Our 30 under 30 list was created to give a big shout-out to the champions in our restaurants and field who serve as our biggest brand ambassadors and living, breathing examples of Taco Bell’s awesome culture.
Meet 30 rock star team members, Live Más Scholars, General Managers and Above Restaurant Leaders who are all under the age of 30. These young leaders go above and beyond every day and inspire their teams to bring the best Taco Bell experience to all customers. Most of them have attended leadership programs, and when they’re not totally killin’ it in the restaurant, they find ways to take their passion and leadership to a new level in their communities, too. Congrats to 2019’s 30 under 30!
Alexis Kenney - Sophia, WV (Charter Foods)
For eight years, Alexis has been a huge asset to the Taco Bell restaurants she has worked at. Last year, she was promoted from Shift Lead to Assistant Manager and was tasked with assisting with a new restaurant opening. She played a key role in helping the new location open up successfully. Her leadership skills stand out, especially when she is tasked with helping with community involvement. She has been the mastermind behind creative ideas executed for a local fundraiser that Charter Foods hosts every year and is always willing to volunteer wherever she is needed. According to her GM, “Never has she turned down helping anyone, even when she has to travel or even stay the night!”
Amanda Morris – Boise, Idaho (ES-O-EN Management, LLC)
Amanda is a natural born leader. She joined a Taco Bell restaurant in 2009 at the age of 18. Throughout her 10 years with the brand, she started as a team member through multiple and was most recently promoted to area coach 8 months ago. Amanda is always willing to give advice to her team members both within her current market in Idaho and her old market in Oregon.
Amber Whitaker –Hickory, NC
Amber has been a rock star since starting at a Taco Bell restaurant 5 years ago. She is currently the Restaurant General Manager for her location and is constantly encouraging her team to always strive for better. At the age of 29, she is well respected amongst her employees. Throughout her time with the brand, she has participated in theSpark, which is a leadership development program, while also volunteering at her local Boys and Girls Club.
Andrea Umana – Lanham, MD
Andrea began her Taco Bell career six years ago. Since being promoted to GM, she is always pushing her team members to think of each other as family. Andrea is so passionate for the brand that she even assists other stores in other markets to assure all restaurants are operating properly. She is always expressing the importance of education and pushes her younger team members to apply for the Live Más Scholarship. When three new Cantinas opened in New York City at the end of 2018, she volunteered to spend six weeks on site training new management.
Anthony Huerta – Dallas, TX
Anthony Huerta started working for a Taco Bell restaurant in 2010, left for a couple of years and wanted to come back in 2014. Since then, his dedication and eagerness to be the best got him promoted from a Team Member to Shift Lead and then he became an AGM. Anthony did not stop there, he wanted more! He moved to Dallas, TX for an opportunity to be a GM to help develop a restaurant. After two years in Dallas, Anthony has turned that restaurant into a success and opened a restaurant that is excelling in customer service, all while being an inspiration to his team. Anthony has been to theMark, has earned a scholarship in the Andy Pearson program (Yum! Brands’ scholarship program) and is a student at Excelsior College working towards a master's degree. Anthony is currently training to be the next Area Coach and taking additional courses to expand his options. His manager said, “Anthony always wants MÁS!”
Ashley Emmons – Cullman, AL (Tacala)
Ashley has been with Taco Bell for nine years beginning as a Team Member, she was then promoted to Restaurant Leader in 2015 finally working her way up to the GM at the Russellville, AL restaurant. Since that promotion, Ashley has been as an outstanding employee by her franchise organization every year. In 2017, Ashley relocated to Cullman, AL to run one of franchise organization Tacala’s most successful restaurants, which was a huge assignment, but no challenge is too big for Ashley. She continues to take on that challenge and succeed. Ashley is a passionate, quick study who loves people. She establishes a winning culture everywhere she goes. Outside of work, Ashley loves spending time with her husband and 15-month-old daughter Laila.
Barack Aziz – Lexington, KY (Charter Foods LLC)
Barack is currently a senior at Tates Creek High School and works part time at his local Taco Bell. On February 21, 2019, he went above and beyond and saved someone’s life. In the lawn outside of the restaurant, there was a man that was lying face down, unresponsive. Barack immediately ran to him and began performing CPR for 2-3 minutes until paramedics arrived. Outside of work, he is enrolled in medical science classes at his school and was trained in CPR a month prior to the incident. Barack hopes to one day be a plastic surgeon or dentist.
