ARLINGTON, Va. — Karen Brown, a longtime executive with Food Marketing Institute here, is planning to retire from her post as senior vice president, effective Jan. 1, 2009, she told SN last week.
Separately, Brian Tully, also a senior vice president at FMI, has resigned to pursue other opportunities, sources told SN. Tully had been with FMI for 26 years and had recently been overseeing the FMI Show.
Brown oversees FMI's communications, marketing, issues advocacy, information services, food safety programs and member services, and also serves as secretary to the FMI board of directors. She had been a member of the public affairs staff of the National Association of Food Chains before it merged with the Super Market Institute to form FMI in 1977. Prior to being named senior vice president in 1994, she was vice president of consumer affairs from 1978 to 1981 and vice president of communications from 1981 to 1994. She is credited with creating FMI's consumer affairs operations, and has been active in assisting the industry in crisis communications during her tenure.
“I've had a great career, and I've been contemplating for some time when would be a good time to go on to my next adventure, and the time is here,” she said.
Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive officer of FMI, praised Brown's contributions.
“Karen committed the span of her career to supporting the success of food retailers and wholesalers,” he said in a prepared statement. “Most important, she graciously served the FMI board of directors to help them achieve their goals.”
FMI said in May that Hammonds would leave as soon as a successor is found. His successor is expected to be named soon.
In an interview with SN last week, Brown recalled that she had gotten to know some of the industry's foremost leaders, such as Richard Ralphs, the grandson of the founder of Ralphs Grocery Co., now owned by Kroger.
“I've been very lucky in that regard, to watch this industry change and grow, but also to meet people that are icons in this industry,” she said.
Among all the industry changes she's witnessed through the years, many have been influenced by the evolution of consumer attitudes, she said.
“I've watched the industry's tremendous and significant focus on the customer, and I think that is one of the things that marks this industry's strength and long-term viability.”
She also credited her time at NAFC and FMI with giving her a close-up view of how economics work and how government operates — skills she said she hopes to use, after her retirement, as a volunteer for cause-related groups.
“People who run those groups are very passionate about the missions of those organizations, but they could use some help on the organizational side and the business side,” she said. “That is what I would like to do — take some of the business acumen I have learned over the years and apply that in a volunteer way in my community.”