Panera Bread Company (Nasdaq: PNRA) announced today that it elected Diane Hessan as a new independent director to its Board of Directors. With the election of Hessan, Panera’s Board has increased from six directors to seven. Ms. Hessan was elected as a Class III director, with a term expiring in 2013.
“Over the past year, we have been working hard to identify additional qualified, independent directors with proven growth and innovation experience to join our Board,” said Ron Shaich, Founder, Chairman of the Board and Co-Chief Executive Officer. “We are extremely pleased to announce the election of Diane to Panera’s Board. She is a first-class executive, business strategist and entrepreneur, and we look forward to benefiting from her wealth of relevant experience and expertise in company-building, marketing and research, areas that are critical to the continued success of our company.”
Diane Hessan, 57, is President and CEO of Communispace, a leading next-generation market research company. A pioneer in creating online communities to help marketers generate consumer insights, Hessan founded Communispace in 1999.
Hessan has spent her 30+ year career helping companies become customer-focused – both as a business executive and as co-author of the best-selling book Customer-Centered Growth: Five Strategies for Building Competitive Advantage. She has received many awards and citations for her leadership and workplace innovation, including Ernst & Young’s Regional Entrepreneur of the Year and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year.
Hessan has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Advertising Research Foundation, The Business Innovation Factory, the Progressive Business Leaders Network, the Mass Technology Leadership Council, Horizons for Homeless Children, The Boston Philharmonic, Stand for Children, and the Tufts University Board of Trustees.
A summa cum laude graduate of Tufts University, Ms. Hessan also received an MBA from Harvard Business School.