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New Orange County Food Bank CEO Seeks To End Hunger

New Orange County Food Bank CEO Seeks To End Hunger

(Photos courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank/  

Nicole Suydam is working to eliminate hunger in Orange County in California and spreading some hope along the way.

The Aliso Viejo resident recently took over as CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, which distributes more than 16 million pounds of food through local nonprofits every year. Suydam came to the food bank after serving as vice president of development at Goodwill of Orange County, as well as working as Second Harvest's development manager from 1997 to 2001. Being back at the food bank is exciting, Suydam said, and she's spending her first weeks getting hands-on experience of operations as well as visiting partner agencies.

Helping those in need, especially children, motivates Suydam. Even in a community as affluent as Orange County, she said, hunger is a reality.

Q. What drew you to nonprofit work?

A. I grew up in a single parent home. ... It was just me and my mom. We had a great extended family, and also I had a tremendous support network through my church and through my school. I grew up really knowing that even though I was from a single parent household, there was a community surrounding me that wanted me to be successful. That really drove me as I got older to want to make a difference and want to give back.

Q. Why did you decide to return to Second Harvest when you had the chance?

A. It's just knowing that every day you're directly meeting a need, and you're touching lives that really need the help. This is the most basic need you can meet for somebody, food. It's hard to imagine being without, that families struggle, and I think I just really have a passion for helping people who are in need. Whatever we can do, whatever I can do, I want to be a part of that.

Q. What puts you in a position to expand when other nonprofits are shrinking?

A. Having the right people involved. We have a very committed and passionate board of directors. Same with our staff. We have to be creative and innovative, and come up with new ways of doing things. I know there are more resources out there, and we just have to be really aggressive and strategic about getting them. (more)

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Article by CLAUDIA KOERNER,| Read full article here

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