Welcoming Brad Stewart to the North Texas Food Bank Family
There are a lot of exciting changes at the North Texas Food Bank: including opening the doors of our beautiful new Perot Family Campus in Plano! As we look to engage the community from our new home, the Food Bank Executive Team is elated to announce another new addition: Brad Stewart who will serve as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer.
Stewart is no stranger to operations, processes or technology. Prior to joining our team, he enjoyed an illustrious career, most recently at Microsoft.
We sat down with our new Chief Operating Officer to learn more about his passion for service and his thoughts on the future of the North Texas Food Bank.
What attracted you to the North Texas Food Bank?
I am ecstatic to be here. Hunger is an area of passion for me. I worked in corporate environments for quite some time and I was looking for a purpose-driven organization. I have a particular passion for feeding hungry people and knew this would be the right fit. It is an exciting time to join this team.
You have a background with technology, how do you think this will help shape the Food Bank?
Coming from Microsoft, we know that most companies are moving towards becoming IT-oriented if they aren’t already and going through that digital transformation. This is more than just eliminating paper, companies are assessing processes and really thinking about data collection and how you look for relationships between inputs and outputs as well as optimization for the goals of the organization.
That’s where I came from at Microsoft. While there, I worked with very large companies as well as the federal government through parts of their digital transformations.
Because of this background, I tend to see processes and tools and think about how technology can enable these to be more efficient and effective..
At the Food Bank we are focused on efficiency, but our work centers on the human element- those neighbors that we serve. What is your vision for marrying efficiency with customer service and our core value of compassion?
I don’t think of these concepts as opposite ends of a spectrum. In fact, for me, an output is how our neighbors feel. It’s our job to find creative ways to think about and measure that as an outcome of our engagement with them. This work is about much more that putting a meal on the table for a person, it’s also about their experience.
The same rings true for the volunteer experience. In any business there are some fundamental tenets, the financial attributes, the client satisfaction and the employee satisfaction. Many times these can be at tension with one another and the key is to find the balance point to effectively enable you to manage these with some degree of predictability. Thanks to the surveys that the team does here, we know that we have a very satisfied volunteer pool which will serve us well as we work to increase volunteerism at our new facility.
The Food Bank team is a tight knit extended family, what are your thoughts on joining this kind of team?
The Food Bank is going through a time of transformation as we move into our new space. And those that I have come to know are dedicated to the mission and passionate about putting food on the table for our neighbors in need. From a company culture perspective, it is clear that the focus is on service- our values are compassion, collaboration and integrity and we see that across teams within our organization. This resonates with me and is exactly the family I was hoping to join.
The Food Bank put a stake in the ground and declared that we would close the hunger gap by 2025. What do you think that it will take to get us there?
I think our team is up for the challenge and we can achieve this goal. The good news is that the core processes and infrastructure is already in place. As we move forward we know we must be nimble and change, but it’s also clear that the NTFB is already wildly successful in a number of ways including providing almost 72 million meals for hungry neighbors in the last fiscal year. Now we just have to work to harness the best practices that got us to this point. In doing so we will achieve and surpass the 92 million meal goal.
Can you share information about LovePacs the 501C3 that you founded to help feed hungry kids?
The history of LovePacs stems from the efforts of four families including mine. In November of 2011, we came to learn that 6 kids from a local school were in need of support and we thought that we could step into that space and help them. We did a collection and put together a weeklong supply of food for the children for that Thanksgiving holiday. Just like that LovePacs was born. One year later more schools came on board and more kids were served. Fast forward to today and we are in eight school districts and we have surpassed 2 million meals served.
Tell us about your family
I have been married 20 years to my wife Nila, we were high school sweethearts, both from Plano and both attended the University of Texas for our undergraduate degrees. We have three children: Coby 14, Luke is 11 and Samantha who is 8. My wife is a high school teacher at Plano West Senior High and we are primarily involved in three efforts: our church, our sons’ club baseball, and tending to our property in Lamar County.