President and CEO
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance
Question: How is being CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank different from being CEO of a more traditional company?
Damore: I don’t know if it is a whole lot different. In terms of being a nonprofit, we are beholden to our mission and beholden to donor intent, whether it’s people donating their money or their time or food. Other than that, it’s very much the same. It’s about maintaining corporate policy and staying true to your intent.
Question: How do you define the company’s intent?
Damore: The concept of food banking was started here in Phoenix. St. Mary’s was the first food bank and is one of the largest in the nation. We are going out and find food that otherwise would go to waste, whether it’s the dozen eggs you didn’t take home from the grocery store because one was broken or working with corporations who will donate Grade A products. Essentially, we are hunters and gatherers who have developed a network to distribute all the food that we gather to those who are in need.
Question: What qualities do you have that make you an effective CEO?
Damore: I’m a manager that likes to bring people together to collaborate. I like to find people who have strengths that complement my strengths or and supplement my strengths. Once I have those people in place, I get out of their way and let them work their magic.
Question: What’s been your biggest challenge at St. Mary’s Food Bank?
Damore: As a reaction to the economic downturn, we had to grow really big really fast. When I first came on staff (in 2008), we were distributing about 45 million pounds of food a year. Last year, we shot up to 74 million pounds of food, so that was a really fast growth. That’s a challenge for any company to have that large an arc of growth. Now that we’ve achieved that growth, the challenge becomes “how can we run ourselves as a really strong, strategic business?”
Question: What is St. Mary’s Food Bank’s strength?
Damore: We do exactly what we say we do. We’re devoted to our mission. When people donate to us, they are confident that we are going to do exactly what we say we will do: feeding the people who need us in our community.
Question: What would surprise most people about St. Mary’s Food Bank?
Damore: How big we are. The majority of people think “food bank” and think “soup line.” We are more like a Costco warehouse. We’re the step before the agencies that are serving the food. We have strong name recognition in the state, but most people don’t realize just how big we are.
Question: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
Damore: I have been involved with this organization for so long, I can honestly say that I have my dream job. I cannot imagine doing anything else.