Former Hillshire Brands CCO Harris joins ConAgra as comms chief

As CCO, Jon Harris is reporting to ConAgra CEO Sean Connolly.

OMAHA, NE: ConAgra Foods has appointed former Hillshire Brands communications leader Jon Harris as its CCO, effective Monday.

Harris will report to CEO Sean Connolly. ConAgra’s VP of communications and external relation. Theresa Paulsen, who oversaw comms at the company, is stepping down at the end of the week, according to an email to staffers from Connolly. Communications previously reported to human resources.

Harris, who ended his run as announcer for The Meredith Vieira Show at the end of 2014, said the fact that Connolly elevated the comms role "really speaks volumes to how much he truly does appreciate communications and what it brings to the table."

Harris’ main responsibilities at ConAgra include overseeing "strategic development, direction and implementation of corporate communication, and reputation management programs across the organization," according to the emailed memo.

Harris said he will also manage the ConAgra Foundation and the company’s Child Hunger Ends Here program.

"I’m looking forward to using my skills, expertise, and passion to really help drive ConAgra to the next stage of the company’s growth at this very exciting point in the company’s history," explained Harris.

He is splitting his time between ConAgra’s Omaha, Nebraska, headquarters and his hometown of Naperville, Illinois.

In recent months, Harris has been consulting with clients through the eponymous Jon Harris & Associates firm. While a colleague is taking on most accounts, Harris said he will continue to serve as an informal adviser for some.  

Last September, Harris joined The Meredith Vieira Show as its announcer after serving as CCO of Hillshire Brands since 2012. Before Sara Lee Split into two separate entities that year, Harris was SVP of global communications at the company for seven years.  

In the internal memo, Connolly wrote that he previously "had the good fortune of working with [Harris] at Hillshire Brands." Connolly, who took the helm at ConAgra in April, served as president and CEO of Hillshire from 2012 to 2014.

Prior to his time at Sara Lee, Harris served as VP of business development and global communications at Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., VP of communications at OurHouse, and senior manager of global public affairs at PepsiCo.

This story was updated on August 10 to correct that Harris is not ConAgra's first CCO.

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