Kate Maehr is executive director and chief executive officer of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. She is the president of Feeding Illinois, the state’s coalition of food banks, and is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and The Chicago Network.
Since becoming CEO, she has steered the organization to advocacy, pressing elected officials to protect and strengthen the SNAP federal food stamp program, the school breakfast program at Chicago Public Schools and other social safety nets. Since her appointment, the Food Depository has increased the annual distribution of food by 65 percent, to 66 million pounds of food.
Before becoming chief executive officer, Maehr oversaw the Food Depository’s fundraising, public policy and communications initiatives. In 2009, she was appointed to the Illinois Reform Commission. She was named one of Chicago’s “40 under 40” by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2004.
Maehr holds a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College and a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Wisconsin.
MarketsWiki Education Video, July 2016
“We are living stressed-out lives. Yet there is really clear data that people who volunteer regularly have less hypertension, better sleep patterns, less depression, and they live longer. The message here is not only is it the right thing to do, it is also really good for you.”
Kate Maehr understands the importance of helping those less fortunate – importance not only to the recipient, but also to the giver, not only in terms of better health, but also as a career enhancer.
“The employees that stand up and say, ‘I would like to volunteer,” are the ones the company wants to invest in,” say Maehr.
In this MarketsWiki Education talk, she relays her first experience with the Chicago financial community, in the form of an unassuming but regular volunteer who turned out to be the late Robert Forney, then president and CEO of the Chicago Stock Exchange.
In 2009, she further witnessed the charitable power of the local financial sector when the Futures Industry Association chose the Greater Chicago Food Depository as the charity of choice for its annual FIA Expo gala. Since then, FIA members have raised more than $2.5 million for the food bank.
“I have yet to meet anyone,” she says, “who thinks it’s OK, in the most beautiful city in the world, with the most fabulous, caring community, to have people who struggle to have food to eat. But this is not a problem of supply; this is a problem of engagement and will. For that, we need volunteers. We need you.”
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