The Society of American Florists’ chief executive officer, Peter Moran, will retire at the end of the year from his post after 33 years with the industry’s national trade association. Kate Penn, currently chief content officer and editor-in-chief of SAF’s flagship publication, Floral Management, will assume the role of CEO effective Nov. 1, after which Moran will help work through the transition through the end of the year.
Upon Moran’s announcement to the board in early 2017 of his retirement, SAF’s chief operating officer Drew Gruenburg informed the SAF executive committee of his plan to retire within the next two years, so he removed himself as a potential candidate in their search for a new CEO.
Moran joined SAF in 1985 and became SAF’s executive vice president and CEO in 1991. During the next 26 years, he oversaw several significant changes at the association, including the implementation of a strategic plan that shifted SAF from a segment-
driven organization to one guided by its key objectives of providing government advocacy, business guidance and consumer marketing. Moran has also led several efforts to put flowers in the consumer spotlight, including his oversight of SAF’s involvement in coordinating the floral décor for four presidential inaugurations. More recently, Moran led the SAF board in leveraging the association’s headquarters, which the industry purchased in 1983, for the benefit and future of the association: In April 2016 SAF sold the building and purchased more cost-efficient space less than 2 miles away in Alexandria.
“Peter has made an indelible mark on our association, from his early years executing the new strategic plan and governance structure to our recent building project, where he led our board in leveraging a key association asset into something the industry can benefit from for many years,” said SAF President Martin Meskers, AAF, of Oregon Flowers, Inc., in Aurora, Oregon.
“There is nothing that could have been more professionally fulfilling for me than being CEO of SAF,” said Moran. “I am very pleased that I am able to leave SAF with an extremely talented, passionate staff and in a solid financial position with a strong balance sheet.”
The executive search committee conducted a national search beginning in March 2017, Meskers said, and considered a number of candidates before determining that Penn, a 30-year employee and key member of SAF’s senior team, was the ideal candidate to succeed Moran.
“Kate has spent much of her career at SAF listening to our members,” said Meskers, “and translating what she hears into content as well as new initiatives that meet member needs.”
Penn, who has a B.S. in journalism from Bowling Green State University, was hired by SAF as a writer and editor (1987) and then named editor-in-chief (1990) and publisher (1993), vice president of publishing and communications (1999) and, eventually, chief content and publishing officer (2014). Penn has been a key member of SAF’s senior management team and has participated in SAF board meetings since 1999.
In addition to Penn’s more visible role in SAF’s print and digital publications, for the last four years she has been a driving force behind the content development at SAF’s annual convention, 1-Day Profit Blasts and other efforts to make business education more accessible to more SAF members. Penn has also been instrumental in developing SAF’s new initiatives to connect the industry’s suppliers and buyers at those events, including the SAF Supplier Showcase and SAF Supplier Expo. Internally, in her oversight of communications she has worked with the SAF team on optimizing SAF’s digital presence through its website, social media and other digital vehicles.
“I am genuinely honored and excited to be able to continue to serve our industry, and to lead the effort in carrying out the work that’s set forth by the SAF board and councils,” said Penn. “We have such a talented and dedicated team, we will continue to work hard to help our members and the floral industry as a whole grow.”