LIMA — Linda Hamilton has a plan for the West Ohio Food Bank.
Part of her plan is to work with employees, volunteers, the board and the community to make a strategic map, but first, she’s going to strive to learn more about the organization.
Hamilton, a Findlay native, started at the food bank Wednesday, and her first day on the job included meeting with staff members first thing.
To Hamilton, who has worked in non-profits for years, staff members are “like a puzzle.”
“Everybody has their own jobs and responsibilities to do — put the puzzle together and it’s a complete project. If there’s one missing, you don’t have a final picture,” Hamilton said.
As a distribution center, the food bank provides food to smaller member agencies in 11 counties, where community members can go directly to get the food.
The food bank has about 17 employees and several volunteers. Rehabilitation centers, day cares, shelters, food pantries and more get food from the bank, which is located at 1380 E. Kibby St.
In addition to working on a plan for the organization, Hamilton wants to “be known in the community, be the face,” for the food bank, she said.
She attended Bowling Green State University and has worked at Camp Fire Northwest Ohio, an organization in Findlay, for 16 years. After that, she worked at the organization’s national headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, for eight years.
“I have a long history of working in non-profits,” Hamilton said. Throughout her time in Findlay, and with Camp Fire, she heard stories of the food bank’s reach and impact that “really touched my heart,” she said.
Before the board selected Hamilton, it had been without a CEO since February, when the former one resigned, said Phil Compton, the West Ohio Food Bank Board Chair.
Since the previous CEO retired, two other individuals — Tommie Harner and Brian Van Meter — were appointed for the interim, helping the organization to not miss a beat, Compton said.
Now, Harner and Van Meter will go back to their previous roles, assistant director of the food bank for Harner and operations director for Van Meter, Compton said.
“I’m excited,” Compton said, of Hamilton’s hiring. “I think the board is very excited about her energy, her enthusiasm, her expertise.”
Hamilton is excited, too.
“To me the excitement, it is really being able to, through the strategic learning process, excite others,” she said. “I think being able to help just a spark in everybody … to me there’s just so much opportunity.”
“This is an organization that has so much going right with them,” Hamilton said.
She see’s its strengths as strong relationships with partner agencies and its volunteers, Hamilton said.
She hopes to see a positive change in the food bank a year from now, when the process to form a plan is through its first rotation.
“We’ve got to be a learning organization, you can’t just get people and processes in place … and start coasting,” Hamilton said.
Looking ahead, Hamilton is excited to learn about the organization, focus its strategy and plans around a vision, align structures and processes and implement them.
“I’m excited to make it even bigger and better,” she said. “We’re hopeful to get more volunteers, donors and individuals advocating on behalf of hunger and those in need.”Reach Danae King at 567-242-0511 or on Twitter @DanaeKing.