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Women’s History Month: Reflections from across DCCK

March is Women’s History Month, but the impact of women in the non-profit sector often goes unnoticed and without much celebration.

Nationally, women make up more than 75 percent of non-profit employees, yet only account for 21 percent of executive-level positions at large non-profits. Long-standing issues such as inequities in pay, a failure to advance women due to implicit biases, and a substantial lack of resources for working mothers, like paid parental leave and flexible hours for childcare, often contribute to the disparity between the high number of women workers in the non-profit sector and the significantly smaller percentage of women leading non-profits.

At DC Central Kitchen, we know the positive impact diverse identities and experiences can have on the outcomes of an organization, and we know the value of an inclusive leadership team. That’s why women make up half of our C-Suite and comprise more than two-thirds of our leadership team, overall. Of the women leading our different departments and holding executive-level positions, 66 percent are women of color. Each and every day, women are shaping both the long-term vision of our organization and facilitating much of the day-to-day logistics that make the Kitchen run.

Aside from embracing and advocating for women in leadership positions, we intentionally consider gender-based obstacles when creating our policies and programming. To address the challenges of working mothers, we are committed to equitable policies, like paid parental leave and aligning our Healthy School Food team’s work schedules with school hours, so working mothers can work in tandem with their children’s schedules. Our programs also center women through several initiatives, including our women’s support group in our Culinary Job Training (CJT) program and our partnership with Suited for Change, an organization that helps women prepare for job interviews by providing professional clothing and conducting mock interviews.

We have designed our policies and programs to address the historical challenges women face in the workplace, but it is the individual women of DC Central Kitchen who continue to build and develop our mission at every level of our organization.

To commemorate this month and the incredible contributions of the women of DCCK, we talked to a handful of dynamic DCCK women employees to hear in their own words how they play an integral part of our organization every day. Each featured woman works in a different department and offers a unique perspective on what working at DC Central Kitchen means to them.

 

Klanesha G.

Human Resources Associate Director, 6 years

As our Associate Director of Human Resources, Kay keeps our staff on-track and happy at DC Central Kitchen. Whether it’s a question about employee benefits, a confidential request, or even friendly conversation, Kay is always ready to assist staff members with their day-to-day needs. With her helpful attitude and energetic outlook, Kay makes working at DC Central Kitchen a welcoming experience for all.

What is your favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen?
My favorite part about working here is definitely the people of DCCK! This organization is one of a kind, and the people I have met while working here have helped me make some of my greatest memories. When I first started, the staff welcomed me with open arms, and it was a such a relief to feel like I belonged!  As we grow as an organization, I try to make sure new hires get that same experience/feeling by saying, “This is your new home, and we are happy you are here!”

What does working at DC Central Kitchen mean to you? 
Working with DC Central Kitchen for the past 6 years means a lot to me. I have had the opportunity to grow so much in my HR career while leading my own team to success. I’m very thankful for everyone here who has helped with my development and given me an opportunity to have a voice that continues to move the organization forward.

 

Brittney B.

Café and Retail Sales Manager, 11 years

Brittney has worked with us for over a decade, bringing a sense of enthusiasm and a strong work ethic to her various roles. She currently serves as the Manager of our Social Enterprise Cafes and Catering program where she addresses the daily needs of our café team and manages catering orders.

What is your favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen?

I enjoy working at DC Central Kitchen because the organization fosters and maintains a culture of growth. There is always opportunity for individual development and position growth at DC Central Kitchen.

What does working at DC Central Kitchen mean to you?

The positive impact that DC Central Kitchen provides for the community is amazing. The fact that I can be a part of a team that is within DC Central Kitchen is rewarding because we help provide not only food for underserved communities, but we provide job opportunities as well.

 

Brenda W.

Administrative Support Specialist, 16 years

Brenda’s title might be Administrative Support Specialist, but she wears many hats at DC Central Kitchen. If your computer crashes or you need IT assistance, you go to Brenda. If you need DCCK-related guidance, you also go to Brenda. As a longtime DCCK employee, she has experienced the organization’s growth and serves as a source of institutional knowledge for new hires and seasoned employees alike.

What is your favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen?

My favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen is the opportunity to help others and to work with different people.

