BY LINDA BAKER
After only five years, Felicia Thornton, CEO of Knowledge Universe/U.S. Operations, has resigned for personal reasons. Knowledge Universe, which has its headquarters in Portland, is one of Oregon’s largest employers. Thornton will remain on the KU board of directors.
Asked to address rumors that Thornton had left the company, spokeswoman Leslie Constans responded via email with the following:
“Knowledge Universe-U.S. CEO Felicia Thornton has resigned for personal reasons, effective May 5, 2011. Knowledge Universe Global CEO Peter Maslen will act as interim CEO while a search is conducted for its US operations based in Portland, Oregon. Maslen is a well-respected business leader with a global career spanning major multinational corporations in fast-moving consumer goods and retailing. Before heading up Knowledge Universe Global as its CEO, he was president of Starbucks Coffee International where he led Starbucks' rapid expansion outside the U.S., from its initial start-up phase to a highly successful global business with operations in over 30 countries. His international career has also included stints at Mars, Incorporated and PepsiCo.”
Previous to KU, Thorton had held executive positions with the Kroger Company and Ralphs Grocery Company.
Knowledge Universe has about 1,400 employees working in its Lloyd District headquarters and in 29 centers around the state. The company, which employs 40,000 people on three continents, is the largest single private provider of early childhood education services in the country. It also has the biggest market share in the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore, where the company’s global headquarters are located.
For a full look at the company, read this profile by staff writer Linda Baker in Oregon Business magazine's Februrary 2011 issue.