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Q&A: Insights from an outgoing DCCK board member

Featuring Mike Hollman, Senior Vice President & Treasurer, Hilton and Dev Ganesan, President & CEO, PathFactory 

MH: What has the past year taught you about leadership and adaptability in business?

DG: Volatility is a daily reality for all of us. In the face of that, doubling down on ensuring the safety and well-being of our people has been paramount. Investing in people empowers them to make smart choices and deliver results even in uncertain times.

MH: We’re both proud Board Members at DC Central Kitchen (www.dccentralkitchen.org). What lessons have you applied from that experience in your professional capacity?

DG: For all the upheaval the business community has faced, it’s hard to capture what an organization that fights hunger and poverty has had to deal with during the pandemic. I’ve been so impressed by their ability to identify emerging needs – like community demand for fresh groceries or the cratering market for small, local farmers – and apply their comparative advantages to deliver record results, including serving 4.3 million emergency meals. They’ve shown an ability to remain “customer-centric” while creatively bringing new partnerships to bear. Turning the Washington Convention Center into a produce assembly line and National Park into a job training facility? Amazing.

MH: DC Central Kitchen’s job training activities will be especially crucial in the year to come, and the Hilton Effect Foundation is a proud supporter of these efforts. The hospitality sector is poised for a rebound, and we’re going to need talented people to help us grow again. What impresses you most about DCCK’s approach to workforce development?

DG: There is so much power in teaching someone to fish. Their training program teaches all the knife skills someone needs to perform in a busy kitchen, but they’re just as focused on life skills. The pandemic has underscored the need for people who take initiative, manage their time well, and cope effectively with stress and unexpected challenges. That’s DC Central Kitchen 101. 

MH: After six years of serving on DC Central Kitchen’s Board, what are you taking with you at the end of your term and what are you looking forward to next?

DG: It’s been amazing to see the organization continue to grow and innovate at a strategic level, but I miss volunteering in the kitchen alongside the amazing staff and students. With DCCK opening a new, expanded headquarters on the DC waterfront in the first quarter of 2022, my wife Radha and I can’t wait to come down and chop vegetables for a great cause. I’ll see you there, right?

MH: Of course! Folks who want to engage with this great organization can visit www.dccentralkitchen.org and sign up for their amazing monthly newsletter with all the latest updates on volunteering and successful, high-impact social ventures.