Women in Pizza

Women in Pizza, an illustration of the women that make our industry strong.

There are common threads that run through the career paths of Mary Jane Riva (CEO of Pizza Factory), Lori Mourlam (Vice President of ROC Management, which owns Godfather’s Pizza stores), Diana Cline (Chef and owner of Diana’s Cucina & Lounge), and Michelle Howey (CTO of Nancy’s Pizzeria), but it has nothing to do with their current career positions—it has to do with how they got there.

All four of these women are strong leaders in pizza because of their determination, resilience, adaptability, and work ethic. None of these women had their eyes set on a high level career in the pizza industry—in fact, for some, the restaurant industry wasn’t even on their radar. Both Michelle and Diana started out in university computer science programs, and Lori and Mary Jane didn’t attend post-secondary at all. Even now, all four women talk about success as being more than their official work position. They view success as being a good person, prioritizing family, and enjoying their work.

Another commonality among them is how complicated, difficult and character-building their career journey has been:

  • Mary Jane experienced the near failure of her first franchise during a harsh recession, 
  • Lori Mourlam had to regularly move to be close to new Godfather’s locations throughout her career, 
  • Michelle experienced a dramatic shift in careers late in life, and 
  • Diana was both blind-sided by an international pizza chain, and suffered the closure of her first restaurant.

So how did they attain such notable career growth? They worked hard through trials, and never shied away from hard work. It can often be tempting to give up when it feels like your dream is taking too long, or if the obstacles feel too big. All these women are inspirational in the way that they saw hard work as an opportunity, and weren’t afraid to learn as they went. Now, because of their experiences, people turn to them as experts, leaders, and role models in the pizza industry.

You can read their individual stories of failure, learning and triumph here:


Michelle Howey - Women in Pizza

Michelle Howey - Her Unlikely Journey to Franchising

When Michelle Howey started her first job at a Nancy’s Pizzeria at the age of 17, working as a busser, she had no way of knowing that she would one day co-own its parent company. Her path to becoming the CTO of Chicago Franchise Systems (CFS) was not immediately apparent—she first obtained a degree in computer science from a top university, and then worked for years in a career dedicated to cellular switching systems. Read More

Mary Jane Riva - Women in Pizza

Mary Jane Riva - From Franchisee to CEO

Being an entrepreneur is a big part of who Mary Jane Riva is. She opened her first business at the age of 20, tripled her investment in 3 years, and moved on to her next venture—a pizza franchise. In 2012 she purchased Pizza Factory Franchising System. Read More

Lori Mourlam


 Lori Mourlam - From Intern to Vice President

Lori Mourlam is what some people call a “lifer.” She’s dedicated her career and over 40 years of her life to working from an entry-level high school position to the top—Vice President. However, working her way up the ladder was not her goal—it was a natural progression that resulted from her genuine passion for her work, and her dedication to the Godfather’s chain. Read More

Chef Diana Cooking


Diana Cline - A Rocky Road to Pizza Success

When Diana Cline meets people for the first time, she says she’s a chef and co-owns a restaurant called Diana’s Cucina & Lounge in Winnipeg. But Diana does much more. She is a columnist, international culinary competition winner, author, judge, consultant, and mother. Read More