Nicole (Thompson) ’95 Suydam, is the CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank – whose mission is to end hunger in Orange County. Second Harvest partners with more than 340 member charities to help feed more than 200,000 individuals each month. In addition to being a nationally recognized leader, Nicole is a wife and mother to two beautiful daughters.
Can you tell us a little bit about Second Harvest Food Bank?
Second Harvest Food Bank is dedicated to ending hunger for the nearly 400,000 people who are at risk of going hungry in Orange County, CA. Last year we provided the equivalent of over 17.6 million meals to our community.
What is most rewarding about your career?
I love the opportunity to make a positive impact on my community and I especially love mentoring and developing young people for nonprofit careers of service.
Who have been your biggest influences, and why?
My Mom and Grandmother have been by far the biggest influences on my life. My Mom raised me as a single mother and taught me the value of hard work no matter the challenges and encouraged me to become the first person in my family to attend and graduate from college. My Grandmother raised seven children as a single mother and is my inspiration to never give up and to always keep Christ at the center of my life.
Why did you choose Vanguard?
I was determined to attend a Christian college and I sensed God’s presence in a strong way during a chapel service when I was visiting the campus. I knew in that moment that God was leading me to Vanguard.
How did Vanguard impact who you are today?
My history and political science classes gave me an important world view and perspective and inspired a passion for working in politics early in my career which gave me the skills I needed for my career nonprofits.
Why have you chosen to be involved with Vanguard?
This year marks 20 years since I graduated and I am excited to give back and engage other Alums to serve and support Vanguard and help prepare the next generation of leaders for a life of service.
Is there one piece of career advice you received that you would like to share with our alumni?
Always be willing to go above and beyond what’s expected and you’ll build trust and respect with your leaders and colleagues.