Bertraum (Bernard) Evans Jr. - Columbus, GA (Tacala)
When he was 17, Bernard walked into a Taco Bell for open interviews and has been growing ever since. He started working full time after graduating from high school and continued his educational endeavors by working towards an associate degree in Information Technology. Bernard has been a recipient of the Glen Bell Scholarship and Live Más Scholarship. He has attended the leadership development program theMark where he grew as a leader and learned more self-reflection. In his own words, “The future is very bright as we learn to serve others with love, compassion and genuine leadership.”
Deandre (Dre) Scruggs – Corinth, MS (Little Foods Inc.)
Dre is 27 years old and has been a part of the Taco Bell family for 12 years. He has participated in theSpark, as well as various other community activities. His franchise organization, Little Foods Inc., helps raise money for a local inner-city youth organization called The Lighthouse. They have a toy store every Christmas for struggling families to pick out presents that have been donated. Dre has volunteered for this event for several years, whether it’s helping with setup, helping families shop or sharing his testimony, he’s always there to help. Not only that, but he speaks at several churches and rehab facilities. Little Inc. says that Dre is probably the one of the well-respected members at restaurant #003623 and is loved by everyone. Dre has recently completed his AGM training and is almost complete with his RGM training.
Eduardo Ordaz – Lexington, KY (Charter Foods)
Eduardo started at Taco Bell with franchise organization Charter Foods in 2007 as a Team Member. Since then, Eduardo has developed from Cashier to General Manager. He received the Leave Your MARK Award in 2017, Charter Foods’ General Manager of the Year award in 2014 and 2016, and he’s a certified ServSafe Examination Proctor/Instructor and Training Manager. In addition, he has been deeply committed to and involved in Kingswood Home for Children, which provides children who have been abandoned, abused, neglected or displaced a home! On top of it all, he is co-founder of Liga Alfa, a soccer league designed to promote sports among young people. With this program, Eduardo's goal is to help steer teenagers away from drugs and vandalism. In 12 years, Eduardo has helped develop many restaurants and continuously proves his strong sense of building a consistent culture.
Espi Romero – Bowling Green, OH (G-Made Inc.)
Throughout Espi’s five years at Taco Bell, she worked her way from Team Member to GM in just five years. Her positive leadership is remarkable, and her team truly enjoys working with her. At 21 years old, Espi shows wisdom beyond her years, operated three locations and is always praised for her strong work ethic, passion and generosity.
She recently opened a new location in Bowling Green, Ohio. Espi never turns down a challenge and every time she’s asked to do something, she performs at an incredible level. Here’s a few things she’s done: she ran two locations last year and both went to Golden Bell and both were at the top of Kentrics Org.’s list, she builds a phenomenal staff at each location and mentors several team members at all her locations.
Last year, the GM at Perrysburg, Ohio lost her life due to cancer and her name was Dhana. Dhana was a Golden Bell recipient and a one-of-kind leader. And when Espi was 16, her mother passed away, so this hit home for her. When she was asked to go there and bring stability to the restaurant, she did so without hesitation. Soon after, Espi was asked to open a new restaurant in Bowling Green, Ohio and she did.
Espi’s manager, Ralph said, “Espi exemplifies all the characteristics of an incredible leader. Passion, integrity, compassion, strong work ethic and positive leadership is what I think of when I think about this young lady. This is bold leadership at its finest and I am proud to say Espi is a "Big Leader" for my team.”
Hunter Workman – Edmond, OK (O&M TB, LLC)
Hunter is 19 years old, passionate and creative. He is currently attending classes at the University of Central Oklahoma, enrolled in theSpark and applied for the Live Más Scholarship. Outside of work, Hunter volunteers for local groups like Future Farmers of America (FFA), where he helps with the animal enclosures, is actively participating in the environmental club and has an award for the most community service hours and donations to the Special Olympics. Hunter’s franchise organization, O&M TB LLC, says he’s wonderful to work with and has a great relationship with the team. He aspires to work his way up at his restaurant and continues to be an asset to his team every day.
Isaiah Ritchie – Las Vegas, NV (DRG Food)
Isaiah has been with Taco Bell for three years and has been an outstanding employee since the very beginning. Throughout his time with the brand, he has participated in theQuest and is currently enrolled at theLab. Isaiah was the area coach when the Las Vegas Cantina opened and has since been promoted to the Director of Operations in his franchise organization. According to his leadership, Isaiah provides flawless execution in everything he does.
Jazmine McBurney – Las Vegas, NV (DRG Food)
Jazmine has been with the brand since she was 16 years old. After three months of being away at college in Las Vegas, NV, she couldn’t stay away from her Taco Bell roots and ended up joining the team at the Taco Bell Cantina on the Las Vegas strip. As a freshman in college, she plans to use the customer service skills she’s learned to transition to a career in hotel management. She feels as though her work at Taco Bell has helped her build a strong foundation in how to navigate a fast-paced environment while keeping customers in the center of everything she does. Jazmine’s passion for people helped her receive a $10,000 Live Más Scholarship in 2018 and a renewal scholarship in 2019.
Julia Callahan – Forsyth, GA (Georgia-Texas Operating Company, Inc.)
Julia has been working for the brand for four years and has been inspiring those around her since she started. She is a fulltime General Manager while working towards an economics degree. Having immense compassion and organizational skills, Julia can juggle her full-time job with being a fulltime student with ease while ensuring her team knows that she cares about them on a personal level. According to a Shift Lead on her team, “She is 21 years old, but is still a mentor to me and everyone on our team due to her dedication, empathy, and passion for her personal and professional goals.” Julia hopes to take her knowledge from working in a Taco Bell restaurant to the corporate team so she can advocate for team members.
Kaitlyn (KT) Dye – Birmingham, AL (Tacala)
KT started working at a Taco Bell restaurant in 2010 at the age of 18. She quickly moved up to Assistant Restaurant Leader. In 2015, KT was promoted to the Restaurant Leader position at Tacala’s Highway 157 restaurant. KT became a North Star top performer in her first year as the leader. She also became a certified market trainer for Tacala that same year. In 2017, KT accepted a bigger assignment and agreed to run a South Cullman area restaurant. Just recently, KT successfully opened a brand-new Hanceville location. The Hanceville area had a busy first seven days. She is currently overseeing both the South Cullman and the Hanceville restaurants. KT is a people developer and teacher. In 2018 alone, she successfully developed five GMs for her area. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three-year-old daughter.
Katelyn Fritchey – Rogers, AR - (K-Mac Enterprises, Inc.)
Katelyn has been working at the brand for 10 years, where she’s grown to be a Regional General Manager. She worked full-time while she was in college for four years before her promotion to RGM. In her current role, she helps train managers and help them be the best they can be. Her teams are important to her and she never misses a birthday or important milestone. According to a Shift Lead on her team: “She inspires me every day.”
Kayla Newton - Windham, NH (Charter Foods)
Kayla started at a Taco Bell restaurant as a Team Member in 2008 when she was 16 years old. She worked her way through high school and college while she also continued to build her career when she was promoted to Shift Lead. In 2014, the same year she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she accepted a promotion to General Manager. Continuing her strides as a stellar GM, she was offered a promotion to Area Coach where she would oversee multiple restaurants in 2016. She helps grow her teams and assists team members with the GED program, helps with new store openings and gives back to her local community through supporting local organizations and serving meals to the homeless. According to Stacy Forsing, Field Training Coach for Charter Foods, “When she interacts with her restaurant teams, her positive spirit, passion and enthusiasm that she has for the brand shine through for all to see. She just has this aura about her, you can't help but pick up her energy.”
Kelly Stewart - Syracuse, NY (Hospitality Syracuse)
Kelly Stewart captured the hearts of her community when she started writing uplifting quotes from famous authors and leaders on the back of survey cards for customers. Her story went viral earlier in 2019 with local and national media outlets interviewing her about her notes. She told CNN that she started writing the quotes, “Just to put a smile on somebody’s face.” She helps boost the morale of her team during her shifts and customers have complimented her on her positivity.
Mary Jones – Corinth, MS (Little Foods Inc.)
At just 18 years old, Mary has been with Taco Bell for two and a half years. She is said to be one of Little Foods Inc.’s top members and a great leader, especially for someone so young. She recently applied for the Live Más Scholarship, as she pursues her associate nursing degree at Northeast Mississippi Community College. After that, she plans on attending the University of North Alabama. While following her dreams to become a nurse, she balances her work and school life and loves working in the mission field with her church. She’s even been on mission trips to Haiti, and Turks and Caicos and is planning another mission trip soon. Her manager says, “Mary is driven and will be successful at whatever she chooses to do in life.”
Mike Lura – Cottonwood, AZ (Eardley Investments, Inc.)
Mike began working at a Taco Bell restaurant in 2008 and successfully worked his way from team member to Restaurant General Manager. At the age of 28, Mike is always striving to assure both his employees and customers are having a great experience not only in the restaurant, but outside as well, even supporting his employees at their high school football games. Mike has gone above and beyond to remember customers by name and even the birthdays of his regulars. His family-oriented mindset has provided him with a passion for those around him.
Miranda Adinolfi – Milford, CT (Cantina Hospitality, LLC)
Miranda has been a rock star employee since joining Taco Bell five years ago. As a Restaurant General Manager, she pushes her team to be the best version of themselves, both as workers and people. Being a fantastic mother of three small children has given her the nurturing skills to be a natural leader and to show compassion for those around her. Many know Miranda as the glue that holds her team together not only at her restaurant but throughout the entire franchise organization.
Melissa Johnston – Rochester, NY (Hospitality Syracuse Inc.)
Melissa started at Taco Bell with franchise organization Hospitality Syracuse Inc. as a Team Member and has worked her way up to GM of a successful restaurant. She has attended theMark and her restaurant has been a member of the Champions Club (one of the qualifiers for Golden Bell, which is a recognition trip to Hawaii for the top 100 GMs). Melissa is always willing to help with training new leaders and furthering the development of current Team Members. She is a past winner of a Live Mas scholarship and encouraged team members to apply in her restaurant as well, which resulted in one of her Shift Leads receiving a $25,000 Live Mas Scholarship! Melissa is very active in her community and has won a Hospitality Syracuse Inc. Franchise Marketing award for her hard work.
Nicholas Wheat - Chesapeake City, VA
In 2013, Nicholas (Nick) started working for the brand at the age of 16. From the beginning, Nick has shown his potential and interest for growing his career. After graduating high school, he was promoted to Shift Lead. Last year, he was promoted to Assistant General Manager and four months later reached Regional General Manager. He is dedicated to his team and helping them reach their own professional goals. According to his nominator, “Nick is very energetic, creative, passionate and goes above and beyond for his customers and his team.”
Nikki Michelle – Machesney Parl, IL (Border Foods)
For seven years, Nikki has exemplified what it means to work for the brand. She has leadership skills beyond her years and has demonstrated it through her years as a Fundraising Ambassador for the Taco Bell Foundation. During the most recent National Fundraiser for the Live Más Scholarship, she rallied her restaurant around the cause for helping youth follow their passions and reach their education goals. Her team raised more than $5,000 with the help of Nikki’s drive and compassion.
Regina Green – Ooltewah, TN (Tacala)
Over 8 years ago, Regina started her career as a Team Member and proved herself as a powerhouse, quickly being promoted up the ladder. She has helped the restaurants that she’s worked at rise in the rankings, even taking on leading her busy Taco Bell location in the United States. Always willing to take on a challenge, Regina continues to strive for greatness and help her teams succeed. She has participated in leadership development programs where she earned an award for her achievements. Her Area Coach says, “She is truly a ‘here to serve’ leader.”
Sameer Lokhandwala – Chicago, IL (Western Bell)
Sameer is a true Taco Bell brand ambassador. Though he has only been with the brand for 8 months, he has exemplified true Taco bell values since the beginning. Prior to his restaurant opening, Sameer went around the neighborhood to engage with members of the community to get them excited of the opening and share all his knowledge about Taco Bell. Sameer expresses his love for the brand through all the different Taco Bell merchandise he wears, and has a different shirt for every occasion.
Sarah Snell – Brockport, NY (Hospitality Syracuse, Inc.)
Since joining Taco Bell with franchise organization Hospitality Syracuse Inc. in 2010, Sarah has worked her way up from a Team Member to a high-performing RGM. Sarah truly exemplifies all the values of a team player. She is always happy to help her team with whatever they need; she continues to aid with training managers and creating recognition areas in her restaurant and others throughout the region. Sarah attended theMark where she further developed her leadership skills. The positive, energetic yet disciplined work environment that Sarah creates in her restaurant has led them to be a part of the Champions Club for multiple years.
Victor Yaksich – Youngstown, OH (Charter Foods)
Victor is a true Taco Bell culture champion. At the age of 24 he has been an assistant general manager for over a year and continues to go above a beyond his daily duties to assure the restaurant is running successfully. He has been with the brand for over 5 years and has participated in theSpark development program. Victor is a natural leader who hopes to continue to grow.
William Gambrell – Martinsburg, OH - (BurgerBusters)
William is currently 21 years old and is the acting Restaurant General Manager at his location. A natural leader, his employees say he leads by example and cares so much for the team. He completed his GED through an educational program open to Taco Bell corporate and franchise restaurant employees and is currently in college. William will often assist new stores during their grand openings to assure all operations are running accordingly.