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Food bank changes leaders

by Brian Walker
| April 28, 2010 9:00 PM

POST FALLS - Sherry Wallis, who has worked at North Idaho College's Workforce Training Center in Post Falls for the past eight years, has been hired as the new executive director of the Post Falls Food Bank.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity," she said. "I think my experience will help me spread the word through the community about the needs we have."

Wallis replaces Cathy Larson, who was at the food bank for nearly 18 years. Larson was asked by the food bank board to resign, and she agreed and was given a severance package.

Larson, whose last day was March 24, declined to comment, other than to say the board gave her a letter of recommendation. Details on Larson's severance and Wallis' salary were not released.

Wallis, who will start at the food bank on May 10, was chosen from 127 applicants. Board President Jerry Lyon said Wallis' variety of local involvement made her stand out.

"Her sense of community and passion, which is needed every day, stood out," Lyon said.

Wallis has been director of customized training at the training center for the past five years and was director of the qualified worker retraining program for three years before that.

She also previously served as the marketing and communications director for Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest at the company's corporate office in Spokane for two of her four years with the nonprofit.

Wallis has volunteered for the food bank's Spring Community Food Drive. She previously served on the board of the Inland Northwest Development Council, which assists with fundraising for nonprofits.

Wallis was named the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce's Volunteer of the Year in 2006 and was that organization's chairwoman of the board in 2008.

She said one of her goals is strengthening and broadening the agency's donor base.

"We are a very rich country and a very generous country," Wallis said. "This is one of the most generous countries I've ever lived in. The simple, basic need for food is a big one.

"This food bank has done wonderful things under Cathy and I've got a big job ahead of me, following in her shoes. I look forward to expanding many of the things that have already been happening."

Lyon said Larson helped lay a great foundation for the food bank, but leadership and organizational skills are needed more than ever to meet record demand for food and outreach.

The food bank serves more than 1,000 households per month, giving out more than 90,000 pounds of food. In 2009, a cumulative total of 37,798 people were served and 14,494 volunteer hours went toward the food bank.

"You can't be status quo with the food bank," Lyon said. "You've got to continue to grow to meet the needs of the community just as a business operation does."

Wallis said she hopes to expand the hours of service of the food bank. The current hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

"We want to make sure we're providing the best customer service that we possibly can," she said. "In these economic times, there's more people than ever in need. I look forward to working with the board, the volunteers and the community."

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