Member Profile: Penny Kuhns-Knarr

Current job: Chief Human Resources Officer

Hometown: Columbia for 19 years

Employer: The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri

First job:  First job in Columbia was with The American Cancer Society, I was there for 4 years and loved the work, but quit to be a Stay-at-home Mom.

Certification: I possess the Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional, SHRM-SCP designation.

What led you to your career? I have always wanted to direct my career back to the path of working in the non-for-profit world. I think it is so important for us to do work that is meaningful, and I know that each day at The Food Bank makes a difference for individuals and families, kids, seniors, veterans and more. I love to get out of bed every day truly knowing that I am helping feed neighbors in my community and across 32 Missouri counties.

Best part of your job: Providing resources that can help make work at The Food Bank work for our staff. That may include professional development, help understanding medical insurance benefits, support enrolling in a retirement plan or just having an open door and two ears to listen.

Things that occupy your free time: I try to stay involved in the community.  I am currently on the Board of the Voluntary Action Center; a member of Metro Rotary and on their Board; a member of HRACMO, the Human Resources Association of Central Missouri, Hickman Athletic Boosters, Hickman Touchdown Club, Hickman Performing Arts Boosters, a member of the Judicial and Law Enforcement Task Force for Boone County, Columbia Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, Women’s Network and I have provided human resource consulting for other non-profits. 

Hobby I recently picked back up:  Photography!  I gained my love of photography from my Mother, she was an avid photographer and I picked it back up again during the pandemic.  You will often see me with my camera taking pictures at sporting events, or of the sky and clouds, and the occasional headshot.

Family/children/furry children:  I have been married to my incredible husband Tim Knarr for 27 years.  We have three amazing children.  Emelia is a junior at the SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design where she is studying sequential art.  Twin sons Gabriel and Nathaniel, freshman at Hickman High School.  Gabriel is involved in football, wrestling and lacrosse.  Nathaniel enjoys marching band, track and CASA (Columbia Aeronautics and Space Association).

Favorite place you’ve visited:  My daughter moved to Savannah, Georgia after her graduation in 2019, so that has become my favorite place to travel!  While there, we try to also plan an excursion to Tybee Island, Georgia, a barrier island.  They say that you are on “Tybee Time” when you are there, it really does feel like time stands still.

Best piece of advice someone has given you:  I have received lots of the best advice!  Tom Trabue told me to Listen, Listen, Listen.  Those of you that know me, know that is tough for me!  I still write it on the top of my paper sometimes.  Valerie Zumwalt asked me why aren’t you doing that?  I said, I don’t know.  She said, “You do know.”  She made me realize that I wasn’t facing my fear of failure and that I would never be successful unless I did. 

Travel Goals:  I have been to six countries outside of the United States, I have a total of 20 on my bucket list.  We learn through experiences and exposure to others.  New ways of thinking and being.

I am blessed.  That is the only word that I can describe my life and my future.  I am in the career of my dreams, what everything that has been in my path has led me to, really the culmination of my education, work history and life experiences, it has all led me here.

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