CHICAGO: Sara Lee has fired two of its most senior PR and IR
staffers as part of major corporate-headquarters staff cuts.
Theresa Herlevsen, EVP of corporate communications, and William Parke,
director of financial communications, are among those being let go,
Sara Lee CEO Steven McMillan has been cutting staff throughout the
company, trying to focus on its core businesses. The company recently
lowered its projections for fiscal 2002 earnings.
Corporate communications staffers are now expected to report to Randy
White, who has handled public affairs and Washington work for Sara Lee
in the past.
A Sara Lee spokesperson would not confirm the departures, saying the
company wouldn't comment on specifics of recent staff reductions. It
announced layoffs were effective July 1, but some expect Parke to remain
on board until finishing the company's annual report this fall.
Parke joined Sara Lee in 1999 after being laid off in a similar
cost-cutting move at Sears Roebuck, where he was director of financial
He's the current president of the Chicago chapter of the National
Investor Relations Institute, and is well respected among Chicago IR
"If there's anything out there in the IR field, Bill will find it," said
an associate of Parke's. Neither Parke nor Herlevsen returned requests
Herlevsen joined Sara Lee in 1992 after working for Quaker Oats and
Fleishman-Hillard. She received some criticism among PR people for not
being more proactive during a major meat recall Sara Lee faced in 1998,
but was promoted to a corporate office in 1999.
She reported to Janet E. Bergman, VP of IR and corporate affairs.