For the first time in more than 15 years the Missoula Food Bank is looking for a new executive director.
Cynthia Lotty said this week she’s stepping down but not leaving the food bank.
“After much deliberation and self-realization, I felt it was time for me to re-evaluate my role as Executive Director and to support our mission in a different way,” Lotty wrote in a message to volunteers in the food bank’s April newsletter.
An accomplished grant writer and fundraiser, Lotty has remained largely out of the limelight as executive director. She said she hopes to play a vital role in “defining and supporting the transition team in hiring a new leader, a process that may take several months.”
After that, Lotty will become development director, a new position.
On Point Recruiting of Missoula has been selected to help search for her replacement. Jessica Allred, community relations director, said Friday applications are expected to close by May 16 and Lotty’s replacement could be hired by summer.
Last year, the food bank board announced plans to relocate to a larger site that’s still unknown after more than 15 years on South Third Street West. Its goal is to be in a new home by 2016.
Missoula’s primary resource for emergency food assistance for more than 30 years, the food bank finds itself “at somewhat of a crossroads,” said Susan Hay Patrick, chief executive officer for United Way of Missoula County, one of the Missoula Food Bank’s bigger supporters.
Success begat space problems and a larger, more accessible facility will enable the food bank to expand services and hours of distribution.
“You can’t really back a semi-truck up to the Missoula Food Bank,” said Patrick, adding, “It sounds like there was a collective decision made to find new leadership that takes them to the next step while retaining Cynthia’s skills and experience in a different capacity.”
“This transition is really something that allows Cynthia to continue to apply her gifts and talents at Missoula Food Bank in this new role,” board president Merry Hutton agreed. “Missoula Food Bank has benefited immeasurably under her leadership over the last 15 years with a commitment to mission that is truly remarkable.”
In her letter, Lotty said she looks forward to the future of the food bank and plans to continue her commitment “by taking on a new role which raises excitement in my heart.”
She hopes it will also “raise to a new level our financial capacity for the continuation of excellent services to those who are experiencing hunger, or may be at risk of hunger,” Lotty added.
She was hired in 1998 from a field of more than 60 applicants and began her duties Jan. 4, 1999. The job opened up when Bill Carey, the food bank’s director for the previous 10 years, was elected to his first term as county commissioner.
Lotty, a Connecticut native, directed a hunger relief project in Lake Tahoe, Calif., before moving to Missoula. She lived in Lake Tahoe for eight years and in Los Angeles the eight years before that. Her resume includes work with Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations, United Way and Special Olympics.
Missoula Mayor John Engen was board president of the Missoula Food Bank when Lotty was selected.
“She’s done a great job of evolving the organization and its programs during challenging times,” Engen said Friday. “Her work with the Missoula Food Bank has eased a lot of suffering in our community, so she’s answered a fundamental call.”
Lotty wasn’t available for comment. She wrote to volunteers that the future of the food bank is “bright and full of promise, and full of hopefulness for the children, seniors, and families who come to us for a little extra help.”