At the end of this year, Kay Cunningham will be retiring after 26 years at PAR. Kay joined PAR in 1991 and is retiring as President and Chief Operating Officer. Kay has been an integral member of the PAR team and will be leaving a lasting impression on everyone who had the honor to work with her. This is the second part in a series where we will be sharing stories, memories, and well wishes as we send Kay on to her next chapter.
Kay is an incredible person, and a wonderful leader. I was able to work closer with her when she took over as supervisor of the sales team. I am not sure Kay knows how much we valued her direction, but she offered a new perspective to the team, which put us on the path to a great sales year. She was always helpful, kind and generous of her time and she did all that with a great sense of humor. I feel fortunate and grateful to have had her support and encouragement. You will be missed, Kay! —Darla DeCarlo, Clinical Assessment Consultant
I have had the privilege to work with Kay for over 18 years. In addition to her duties as President and COO for PAR, she took on the responsibility of leading our sales team. She assisted in establishing and writing policies and procedures, which was something we needed. She was also was very helpful to me with large bids and contracts. Over the years, Kay has always been a great “go-to person” because she seemed to know the answer to any question. I wish her much happiness as she begins this next step in life. —Nancy Fazioli, Senior Administrative Assistant
I have worked with Kay since her beginning days at PAR, and over the years, she has taught me so much about helping others. Kay is a kind and generous person, both with her time and with her financial resources. She has supported nearly every community activity PAR has supported. She has participated in fundraising walks for various charities; she is an extremely generous supporter of United Way; she has been board president of PACE Center for Girls in Tampa, as well as past secretary of the state board of PACE; she is an active member of Hospice Women of Philanthropy; and the list goes on. Kay is a selfless person who has willing offered her time, expertise, and counsel to many people and organizations, always in an accepting, nonjudgmental way. She has had a strong, steady presence at PAR over the past 26 years. I will really miss Kay (and her funny jokes!) and wish her the very best as she approaches this next exciting part of her journey—retirement! —Cathy Smith, Vice President of Community Relations
I’ve known Kay about 26 years. She always has a kind word for others. She often asks how my out-of-state family is doing and it is clear to see she genuinely cares. One year, she hosted a St. Patrick ’s Day party and that was a lot of fun. Recently, before Hurricane Irma hit, she offered her place to ride out the storm if the need should arise. She has been a wonderful leader and will definitely be missed. —Becky Haines, Senior Graphic Layout Specialist
One of my favorite memories of Kay is when she organized the bowling event for the PACE Center for Girls. The theme was 80s. She went out and bought all the girls hot pink 80s shirts and hair bows. It was a great time and our team won best team spirit. —Christine Fontenot, Clinical Assessment Consultant
Every year, we are asked to submit a list of goals to our supervisor for the following year. Many years ago, one of the goals I submitted was to be more like Kay. Kay always asks the best questions, has such a logical way of looking at the world, handles stress effortlessly, and puts people at such ease. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to learn from Kay all these years. Kay, enjoy your retirement! You will truly be missed at PAR. —Jamie Goland, Editor/Project Manager
This is not directly related to PAR, rather Kay’s involvement with PACE. Many years ago, Kay introduced me to the PACE organization and I was able to collect some data (for the TEC) using their site in Pinellas. I also enjoyed visiting the PACE Tampa facility with Kay a few years ago. —Sue Trujillo, Manager of Data Collection
I can always count on Kay to review every ad, flyer, brochure, and e-blast and provide one of the following comments: Looks good; Looks fine to me; Looks okay to me; Looks great! When she submits more than a few words as feedback, I know there’s a problem! —Melanie Casey, Editor/Project Manager
It’s been my absolute pleasure to work with Kay for almost her entire tenure here at PAR. I also had the advantage of working with her in a variety of different roles and company projects. She has always been one of my favorite people to work with. Smart as a whip, generous, quick witted, honest, and not afraid to be quirky or fresh in her approach, she always offered the most valuable feedback to subordinates and members of her team. I always found her willing to listen and to be fair in situations that warranted it. Make no mistake, Kay is also as tough as nails, always taking care of the company and our interests, both financially and otherwise, but she was never brash or disrespectful in her approach—she was always the epitome of “grace under pressure.” Early on, I learned never to doubt the outcome of any project as long as Kay was involved—she always brought a sense of calm and reason to any situation, even when things may not be going our way. We are going to miss Kay so much. I know, however, that she is going to have the most wonderful retirement because she very much deserves it! Thank you for all you have done for us and our Customers over the years, Kay. PAR would not be the wonderful company it is today without your great care and strength of character in every role you occupied while working here. —Tamara Dwoskin, CS Customer Relationship Manager
I’ve reported to Kay since starting with PAR in late March of 2017. In that time, she has been directly responsible for my orientation to the company and training on our company policies and procedures. As you can imagine, with all of the activities related to sales including travel, conferences, author communications, day to day responses to Customers and outside organizations, I have gone to Kay for all kinds of questions and requests. I’ve found Kay to be welcoming and have found her always willing to help. This includes one Friday when despite a closed door, she instructed me to come in for our weekly meeting. On the floor, in a box was a local rescue dog that she was taking to a new foster home. I found this to be indicative of the type of person Kay is. She’s giving and welcoming, always with a smile. This includes not only all of us at PAR, but those in need as well, be they two-legged or four-legged. We’ll miss her generous spirit and her leadership, and wish her well in whatever lies ahead. —David Houser, Director of Sales
I have had the great pleasure of working with Kay for 26 years as she served in many different roles—controller, CFO, vice president, director, COO, executive vice president, and then president. Kay joined PAR in 1991, when we were just 13 years old and a little more than half the size we are today. She has been part of our team for the next 26 years (or two-thirds of our total existence). As the CEO who worked closely with her for 25 and 1/2 years, I cannot imagine having a work partner who is more competent, dedicated, hardworking, committed, trustworthy, or loyal than Kay. At some point in our lives, we realize that there are only a limited number of people who will have significant impact on our life. For me, Kay is one of those people. I will miss her greatly, but am very pleased that she has agreed for us to get together for lunch once in awhile so we can stay in contact. I wish her great happiness, health, and adventure in her post-PAR journey through life. —R. Bob Smith III, PhD, Executive Chairman and Founder
Thank you so much, Kay. You will truly be missed.
