Age as of Sept. 1: 34
Town of residence: West Salem, WI
Occupation/company: High School Kitchen Manager for West Salem School District.
Family: Feline fur baby (Duchess). Proud parents, proud younger sisters.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I am most proud of all the work I have done for the West Salem School District Nutrition Department. When the pandemic first hit and schools shut down, we kept making meals for families in our district. A lot of families were counting on us and I wasn’t about to let anyone down. I was part of an amazing team that came into school to bag up breakfast and lunch items every day. We offered curbside pick up, or we would drive around in school vans and buses delivering meals door to door. I will never forget the outpour of appreciation and thanks we received from all the families. It was a heartwarming reminder that the work we were doing was essential.
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Please tell us what community and volunteer activities you’re involved with – and why?
For the past 6 years I have helped organize and prepare meals during summer school. It’s not something I am required to do, but something I go out of my way to do because I am passionate about school food and I want to share my excitement with everyone. I have also been part of our district's summer feeding program for the past 2 years. Kids who aren’t involved in summer school also have access to free meals even if they aren’t enrolled at West Salem. I love being part of a community that gives back and what better way to show appreciation than with food. Another exciting project I am involved with is planning our high school kitchen remodel. New and efficient equipment will give us access to more food options, and that means kids have the fuel they need to study and improve test scores.
Tell us what inspired you to be a leader in your organization and in your community:
My family and close friends were the ones to motivate me and help me become the leader I am today. They showed me it takes discipline, patience, and dedication to reach your goals. When 600 hungry kids enter our high school every day, one is left with no choice but to put those skills to work and become a leader. Food service has always been a passion of mine, and I am very thankful this job has given me the opportunity to advance my skills and create connections with these kids on a personal level. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is interacting with students. It’s important to me to make time to chat with students and find out if we have any similar interests (besides food). If you could ask anyone in your life about a memory they have from grade school, I bet they would have a fond memory about their lunch lady. I hope one day I get to be that lunch lady.
What advice would you offer younger leaders to aid their success?
I encourage you to take the risks and don't hold back. Always make time to meet new people. Life is more fun with friends. Don't forget to smile and have fun! “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney