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Thomas Gathers ’77

Thomas W. Gathers '77

Thomas W. Gathers is honored as a 2009 distinguished alumnus for his successful executive career and his dedication to the hospitality industry.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Public Service from IUP in 1977 and was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. He later earned a Master of Science degree in Organizational Training from the University of Miami.

Mr. Gathers is senior vice president of human resources for LongHorn Steakhouse, a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc. Darden is the largest full-service restaurant company in the world with over 1,750 restaurants, $7.2 billion in sales, and 180,000 employees. Darden businesses include the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, the Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, and Seasons 52. LongHorn Steakhouse, where Mr. Gathers is responsible for staffing, training and development, employee relations, and compensation and benefits, is one of the fastest-growing companies within Darden and has annual sales of $1 billion.

Upon graduation from IUP, Mr. Gathers began his career as a restaurant manager in Ohio, quickly progressing to director of operations and then director of training. In 1981 he joined Darden Restaurants, which was then a division of General Mills, as director of training for Red Lobster International and later, the Olive Garden. He left Darden in 1990 to become senior vice president of human resources at Boston-based Uno Restaurant Corporation, which operates casual dining restaurants throughout the world. From 1998 until the merger into Darden Restaurants, Mr. Gathers served as executive vice president of human resources for RARE Hospitality, the parent company of LongHorn, the Capital Grille, and Bugaboo Creek. During his career, Mr. Gathers has been an executive officer of companies trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, and the NASDAQ Exchange.

Mr. Gathers is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, American Society for Training and Development, and HR Forum. He is a past president of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers and a former president and chairman of the board of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. He has also served on advisory boards at the University of New Hampshire, Suffolk University, and Gwinnett College.

A featured speaker at numerous universities and at national and international restaurant shows, Mr. Gathers has served as a guest speaker at IUP for students in Hospitality Management classes. He has also been instrumental in LongHorn’s ongoing recruiting of IUP graduates.

Mr. Gathers and his wife of 31 years, the former Melanie Overman, a 1978 IUP alumna, reside in Orlando, Florida. They have two daughters, Elizabeth and Katherine.

Profile published on 3/8/10

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