Leaders Lab Profile, Food Pantry Executive Director

I look forward to my coaching calls. I’m going to have an authentic conversation with someone who asks good questions and it not only concerned about my work, but cares about me personally.

We are currently accepting applications for the next cohort of Leaders Lab, which will begin in October. Over the next few weeks, while we are still selling at early bird pricing, we will be sharing the experiences of Leaders Lab participants from earlier cohorts. I have been inspired by these stories, and the amazing lessons that these leaders are implementing in their work to address material poverty.

This week’s story comes from an Executive Director who runs a food security and housing non-profit in a suburban setting.

What was happening in your professional life before you joined Leaders Lab?

I read Toxic Charity in 2016 and the ideas in the book made so much sense because I was seeing the same things in my work. I attended Open House and took the Seeking Shalom online course in 2017. I was hooked. I started having some conversations in my community with other non-profit leaders about the trends I was seeing in my work, of more and more people coming to the food pantry, and a growing number of people who were chronically food insecure.

I wanted to take a deep dive into the principles I’d learned in Toxic Charity and Seeking Shalom. I wanted more information, so I could make a sustainable change in how we work.

When I got the email about Leaders Lab, I took the flier to my Board and was approved to join the cohort.

What has been the most impactful part of being in Leaders Lab?

When I joined Leaders Lab, I was looking for community.  I wanted a community of leaders who were feeling the same as me, and going through the same transformational struggle. And I have found people who understand me and challenge me.

But the most impactful part of Leaders Lab, for me, has been the monthly coaching calls.  I look forward to my coaching calls so much! I know that once a month, at 8am, I’m going to have an authentic conversation with someone who asks good questions and is not only concerned about my work, but cares about me personally. I am stepping deeper into my role as leader in my community, leading conversations with other community leaders because I feel absolutely supported by my coach.

What would you say to someone who is on the fence about Leaders Lab?

When you are a changemaker, you are forging a new way. Leaders Lab is a year long program because it takes that long to learn what you need to know, get footing on your new path, and embed real, lasting change in the systems and in the heart of your organization. There is no blueprint or map when you are asking yourself and others to think and behave completely differently. Leaders Lab is the deep dive, when you are ready to tackle real change in your organization. But it is worth it when you begin to see the results of your hard work.

What results are you seeing already?

We are offering Seeking Shalom small groups 2-3 times a year. We are having community-wide conversations 6 times a year with community and non-profit leaders who are all serving the same families. We have ended programs that no longer work. Over the next 12-18 months, our food pantry will be integrating new protocols, and we are taking a new approach to decreasing chronic food insecurity, with the leadership of our food pantry participants. We are implementing systems that look at our community members’ needs comprehensively.

We have been running a series of experiments to see what works and doesn’t work. We are learning so much.

On the importance of measuring the right things

When I saw the report from our SPIRE assessment, I saw the truth in black and white. I had to act on it. You can’t fight data.


I hope you feel as inspired as we are! The Lupton Center is thrilled by the results our Leaders Lab participants are having in their communities. We can’t wait to work with you, and see what is possible in your community.

Does this sound like you? Are you ready to learn more?

Applications are open for Leaders Lab. There is no cost to apply, so apply now.