Lisa Scales

It’s a big week for Lisa Scales—president & CEO of Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank—which is gearing up for the 21st annual Empty Bowls Dinner. Since 2012, Lisa has led the Duquesne-based organization in distributing 23 million meals annually via a network of 400 partner agencies in 11 counties across Southwestern Pennsylvania. When talking about her work, the Greensburg native says:

“I am proud to prove the adage: ‘If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.’ The opportunity to come to work at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank gives me great joy. Working with a team of individuals dedicated to ending hunger in our region is empowering.”

Lisa Scales

Monday, March 14

I will start my morning in Turtle Creek at the Mon Valley Providers Council (MVPC) Synergy Forum. MVPC is an alliance of service providers based in the Mon Valley. At this morning’s forum, we will get an update on progress toward goals and on new priorities for 2016-2017.

Later this afternoon, I will meet with the Food Bank executive team to discuss our ambitious strategic plan to provide an additional 30 million meals to our community over the next 10 years. Everything from increasing our food sourcing and produce storage capacity to educating the community will be critical to our success.

I will end my day in Oakland at the Literary Evening, Monday Night Lecture Series.

Tuesday, March 15

After picking up my morning coffee at 61B Café, I will hit the road and head to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank in Columbus, to meet with the new CEO of Feeding America and to discuss issues facing our network. Being a member of Feeding America provides us with the opportunity to build strong relationships with other food banks throughout the county. The national network is a tremendous asset to our day-to-day operations.

Wednesday, March 16

I have a morning meeting with the Allegheny Health Network to continue our efforts to partner on a new nutrition and health initiative that we expect to improve the health and wellness of the people we serve.

Then I am off to the dedication of the new 412 Youth Zone in downtown Pittsburgh. We are one of several partners contributing to the new center that is operated by Auberle. Next up is a meeting with the Food Bank’s chief financial officer, Don Luvtosky. Given this year’s state budget impasse, we monitor our budget on a daily basis. We were faced with the decision to either maintain inventory levels or reduce the amount of food distributed to our 400-plus member network. All we needed to do was remind ourselves of our mission—to feed people in need—and the answer was clear. Through prudent financial decisions we were able to continue to meet the needs of our network while also being fiscally responsible.

Food Bank Warehouse

We recently hired a new chief operating officer, Justin Lee. Justin and I meet weekly to review the needs of our 95,000- square-foot facility in addition to a fleet of 11 vehicles. As an organization that supplies food for more than 100,000 meals a month, it is critical to have a COO with a solid history of distributions, operations and logistics experience and we found that in Justin. Our long-term goal to eliminate hunger in southwestern Pennsylvania is reliant on an efficient distribution process.

I will round out my day replying to emails before heading to the South Side to attend a play at City Theatre.

Thursday, March 17

I am starting my day in the lower Hill District at a quarterly networking event for women nonprofit leaders. This is an excellent opportunity to learn from other leaders in various fields in the nonprofit sector.

Later in the day, members of our team and I will meet with colleagues from The Buhl Foundation to discuss our backpack program. The program originated from understanding that food insecurity is harmful to all people, but is especially harmful to children. Many children in Pittsburgh Public Schools qualify for free or reduced meals, and those school meals may be the only meals they eat. Through research in our network, we saw the need to provide school children with food for the weekend. During the meeting we will update the foundation on the progress we’ve made with the program and on our vision for growth in additional schools.

Later this evening I look forward to attending the Penguins game.

2015 Empty Bowls Dinner

Friday, March 18

I will start my day at a Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management advisory board meeting. Spending time with other nonprofit leaders is extremely beneficial; while we don’t all have the same mission or service area, we do have a sense of camaraderie that directly impacts the region. Being a member of the board affords me the opportunity to bring the insight shared back to the Food Bank to have a greater impact on the individuals and families we serve.

Following that meeting, I will stay in town to meet with our board chair, Mel Steals from PNC Bank. Having Mel’s leadership and vision with the board provides me with additional support and guidance to ensure we are staying on course.

I will end my day with a rare evening at home to relax and catch up on some reading.

Saturday, March 19

I look forward to getting together with my sister, Gretchen, to watch the remaining episodes of season five of Downton Abbey.

Sunday, March 20

I will be at Rodef Shalom for the 21st Empty Bowls event. Wow, it seems like only yesterday that I was putting bowls out on a table at the very first Empty Bowls dinner. How time flies!

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...