Jane Grote Abell
Executive Chairwoman and Chief Purpose Officer, Donatos
Jane Grote Abell, executive chairwoman of the board and chief purpose officer at Donatos Pizza, will deliver the summer commencement address at The Ohio State University. Abell is an Ohio State alumna and holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications.
Ms. Grote Abell is the daughter of Donatos founder Jim Grote. She grew up in a house behind the very first Donatos store on the South Side of Columbus, and her family’s living room was often filled with people from the neighborhood as they waited for their orders to be prepared. Donatos was founded by Mr. Grote on the belief in doing business with love and treating others the way he wanted to be treated, known as Agape Capitalism, which continues as a guiding principle today and goes hand-in-hand with the Latin meaning of the name Donatos – to give a good thing.
Since Donatos’ founding in 1963, the family business has expanded to 410 locations in 23 states. Ms. Grote Abell was a major catalyst behind the decision to purchase Donatos back from McDonald’s in 2003 and has assisted with the expansion of the company since the purchase was made. Her four C’s of success – character, courage, conviction and compassion – were the guideposts that helped her lead the Donatos team back to the success it is enjoying today.
In 2015, Ms. Grote Abell released her first book, The Missing Piece: Doing Business the Donatos Way, the story of a classic American family business, and an insightful account of her lifelong education in leadership, authenticity and running a values-based business. She was also featured in CBS’s hit series Undercover Boss in 2014.
Among the work that Ms. Grote Abell takes the most pride in is Donatos’ philanthropic endeavors. In January, the company announced the establishment of the Donatos Family Foundation, Love Our Neighbor. Through the foundation, Donatos will partner with local organizations that address housing, hunger and health.
The Donatos Family Foundation has already partnered with Habitat for Humanity and raised more than $100,000 for the nonprofit housing organization, with funds going to local Habitat chapters in the communities where the money is raised.
Ms. Grote Abell is co-founder and secretary of the board of trustees of the Reeb Avenue Center, a Columbus-based charity working to lift people out of poverty; a board member of I Know I Can, an organization that helps Columbus City Schools students attend college; and a member of the Columbus Partnership, a nonprofit organization that promotes community and economic development in central Ohio.
Among her many honors, she has received special recognition from the Social Justice Awards, which recognize individuals who show leadership in community service; a YWCA Academy Women of Achievement Award; a Spirit of Columbus Award from The Columbus Foundation; and honorary degrees from Capital, Franklin and Otterbein universities.
Commencement speaker selection
Your help is needed to identify Commencement speakers who can inspire graduates, their families, our faculty, and other guests. The Office of Academic affairs explains the criteria and process for selecting a commencement speaker.