What does working at DC Central Kitchen mean to you?

For me, it means being able to make a difference in the community and being a role model for the younger generation at DC Central Kitchen.

 

Kris K.

Development Operations Manager, 2 years

As our Development Operations Manager, Kris keeps our development operations running smoothly by managing donor contributions and organizing our fundraising logistics. But Kris’ role at DCCK extends far beyond creating spreadsheets and managing donations. As a published writer and poet, Kris leads creative journaling workshops for our employees and spearheaded the start of ‘Self-Care Fridays’ where our staff can connect and unwind as a response to the stressful effects of the pandemic.

What is your favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen?

My favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen is the people. Whether connecting with a coworker through a project or Self-Care Friday Session, connecting with guests at our amazing Capital Food Fight event, or connecting with the community through our work and partnerships, my cup is always full from meaningful interactions with the DCCK community and I am always learning new things about myself, our work, and our city.

What does working for DC Central Kitchen mean to you? 

What I love about DC Central Kitchen is that they don’t just talk the talk, they actually walk the walk. Working for DC Central Kitchen means waking up every day with the chance to make a difference. I am so inspired by the people that work here, who know we have a job to do and are always finding creative and innovative ways to do it despite the challenges. The same goes for the people that support us – they understand the deep impact of their support, whether through volunteering, donations, or outreach, and are always willing to lend a helping hand. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with such a talented team committed to creating a stronger and healthier city for all.

 

Carlette F.

Production Manager, 8 years

A graduate of Culinary Job Training (CJT) Class 93, Carlette has experienced DC Central Kitchen as both a CJT student and an employee. While women have led our Main Kitchen’s operations in the past, Carlette is our kitchen’s first female Production Manager. In this role, Carlette supervises other chefs and staff members, serving as a role model and a source of mentorship for the women interns she oversees.

What is your favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen?

My favorite thing is working for a company that actually helps people and that gives back to the community.

What is like being the first female Production Manager of the Main Kitchen?

It feels really good. I worked hard to make it to this point. I really had to trust the process. Now, I get to make a little HERstory of my own.

 

Sami R.

Contract Meals and Nutrition Manager, 1 year

Sami works with our Healthy School Food team as our Contract Meals and Nutrition Manager where she oversees the weekly menus for students at 18 DC schools to ensure they meet organization, local, state, and national guidelines. She also facilitates all nutrition education and engagement events, recipe development and testing, and dietary accommodations for students in schools with allergies or special needs. Sami approaches nutritional education by connecting students to healthy food through fun, engaging events like Fresh Feature Friday, where students are encouraged to try new preparations of vegetables and produce. 

What is your favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen?

My favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen is that I can stand confidently behind our food. Knowing that we support local farmers, procure fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat products makes me proud to work for an organization who is elevating their community in several different ways. I also love how I can walk into any of our schools knowing that the food there is minimally processed and has been made from scratch from our kitchens. Outside of school foods, I also am proud to be part of an organization who uses donated and rescued products from other food banks, restaurants and shops so that it does not go to waste.

What does working at DC Central Kitchen mean to you? 

Working at DC Central Kitchen to me means that I am able to wake up each morning knowing I am able to make a difference in a student’s day. Whether it be by providing their first meal of the day, or by putting a smile on their face by coming into their schools for Fresh Feature Friday events. I love DCCK because we are a family and a team. There is always room for change and innovation, and your team is always there to have your back or to push you forward with your new ideas.

 

Lachele S.

Case Manager Recruitment and Intake Specialist, 6 years

As a Case Manager Recruitment and Intake Specialist, Lachele works closely with our Culinary Job Training (CJT) students by providing resources for our CJT classes and recruiting new students for the program. As the face of CJT recruitment at a women’s shelter or re-entry program, Lachele connects directly with women facing hardships and empowers them to join our program for a second chance. Her blend of positive affirmations and disciplined standards motivates our students to grow and meet their goals before completing the program.

What is your favorite thing about working at DC Central Kitchen?

My favorite thing is helping someone turn their life around and watching them grow.

What does working at DC Central Kitchen mean to you? 

I feel blessed to be a part of an organization that cares for people who have faced challenges.