At the end of this year, Kay Cunningham will be retiring after 26 years at PAR. Kay joined PAR in 1991 as Chief Financial Officer and is retiring as President and Chief Operating Officer. Kay has been an integral member of the PAR team and will be leaving a lasting impression on everyone who had the honor to work with her. Throughout the next week, we will be sharing stories, memories, and well wishes as we send Kay on to her next chapter.
Kay is an amazing person—she is a wonderful blend of a strong, ambitious business woman while also being very caring and funny, too. She is one of the first to have a funny joke to share—and is often found talking about the recent football games (especially if it involves Alabama). She is courageous, too—I cannot imagine spending all those years sailing around the world like she did. It must have been an amazing experience but certainly not one for the weak! For me, Kay was an integral part of my learning of PAR and my development into my current role. She has always been there to provide advice or just be a listening ear. She approaches issues very thoughtfully and is not shy to share her opinion—a wonderful combination. I have such respect for Kay and all her contributions to PAR. It has been such a pleasure to work with her over the years. She will be greatly missed though I can only imagine what wonderful adventures, jokes, and good times await her. —Kristin Greco, Chief Executive Officer
In the 11 years I have worked for PAR, Kay has taught me what it means to be professional, to get to the heart of the matter by asking lots of questions, and to be flexible and resilient in business. She has taught this just by example—not by telling or by instructing, but by simply being a leader and allowing me to observe her over the years. I will miss her openness and sense of humor so much! —Erika Thompson, Manager of Production
Kay has been a great example of the wonderful leadership at PAR. She will be dearly missed by all. Her smile and laugh are infectious and her baking delicious. Best wishes for a relaxing and enjoyable retirement! —Vicki McFadden, Permissions Specialist
The greatest thing I learned from Kay over the years is how important it is to fully understand a situation before making a decision. She’s always asking questions and getting more information. Despite being in such an important position, she was never embarrassed to admit when she didn’t know something. I’ve also always been amazed at how much she knows about so many different topics! But most importantly, she is an amazing listener. No matter how trivial your problem was or how busy she was, she always made time. —Daniel McFadden, Manager of Customer Support
Kay, you have been such a valuable asset to PAR over the years! Your contributions to the overall strategy and daily operation of PAR, and the guidance you have provided to managers and staff will be sorely missed. I’ve learned a great deal from you, from how to look at a certain situation from a different perspective, to questioning things that just don’t seem to fit. And coming from someone who can never remember a joke from beginning to end, your humor is enlightening and envious. You have truly passed on to the rest of us the knowledge that devotion to Customers and understanding their needs is what keeps us in business. I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Retirement will surely offer you many new opportunities, which I know you will embrace wholeheartedly. —Vicki King, Executive Assistant to the CEO and Executive Chairman
Having working directly with Kay for 11+ years, I will genuinely miss her leadership, encouragement, and knowledge. I will sincerely miss her! —Lottie Zack, Senior Administrator
From an internal perspective, Kay is an editor’s best friend, always responding to review items quickly and, 95% of the time, before anyone else has read them! She is such a genuinely nice person and always has a smile for everyone. She will be sorely missed! —Frank Filippone, Copywriter/Project Manager
I’ve worked with Kay for over 25 years! She became my supervisor many years ago and has helped me develop into the manager I am today. She always provides great advice and has helped pass her knowledge on to me. You’ve been a great friend and mentor over the years! Thanks for all your contributions to PAR and the DC!! Congratulations on a well-deserved retirement. Best wishes! —Greg Presson, Vice President of Distribution
I remember interviewing with Kay almost 13 years ago as she was transitioning from the CFO to COO. I have been fortunate to have had her leadership and guidance throughout my entire tenure at PAR. As she moved up in the organization, she has provided support to me in her “old” role and I am forever grateful for all of the lessons that I have learned. Her presence will be missed at PAR but her legacy will live on in all that we do! —Donna Drackett, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Come back over the next week as we share more well wishes!
PAR prides itself on providing the best Customer Service in the industry. But this commitment was taken to a new level recently, when 56 boxes of PAR assessment products got delivered to the wrong address, meaning an afternoon of seriously heavy lifting for two PAR distribution center employees.
When Nate Cooper and Cliff Gardner realized that it would take several days of work to retag, rebill, and redeliver 1,600 pounds worth of product that ended up in the wrong location in downtown Tampa, they took matters into their own hands. Knowing our Customer was waiting on the materials, Nate and Cliff decided to jump into Cliff’s truck and drive to the location, load up the boxes, drive back across town, and hand deliver the order to the right place, even though it took more than 10 trips in an elevator.
When we say we provide the best Customer Service in the industry, we mean it!