During an impressive career that includes stints in advertising, consulting, place-based media, and restaurant marketing—“with a brief step-out to be CMO at T-Mobile”—Denny Post has worked for 13 companies and moved 12 times for increasingly high-profile executive positions. That takes resilience, aspiration, and a relentless work ethic, and Denny has plenty of all three.
Growing up in El Paso, Texas, Denny learned a lot about resilience from her Polish mom, a former member of the Warsaw Underground who had spent time in a WWII POW camp. Her father, a retired U.S. Army colonel who went on to start his own business, instilled aspiration. And her work ethic? Although she worked all through college, Denny says it was from her journalism professor Dave Burkett that “I learned early on that I had to exceed his expectations to get more than a ‘C.' I carried that ethos into my career and it has served me well.”
Denny plunged headlong into the business world, eventually focusing on the food and beverage industry that included senior executive stints at Starbucks, Burger King, and KFC, among others. In 2011 she happily found her way to Red Robin, the casual dining chain, which she joined as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. In August 2015, Denny became president and CEO, overseeing the publicly traded company that boasts $1.5 billion in annual revenue from 570 locations in 42 states and two Canadian provinces. She spends much of her time developing strategy, inspiring her team to embrace change, and inventing the future of Red Robin all while managing the short term expectations of “the street.” “My vision,” she explains, “is to make Red Robin as relevant for the next 50 years as it has been in its first 50 to ensure we are here to serve generations of guests to come.”
Despite those awesome responsibilities, Denny finds time to stay actively engaged in two nonprofit boards, the Women’s Food Service Forum and Nurse Family Partnerships. She also serves on the board of the Denver branch of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank and Blue Dog Bakery, a privately held company that makes quality dog treats. She is a Culinary Institute Fellow and participates in the Denver CEOs Against Cancer Group. Additionally, she and her husband cook and serve dinner once a month to teenagers experiencing homelessness; the couple has been engaged in this outreach effort for 10 years. To keep all those balls in the air, Denny relies on her “courage, creativity, and a sense of humor that keep [her] sane.” Commenting on her multiple commitments, Denny simply says, “I try to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’ to any outside group that needs help.”
One special group that is welcoming her help this year is the Trinity Alumni Association. Denny is helping plan her 40th reunion this fall and says she is hoping to set records for both attendance and giving for the Class of 1978. It’s an ambitious goal, but as Denny is often heard to remark, “Why not?”
You can contact Denny via her assistant, Tammy Meyers, at firstname.lastname@example.org