Celebrating Women in Executive Leadership Roles in the Feeding PA Charitable Food Network

Feature: Women’s History Month 2024

By: Erin Haafke

This Women’s History Month we’re highlighting women in executive leadership roles within the Feeding PA charitable food network who work to help support their neighbors facing hunger within communities across the commonwealth.

Did you know that 78% of Feeding PA’s board members, all of whom are executive officers or directors of their respective food banks, identify as female? As an organization that promotes diversity, equity, minority representation, and inclusion, we are proud of our member food banks’ diverse leadership teams who prioritize the humanity and dignity of the neighbors they help to support.

Recent research by Forbes and McKinsey & Company shows that having women in leadership roles within a company increases employee engagement and promotes higher rates of employee retention. According to the American Psychological Association, “Team collaboration is greatly improved by the presence of women in the group.” In two 2010 studies, research psychologists, “found the proportion of women in a group was strongly related to the group’s […] ability to work together and solve a wide range of problems. Groups with more women exhibited greater equality in conversational turn-taking, further enabling the group members to be responsive to one another and to make the best use of the knowledge and skills of members.”

Learn more about the charitable programs, initiatives, and distributions these women and the teams they lead are operating by reading the profiles below.

Julie Bancroft

CEO, Feeding Pennsylvania

Only six months into her role at Feeding Pennsylvania, Julie appreciates continuing to learn the intricacies of food banking and nutrition policy work. Having worked in agriculture and human services for over a decade, she’s excited by Feeding PA’s unique position to invest in Pennsylvania agriculture through the PA Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) while supporting the charitable food network. Julie is committed to elevating Feeding PA’s members as a united voice in anti-hunger advocacy while supporting their work in the communities they serve across the Commonwealth. She is honored to work in partnership with the Feeding PA team and member food banks and to have the opportunity to contribute to helping neighbors access basic needs to thrive and live with the dignity they deserve.

Loree D. Jones-Brown

Executive Director, Philabundance

Loree Jones-Brown has served in top leadership positions in the nonprofit, higher education and government sectors, including Managing Director, or chief operating officer, of the City of Philadelphia, chief of staff for Rutgers University—Camden, chief of external affairs for the School District of Philadelphia, and executive director and chief of staff for the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. She is currently Chief Executive Officer of Philabundance, a hunger relief agency serving nine counties in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

A graduate of Princeton University and Spelman College, she has been recognized for her dedication to public service. Loree has participated in two international fellowships programs: Eisenhower Fellowships and the British-American Project. She represents Philabundance on the boards of Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger Free Pennsylvania and also serves on the boards of Jefferson Health Plans (formerly Health Partners Plans, vice chair), the Independence Foundation, and the Eisenhower Fellowships (executive committee). She is vice chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Economic and Community Advisory Council. She served as the board chair of both the Philadelphia Health Partnership and the City of Philadelphia Office of Community Empowerment & Opportunity Oversight Board and a former board member of a wide range of civic organizations, including Project HOME, the Committee of Seventy, the Police Athletic League (PAL) the World Affairs Council, Operation Understanding, the Philadelphia Planning Commission, and the African American Museum of Philadelphia.

Jennifer Miller

CEO, Westmoreland Food Bank

Jennifer Miller became the fifth CEO of the Westmoreland Food Bank in January, 2019. She has been a food banker for 28 years.

The Westmoreland Food Bank is a single-county food bank and serves 13,000 households per month through a myriad of programs including the Food Pantry Distribution Program, Pennsylvania Senior Food Box, Fresh Express, Mobile Market, SNAP Application Assistance, Backpack programming, Summer Meals, Military Share, Healthy Community Pantries and on-site feeding programs.

The Food Bank continues to look for new ways to better serve their community. Along with the utilization of Door Dash to deliver senior food boxes, they also created the “Adopt-a-Senior” program, where volunteers deliver one or more boxes each month to neighbors close to them. In addition to the utilization of Door Dash and the “Adopt-a-Senior” program, the Food Bank has launched a Mobile Market. The Mobile Market was launched in 2022, and it has made a tremendous impact on all neighbors facing hunger in Westmoreland County. Located in a food truck, this market visits Seton Hill University, St. Vincent College, Westmoreland County Community College, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and Penn State University (New Kensington Campus).

Jennifer is excited to continue the impactful work to help provide options and resources to neighbors in Westmoreland County experiencing food insecurity.

Rebecca Page

Executive Director, Mercer County Food Bank

Mercer County Food Bank, formally, Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County is the local partner food bank of Feeding America. Currently, we distribute food to a network of more than thirty member agencies including food pantries, feeding sites, domestic violence shelters, and various other non-profit programs that work with residents living in poverty.

MCFB is situated in a rural county, which creates additional barriers to the already numerous struggles of our neighbors, which include lack of transportation and the presence of grocery stores within their neighborhoods.  To provide additional access to food, MCFB operates six in-house direct distribution programs including BackPack, Harvest Helpings, MilitaryShare, Mobile Pantry, Myron’s Meal Mobile and PA Senior Box.

As MCFB continues to find ways to meet our neighbors where they are, the food bank experienced its largest distribution in history just last year, distributing 2.6 million pounds of food, including nearly 500,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Each month, MCFB is providing over 11,000 people (3,500 households) with the food they need to thrive.

Lisa Scales

CEO, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s mission is to leverage the power of community to achieve lasting solutions to hunger and its root causes. Headquartered in Duquesne, PA, the Food Bank partners with more than 1,000 organizations in eleven counties to distribute food to people in need of food assistance.

The Food Bank assists individuals with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment and helps to connect people to additional resources. In addition, the Food Bank builds capacity in agencies that offer federal food assistance programs for children and provides food to children through schools and programs for children.

The Food Bank’s direct service programs, including The Market (an onsite food pantry), drive-up and walk-up distributions, and senior boxes for older adults, reach thousands of individuals every month. And, through our advocacy efforts, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has become a primary driver of comprehensive anti-hunger related endeavors regionally, statewide, and at the federal level.  Through these programs and the partner network, the Food Bank provided the equivalent of 42 million meals last year.

Karen Seggi

Executive Director, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest PA

Karen S. Seggi, Chief Executive Officer of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania, has dedicated her career to alleviating hunger and creating awareness around the realities of food insecurity.

Under her leadership in 2022-2023, Second Harvest distributed more than 9.5 million meals serving eleven counties and 376 agency partners through child feeding programs, Produce Express distributions, Military Share distributions, and the Senior Box Program. The belief that no one should go without a nutritious meal is shared by both Karen and the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest PA.

Jennifer Warabak

CEO, Commission on Economic Opportunity

Jennifer Warabak is the Executive Director of the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO) of Luzerne County as well the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank which serves Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties.

2023 was Jennifer’s first year as Executive Director, and it brought many challenges and much success. The Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank distributed more than16.4 million pounds of food, including 4.7 million pounds of fresh produce. Through the food bank’s network of more than 350 partners, an average of 17,600 people were provided food each week.  It would not be possible to serve their communities without both their partners and the more than 3,900 volunteers who gave almost 12,000 hours of their time in 2023.

Jennifer credits the Food Bank staff as well as the agency’s Nutrition Education Team for continuously stepping up to the challenge of meeting the needs of the communities they serve.