Living with food insecurity as a child can make daily life challenging and can make it even harder to dream big and imagine all the things you could accomplish when you grow up. Charlese McKinney, our new Chief Program Officer, illustrates that overcoming these challenges and achieving great things is possible.
Charlese shares, “I grew up in a food insecure home. There wasn’t always food on the table and that was hard to endure as a child. I never missed a day of school because I knew that I would get to eat lunch. Food insecurity followed me early into my adult years. I had two children who never went without food, but sometimes that meant I skipped meals. I worked and went to school, but I still needed food stamps to get by. Luckily, that only lasted a few years, but they are ones that I will never forget.”
Charlese has been with the Food Bank since 2008 – most recently serving as Director of Partner Network Programs. In this role, Charlese oversees the program areas that connect people to food and other essential resources through our network of more than 1,000 partners across 11 counties of southwestern Pennsylvania known as the three rivers region. Charlese succeeds Marnie Schilken, who has served as Chief Program Officer since 2017.
With 14 years of Food Bank experience combined with her education and personal experience with food insecurity, Charlese has the right experience, passion and empathy to enable the Food Bank to provide superior customer service both to our partners and the individuals we serve.
“I understand what so many of our neighbors are experiencing, which is why I am so passionate about our work. I am committed to making sure our network embraces our neighbors and lifts them up when they are down and do so without judgement. We are working very hard to get people food when, where and how they need it.”
Charlese is a graduate of Carlow University where she received her Bachelor of Science in Business, and Master of Science in Management and Technology, as well as a Master of Business Administration. Prior to the Food Bank, she worked at WQED Multimedia where she created, developed and implemented PBS education and literacy training throughout the metro Pittsburgh and regional area. She created innovative literacy programs that targeted underserved students in schools, after school and community outreach programs that provide valuable educational experiences to area children.
We’re thrilled that Charlese has taken on this new role and are excited for the direction our programs team will take under her leadership.