Kroger’s Kristal Howard to be succeeded by Erin Rolfes as head of corporate comms

Howard is exiting the company after 12 years to take a break.

Erin Rolfes
Erin Rolfes is currently head of technology and digital communications.

CINCINNATI: Supermarket chain Kroger’s head of corporate communications and media relations Kristal Howard is leaving the company next month, with Erin Rolfes succeeding her in the role.

Rolfes will report to Keith Dailey, group vice president of corporate affairs and chief communications officer. She will lead external comms in her new role.

Rolfes is currently head of technology and digital communications; Kroger is seeking someone to replace her in that role, Howard said.

Howard’s last day is May 1 and she said in an email to PRWeek that she is “taking a very intentional pause to recharge, reset, reimagine and play. I have travels planned to Europe, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica as well as a few stateside jaunts, and the list continues to expand.”

Howard joined Kroger as the Dallas and Houston PR lead in 2010 and has risen to become the top spokesperson of the supermarket company, which has nearly 3,000 U.S. locations. 

In her latest role at Kroger, Howard cultivated an inclusive workplace that supported communities during the pandemic. Amidst national layoffs, Kroger hired more than 100,000 workers and set up drive-through COVID-19 testing, though it did receive heat for closing two stores in California when Long Beach imposed a temporary wage hike for grocery workers in the city.

“My expansive career with Kroger has been incredible,” Howard said via email. “The places, the projects, the purpose, but most importantly, the people. I’ve had the tremendous privilege of working alongside and learning from the brightest, kindest and most dedicated in the industry, many of whom have become cherished friends.”

A PRWeek Power List 2020 and 2021 honoree, Howard was chair of the PRWeek 2021 Purpose Awards

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