OC Register: Meet Second Harvest Food Bank CEO Nicole Suydam ’95

As of April 2012, Nicole Suydam ’95, has accepted the role of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County’s chief executive officer. Suydam studied history/political science during her time at Vanguard University. Second Harvest commented on her promotion: “As we make the transition to new executive leadership, we are thrilled to welcome Nicole as CEO. Nicole is a proven leader in community relations, fundraising, organizational leadership and board development, maintaining long-term relationships with Orange County funders and community leaders. She will be an invaluable asset to the organization.”

Nicole served as Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County’s development manager from 1997 to 2001.  Her latest position as vice president of development for Goodwill of Orange County had her as the overseer of business and fund development, community relations, and board development, also managing the successful $7 million Goodwill Fitness Center capital campaign.  Her experience also includes roles as development manager for Women in Community Service in Alexandria, Virginia and deputy finance director for the California Republican Party in Burbank. In 2011, Suydam was featured in OC METRO’s “40 Under 40” list of outstanding young professionals in Orange County. All-together, Suydam brings 16 years of successful non-profit management and leadership experience to the organization.

The Register‘s own Adam Probolsky speaks to his admiration and appreciation for Nicole and her accomplishments and service to the community.  (See article below. )

FOR The Register

I have known Nicole Suydam for at least 15 years. When we first met, she worked for Second Harvest Food Bank (her first stint at the charity) as development manager. Later, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she raised money for a national nonprofit organization. Then, she returned to Orange County where she spent nine years at Goodwill. When she left, she was vice president and a member of Goodwill’s senior leadership team.

Today, Suydam is a mother of two and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. She manages over 50 employees and oversees the distribution of 16 million pounds of food a year from Second Harvest’s 121,000 square-foot food distribution facility on the Great Park site. Secured from the U.S. Navy through the McKinney Act (legislation which provides land for poverty relief organizations), the warehouse was used for storing Humvees during the days when Marine Corps Air Station El Toro was operational. The massive space has a redwood super structure and includes office space and cold storage.

Second Harvest provides food to 470 member charities, from church pantries to soup kitchens and homes for abused women, homeless shelters and rehabilitation centers.

Nicole has always had a passion for people in need. “If you are hungry, it is very hard to be a good citizen,” she said. “A lot of people are struggling.” Speaking to Nicole in her office, she says the photos of her family on her desk keeps her grounded. The “It CAN be done” plaque reminds her to be positive and to look for ways to overcome challenges. She also made it clear that she is fond of her wireless telephone headset.

Why does she like it so much? “Because I like to talk with my hands,” she said.

OC Register

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