry and their two children Michael and Kristen.