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SLO Food Bank welcomes new chief executive officer 

molly kern new ceo slo foodbank

Molly Kern.

– The SLO Food Bank has announced its selection of Molly Kern as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) upon the departure of current CEO Garret Olson at the end of this year. Since 2022, Kern served as the Chief Operating Officer following a nearly decade-long experience in key positions with the SLO Chamber of Commerce.

“In a relatively short timeframe, Molly has been the architect of significant change at the SLO Food Bank, including her leadership during the development of our newly adopted five-year strategic plan,” said outgoing CEO Garret Olson, “The timing for passing the baton of leadership is ideal for our mission and our current momentum, and Molly is uniquely poised and skilled to take our organization to even greater heights.”

Following a 30-year career in the fire service, Olson joined the SLO Food Bank at the start of the pandemic, initially in a temporary emergency manager position. The organization was without a CEO at the time, and in May 2020, the board selected Olson to lead the organization as CEO.

Board chair and CEO of Wacker Wealth Partners, Ryan Caldwell, led the process to select a new CEO following Olson’s departure announcement in September. The process and decision incorporated input from the board, managers within the SLO Food Bank, and donors.

“This process has confirmed three things for me,” said Caldwell, “First, Garret Olson has led the organization to an impressive level of cultural and financial health. Second, the entire SLO Food Bank team is incredibly competent and passionate. And third, Molly Kern is absolutely the right person to lead the organization into the future.”

Caldwell, Olson, and Kern said they agreed that the most important aspect of this transition is an uninterrupted continuation of their hunger relief mission. “This is a significant and exciting transition for our team, but for over 31,500 SLO County residents who rely on our vital mission each month, our commitment and driving focus continues to be on the reach and impact of our service,” said Olson, “That is exactly how we are proceeding, without skipping a beat.”

“Throughout the history of the SLO Food Bank, we have been a place for nourishment, both for our neighbors experiencing food insecurity and for those looking to give back,” said Kern. “It’s hard to imagine a more rewarding role than one focused on our mission of alleviating hunger and building a healthier community, particularly as someone born and raised in SLO County.”

Following the busy upcoming holiday season, Kern says she looks forward to connecting with SLO County leaders, partners, and clients to provide updates on the organization’s operations and a vision of future operations as captured in their new strategic plan. “While food insecurity in SLO County is significant and growing, our organization has never been more ready to serve,” said Kern, “Guided by a strategic plan that is anchored in our client’s daily realities, we are poised to provide greater nutrition, enhanced health, and compassion to the neighbors we serve.”


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