After recent news of two top staffers leaving the White Center Food Bank, we asked the followup question: What’s really going on? Spokesperson Ian Smithgall sent the following open letter in reply:
To the community of support for The White Center Food Bank:
As many people may know, The White Center Food Bank has been going through changes over the past few months. Over this time, we have not been very transparent about many of the changes happening and we would like to take this time to be honest and open. We are hoping that this is the start to a more transparent White Center Food Bank, and more direct community engagement with the White Center, West Seattle, Highline and Burien communities.
First, we want to address the recent retirement of our longtime leader, Richard Jump. He retired on his own accord and did so under more short notice than he or the organization would have liked. However, his departure was not a surprise as he had already started conversations about setting a retirement date.
Beyond the personal reasons outlined in our previous press release, Rick felt comfortable leaving when and how he did because The White Center Food Bank team was growing and he was confident in the abilities of the remaining staff to be able to ‘weather the storm’ and grow from his legacy. We, now and forever, wish him the best and he will always be an integral part of who we are as an organization.
At this same time, a portion of our Board of Directors retired from their positions. Each retiring member had personal reasons for leaving the organization, and their departure was done with the best intentions in mind for the future of the White Center Food Bank. This change also allowed the board to look strategically towards the future, engaging in intentional board development that will prepare us for a capital campaign to grow our services and physical space at our current location in the near future.
Finally, upon Audrey Zemke’s recent retirement, The White Center Food Bank had to re-focus on our mission of continuing to keep White Center fed. Audrey was integral in the building and developing of our programs at The White Center Food Bank, and we would not be the organization we are today without the kindness and dignity that she provided to those in crisis on a daily basis. She is an inspiration to our team and will continue to shape the organization, long after her retirement.
Our commitment to keep White Center fed, coupled with the retiring of our longstanding leaders, has led the remaining Board of Directors and Staff to engage with Loveall Price & Associates – a consulting firm who is now providing staff support and development, organizational restructuring, and an acting Interim Executive Director – Carolynn Ferris – who will be guiding us through this transition. Carolynn and the LPA team will then assist us through an Executive Director search to find our new organizational leader within the year.
We have also recently hired a new Volunteer Coordinator, Carmen Smith, who will be engaging in volunteer management, recruitment and engagement within the community!
The staff and Board at The White Center Food Bank would like to let our community know that we are extremely hopeful and excited for the future. We were lucky to have had such wonderful community of support and leadership with Rick and Audrey, and we are looking forward to being able to build upon their legacy. While there will be more changes in the future, we hope that you will continue to support us in our mission to minimize hunger in the neighborhood and to provide the best emergency food services possible. We will always fight to #KeepWhiteCenterFed – come join us!
The Board, staff, volunteers and clients of the White Center Food Bank.
P.S. We also just updated our logo and website! Check it out! www.whitecenterfoodbank.org