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Diane Pearse



Diane Pearse is the retired Chief Executive Officer and President of Hickory Farms, LLC, a leading multi-channel retailer of food gifts and specialty foods. She held this role from March 2016 through January 2022, where she led a transformation of the company to reinvent the brand and become the best retailer in the food gifting space. Under Diane’s leadership, the company transformed from a holiday-only tradition to a more modern and digital premier retailer that offers expertly curated gifts for any holiday or occasion. She accomplished this through the introduction of hundreds of new products; completing a rebranding; aggressively growing the eCommerce business; increasing profitability; building out a talented leadership team; and successfully completing three acquisitions, including Wicked Good Cupcakes, a Shark Tank company.

From May of 2015 to March of 2016, Diane held the position of Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Finance for Garrett Brands, LLC, a privately held Chicago-based retailer of gourmet, handcrafted popcorn with over 40 locations globally. Immediately prior to joining Garrett, Diane spent four years as the Senior Vice President of Operations and Merchandising for Redbox Automated Retail, LLC. Diane joined Redbox as the Senior Vice President of Finance in May of 2010. From 2001 to May of 2010, she served as the Chief Financial Officer of Crate and Barrel. Diane began her career with Amoco Corporation in 1980, and over a period of twenty years held a variety of financial positions in the corporate finance, treasury, accounting, and technology areas. 

Since 2004, Diane has served as a director for MSA Safety, Incorporated. In May of 2018, she joined the board of Basic American, Inc. In the spring of 2023, she joined the board of Li-Cycle Holdings Corporation and the board of Carl Buddig and Company. Diane also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business and is a member of the board of Uniting Voices Chicago, formerly the Chicago Children’s Choir.

Diane was named one of Crain’s 2019 Notable Women Executives over 50 and was recognized as one of Women Inc Magazine’s 2019 Most Influential Corporate Directors. In 2020, she was selected to become a member of The Chicago Network. She received the 2023 Edward Nestingen Distinguished Alumni Award from the University YMCA in Champaign, IL.

Diane graduated Bronze Table with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of Illinois – Urbana, where she was also a Bailey Scholar with the University YMCA. She holds an MBA in Finance, with honors, from DePaul University. Diane and her husband Jim have been married for more than three decades, they enjoy playing golf, whenever possible, fine dining, and relaxing with a good glass of wine.

Diane Pearse