As we continue to celebrate the 30+ year legacy of Noreen Springstead as our Executive Director and friend before she moves on into a new career chapter, our Communications intern, Krystal Lee took a moment to ask Noreen some questions about her experience, favorite moments and more during her time with us at WhyHunger.
Krystal: What was the biggest change WhyHunger went through during your time here?
Noreen: WhyHunger’s origin story is beautiful and poignant because it began with the promise of two friends, the artist/activist Harry Chapin and radio deejay Bill Ayres, committing their life to unearthing the reasons why people are hungry then putting into action solutions that would transform and last. Harry died tragically and way too young and Bill led the organization for many years with the aim of achieving their shared dream. The biggest change that WhyHunger underwent during my many years of service was the transition from a beloved founder-led organization to my leadership and even more importantly the shared leadership model we have more recently formed with our Directors Circle. It’s been a huge shift to build a shared power structure and to strive to walk the talk of social justice and racial equity. Bill was my mentor and I learned so much from him. In turn, I’ve learned so much from the staff on how to build a more equitable work environment.
What do you think was your biggest accomplishment at WhyHunger?
I have so much gratitude for all of my experiences. If I had to point to one, I would say our Imagine There’s No Hunger campaign really stands out as an accomplishment that has brought incredible visibility to WhyHunger. It was created with a lot of shared love alongside our generous artist partner Yoko Ono Lennon and her representative Jonas Herbsman, and led us to forge a meaningful relationship with a corporate partner in Hard Rock International. As a result, we saw a significant impact all around the globe through investments in our amazing grassroots partners to ensure food sovereignty and the human right to nutritious food.
Looking back at your career here, is there anything you would do different?
I’m not a person with many regrets because there is meaning and learning in every single experience, and along the way I’ve learned just how wildly imperfect I am while still striving for the best in our shared work and commitment that we treasure as a staff, board and community of supporters. I would try to love more, show more compassion, and nurture our staff to be the best they can be as they carry this important work forward.
What will you miss most about working at WhyHunger?
The people. I have met the most amazing, talented, committed people and built meaningful relationships with so many staff and board members, artists, managers, radio partners, community members, donors, and so many more.
What advice do you have for the next executive director?
Stay the course on WhyHunger’s commitment to tackling root causes, racial equity, and social justice. Embrace the staff as your wise guides into the next part of WhyHunger’s evolution.