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Behind the scenes of feeding Golden’s hungry children

New director talks about role, position with nonprofit

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Now settled into her role as the executive director of the Golden Backpack Program, Kathryn Whitfield is focused on feeding Golden’s hungry children.

The “Golden Backpack Program has done an exceptional job of building community relationships and responding quickly to the changing needs of this community,” Whitfield, 39, said. “I am excited and honored to join this team.”

The Golden Backpack Program is a local nonprofit that sends a weekend’s worth of food home with students who may not have enough. Since 2008, the program has served more than 485,000 meals to hungry children in the greater Golden area.

Whitfield “brings a depth of knowledge, skills and experience to our work with childhood hunger,” said Peggy Halderman, the Golden Backpack Program’s founder and president. “We look forward to her leadership in support of the Golden Backpack Program.”

The search for a new executive director began last summer, and Whitfield assumed the role on Oct. 1.

Born and raised in Texarkana, Texas, Whitfield has lived in Colorado for nine years and currently resides in Central City.

She earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in psychology and political science from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and a doctoral degree in law from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

When she is not working or volunteering, Whitfield spends her time with family and following Colorado Rockies baseball.

To learn more about the Golden Backpack Program, visit www.goldenbackpack.org.

Why did you want to pursue a position with the Golden Backpack Program?

I was familiar with the organization through my volunteer work and was very excited when the opportunity of the executive director position became available. I was looking for a way to make a more positive impact through my professional work and this was a great fit.

Serving as the executive director for the Golden Backpack Program is an amazing opportunity to collaborate with community members to address the issue of childhood hunger in Golden. We all need to work together to understand and address the challenges that drive this issue.

How will your professional background and volunteer experiences help in your new role?

My professional background includes nonprofit fundraising and member engagement, as well as owning and operating a commerce business. I also have extensive volunteer experience that includes serving on the board of directors for a national nonprofit.

My experiences have provided me with a broad base of knowledge and network of resources that I am drawing from to make a positive impact with Golden Backpack Program.

What are your main responsibilities now, and what have enjoyed most?

My main responsibilities center around ensuring that Golden Backpack Program has long term sustainability so that as long as there are hungry kids in Golden, we are able to help meet that need. That includes strategic planning, fundraising, program operations and volunteer management.

I have most enjoyed meeting and working with the community of amazing individuals that make our programs possible, and witnessing the impact we have on people’s lives.

Why is childhood hunger an important issue to you?

The Golden Backpack Program serves a critical need in our community by feeding kids so they can focus on making the most of their education. I come from a family and extended family that are heavily involved in education, so education is something I have always placed a high value on. I strongly believe that all kids should have the opportunity to make the most of their education, and no child should be held back because of hunger.

In your opinion, why is it important to be involved with your community?

Volunteering has always been a fundamental part of my life. For the past seven years, I have volunteered as an adviser for the Colorado School of Mines chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national organization that develops leadership through service. We all have something to give others and we all have something to learn from others. There is no better feeling than knowing that you have made a positive impact on another person’s life, and I truly believe that the best way to help yourself is to help others.

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