Photo Credit: Rebecca Drobis

Essential.

No, says Jackie DeCarlo, her people aren’t front-line nurses and doctors, but they’re nothing if they are not essential

DeCarlo serves as CEO of the Manna Food Center in Montgomery County, Maryland and 2020 was a year to test their vision like no other: Our community is a place where all people at all times have access to safe, sufficient, nutritious food in order to lead fulfilling lives and contribute to making Montgomery County, Maryland a place where all live in dignity.

The pandemic forced a renewed examination of that vision as issues of equity and justice in our national healthcare system put outsized pressure on food distribution. And yet, Manna was already positioned to fill gaps where others struggled. 

Leveraging their network of government agencies, corporations, nonprofits, schools, medical professionals, employee assistance programs, and faith-based associations, Manna has cultivated a network capable of responding to the most underserved in the community, when they are in the greatest need. 

DeCarlo’s leadership is a model of adaptability. The COVID-19 crisis called on skills beyond those of daily operations. This week on the show, she joins us from the Manna administrative offices in Silver Spring, Maryland, to share the leadership lessons that helped her guide the organization. 

Hers is the story of family, generosity, and hospitality that is modeled with grace for thousands of families each month—tens of thousands of people in need many times over each year. Manna’s actions are ripples felt far beyond their community. 

Essential, indeed. 

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