Papa John’s appoints Olivia F. Kirtley as chair of board following John Schnatter’s resignation

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A Papa John's pizza box is seen on July 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. 


Papa John’s announced in a statement on Friday that Olivia F. Kirtley had been appointed chair of the company’s board of directors, following the resignation of founder John Schnatter after it was revealed he used the N-word on a call in May.

Kirtley, the board’s lead independent director, was serving as the chair in Schnatter’s absence before being officially appointed by a unanimous vote. Representatives for Schnatter told CNBC that he voted in favor of Kirtley.

The company added that the board is still searching for additional independent directors.

“Many stakeholders, including team members, franchisees and shareholders, have expressed their support for the actions we are taking,” said Kirtley in the statement. “We appreciate this support and value the feedback we have received.”

“The independent members of the Board and leadership will continue to engage with shareholders and other stakeholders to hear their perspectives and ideas, including on Board composition, so that these views can be considered in our work to move forward,” she said.

Papa John’s has undergone a whirlwind of changes since Forbes reported earlier this month that Schnatter used the N-word during a conference call in May. In a role playing exercise with marketing agency Laundry Service, Schnatter was asked about his previous statements regarding national anthem protests in the NFL. He responded by saying “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s” and did not face public backlash.

The day of the Forbes report, Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board. A second report by Forbes provided deeper insight into the company’s toxic culture spearheaded by Schnatter, including multiple sexual harassment allegations against him.

Since then, the company has pledged to eliminate his image from all marketing materials, including advertisements and pizza boxes. The University of Louisville announced that it would remove Papa John’s from the name of its football stadium, and Schnatter also stepped down from the university’s board of trustees.

On Thursday, Schnatter filed a lawsuit against the company, which alleges that the board “acted without adequate information … or [they] planned this coup in advance.”

Shares of Papa John’s hit a 12-month low intraday on Friday.

-CNBC’s Kate Rogers contributed to this report



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