Just Food names interim executive director

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Post last updated at 7:37 p.m. Friday, June 23:

The board of Just Food, the Douglas County food bank, has named a new interim executive director just a few months after hiring a permanent director.

The Just Food board of directors has announced Aundrea Walker as interim executive director.

“Aundrea, who has been an integral part of the organization for the past eight years, currently serves as the Impact Director,” the board said in a news release Friday evening. “Her extensive experience, deep commitment to Just Food’s mission of ending hunger in our community, and exceptional leadership qualities make her the ideal candidate to lead the organization as we continue to work to end hunger in our community while serving an unprecedented number of households experiencing food insecurity.”

Brett Hartford, now former executive director, said Friday that his employment with Just Food “ended in an amicable manner,” and he was unable to comment further. Hartford was announced as the new permanent director in November 2022.

“It was (an) honor to serve the community,” Hartford said in a follow-up message.

Brett Hartford

Just Food Board President Jacki Becker said in an email that Hartford’s employment ended effective Tuesday, June 20.”It didn’t work out and we wish him the best in his future endeavors,” she said.

“Just Food’s mission remains as vital as it ever has been, with thousands of our community members experiencing food insecurity and depending on the assistance Just Food provides,” Becker’s email continued. “All of us at Just Food deeply appreciate the support our community shows us and we hope that our community continues to show up and help us ensure that none of our neighbors are hungry.”

The release stated that the board has confidence in Walker to continue Just Food’s growth and impact.

“Throughout her tenure at Just Food, Aundrea has played a vital role in developing and implementing programs aimed at increasing access to healthy foods, reducing barriers to health and well-being, and fostering self-sufficiency,” the release stated. “Her passion for social justice and her deep understanding of the complex challenges surrounding food insecurity have been instrumental in shaping the organization’s impact-driven initiatives.”

The previous permanent leader of Just Food, Elizabeth Keever, announced in March 2022 that she was taking a job at Heartland Community Health Center. From there, Just Food’s director of finance, Brett Salsbury, took over as interim director, but he departed Oct. 7, 2022 to take a job back in his home town. Staff then reported to the board until Hartford took the helm.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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