Panera hires Marlene Gordon as Chief Legal Officer

Marlene Gordon has joined Panera Bread and Panera Brands as senior vice president and chief legal officer and secretary.

Marlene Gordon has held key legal roles at some of the nation’s best-known brands as Bacardi, Burger King, Republic Industries and Blockbuster. Former general counsel at Fresh Del Monte, now jumps into the restaurant company.

Gordon succeeds Genevieve Kelly, who departed last November after a year at the legal helm.

The St. Louis-based Panera Brands owns Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels. In addition it also owns Panera Bread, which has more than 2,000 bakery-cafes in the U.S. and Canada.

Gordon is the latest high-profile hire for the company, which has been been adding industry veterans from companies such as Kraft, Unilever and Pepsi to its leadership team.

Regarding her experience, since 2018 she had been Fresh Del Monte’s legal chief. There she served on the Global Leadership Team, where she led multiple departments, and she helped design the company’s five-year strategic objectives and operational priorities.

She stepped down in April. After her departure the company tapped former Cargill compliance chief, Effie Silva, to succeed her.

“I’m excited to join Panera Brands at a such a transformational time. There are countless opportunities where I can dive in and add value, between Panera’s growth strategy for its complementary and iconic brands, the company’s focus on innovation and its people-first culture,” she said.

The Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary said in a statement that “Having a leader of Marlene’s caliber on board will support us during this exciting time for our portfolio of brands and expand our best-in-class executive team.”