We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on Rachael Wilson from the Ottawa Food Bank.
What is your role in food banking?
I am the CEO of the Ottawa Food Bank. My role is to help achieve our short and long-terms goals of the organization. And most importantly, supporting the network of 112 agencies and having an impact on those people accessing food banks in our community.
Describe a typical day in one word.
Typical? Ha! No such thing. This morning I had on steel toe boots and a hard hat to check out our new facility construction, followed by meetings with colleagues to review challenges and keep projects moving forward. I am often in meetings with stakeholders in our city, whether that is politicians, others working in our sector, or agencies in our network. Lots of communication with board members and committees. And somewhere in the day I eat and say “hello” to my family.
What was your inspiration to get involved in food banking?
I grew up in Ottawa, right downtown. It was a very diverse community with million-dollar homes mixed in with co-operative housing. I worked at a local community centre where I saw children and adults firsthand who were going without regular meals. Fast-forward some 30-odd years, I had been a fundraiser in the community for almost 20 years when the opportunity to work at the Ottawa Food Bank as their director of fundraising and communications came up. It was impossible not to apply! And here I am six years later.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role?
Using a collaborative process to set a very clear North Star goal for everyone to rally behind, that refocuses the organization on solutions to food insecurity. And setting a clear path forward, with clear agreements about how we will work that respect the value that every partner brings to the process.
What is your greatest challenge in your current role?
Ottawa has seen many challenges over the last few years. From tornados, to the pandemic, the convoy and most recently a storm that wiped out power in parts of our city for over a week. Leading during these times has been very challenging to plan and predict. Many days have been emotionally and physically exhausting. But the staff and community make it all worthwhile.
If you could have one wish granted that would address hunger in Canada what would it be?
Social assistance rates that keep pace with the cost of living!
Which talent would you most like to have?
Designing and decorating. I am the worst and can’t make things look nice to save my life.
If you could tell your younger self advice, what would it be?
Being authentically you is far more important than being perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and it’s not linked to your value as a person. Be kind to yourself.
Who are your heroes? Fictional or real life
“Heroes” is a funny word to me. It puts value on things that I find hard to do. Some people who I admire their work/story are The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Patrick Lencioni, Gloria Steinem… these are the ones that come to mind, but definitely not a full list!
What is your idea of happiness?
Quiet time reading, surrounded by candy and cheese.
What is your motto?
“Nevertheless, She persisted.”
Something quirky about you that others may not expect or know?
I actually have a degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts In Theatre and ran a theatre company in Toronto for a while before moving over to fundraising.
Your theme song?
It’s actually “Move B*tch” by Ludacris. It is our theme here at the Ottawa Food Bank. Get out of the way! Ottawa Food Bank coming through!
Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.