Panera Bread announced that Karen Kelley and Anita Vanderveer have recently joined the company’s senior management team as SVP, Chief Restaurant Operations Officer, and SVP, Chief People Officer, respectively. Kelley will lead operations across all bakery-cafes and Vanderveer will lead all Human Resources initiatives. Both executives will report directly to Blaine Hurst, president and CEO.

“I am thrilled to welcome Karen and Anita to Team Panera. Their experience and leadership in the restaurant industry is truly unparalleled,” Hurst says.  “I’m looking forward to working alongside them to strengthen and grow both the guest experience and the associate experience.”

As a well-known leader in the restaurant category, Kelley brings more than 30 years of experience to Panera. She’s a world-class, innovative operations leader who has built her career by focusing on harnessing people’s abilities to grow and deliver phenomenal results. Most recently, Kelley served as the president of Tatte Bakery & Cafe and prior to that was the President and COO of Sweetgreen. She started her career pursuing her bachelor’s while working in Taco Bell in college and holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Colorado Boulder in political science and government.

“The opportunity to help shape and deliver the Panera experience is one that doesn’t come around very often,” Kelley says.  “I’m excited to join Panera and look forward to building on the incredible accomplishments of the team.”

Vanderveer is a people focused, forward-thinking, innovative leader who brings extensive human resources experience to Panera. Most recently, Anita served as senior vice president of people for the national headquarters of Sonic, America’s Drive-In. Vanderveer began her career with Pizza Hut/Yum! Brands more than 25 years ago in restaurant operations and has served in a variety of human resources executive positions. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Mountain State University in organizational leadership and a master’s degree in education, human resource development from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I’ve always admired Panera and I’m thrilled to lead the people organization and our world class associate experience initiatives,” Vanderveer says.

Employee Management, News, Panera Bread