Lead Director, Verizon; Director, The Travelers Companies; Former Chairman & CEO, Darden Restaurants
Clarence Otis, Jr.. served as chief executive officer of Darden Restaurants, Inc. from 2004 to 2014 and as its chairman from 2005 to 2014. Darden is the world’s largest full-service restaurant company, and its brands are Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s and Yard House.
Under Mr. Otis’s leadership, Darden’s strategy combined active portfolio management, disciplined brand building, rigorous operational execution and creating and sustaining a motivating and inclusive culture. In addition to achieving strong operating and financial results during Mr. Otis’s tenure as CEO, in 2011 Darden became the first full-service restaurant company to be named one of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work, a distinction it achieved for four consecutive years.
Mr. Otis joined Darden in 1995 as treasurer, before becoming chief financial officer and then president of its Smokey Bones brand. Prior to Darden, he led the municipal securities group of Chemical Securities (a predecessor of JP Morgan Securities). A member of the New York Bar Association, Mr. Otis began his professional career as a securities attorney in New York City, practicing for four years before entering the financial services industry.
Mr. Otis serves on the board of directors of VF Corporation; Verizon Communications, Inc., where he is currently the independent lead director; the Travelers Companies; Union Square Hospitality Group; and Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he is chairman. He is also a member of the National Board of Governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and is on the board of trustees of Cleveland Clinic.
Mr. Otis has a JD from Stanford Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Williams College, where he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and been recognized with an honorary degree. In 2007, Mr. Otis was inducted as a lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.
Mr. Otis, who grew up in Los Angeles, is married to Jacqueline Bradley. They have three children, Calvin, Randall and Allison.