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Theresa Leets & Sam Levine Received the AAFD Chairman’s Award at 2024 Total Quality Franchising Awards Banquet

By Published On: May 20th, 2024

May 2024, ENFIELD, CT — The American Association of Franchisees and Dealers (AAFD) honored Theresa Leets, Assistant Legal Counsel, Legal Division, for the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) and Samuel A.A. Levine, Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with the Total Quality Franchising Chairman’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Franchising Community. These awards were presented at the Total Quality Franchising Awards banquet on Tuesday, May 7 in St. Louis, MO. The AAFD Chairman’s Award is determined, recommended, and presented by the AAFD’s Awards Committee and at the discretion of the AAFD’s current chairman and recognizes individuals whom the chairman “feels have admirably upheld the values of Total Quality Franchising throughout the previous year.”

Theresa Leets oversees the regulatory efforts on franchising, enforcing California’s franchise disclosure law, the California Franchise Investment Law. In addition, she is the Chair of the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA) Franchise and Business Opportunities Project Group, which works with other state regulators to oversee franchise regulations.

Keith Miller, AAFD’s Director of Public Affairs and Engagement, congratulates Theresa Leets, the esteemed recipient of the AAFD Chairman’s Award, at the AAFD Total Quality Franchising® Awards Banquet.

During the past few years, Leets has engaged in efforts to act against franchisors violating the law, including penalties against BurgerIM to the tune of $4 million. More recently, DFPI acted against I Heart Mac & Cheese. Because of these efforts, franchisors know that California is watching their actions and unlike most states, they will pay a penalty if they violate the law.

Leets actions at NASAA have seen her lead the effort to eliminate the use of waivers and disclaimers used by franchisors against franchisees and is pushing to have required registration and disclosures by franchise brokers. Her efforts continue to drive change in franchising from the regulatory front.

Sam Levine’s work prioritizing franchising at the FTC began as he served as Attorney Advisor to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra from May 2018 to June 2021, prior to being named Bureau Director. The Bureau of Consumer Protection oversees the Franchise Rule, what franchising sees as the required presale disclosure.

Under Sam’s leadership, we have seen franchising, specifically protecting franchisees and their investments, become a priority at the FTC. Where historically franchising didn’t receive a single dedicated full-time person, there is now a franchise team looking at issues. In 2022, the FTC acted against BurgerIM, the first such action by the agency since 2007. In March 2023, a Request for Information on franchising was released, asking for comments on a wide-ranging list of subjects, going far beyond the traditional presale disclosure. These franchise relationship issues looked at using the FTC’s authority to act against unfair acts or practices in or effecting commerce. We have also seen the Bureau’s willingness to directly hear from franchisees and their issues, both in person and via remote calls with the franchise team. After all these years, franchisees feel the FTC is listening, and much of that has to do with Sam’s leadership.

Robert Purvin, AAFD Chair of Trustees, and Keith Miller, AAFD’s Director of Public Affairs and Engagement, congratulate Samuel A.A. Levine in his Washington, DC office. Sam is the honored recipient of the 2024 AAFD Chairman’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Franchising Community, presented at the AAFD Total Quality Franchising® Awards Banquet.

“Franchisee advocates have been waiting for years for the regulatory agencies to listen and take substantive action,” said Keith Miller, AAFD Director of Public Affairs and Engagement. “Theresa and Sam have fostered in a new level of engagement by the regulatory agencies that has seen real change and the hope that continued efforts will ensure franchising better protects the primary investor, the franchisee”.

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Written by : AAFD

The AAFD is a national non-profit trade association representing the rights and interests of franchisees and independent dealers throughout the United States. The AAFD’s mission is to achieve Total Quality Franchising We do this by promoting fair and equitable franchising and dealer practices and empowering effective independent franchise associations.  We also provide members with programsservices and products which enhance their individual businesses and careers.