7 Questions with … Kara-Lyn Ross President and CEO, Food Bank of Eastern Michigan

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When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve always been very creative, so as a kid, I liked pretending to teach in imaginary classrooms, visualizing working in an office or photographing the planet for National Geographic. I also loved the art of Walt Disney. As a part-time position to help pay for my master’s degree, I did have the chance to open and work at the Disney Store at the Genesee Valley Mall. Sharing the magic of Disney was so enjoyable, I stayed on for over ten years. Much of what I learned through that experience stayed with me and helped shape my leadership style.

Who is your hero and why?

My parents are my heroes. They’ve been married for over 60 years and the love and support of family has always been at the forefront in their lives. With their faith, life experiences, encouragement and dedication to each other, they’ve always set an example for me, my brothers and grandchildren.

Of what life achievement are you most proud?

My husband and I have raised two really great kids who are kind, respectful, hardworking and happy. Without a doubt, staying grounded in the love of family has helped me achieve everything I’ve done. Intentionally choosing family time, gatherings, hosting special occasions and vacationing together has brought grandparents, kids, grandkids and cousins as close as they can be.

Would you rather cook a meal or order in?

When time allows, I enjoy cooking – we have some favorite dishes that always taste better when prepared at home. For me, the most important part of a meal is the meaningful time together around the table, listening and connecting with loved ones.

What’s one work-related thing you want to accomplish in the next year?

I’m focused on our next strategic plan. The Food Bank has experienced incredible growth in recent years and shifted quickly to respond to a number of emergencies, including the Flint Water Crisis, epic flooding in Midland and surrounding counties, and the national health pandemic. We continue to increase access to fresh, healthy foods for everyone through innovative partnerships that help eliminate barriers for neighbors. Putting innovative ideas to task in the next strategic plan will align the direction and future we want to see in the work to alleviate hunger.

What types of music are you into?

There’s nothing better than a great playlist and music is always on in our life. I enjoy many genres and often have a mix ready to play when golfing, driving, relaxing outdoors or playing cards at the house. We enjoy going to concerts, musicals and sharing the experience with others. In my youth, I enjoyed playing instruments, singing in church and performing in the school choir. Being part of a musical performance was always an incredible experience, especially in high school when we sang Mozart in the Basilica at Notre Dame University. However, as any of my friends or family will share, I’m not a soloist.

 

What do you enjoy most about your career?

I enjoy the focus on community and mission. Working at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, we partner with an incredible network of organizations, volunteers, our team and caring community members who help alleviate hunger for our neighbors. It’s rewarding to see how people working together can make an incredible difference in the lives of so many. ®

“It’s rewarding to see how people working together can make an incredible difference
in the lives of so many.”

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