Harrington Chosen as 2016 Johnson Fellow
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumna Cordia Harrington, founder and chief executive officer of The Tennessee Bun Company, will visit the university campus April 13-14 as the Arkansas Alumni Association’s 2016 Johnson Fellow.
Harrington is the Alumni Association’s seventh Johnson Fellow, named for Dr. Jeff Johnson, BA’70, and his wife, Marcia. The Johnsons endowed the program in 2009 with the specific purpose of bringing esteemed alumni back to the University of Arkansas campus to engage and inspire students.
Harrington will tour the food science lab and research facility, interact with Student Alumni Board members and speak to students in food science, international trade, supply chain, broadcast and Students Acquiring Knowledge through Enterprise.
Harrington is an entrepreneur who has excelled in manufacturing, transportation, the quick service restaurant segment, real estate and construction. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Agriculture – now the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences - at the U of A in 1976. Harrington is owner and founder of The Tennessee Bun Company, which includes four plants and six product lines, serving elite customers in the United States, Caribbean and South America. In addition, her businesses include Bakery Express, a trucking firm, and Cold Storage of Nashville, a freezer facility. Harrington’s focus on regulations, sustainability, employee policies and development have led the company to grow organically into a state-of-the-art business, winning Wholesale Bakery of the Year in 2010. Her passion for innovation, sponsorship of human resources best practices and ability to deliver on innovative strategy have earned respect in an industry based in conventional practices. Elite customers include McDonald’s, O’Charley’s, Sara Lee, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, ConAgra and others.
Harrington’s recent awards include Entrepreneur of the Year Southeast Program by Ernst & Young in 2015, Most Admired CEO by Nashville Business Journal in 2013 and 2015, Leadership Award by McDonald’s Corp. in 2014, Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s Hall of Fame in 2012, Press On Award by McDonald’s Corp. in 2012, Beta Gamma Sigma Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012, Tennessee Economic Commission on Women’s E Award in 2011, Woman of Legend and Merit by Tennessee State University Women’s Center in 2010 and University of Arkansas Distinguished Alumni in 2009.
Her past entrepreneurial enterprises include an award-winning real estate and construction company opened in 1981 and sold to Coldwell Bankers in 1989. In 1989 Harrington graduated from McDonald’s Hamburger University as a registered applicant and purchased a McDonald’s franchise, and its success earned her the opportunity to build two additional McDonald’s restaurants.
Harrington also served as Chairman of Purchasing for the St. Louis Region and as Chairman of the Missouri-Kansas Bun Committee. In these roles, she negotiated pricing protocols, audited distribution centers and bakeries and communicated policies between McDonald’s owner/operators.
Harrington is known for her impeccable business ethics and has leadership experience with community, business and civic boards. She served on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Nashville Branch from 2008 to 2013. She is a member of the Executive Team of Belmont University’s Board of Trustees, Chief Executives Organization Board of Directors, Nashville Entrepreneur Center Board of Trustees, the BarbaraBush@90 Committee, the Tennessee Lottery Board and the Bank of Nashville Board of Directors.
Harrington also served on the board of Williams Food, an $88 million business, until it was divided and sold. She was appointed to the Zoës Kitchen Board of Directors in 2015.
About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.
Ashley Batchelor, assistant director of communications
Arkansas Alumni Association
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