Class of 2024

Kara Bombard

Marketing Manager, Performance Foodservice: Age 38

Kara BombardThe restaurant life is a tough one. Kara Bombard wants to make it a little easier.

“It’s a very hard industry,” said Bombard, marketing manager at the Springfield location of Performance Foodservice, a national company that supplies products, technology, and custom solutions to culinary businesses. “The life of a restaurateur is a busy one. If you’re not working on the line, you’re in the back doing paperwork or orders, making sure everything is running. Anything we can do to take anything off their plate is considered a wonderful thing for them.”

Among Bombard’s many roles, she executes a strategic partner program across more than 400 local and national food suppliers, and also manages biannual food shows that bring more than 1,800 attendees to the Greater Springfield area.

“We take over places like the MassMutual Center or the Better Living Center, with ceiling-to-floor food,” she explained. “You can come in and eat lunch as we showcase everything from the highest-end cuts of meat to oysters to chicken tenders and fries. You can sample anything.”

In addition, Bombard has developed a communication and content strategy to provide culinary inspiration on trends and new product ideas to local and regional restaurateurs, collaborating with a team of culinary specialists to develop new ideas for menus, providing tools to help restaurants improve their profitability and food costing, waste management, server training, and overall operations.

She also supports her company’s diversity, inclusion, and belonging business strategy by serving as chair of communications on the Women of PFG Associate Resource Group.

Meanwhile, Bombard has found another way to connect with the business community: as president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield (YPS).

“That has been a wonderful experience,” she said. “It’s been great to put down my roots and expand my relationships and get to know a lot of people in different industries.”

As YPS marks 15 years, Bombard has been impressed with its evolution and the resilience of its members through challenges from the Great Recession to the pandemic, and gratified to see its collaborations and networking events grow.

“If you’re a professional starting out, it’s a great way to introduce yourself to so many people and so many industries represented within our group,” she added. “If I could go back to my 20s and talk to myself, I would tell myself to get involved in something like this much earlier in my career. It’s allowed me to make relationships with so many leaders in the area, and it’s been a blessing to build those relationships.”

—Joseph Bednar