Lee founded the company in 2000 with the assistance of a talented group of professionals in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and corporate headquarters in Ohio. Since then, the business has grown to 28 cafes and over 1,400 associates. Past business and civic experience includes developing cable TV systems in the U.S. and Europe, building a medical-related real estate company, representing the United States at the United Nations under President Clinton and Chairing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum. Lee’s biggest thrill is working with talented and caring people who know how to deliver exceptional customer service.
Senior Vice President
Senior Vice President Tom Howley has a particular focus on real estate development, legal matters, marketing strategy, franchisor/franchisee relationships, and facilitating strong critical thinking at all levels of the company. Tom is Co-Chair of Panera’s national franchisee/senior management advisory board. Prior to joining HBG, Tom was General Counsel of Au Bon Pain and Panera Bread, LLC. Strong collaborative leadership based on respectful, engaged, authentic listening and critical thinking is a guiding principle for Tom. An active citizen volunteer in his community, Tom has served as Chairman of the Winchester Planning Board and Board of Selectmen and was named Winchester’s 2013 “Outstanding Citizen of the Year." He enjoys family, exercise, music, reading, sharing good food with friends, and being around water.
Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
David is responsible for the operational integrity of all 28 Howley Bread Group bakery-cafes. He has worked in the restaurant industry for over 35 years, serving in positions such as Director of Operations, Area Director and General Manager for food and beverage companies such as Applebee’s, Chili’s and more. His primary focus throughout his work has been on developing people to help advance their careers and skills. David attended Johnson & Wales University, majoring in hospitality management. For David, a great day is motoring, top down, in his Mini Cooper.
Vice President of Administration/Construction
Leslie oversees the design and construction of all new cafes and remodels, including HBG’s maintenance department and techs which provide support to all of HBG’s cafes. After graduating from college, Leslie came to work for Lee Howley and has not left! For over 25 years, Leslie has worked on the development and construction of many projects including sophisticated medical buildings and office buildings as well as 28 Panera Bread cafes. During this time she has also managed all aspects of the ongoing physical operation of these buildings. She is an active volunteer at her children’s school and some of her more skilled accomplishments include being President of the Westlake Soccer Mom’s Cheerleading Squad, and Social Secretary and Private Driver for her two children, Maks and Natalia.
Ernest L. Vallorz, Jr.
Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer
Ernie is focused on the financial, accounting, payroll, risk management, employee benefits and IT functions of HBG. Prior to joining HBG, Ernie was the Chief Financial Officer for American Environmental Group LTD. Ernie previously worked for KeyBank N.A. in the commercial lending and investment banking groups and with Arthur Andersen as a Senior Tax Manager. Ernie has his Juris Doctorate from the University of Notre Dame Law School and his Bachelor of Arts from Augustana College. When he is not working, Ernie enjoys playing golf and hiking with his wife, Sonia.
Vice President of Human Resources
Leanne provides HR leadership and supports 1300 employees by planning, developing, and implementing HR strategy, including recruitment, employment, compensation, benefits, training, employee relations, unemployment insurance, and legal compliance. She earned an Associate Degree in Business Management, Human Resources Certificate from Bentley College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Lesley University. Leanne is currently on the Board of Directors with Massachusetts Restaurant Assoc., a member of SHRM and NEHRA, participates on HR Committees to include MRA, R.I. Hospitality Group, Panera New England Franchise HR and the Panera HR Women’s Network. She is a proud mom of three and always at CrossFit!