New Leader Possesses Proven Expertise and Innovation to Benefit the Food Bank
Yolo Food Bank board of directors has named Karen Baker as its new executive director. Baker, who has been serving as the organization’s interim director since July, takes over following a successful career as a non-profit and public sector leader, strategist and community program innovator.
Baker has served in cabinet positions and agency lead posts under California Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom while leading California Volunteers, the State Office tasked with engaging Californians in service, volunteering and civic action in their communities. Most recently, she served as the program architect and co-chair of Listos California, a $50 million statewide campaign to build disaster preparedness and provide COVID education for vulnerable and diverse populations.
“We are thrilled to have Karen lead the Yolo Food Bank. She has tremendous experience in the non-profit and public sectors and her expertise in effectively reaching California’s most vulnerable will be a great asset for our organization,” said Liz Schmitz, chair of the Yolo Food Bank board of directors. She added, “Her vision for our organization is exciting and very strategic.”
Yolo Food Bank began more than fifty years ago as a volunteer-run gleaning program. Today, it partners with Feeding America, a national non-profit with a network of more than 200 food banks, and annually serves the nutritional needs of tens of thousands Yolo County residents. Working with a network of passionate volunteers, committed donors, grocers, retailers, farmers, processors and food distributors, the Yolo Food Bank recovers, collects and store more than eleven million pounds of food each year. It distributes that food each month through 130 distributions and more than 80 local food pantries, senior meal delivery programs, homeless and domestic violence shelters, migrant centers, college campuses, mental health facilities, recovery centers and more.
“I am very excited to lead the Yolo Food Bank and work to effectively address the needs of our community at such a critical time,” said Baker. She added, “We live in one of the nation’s most productive agricultural counties, yet food insecurity is very prevalent throughout the region. We will be relentless in our focus to maintain existing partnerships and create new ones to address and meet the needs of the residents in our county who are food insecure.”
Photo by Jessica Loya for Yolo Food Bank