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.