New leader for Food City’s Knoxville division

Betsi JamesOur Town Eats

Food City has named Katie Penny to the role of executive vice president of operations for the Knoxville division. The division currently includes 51 retail locations with over 6,000 associates. Penny replaces Ron Tacker, who has retired.

Company president Steven C. Smith expressed confidence that she will do an outstanding job. A third-generation grocer, Penny brings a lifetime of knowledge and experience to this key role. And Smith says he has known her all of her life.

Penny joined Food City in 2006, working part-time as a fuel pricing assistant while in high school. She returned to the company full-time in 2020, serving as human relations coordinator manager. The first person to serve in the newly created position, Penny developed the role through her engagement with the company’s team of in-store human relations coordinators.

She later completed the company’s manager training program and was promoted to store manager for the Signal Mountain Food City in Chattanooga. In 2022, Penny advanced to district manager, overseeing 13 Food City and Fresh ‘n Low stores in the Chattanooga division. Prior to joining the company, Penny spent seven years in management in the hospitality industry.

Penny graduated from James Madison University in 2012 with a BBA, with a focus on hospitality and tourism management. She received her MBA from the University of Miami in 2019 and completed the NGA Cornell Executive Leadership Development Program in 2021. Katie Penny currently resides in Chattanooga with her husband, Tres, and their daughter, Calle Reece Penny.

An engaged volunteer, Penny serves on the board for the Salvation Army of Greater Chattanooga as well as being active with Chattanooga Area Food Bank, Preserve Chattanooga and more. She has received professional and civic awards, including The Salvation Army Outstanding Corporate Philanthropy Award and Progressive Grocer’s 2023 Top Women in Grocery–Rising Star.

Betsi James is special events manager for Food City’s Knoxville and Chattanooga divisions.


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